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Autumn is here. If you haven’t had a chance to make it to the mountains to see the fall colors, do yourself a favor and get up there ASAP. The aspens are at their peak color now, but it won’t be long before all of their leaves have fallen off. Snow has already blanketed most of the high country. Autumn is a wonderful time to be on the river fishing also. The tourist crowds have dwindled, kids are back in school, and the dry fly action is heating up.
Autumn hatches are generally less majestic. Small blue wing olives dominate most rivers, however you will still find some late green drakes and PMD’s if you know where to look. Smaller tan caddis flies will still be hatching as well. However, they will not be the epic numbers as the summer hatches, but a staple for any angler nonetheless. For the olives, size 18-22 dries will work very well. A parachute adams is hard to beat this time of year for a small dry fly. I have been having some very good results with larger nymphs as well. size 14-16 bead head pheasant tails and Jigged HDA’s are working well. Fish know that winter is coming so they will take any chance they get to eat a hearty meal. Try fishing with 6x tippet. This is more to get the flies down faster rather than picky fish.
Autumn weather in the Rocky Mountains is unpredictable at best. It can snow at any moment then turn to 80 degrees Should you choose to venture out to your favorite local stream, be sure to pack a few essential clothing items. Layering is key this time of year. A good wool base layer is a great place to start. It will keep you warm if its cold and wet, but cool if its warm. It can be easily be shed if temperatures rise beyond a comfortable level. It is also advisable to have another fleece to wear on top. Simms Guide Mid Top is a very good choice. Finally, finish it off with a Gore Tex rain jacket for a weather proof option to keep you dry when it decides to dump rain or snow on your trip.
I would also advise keeping a spare set of clothes in your car, just in case you get wet from rain or an accidental slip in the river. It would be a long trip home being soaked.
Get out and enjoy the last few weeks of Autumn fishing in the Rockies. You just may catch the fish of your life.