The month of October is the best time for grayling in our stream.

The gin clear water in fall makes it possible to spot them – very often it is the light-colored edge of the huge backfin that betrays the presence of a big grayling in a pool or deep riffle. The color of the fish itself matches well with the riverbed. If you approach the stream too carelessly, you only see a shadow disappearing… It is for a reason, that grayling translates to “l’ombre” in French, which means “shadow”. But if you approach slowly and cautiously, and let your eyes adapt, you can spot grayling before they spot you.

Although I had to work a lot in October, I managed to fish some hours each weekend. Sometimes in the rain, in the fog or in bright sunshine – the conditions changed frequently, but the water remained very clear, and the fish very extremely cautious this year. It seems that the huge amount of rain in summer has washed the river even clearer than usual,  and I had more trouble catching the grayling although (or because) I saw them better than ever before.

Especially the second half of the month was relatively warm and many insects were hatching and buzzing around the water. With the classic “Jassid” and small CDC flies in the style of an f-fly, it was sometimes possible to catch grayling on dry fly. If there was no surface activity, I fished various nymphs which had been successful in the past. Somehow though, I wasn’t completely happy with any of them.

The final pattern?

For the last day of October, which is also the last day of the fishing season in this stream, I had negotiated a bit more fishing time with my family, hoping to find and catch one last big fish. The evening before I spent some time at the tying vise, trying to add a bit more variety to my fly boxes. The nymphs I usually fish a mostly variations of PTNs. I vary sizes and colors, but in the end it is a bead, some dubbing and pheasant tail fibers…. And these have always been rather successful. As soon as you find the right size and color, you catch fish after fish – but not so this year. The fish have been picky, and each fish seemed to have a different preference and it sometimes took a little tour through my arsenal to find the right fly.

Experimenting with materials and hook shapes in my tying vise, I came up with something in the style of a Czech Nymph, i.e. some sort of caddis larva (hydropsyche). Caddis had been on the water in good numbers, and I had caught grayling on dryfly as well, but not the really big ones. This nymph could do the trick! I was pretty confident, as this nymph was inconspicuous as it was rather small and lacked any flash and it should sink well because of its slender outline. For some reason, I was sure this nymph would work!

And it did! The next day was an unusually warm day for October, not even a sweater was necessary. Bright yellowish sunshine, colorful leaves in orange and red, birds singing…. Fall in all its glory! And I found the big fish I had hoped for! A grayling of 55 centimeters (almost 22in) gave me quite a fight on my 4wt…. Of course I was happy and satisfied and fished the rest of the day quite relaxed.

But just shortly before sunset, I saw an even bigger grayling, which I did not manage to persuade…  and as always, the season ended with new challenges and new dreams for the next season.

Here are a few more pictures of the month October: