Washington Rivers


What to Expect in October

Note: This What-To-Expect is from Westfly's Legacy pages and may not accurately reflect the current fishing at this venue.

Most coho salmon summer steelhead have entered their home rivers by now. More fish will follow on the next good rain storms.

Sea-run cutthroat are in many rivers now, but--again--more will enter when the rains come. When fishing for sea-runs in rivers, look for backeddies and slack water areas, especially those that are overhung with tree branches. Fishing is usually best under low-light conditions such as dawn and dusk. A simple but effective fly is the Reverse Spider. After a few good rains, many sea-runs will push out of mainstem rivers and into small tributaries to await their spawning time.

For trout fishers, the primary opportunities come from hatches of October caddis, mahogany duns, blue-winged olives, midges, and--until the first hard frosts--a few residual hoppers and ants.

The ubiquitous blue-wings will be a major hatch on many rivers throughout the month. Blue-winged olives hatch best on overcast or--preferably--drippy days. The nymphs will drift in the current throughout the hatch season, and you can take trout on nymph imitations, such as size16-18 Pheasant Tails and gold-ribbed Hares Ears, from morning to dusk. Nymphs can be productive before, during, and after a hatch, and even when there is no hatch that day. The key is to make sure your imitation is drifting near the bottom. To achieve that goal, you may want to team your nymph with a big stonefly imitation such as a Kaufmanns Stonefly.

During a hatch of blue-wings, Baetis Cripple and CDC Baetis are good emerger patterns. My hands-down favorite for a dun imitation is a Sparkle Dun; a Parachute Baetis works too, but I think the Sparkle Dun is superior. A Rusty Spinner or a Diving Baetis will take care of the final stage. Emergers, duns, and spinners tend to collect in backeddies and slow margins, and trout often just wait there for them to arrive.

Mahogany duns are present on many rivers in the early part of the month. These mayflies migrate to slow water before emerging, and hatches usually take place in the slow margins of the river. Trout are in no hurry to sip the duns, and rises are usually lazy, head-and-tail affairs. Because the action is in quiet water, your approach and casts need to be stealthy. The best strategy is to wait until you see a rise, then cast to that trout. Blind casting usually just puts the fish down. Let your cast settle gently on the water and avoid lining the trout. You may need a downstream presentation. A red-brown size14-16 Sparkle Dun works well; in a pinch, you can use a Parachute Adams.

October caddis are the big bug of the fall. They are often matched with a size8 Stimulator, but the traditional orange pattern is a bit bright. Try a browner body and a darker wing. A Madam X with a brown-orange body can also be productive, and some anglers like an orange Turcks Tarantula. Many anglers dead-drift a dry fly during this hatch and get no response. They conclude that trout don't take October caddis. Wrong. If your dead-drifts generate no rises, try a little twitch. If that doesn't work, use a skating presentation. To skate the fly, cast down-and-across, throw in an upstream mend, then raise the rod tip and let the fly skitter across the surface. This can be deadly in riffles, just below riffles, and along current seams.

Sudden changes in temperature usually cause trout and steelhead to lie low and be less responsive for several days until they adapt to the new conditions.


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