Now that fall is back, nobody can deny its true beauty. Although I love all the season in so many different ways for different reasons, I must admit that the fall has an extra special place in my heart. Here in the northeast, there's nothing like it - with the crisp morning air, the cool day time breeze, and the everchanging colors of trees. Whether your driving down an old wooded road, or hiking through the dense forest, the fall's color scheme is sure to make the most modest of people glare in awe. With the fall, however, comes a lot of responsibility to our rivers and the trout that populate them.
As stewards of our rivers, it's so important to recognize that we share this wonderful season with spawning wild trout. Yes ladies and gentlemen, one of our most sought after species, brown and brook trout, look forward to the fall months of October and November to pair up with a mate and begin their egg laying ritual. For our fisheries, it's absolutely vital that we know this, and lay off the fish when need be.
Once the air temps cool down enough to push the water in the high 40 degree range, brown and brook trout begin the spawning ritual. This beautiful ritual takes place on the tail ends of pools and flats where riffles and runs begin. They love this shallower water with smaller cobble gradient because it's perfectly suitable for making beds and laying eggs. It's pretty obvious to see a bed when it's created because trout like to fan (clean thoroughly) cobble in an ovular fashion, making a depression in the stream bed. When your walking upstream, you will notice the oval shaped areas of really clean cobble, almost like a stone quarry just dropped them there. It is here, in the indention that trout form that the female will lay her eggs while the males secrete sperm onto them. Then the female covers the eggs up by layering the cobble back on top of the eggs.
It's important to be able to point out these beds to know not to walk over or right amongst them. There isn't anything wrong with fishing down or upstream from beds, just make sure to do it at a reasonable distance. Also, never, and I repeat NEVER try to fish for trout while they're actually in the middle of the spawning process! Hooking into them, snagging them, whatever you want to call it can prove lethal to the fish. Not only can you kill older adult trout, but you can mess their spawn up entirely...
So, as you get out to enjoy a little taste of fall fishing, just make sure that you do it safely. Be aware of the river beneath your feet, and protect our trout for the future. A good nest can produce hundreds of eggs if not thousands of eggs. But, a high percentage of those eggs never make it through the fry, and young adult stages of life. It's sad yes, but it's also the way of life within a river. As anglers, we just don't want to add to that negative statistic. Respect the water you love, and the water you love will respect you!