In any year, the days of November hold special meaning to a Rocky Mountain fly fisherman. From mid-month on, each day on the water is treated as though it is the last, because it could be.
I enter the month with brown trout on the brain finding it nearly impossible to resist what is possibly the best opportunity for a truly exceptional fish. However, there can be conflict connected to the subject of big fall trout when the giants of Henry’s Lake penetrate my obsession for streamers and browns. This has been particularly true in twenty eighteen when this fabulous still water fishery produced more double digit cut-bows than any year in recent memory.
On slow days pulling streamers on the lower Fork my mind might drift sixty miles to the north where imagined monsters prowl the lakeshore within easy casting range and are willing to take nearly every fly that comes into view.
Sandwiched between these two competitors for my attention are those perfect overcast days when midges or the final showings of fall Baetis bring rainbows to the surface in some of the most stimulating dry fly fishing to be found in the entire season of autumn.
This is the dilemma faced by a man whose late season fishing is basically limited to the Henry’s Fork drainage, where winter conditions are assured to take a toll on available fishing time from October forward. The pressure mounts as progressively shorter days yield fewer hours of light and reasonably comfortable temperatures. These increasing limitations place a premium on making the correct decision on where and how to fish on days that are rapidly approaching the end.
By December, Henry’s lake is almost invariably ice covered and the browns have reverted to their typically reclusive behavior. A dry fly day, with midges now as the exclusive surface attraction, becomes the exception as the air and water generally are too cold for aquatic emergence.
It is only when extreme physical discomfort becomes the assured feature of a day on the water that I will finally accept reality and settle into winter. Until that time my rods are still strung and I remain ready for even the smallest of windows for just one more shot.