October and November means more then funny costumes and football season. It means, break out the streamer fly patterns and go after big brown trout on the Smith River. Occasionally big brown can be caught in Spring and Summer, but it’s not until the cool, short days at the end of the year when the Montana monsters become available in numbers. The best explanation for the late drove of these big boys is that browns spawn in late October and November and after the fact they have some fairly aggressive attitudes and are very territorial. Big browns that are in this mode will attack nearly anything that invades their space. For a fly-fisherman throwing a heavy streamer… This is a good thing.
This time of year the big browns typically move into areas of good spawning gravel, riffles, or pools but hear at the Riverside Ranch they can be caught in nearly every inch of the river. They have been known to spawn in side channels, and can be found hiding under the deep cut-banks, and other deeper holding water. After you know where to find them, finding these big boys becomes easier and easier. Often you’ll be able to see these big browns as they’re a midst spawning, these are the fish you want to leave alone, since spawning fish are the future of the fishery. Where you want to focus your time is the fish who are looking to feed.
One of my favorite late fall holes on the ranch is on the upper Smith. There’s a brisk current that banks right and flows into a large, deep pool with a cut-bank, and then flows out of the pool into some slower moving water. The bigger fish that have been caught in this location can be found at the end of the rippling fast water sitting in the deeper slower moving pool. The large pool provides a nice holding spot for these fish to conserve energy and wait for food to come from the upstream current. The fish below was caught in this hole on a green cray-fish pattern. The guest, Travis, casted the fly into the slower water on the other side of the pool and stripped it back through the pool and up the ripples. More times then not you won’t be able to get the fly through the deep pool before one of these big guys attacks it and gives you a good fight.
Check out some more big browns that have been caught here at the ranch…