With Halloween just around the corner, there’s the temptation to put that fishing rod away for the winter. Do that too early, however, and you will miss out on some of the year’s best fishing. This is especially true for trout fishermen, because those fish shake off their summer sluggishness and become significantly more active as daytime temperatures grow cooler.
When it comes to fish activity, “most of the changes start occurring in mid-September. Mid-elevation waters start to cool dramatically. The days are still warm in the fall, but when you start to cool off in the night is when you see the change,” said Roger Wilson, cold water fishing coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
This already is true at Nevada haunts such as Eagle Valley Reservoir and the Kirch Wildlife Management Area, where anglers have been reeling in some nice rainbows. Some at Kirch have been pushing the 20-inch mark, and that should continue until ice-up. Wilson said catch rates go up in the fall because fish are feeding actively to build up their energy stores for winter.
Another reason not to put the rod away is because fishing pressure is relatively light because outdoor enthusiasts rather would hunt. That migration spreads us out among the various outdoor resources and often leaves fishing venues wide open. You could end up fishing a lake or stream alone. However, that doesn’t always mean the decision to go fishing rather than hunting is easy.
“For a lot of us anglers it’s difficult to choose between hunting and fishing. Everything happens right in the same time frame,” Wilson said.
I don’t know that you have to choose between the two. If you are a waterfowl hunter, for example, all you have to do is take your rod along for the ride. When shooting slows, pull out the rod and go to work. You’ll get twice the adventure.
The same is true if you are hunting chukar partridge in the canyons of Central and Northern Nevada. Many of the creeks hold fish.
One of the other advantages anglers have when fishing in the fall is sight. Waters tend to clear up so we can see more fish, but that can be a double-edged sword. If we can see the fish better, they also can see us better. That means “you need to sneak a little bit more, and maybe not wear a white or red hat when you go fishing,” Wilson said.
Unlike spring fishing, which can be good for a short period of time, fall fishing extends well into November and even later in the year in some places. November and December can be cold, especially at higher elevations, and Wilson advises to prepare properly.
I mentioned Eagle Valley and Kirch as trout fishing destinations. Others areas within a four-hour trip from Las Vegas include Echo Canyon, Illipah Reservoir, Cave Lake and Comins Lake.
Utah offers a 365-day fishing license. That means it’s good for one year from the date of purchase.
So if you buy a license to take advantage of the Beehive State’s fall fishing opportunities, it still will be good after ice-off in the spring.
Some of the closer fishing destinations include Baker Reservoir north of St. George, Kolob Reservoir, Minersville Reservoir, the Beaver Mountain lakes, Beaver River, Sevier River’s east fork, Fish Lake, Panguitch Lake and the Monroe Mountain Lakes.
If you don’t mind driving a little farther, and enduring colder temperatures, Schofield and Strawberry reservoirs are fishing well.
If you decide to cast a line at these fishing destinations, don’t forget to go prepared for wintry weather.
Doug Nielsen is an award-winning freelance writer and a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column is published Thursday. He can be reached at email@example.com.C. DOUGLAS NIELSENMORE