Lately I’ve spent more time with a rake in my hand than a fly rod. For the past four weekends I’ve diligently wrangled leaves, only to have more arrive the next day, completely obscuring my earlier work in a blanket of gold, orange and red. The raking season is in full swing.
Several tarps full of leaves have been lugged up the hill and into the woods. Often I’m trudging through the prior weeks’ waist-deep piles in order to release the new arrivals. My only consolation is that the weather has been absolutely perfect, and I have been reasonably successful in cajoling my wife and daughters into helping, albeit under protest and subject to prenegotiated breaks that are consistent with recognized labor practices.
Tonight I put down the rake and made a brief appearance at the local pond. The glassy water provided a vivid reflection of the fall colors found on the trees along the bank, and reminded me of why I truly enjoy autumn in New England.
There is also one other reminder of the change in seasons that isn’t as noticeable, but nonetheless very important. The switch from poppers to dry flies.
For most of the year, the bass, crappie and bream in this pond indiscriminately accept poppers of all shapes, sizes and colors. But tonight was different. As I fished in under the muted light of dusk, there wasn’t so much as a refusal for a popper. Switching to streamers was equally ineffective.
Then I decided to tie on a small blue-winged olive parachute. My luck changed. There were quite a few strikes (and misses). The water that had been covered unsuccessfully with a popper only minutes before now held fish that rose and hammered the dry fly. For about an hour, I cast within 20 ft. of the bank and retrieved eager bream.
It was a brief but fun evening. As the air cooled near dark, I was reminded that more changes are coming. Trees, soon to be bare and grey with thin outstretched branches, serve as a stark silhouette against the evening sky. Temperatures fall to a point where neoprene, layers of clothing and a small flask or thermos are essential for fishing. Lakes and ponds freeze over and small holes appear as ice fishing takes hold. My thoughts turn to the possibilities of spring on local lakes and rivers.
Hope you’re taking advantage of these last few weeks of autumn. Put down the rake and pick up a fly rod for some of the best fishing of the year. Enjoy!