Crisp nights, warm days and changing leaves. This fall has been sublime! Central Wyoming is always graced with really nice fall conditions but this one is unique. What is justifiably un-unique this time of year is that our shop phone rings with the age-old question, “are the browns running, yet?”. This conversation really only has two places it can go assuming we are “in season”.
The question is nuanced and complicated, ha! No it isn’t. It is about one or two specific brown trout activities and most often a confused blur of both. Late in the season browns spawn. They move to their zone to build a nest, go a courtin’ with a little fighting, and hope the result is a bunch of little browns. Also, late in the season browns become a little more rowdy and clobber young of the year fish, crawdads or whatever else they can get in their mouths…kind of like bears.
Of course, we don’t condone fishing to spawners. These are fish that are visibly on the Redds and actively spawning. But we do condone and encourage folks to go out and target browns ambushing prey in areas with cool structure that are disconnected from actively spawning fish. Soooo, our answer sometimes becomes nuanced (no it doesn’t and we aren’t serious about the use of the word nuanced) because we need to isolate these two activities. If we simply answered yes, we may be sending the message to go ahead and fish to the spawners – a practice we feel is illegitimate and harmful. It would be really cool if that practice disappeared forever. If we say no…it would probably be a lie and that may discourage folks from catching the fish of their lifetime using a practice that is, by all authority, a perfectly ethical (and fun as hell) approach.
Our answer will generally be something like “the browns are definitely getting fired up” or “’tis the season”. This is to encourage the next question, which we always pray is “are they on the banks and chasing streamers?”. Whew! Kindred spirits and we can suggest a few streamer patterns and a good float to go pound the banks. If the next question is “are they taking beads or on the beds” then we try our best to address it in a way that highlights the current hatch and the associated dry fly and nymphing opportunities, streamer potential and what our guides’ experiences have been the past couple days. However, we will piggyback that little diversion to “please don’t fish to actively spawning fish” for obvious reasons and “we don’t peg beads” and “to0 good of fishing to revert to eggs this time of year”.
You all know our stance on barbs, beads and spawning trout. Success is easily found without employing any of them.
The answer is “yes”.
PS don’t forget your dry fly rod