When it comes to fly fishing, fall is the forgotten season - which makes it the perfect time to capture the serenity of the stream (and hopefully a couple of fish, too). Among all of the excitement if there's a moment to take the time to glance up, colorful leaves and scenic fall vistas are abundant.
The less hectic fall fishing pace means a more enjoyable trip, and trout have grown in size over the summer in both length and girth, according to Jon Ewert, aquatic biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
"Fall temperatures also mean that there are less insects to compete with," Ewert said. "The food sources for fish are scarce during this season, so it's a great time for anglers to seize the moment and for new people to pick up the sport."
Cooler temperatures mean anglers will face hungry trout, find faint insect swarms and wade into cooler waters that can possibly mean more active fish.
With absent crowds and few anglers, rivers that have been crowded on summer days are now calm.
If you're planning to hire a guide, plan ahead. Many guides head back to other jobs after the Labor Day Weekend madness. Trout are also a much different opponent during the fall, according to Matt Bowman, shop lead at Cutthroat Anglers in Silverthorne.
Fish that have been lethargic because of high summer temperatures, or secretive because of constant angler pressure, are now ready to begin the serious business of eating.
"Fish are looking for anything that will help them build the needed reserves that will mean survival through the leaner winter months ahead," Ewert said. "The bigger trout now become eating machines."
Having a knowledge of the insects around during different seasons can also be a major tool in catching fish.
"There are so many different bugs that we see at different times of the year," Bowman said. "You have to become familiar with them and know what patterns to use at different times of the year."
The key to catching a fish is making the bugs look as naturally as possible.
"There's so much technique in how to move the line to mimic the movements of insects," Bowman said. "If a fish is going to fall for a bait, it needs to be a bug they are familiar with - it needs to look like the insect, move like the insect and behave like the insect or the fish will have nothing to do with it."
Recently, the cooler weather and rain have helped cool down rivers and put more water into the stream beds.
Still, several of streams are experiencing dangerously high water temperatures later in the day, Ewert said.
"Try to get an early start on your fishing day and be receptive to stopping earlier than normal should you run into water temps in the upper 60s," he said. "Just drop your thermometer in the water. If it is over 68 degrees, it is definitely time to give the fish a break."
For a lot of people, fly fishing is a stress reliever.
"It's something that let's them let go of everything else that they are stressed about in their lives. You can get out and forget about everything," Bowman said. "It's not always about catching the fish - it's about the area you're walking and the views are amazing in the places that we fish."
Once anglers get more into the sport of fly fishing, tying up bait can contribute to the pride associated with catching a fish.
"There are days that you're going to struggle to hook into one fish, but once you do it's very gratifying," Bowman said. "When you catch one with your own tie, it's different from anything anyone else has made - it's your own pattern and that feels really good too."