Unmistakably, the days are cooling down and the nights are a little longer. When I am lucky enough to reach the water the pulse of life on the trout stream quickens as we move into fall. Some of the last hatches of Caddis and Baetis are occurring and the trout realize that winter is coming.
Anglers eagerly await the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife's Fall Stocking. Trout will be planted in South Jersey ponds and a later stocking will cover urban and suburban ponds, but anglers congregate on the larger streams such as the Musky, South Branch and Pequest. In the northern part of the state, the Big Flatbrook is very popular. Please use the link to the Division's website to check your favorite stream: https://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/flstk21.htm . These fish are large, 14-16" average along with 18-21" brood stock. All the trout are Rainbows.
The holdover trout from the spring as well as the wild fish will concentrate on insects and forage fish. The Dotwing Sedge, Neophylax sp. are very common at this time of year. Most of these caddis can be imitated with a Tan Elk Hair or Tan LaFontaine's Sparkle Pupa, both in a size 16. Baetis will also be active, this is the last brood of the year on freestone streams. Most of these flies are small (size 20-22) and are collectively known as "Blue Wing Olives". Use the WD40 or RS2 in the aforementioned sizes to imitate the emerging insects from late morning through early afternoon. Midges which are always an important trout food and scuds will also attract much attention from the trout. Use Zebra Midges or other small patterns and the scuds can be effective in Grey, Tan or Olive. I prefer sizes 16-18. These food items are available year round to the trout. There is also a strong population of bait fish in the fall, so streamers are a good idea. I prefer using these early or late in the day.
The freshly stocked fish have been chasing Woolly Buggers but are also being taken on egg, mop and squirmy worm patterns along with euro nymph flies. They often prefer a little movement to entice a strike. Given that many of these fish are laden with eggs, such patterns that imitate smaller trout eggs will be increasingly productive as the fall wears on.
Last week, Shannon's welcomed Hacklebarney TU to Califon Island Park and the members enjoyed some fine fishing. To celebrate the fall, Shannon's stocked 300 12" Rainbow, Brown and Tiger Trout to supplement the state stocking. The fish were placed in the park as wells both upstream and downstream of town. Enjoy the fish but please conserve them as much as possible. A trout is too beautiful to be caught only once.
Shannon's has a good selection of gear in stock despite the Pandemic wreaking havoc on our supply chain. Many anglers prefer using longer rods for indicator and euro-nymph fishing especially as hatches dwindle. We have a couple of the coveted T&T 10' 9" 3 weight Contact II's in stock along with nymphing rods from Douglas, Fenwick and Cortland. For my part, I'm enjoying my 8'6" Winston Pure for dry fly fishing. Winstons are just a pleasure to cast. We have a nice supply of Scott Centric 9' 5 weights and the NRX+ and NRX+LP from Looomis. Prices are likely to increase in 2022 due to component shortages, so it's a good idea to take a look at what we have available. For the Steelhead angler, we have a number of switch rods from Douglas and Grey's as well as a new series of flies from John Collins. Hooks and materials are arriving weekly and we also have the new River Ops boot from Korker's in a selection of sizes.
We're not sure about fly tying classes yet due to the lingering effects of the Pandemic but our guide service is going full speed. If you're interested in the sport contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at (908) 832-5736. Also check us out on Instagram @shannonsflyshop.
Here is Tim's take on a great pattern: