It's that time of year again, the colors are a-changing... And I'm not talking about the leaves. I'm talking about big, toothy, brown trout. It's spawning season when the males take on a pumpkin orange that sometimes makes them sitting ducks for anglers and the females get ready to lay their eggs in shallow water. Tread lightly!
Now with the logistics.
Males (2+ years old) will develop brilliant colors, a humped back, and kipe (hook jaw). The females will be digging their redds (their nests) and getting ready to release the future generations which can be thousands of eggs. A female will create an area between 2-3 feet in diameter. This is intended for her and her mate(s).
This last sentence is very important to remember: whenever you see fish paired up in shallow water they are ACTIVELY SPAWNING! These fish are creating future populations. Fishing to these fish is a big no no. Even if you see a male by himself on a redd, it is best to steer clear, no matter how tempting. He is there to fertilize eggs - no other reason. He is biologically wired to do this.
So, how should an angler fish during the spawn? There are many places to target big browns and feel good that you did. The beginning of deep runs and the tailouts are THE BEST places to target big browns. The kokanee salmon are also in the system in most Colorado waters.
Remember the food sources in the fall. Eggs are an excellent choice followed by a good attractor such as a Copper John, streamer, etc. (Don't forget mice, lol) Brown trout are very opportunistic feeders, I've caught monsters on flies from size 20 Copper Johns to size 0 mice. It's truly a game of switching it up. If you rig with fluorocarbon all the way through you will be better off, no matter the flow.
But, always keep in mind where you're stepping. Walking through a fresh redd can kill hundreds of future offspring. Once the process is completed the nest will lay empty of parents. Kicking up a redd will release fry prematurely and turn them into prey. Fishing from or close to the bank is preferable.
Fall is one of the best times of the year to be on the water. And, sometimes the busiest. Remember that guy who you thought was "high holing" you could turn out to be your new best friend. A 30" brown is almost impossible to land by yourself. No matter how packed the stream gets, everyone is there for the same reason: to hook and land the fish of a lifetime.