BOZEMAN, Mont. — Clouds and rain and cool weather have come to Bozeman. Leaves are changing colors, and coffee shops and breweries are putting pumpkin in everything again. It must be fall.

With fall comes some of the best fly-fishing of the year. Anglers will find a reprieve from the summer crowds, chances at big trout and some fine dry fly fishing opportunities.

For many anglers, fall is the time to tie on big, meaty streamers to target big brown trout. Browns spawn this time of year, and they are known to become aggressive. A big streamer in the right color can incite heart-pounding chases and violent eats, so it’s no wonder that anglers love to fish with them.

Streamers come in many different varieties and colors, the simplest being the classic woolly bugger. The patterns mostly imitate smaller fish that swim through the water, and can be fished in a variety of ways. Among the more popular ways is a technique called swinging a fly, in which anglers let the fly sink and allow the current to drag the fly across a run. Stripping them through buckets in the water is another option, favored by many anglers because you can often watch the fish peel off and chase the fly.

Ben Beearss, a sales rep at The Rivers Edge Fly Shop in Four Corners, said fall is the time for anglers to pick up some big, meaty streamer flies. He said streamers can be a lot of fun and will hook anglers up with big fish, but that they shouldn’t expect it to be easy.

“If you’re going to do it, you’ve got to commit,” he said.

Beearss said fishing streamers requires a lot of casting and likely won’t result in anglers catching oodles of fish, maybe just one or two. But those who stick with it will be rewarded.

“The fish that you do catch is going to be awesome,” he said.

One thing Beearss and others said people should watch out for are the spawning beds that brown trout make, called redds. During spawning, they rub against the river bottom to clear sediment from spots of gravel. It’s there that they lay their eggs.

The redds are fairly easy to spot — the cleaned-off gravel almost glows in contrast to the sediment covering the rest of the stream bed. Fish can sometimes be spotted swimming on the redds, too, which usually means they are laying eggs or trying to protect them.

Fishing for trout that are on the redd can add stress to an already stressful time, so anglers are urged to avoid doing so.

“If you notice the fish are on that bed, don’t target them,” said John McPherson, the head sales associate at Montana Troutfitters.

Dry fly anglers have plenty to be excited about too. Fall brings well-known mayfly hatches, like the mahogany and the baetis, which are sometimes known as blue-winged olives. John McPherson, the head sales associate at Montana Troutfitters, said the fall baetis will be a key insect in the coming weeks.

“They’re going to hatch out through the rest of this month,” McPherson said.

Baetis come out on cool, cloudy days. They begin in the larval stage on the bottom of the river and rise through the water column, emerging from the surface as adults in the afternoons. Anglers can fish the different life stages of the bug depending on time of day, beginning with the nymph in the morning and ending with the spinner, which imitates a dead mayfly.

The original story can be found on the Bozeman Daily Chronicle’s website:

Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle,