The Fall Tuxedo: Kit’s Tackle
By Matt Schauer

Posted: August 22, 2012

Well, if you’re like me you have been shooting your bow a lot dreaming of screaming bulls in the enchanted September woods. Actually this year, I have had such a magical time on the water I am having trouble switching gears towards bow season. One of these years I’m going to muster up the will power to fish all fall. Although I love my adventures in the forest chasing big bulls, when I release an arrow it is so final. When I bust a big brown trout I can place my hands on the specimen and then watch it swim free. I came to his territory and beat him and he has to live with it forever since I set him free. I have to admit it is the biggest rush a fish head like me can have! The fall is such an excellent time to be on the water for so many reasons especially the fact it is some of the year’s best fishing!

Below are some of the other highlights of fall fishing:

  • The colors are changing and it is a beautiful time of the year to be on the water.
  • Most people are hunting and recreationalists have slowed way down so you will see very few people (this means no wait at the ramps and less pressure on the fish.)
  • The water temps have dropped making the fish more active and they are starting to gorge for the winter months. This reminds me of watching cartoons when I was little and the squirrels would be gathering nuts and stashing them away for the long winter months. Well, our underwater friends are doing the same thing, but they are storing the nuts in their stomachs.
  • Montana’s species that spawn in the fall (Brown Trout, Bull Trout, and Brook Trout) become more congregated and you have a much better chance at catching one of these gorgeous species. Not to mention they will be all duded up in there full spawning colors.

I would like to highlight the fall spawning crew for they are such a unique species and the handsomest of fish. They hold a mysterious aura in my heart and these species are highly piscivorous (meaning they feed habitually or mainly on fish.) Put in simple words, they are the “Grizzly Bear” of the river (the biggest baddest killing machines that take perch on the top of the food chain.) Rather they are fluvial (resident river fish) or adfluvial (meaning they are lake fish that migrate up rivers or streams to spawn) they will all make a strong migration to their spawning grounds. This is where the good ol’ joke comes into play, “What did the spawning brown trout say when he hit a cement wall…DAM.” The fall spawning crew will generally travel as far as possible to get to their spawning grounds which are usually under dams for adfluvial fish and impassable falls or headwaters for fluvial fish. This gives you, the angler, a much better chance at catching one of these impressive fish. For example, on my home body of water (Hauser lake) brown trout are spread throughout the entire reservoir during the summer months making them hard to target. By late August (right now) almost every brown trout in the entire reservoir has migrated (or is migrating) up under Canyon Ferry Dam making them much more concentrated and available to anglers. Another example would be the South Fork of the Flathead River in western Montana. The South Fork has a good population of fluvial bull trout, but all the adfluvial bulls out of Hungry Horse reservoir migrate upriver to spawn during the fall also. Basically, what I’m trying to say is the fall is probably the best time of year to be “Jiggin’ the Dream” on Montana’s wild rivers.

Here are a few tips for targeting the fall spawning crew:

  • Use big and bright baits to irritate the fish and to induce a strike. Remember, fish are gorging for the winter months…they want a prime rib not a chicken strip if you know what I mean;)
  • Do your homework on the body of water you intent to pursue. See if there are any radio telemetry studies available on the species you’re targeting. Ask around and visit with the locals or with the biologist representing the body of water. The more information you have the more successful your trip will be.
  • Always handle spawning fish gently (hands out of the gills and quick photos just above the water) and ALWAYS practice catch and release. Always!!!
  • Make sure you know all the regulations for the area you are fishing.
  • Make sure you have a good selection of Kit’s jigs on board!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And since I won’t sleep tonight if I don’t say it, take a kid fishing for darned sakes!!! And as always, cheers to “Jiggin’ the Dream”