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Late Season River Fishing Tips – Simon Robinson

Published: 19th August 2016 | Author: Simon Robinson

As river anglers we’re lucky, fishing can take place all year round in many rivers due to grayling season being stepped with the trout season – Simon Robinson likes to think that the later part of the traditional trout season as simply the start of his favourite fishing phase of all – Autumn grayling fishing. Here are Simon’s late season river fishing tips.

As we move into September I find myself fishing more on rivers than at any other time of the year. The reason being that the fishing is usually excellent!

Whilst early season fishing is often restricted to lunch time hatches and hot summer fishing sessions restricted to evening sessions, late season sessions tend to mirror those great days in May and early June when you can catch fish all throughout the day. The added bonus of this time of year is that both trout and grayling are in prime condition and are feeding hard on a variety of natural food items.

For this reason I like to choose a river with both trout and grayling if possible, however don’t be too concerned if you are fishing a river with trout only, they will be feeding hard and in great condition indeed.

Late Season River Fishing Tips

Late Season River Fishing Tips

Late season dry fly fishing:

Late season fishing on rivers opens up a wide variety of methods and fly selection. Caddis will still be on the menu, along with a wide variety of terrestrial insects and aphids, to this you can also add a variety of smaller olive upwing species which once again begin feature in numbers – As a result of this dry fly fishing can be superb.

To constantly catch fish you will need a variety of patterns, it is not uncommon during this stage of the season to need to change patterns for individual fish. I have often cast sedge and olives at a fish which have ignored them only to change to a small terrestrial imitation for it to be taken instantly.

Of course this can happen the other way around and a terrestrial pattern is ignored – the key is to keep an open mind, is the fishing rising aggressively? If so a sedge is likely to be effective. Is it sipping gently under a tree? In this case a small terrestrial or aphid pattern is your best bet.

I have a large selection of dry flies in my box to cover a wide range of insects, here are three good dry fly patterns that will suffice at this time of year:

Late Season River Fishing Tips

Late season Nymphing

Nymph fishing is also exceptionally effective at this time of year and I like to target fish with either a Duo (New Zealand style) or French leader set up.

The duo is an ideal method for situations where you can’t get close to the fish in low or clear water conditions, this mostly applies to trout as grayling are usually far more tolerant of an angler’s presence. The dry on the dropper allows visible take detection at range, prevents the nymph sinking too deep on long drifts and also often accounts for a few bonus fish. As sedges are still around at this time of year a bushy buoyant sedge pattern such as the Fulling Mill Retirer Sedge or Fulling Mill Balloon Caddis is all you really need.

As for nymph patterns small olive nymphs are always on the fish’s menu so flies like Fulling Mill Mary or Fulling Mill Quill Olive Nymph with a 2mm bead are ideal.

If you are fishing in fast shallow water the French leader is often the most effective method, particularly if grayling are around. The French leader method allows you to fish nymphs hard on the river bed and also take advantage of adding movement and swing to your nymphs, which grayling at certain times just can’t resist. I have often fished up through a likely area with a dead drift presentation and caught trout and a few grayling only to fish back down the same area but also adding swing and a jigging action to the nymphs and as a result pick up several bonus fish. Whether it is the disturbance of wading which draws in the fish or the change of movement you can never be sure, however I am confident both play a part in catching a few extra fish.

For the French leader method I like to fish 2 or 3 flies depending on the depth and speed of the water. If you are fishing water which is deeper than your knees 3 flies is often best, particularly as you can add extra weight to the point or middle fly, however in shallow riffles I like to stick with 2 flies. To start with I advise you hedge your bets with a natural pattern such as a Fulling Mill black bead pheasant tail on the dropper and a brighter point fly such as a red tag or SR orange tag hares ear, to give the fish some choice.

Late Season River Fishing Tips


Finally don’t forget to have a few streamers in your box such as the Fulling Mill Jig Bugger, particularly if the water is carrying some colour. If you are fishing a weighted streamer on a floating line concentrate on casting up and across the current let the fly sink before twitching it across the stream. The jig hook can be very good for this this method as you can let the lure hit the bottom with little chance of it snagging on rocks. This can be excellent when fishing near overhanging trees as you can cast the lure above the tree, let it drift under the cover and pull it like a small fish trying to escape, this type of approach in slow deep water often brings the biggest trout of the session!

My advice is to try to get out on the rivers as often as you can over the coming weeks and months, the fishing is often the best of the season at this time of year and by using a mix of methods you can keep catching throughout the full day and in all types of water. If you follow my late season river fishing tips, you’re sure to net more fish. Late Season River Fishing Tips  Late Season River Fishing Tips Late Season River Fishing Tips 

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