Upfront Notes

Upfront Notes

  • By: Greg Thomas
Greg Thomas

On a recent trip to New Orleans I managed a day on the water for redfish and the guide reported, “You should be here at the end of October, because that’s the best time for the big bull reds. You’ll see 20-pounders all over the place.” And my reply? “Yea, what isn’t October best for?” Therein lies the fall quandary.

Part of the problem is fall breeds an uneasiness like no other season; at the end of winter spring is a godsend; at the end of spring we have a full, comfortable summer ahead; at the end of summer we embrace fall color, great hatches, bird hunting and cooling temperatures; but the end of fall means winter’s onset and if you’re like me, that means little more than basic survival. (I hear you Florida, Louisiana, Texas and SoCal, but you know what I’m getting at—the wind blows down there, too.)

Maybe that angst is what makes fall pass so fast, but more likely it’s because there are just too many quality outdoor adventures to be had, and few of us, if any, have the time to partake in all we desire. If there is a heaven, most outdoor types would say it would include a fall season that lasts at least half the year. But this ain’t heaven, so what to do?

The only thing we can do is heed the requisite of duck hunters: Pick one target when a flock flyeth past. Or in other words, don’t set outlandish expectations and, instead, focus on a few prime options. Embrace the moment and drink in every ounce of the experience. Steelhead mean a lot to me and I love throwing two-hand rods, so I’ve set a trip to Idaho’s Clearwater River in late September. And, in October, I’ll join a lifelong family friend for our annual pheasant/deer hunt in north-central Montana. After the animals fall we’ll fish a big, private lake for Kamloops rainbows that range to 10 pounds, and a little spring creek that’s stacked with respectable brook trout. I have a smallmouth bass foray on tap, too—poppers for fish that average a few pounds. Beyond that, it’s one day at a time.

And that’s not bad. There are plenty of great trout streams near my home in Missoula, Montana. In addition, my neighbors each own wirehaired Griffons and the phone is sure to ring. Plus, there’s a steelhead lodge up in British Columbia that would take me on short notice when the big fish roll in.

You see, I’m doing it again. Fall. The quandary. The admission. Hi, my name is Greg, and I am a fish junkie…

Greg Thomas