The end of September marks the end of the inland trout season, and the beginning of the lake-run trout and salmon season making for some difficult decisions for anglers who like to chase both. It’s go big or go home on the great lakes tributaries with long days of combat fishing the crowded rivers for maybe a single bite, or take a stroll along a quiet spring creek where hungry trout are eager to eat a well presented grasshopper all day long. I enjoy them both depending on my mood, so I juggle the two very different types of fishing during this month. Whenever a few tough days of fishing start to bring me down there’s no other place that picks me back up like Southwest Wisconsin. It’s not that the fishing is always easy there, but it’s always rewarding. Trout are almost always eating. Holding in current seams waiting for their next meal to float by. If the fish don’t seem to be cooperating you usually just have to look closer. If you find what they’re eating the fishing turns on instantly and it does in fact seem easy. This time of year I don’t put a ton of thought into fly choice… I just tie on a grasshopper. It may not always get the most trout, but it does get some quality trout and some exciting takes. It will also draw trout out of unexpected lies more than any nymph or small dry fly can. The trout simply cannot let that much protein pass by, so they move away from their comfort zone to eat a hopper. Trout feeding on hatches will often stay in the same lane and rise in perfect rhythm without moving more than a couple inches to the left or right. I’ve seen a trout move about 5 feet to take a hopper!
My friends fishing the tribs this week have reported a steelhead and some lake-run brown trout being caught. Of course kings are present but not as aggressive in the rivers. Triggering a chinooks defensive or predatory instincts by stripping streamers in close proximity to redds (not over them or you’ll snag) is a good way to find the aggressive fish. Dominant males will snap at anything swimming too close to redds.