Fall Fins and Feathers
For most outdoorsmen and women, October means hunting season, time to put the rods away and pull out the shotguns. A few of the more hard-core anglers will hold out until the days grow even shorter, and colder. Nothing says you can’t do both. In fact, early fall is a great time to double up on your outdoor opportunities.
Riding out to the back country for a morning of upland hunting? Many of those backwoods bird covers run along remote streams that receive less fishing pressure, especially in the fall. Rather than turning the dogs loose at first light, spend an hour drifting flies across an eddy pool or stripping streamers up a riffle. That will give the birds more time to move about, leaving more scent for the dogs to pick up later.
Early season puddle duck hunts tend to be brief affairs with the action tapering off quickly as the sun and temperatures rise. No need to head right back to the launch. Pull out a fishing pole and make a few casts into the weedy shallows you’ve been hunting over all morning. With the fall turnover, predators like bass, pickerel and pick have moved back out of deep waters in search of abundant minnows, crayfish and aquatic insects that have hatched and grown over the summer. Plugs, spoons and live bait are all good options.
Skip the post-hunt brunch. Water and kennel the dogs, grab a quick snack and hit the farm ponds and creeks you’ve been hunting around all morning. Before the first killing frosts, terrestrial insects are still around in abundance, and hungry trout, bass and panfish lie in wait for any hapless hopper whose over enthusiastic jumping lands it in the shallows. Tossing live bait or hopper imitations are both good options.
The action may be a bit slower now, but any of the above still apply to kill an hour or two before the birds start moving and it’s time to put the dogs out again or paddle to the blind.
Duck hunters will want to be in the blind, gun in hand at twilight, but upland hunters will probably be calling it a day, giving the birds a chance to move to roost. And the last hour is still the best hour for fishing. Who knows, you may catch a late hatch you can match with dry flies, or hit a farm pond feeding frenzy.