The Season of Meat – October Fly Fishing Report

6 October 2016
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6 October 2016, Comments: 0

The Season of Meat – October Fly Fishing Report

Vallecito Pike - Great Backdrop

It’s meat season around here.  Ducks, elk, deer, pheasants, antelope, and bear.  Many of us are prepping to get out after that wild game meat.  Sometimes what you put in the freezer in October will be feeding your family in May.

While you may not be a hunter yourself, just keep in mind that October happens to be a season of meat for many of our local fishes.  With winter’s bone imminent, trout are out hunting for some meaty meals.  Meals that are high in calories will be on the menu for the next few weeks.  We are talking sculpins, crayfish, baby trout, and even the occasional rodent.  Browns are also getting ultra aggressive in their pre-spawn mode and may be found attacking anything that moves.

The cliche for fall may be “aggressive browns”, big rainbows, cutthroat, and brook trout can also be found with a meaty streamer in our local rivers, creeks, and lakes.  As often is the case with some of us: the biggest rainbows of the year are often caught during the October fall streamer blitz.

While targeting trout with the meat stick is something we really like to do in fall, another species ends up on our hit list this time of year: pike.  Cooling temps often see these local toothy critters moving into shallow waters searching for a crunchy treat.  When the pike are eating before the onset of colder temps; they can usually be targeted by the adventurous fly angler, armed with an 8 to 10 weight rod, an intermediate sink, and some patience…

Our fall season is an incredible time to be out on the water.  Make sure you stop by the shop or give us a call at 1-888-347-4346 for the scoop on all our local fisheries.

You can also check out our frequently updated river reports page for the most up to date information.

River Reports:


San Juan River Quality Waters – Flows have been dropped recently to around 400 CFS for the fall and should remain around this level for the foreseeable future.  These lower flows will bring trout into more concentrated areas.  If you are getting eats, it’s a safe sign that you are in the right spot.  Watch for hatches of BWO’s in the afternoons from Texas hole on downstream and hatches of midges all day.  Small leeches and buggers can also produce fish if you are wanting to change things up.  It may even be prudent to try a trout spey…

Animas – Speaking of trout spey, the swing bite has been picking up on the Animas.  Swung streamers and soft hackles have been producing some good grabs lately.  If you don’t happen to be a spey aficionado, streamers on the single handed rod are just as effective.  Jig, twitch, strip, and swing your favorite baitfish imitations into likely looking holes and get ready for that strip set.  If you can’t get a reaction to the meat, nymphs with lots of weight are going to be your best bet…but watch for hatches of BWOs in the afternoons that could bring fish up.  Small mayfly, stones, and caddis pupa imitations seem to be working best.

Rio Grande – Did we mention meat?  October is the month of streamer fishing on the Rio Grande.  Fall on the Rio can provide some of the best streamer fishing found in Colorado.  Aggressive eats and mean fish mark the Rio on our fall hit list before the snow really starts to fly.  Ever wanted to float the Rio in fall, when the mountain’s golden colors are in full brightness?  Give us a call or shoot us an e-mail at for more information on this float.   Are you a big fly, big rod junkie?  Then this float is for you.  Make sure you have a good assortment of BWO nymphs, emergers, and dries as well.  This time of year can see great hatches of Olives.

Piedra – Fall on the Piedra is filled with beautiful colors, changing conditions, and big fish.  While most local anglers know the Piedra a mecca for big dry fly eating trout in the 12-16″ inch range; this is actually selling the Piedra short.  This river can host a handful of much larger (but far more elusive) trout that push past the 20″ mark.  These fish, especially brown trout, will be on the move this time of year during pre and post spawn.  They need to pack on calories before the winter sets in.  Throughout the summer, fish spread out in the faster riffles of the Piedra, but come fall most will have moved to deeper slots and pools where they will spend the winter.  The best way to target these trout is to find the deepest parts of the river, and dredge them with a stonefly nymph right and lots of weight.  If you catch one fish, keep fishing the same section before you move on: trout will stack up and often times bigger fish are only one cast away.

Upper San Juan – The Upper San Juan will fish much like the Piedra discussed above.  Find deeper sections and get down with weighted nymphs.  Fall may also bring out good hatches of BWOs and Midges, so be prepared to target rising fish with tiny dries.

Dolores – The lower Dolores has been dropped to 35 cfs.  These low flows will cause fish to be skittish and spooky.  Long leaders, light tippet, and small flies are going to become the standard go to.  If you find yourself set up with a nymph rig, it may even be prudent to forsake the indicator for a more stealthy approach.  Hatches of baetis and midges can bring trout out to play, so be ready for sneaky downstream presentations.

The Upper D will be fishing a little different from the lower.  Fall colors are in full swing so even if you don’t catch a thing, the backdrop is absolutely breathtaking.  Dry/Dropper rigs should be the go-to midday, but you may have to fish a full nymph set up when the sun is low.

Los Pinos – Below Vallecito:  Flows are being dropped to Fall levels on the Pine.  If you have the good fortune of access on the lower Pine, or plan on fishing the Ute water, you may need to scale down your approach.  Smaller tippet and flies will be a must…but you should still not be afraid to throw a large stonefly nymph.

Above Vallecito:  With the fall setting in, the upper Pine will fish best midday.  Dry/dropper rigs will be necessary, but you may need to go full dredge setup.  Standard attractor nymphs will be in order, and make sure you target the deeper slots.

Creeks and the High Country – This time of year, our high country season is very limited to the midday when water is the warmest and fish are most active.  Grab your favorite attractor dry dropper rig and go to town.  A great option this time of year is Grillo’s Hippy Stomper with a size 16 bead head wet fly dropped a few feet behind.

Local Lakes – With the onset of cooler evenings, our local lakes have dropped temps and pike fishing is lighting back up.  Trout are also making a good showing with cooler temps before the deepest freeze.  Expect these good conditions to last for the next month or so.

Andy McKinley
Andy manages Duranglers Flies and Supplies online store and web content. When he is not plugging away in the basement of Duranglers, he can be found in the shop talking weird flies, throwing spey casts for few fish, eating pizza, drinking coffee, painting, and raising a family in Southwest Colorado.

His fly fishing writings have been published on blogs such as the Daily Drake and Simms Wading Room.

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