Winter is the best time of the year for trout fishing. You’ll hear that often, but in truth many experienced fly-fishers much prefer the pre- and post-seasons to the dark months. Autumn really is a great time of the year to target aggressive, trophy stillwater trout… Read on to found out why (and how to target them):

Fishing in winter can be fantastic, but it can also very frustrating when the trout are spawning, because they’re not on feeding. This, more often than not, requires a highly technical approach such as a lighter rod, 5-7x tippet, size 18-20 flies The works.

Autumn on the other hand offers one the chance to fish to hungry, aggressive fish.

Lets break it down:

Hungry – Here in SA we’ve had one of the longest, hottest summers in a very, very long time, so naturally the fish have been lethargic and unwilling to move in order to find food. Those who put in the hours on the trout waters this past summer, would’ve noticed the older fish caught were long and slender. Therefore, as the water cools and they start moving around more, they’re going to be super hungry and just about ready to take anything that moves.

Mint conditions on a private Dullstroom stillwater

Aggressive – Pre-spawn fish become aggressive as they move into spawning season, this is why attractor colours are used not just to imitate eggs, but because they act as a trigger to the fish. This time of the year we usually start using orange a lot, however, there’s a difference between orange and ORANGE. The flies we tie often include a little orange tag or hotspot, but we still opt for an overall natural pattern as you can see here.


Water clarity – We’ve mentioned this before, but it is important when it comes to fly choice. As we approach winter, the weed will die off and the water will become clearer. In such conditions, with the exception of late evenings, we usually scale down one or two fly-sizes. Typically we fish size 16 and 18 nymphs and dries, and then #14 streamers. Naturally, you’ll need to step down in tippet diameter as well, ideally opting for fluoro.

Read more on the pros and cons of fluoro vs mono, here

Natural as you like

Matching your surroundings – You’ll note that insects such as hoppers will often take on the colour of the grass, this changes from season to season and naturally you, the fisherman, need to take advantage of this when selecting your fly. Start fishing your browns a little more. In some dams the weed will stay green year-round, depending on the type of weed it is, but more often than not it will turn brown as it dies off. So, by all means continue to fish your naturals, just select a different shade or colour. Small changes like these make huge differences to your catch rates.

They may be hungry, but you still have to fool them.

If you would like some more advice please feel free to drop us a mail or join us for a cup of coffee in our Dullies shop.

– Nathan Pahl