by Kenny Romero, Angler's Covey Guide
Fall is just around the corner and that means exciting changes at Spinney Mountain reservoir! The ambient air temperature has been dropping and so has the water temperature at Spinney. Thanks to consistent precipitation this summer the reservoir is 96% full. As of this writing, inflows were 174 cfs and outflow was 155 cfs.
Fishing Stillwater reservoirs like Spinney Mountain can be very rewarding -- and very challenging during the fall. Like any river or Stillwater, the more successful fly fishers are the ones that can quickly adapt to the changes on the water. A key to successful fly fishing at Spinney is access to fish. Fly fishers with float tubes/pontoon boats, Hobie’s, canoes and motor boats have greater access to locate weed beds and areas just a little too far to walk to. Most importantly, make sure you have the right safety equipment including a personal floatation device (PFD). The wind can be a challenge under the best conditions and even more so when temperatures are in the 40’s, 30’s and even the teens so make sure you have the right equipment and clothing including gloves and caps.
Now is the time to begin the transition from the summer to fall techniques. The bug menu is changing and it’s important to respond to these changes. The big Chironomid hatches have ended and the Callibaetis, Caddis and Damsel and Dragon fly hatches are waning. The summer-time standard Spinney rig of a strike indicator with a series of callibaetis and chironomids that produced fish on a consistent basis during the summer aren’t quite as effective as we move into the fall season. Why? Because those bugs just aren’t hatching as prolifically as they did in mid-summer and fish are keying in on other food sources. Also, the dry fly action that produced aggressive takes will slow down as less and less callibaetis and caddis are hatching.
Fall is the time to begin thinking hoppers, streamers, wooly buggers, slump busters and snails. And as we move into the late fall months (October and November) the very best action will be on wooly buggers and streamers. Some of the best action all year will be just before Spinney closes for the season. Stripping a #4 cone head wooly bugger in deep water (18 feet for Spinney!) is one of the most effective ways to catch big hungry fish about to go under the cover of winter ice!
There are still large numbers of fish cruising the weed beds and shore line looking for an easy meal between now and early October. Fishing the grassy shorelines with hoppers (Amy’s Ants and Hopper Juan’s) in South Bay, North Bay and the Islands can produce fish. Dropping a Callibaetis behind these hoppers can still be a good bet. But the key is to change up regularly when there is no response from the fish. If the bite stops with the hopper dropper, switch up to a wooly bugger for example stripped through a weed patch. Although the weed beds will begin receding, there is still active bug life going on down there and subsequently BIG fish hang out in these weed beds looking for their next meal. Damsel nymphs, and wooly buggers fished with sinking line around weed beds are a good bet this time of year. It’s also a good idea to have your dry fly rig ready to go when those sporadic caddis hatches happen. Casting to a fish that just rose will more times than not lead to a hook up.
But as we move into late fall (Spinney usually closes the week before Thanksgiving) your best bet is to go deep. As the air and water temperatures drop, so do the fish. They head to deeper water where there is more available food and comfort.
From October to ice on, wooly buggers fished with full sinking line is the way to go! This is just something for you to begin thinking about as you prepare for late fall fishing.
A two-part fall Stillwater class is scheduled for September 23 and 24. These topics and much more will be covered. And remember to visit the shop for all of your Stillwater fly fishing needs. From float tubes to sinking lines to all the right flies, the Covey has it all!
So get out there this fall and enjoy some of the best fly fishing you’ll ever experience!
Orvis 101 Introduction to Fly Fishing
Early season stillwater Fundamentals-Classroom