Fall Arrives in Fernie – Elk River Follows Suit

Forget the fall solstice. Leave Labor Day out of it. Turkeys and pumpkins aren’t even in the picture yet.

Fall officially arrives on the Elk River when the first October Caddis gets eaten by a cuttie. Which is happening more and more these days as the huge bugs (aka: Orange Sedge, Fall Caddis, ‘Freakin’ Biggest Moth I’ve Ever Seen!’) take to the skies and the water come evening. Here at Dave Brown Outfitters we’re planning trips accordingly, encouraging clients to sleep in, hit the river when it warms up about noon, then fish till nightfall.

Cutthroat love October Caddis

My favorite time of year, bar none. If there’s a cooler bug in the fly-fishing world, I’m not aware of it. Octobers are prehistoric things, fuzzy with bellies the color of salmonflies. They shade-up in conifers by day; lengthening shadows bring the females back to the water to oviposit. They swoop over the river, touching down and skittering along the surface to pry their egg-sacs loose. The lucky ones get airborne again to live a little longer. The less fortunate are eaten by crazed cutties.

Shadows lengthen as days shorten
Capt. Adam Richards at the helm. You won’t meet a better guide or nicer guy.

On the other end of the insect spectrum are the tiny Blue-Winged Olives (aka: Olives, Baetis, BWOs, ‘You Expect me to See that Motherin’ thing!’). Octobers weigh in at size 8 or so; Olives are more like 18. A mid-afternoon Baetis hatch under hazy skies is almost sure to bring the trout up; less sure is the anglers’ ability to hook them using small imitations in conflicted currents. Drag. Glare. Tantrums – all await the committed Olive angler.

Chompin’ on a stogie can ease the Baetis blues
Gnawing on thistles is less desirable … Sure are pretty, though.
Classic Baetis tailout
Adam Richards again. His clients often complain of sore wrists by day’s end.

Rounding out the fall recipe book are a smattering of other bugs: the last of the Flavs (small Green Drakes); rusty brown Mahoganies; Slate-Wings; ubiquitous midges – hardiest of all – which hang around till the first boarders start shredding the ski hill. And, of course, the smaller caddis cousins – particularly over in Southern Alberta and west on the Columbia River. The first hard frosts do the hoppers in, but don’t count them out just yet.

Crushin’ em on caddis – Alberta style

And so I’ve run out of bugs, words, and photos. Fall … get out there and fish! Better yet, contact us and let D.B.O. take care of everything but the catching. The crowds are down and the fish are looking up – it doesn’t get any better than that.

… Chris