Top time for anglers and trout
  |  First Published: May 2013

This month affords some of the last chances to tackle trout across New England for the season.

I love fishing the late season waters because they offer some of the best conditions for anglers and trout.

The days are cooling and the barometer is generally stable. Short but clear days offer excellent angling conditions, with stable insect hatches and fish actively feeding as the season draws to a close.

Such weather encourages excellent mayfly hatches late in the afternoon as shadows lengthen across the pools.

Fish targeting emerging mayflies usually rise in a steady yet calm fashion.

Splashy rises are often associated with the caddis hatch of the warmer months.

The majority of late season mayfly hatches also tend to occur in slower pools with silted bottoms. Those anglers familiar with the New England will instantly think Walcha streams or Ebor’s upland spring creeks.

Feeding trout usually hold up in the tail or the downstream edges of the pool. This water is generally shallow and the current quickens before running into the head of the next hole.

Consequently, feeding fish can be a little spooky, especially where roadside access is easy and the pool has been hammered throughout the season.

My late-season angling usually focuses on targeting one or two prominent pools late in the day. Pick your location and get to the pool and hour or two before last light.

If you are fishing new water, take time to study the currents and look for obvious structure.

Plan your attack because often the period of activity can be short and you need to be on your toes.

You tend to find the better holes for hatches often associated with fence crossings and floodgates. These snag up debris and provide excellent mid-stream cover for feeding fish.

Trust your instincts and when you begin fishing, resist the urge to head off in search of new water. The fish will be there; you just need to focus.


Lure flickers will do well to stick to Celta or Rooster Tail style in-line spinners. Hatch-driven fish are keen and find it hard to resist the action and speed of a carefully retrieved spinner.

On their day, hardbodies and soft plastics can work but for consistent late season action, a sinning blade is dynamite.

Fly flickers should do very nicely with wet hackle spider patterns, shaving brushes or even the ubiquitous Red Tag.

Begin working the upstream margins, then drift flies down into the tails of the pools. Long upstream mends will assist in drag-free drifts.

The perfect waters for these angling styles would be the upper MacDonald and Cobrabald systems near Walcha.

Down Ebor way, head to the lower sections of the Town Common upstream of the bridge. Alternatively, the upper Serpentine River is well worth a toss, especially if your tastes lean towards brownies.

Alternative tactics for late season are fry feeders. In the tighter streams, such as lower Serpentine or the Barwick River at Ebor, you’ll often find late-season fish bunched up in the waterfall pools.

Here the lures of choice are small Tassie Devils or minnow patterns such as the ever-popular Rapalas.

Fly flickers will do well with a weighted Woolly Bugger. Sparkle tails have become quite popular because they tend to reduce the number of short strikes.

Whatever your weapons of choice, work the main current flow and get deep. Fish tend to hug the rocky bottom and you’ll need to get your offerings down to them.

Some waterfall pools are surprisingly deep, so persevere.

Other options include some of the remote creeks on the Barrington Tops and the Gwydir River below Copeton Dam. These two are better suited to an overnight pack trip but you’ll be hitting fish and water passed up by many other anglers.


Those not partial to the salmonoids will find most of the action focused on the impoundments.

My earlier comments of stable barometers during the coming month will mean fish are still on the move but probably not as spread out as during the warmer months. Pockets such as mid-shallows with extensive weed beds or boulder gardens are the preferred target areas.

Trolling shallow runners or casting from a drifting boat will allow you to explore more water and find fish. Bait angling tends to taper off during the colder periods so work lures for maximum effect.

All regional impoundments tend to fish well this month so pick an old favourite or explore some new water.

Traditionally, Winter storage levels can be a little lower than over Summer so it is a terrific opportunity to find and work structure normally unseen during other times.

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