The fall is an incredible season in Nova Scotia. Shorter days, brilliantly vibrant colours decorate hardwood forests, and salmon rivers run high, strong and cold. As soon as the cooler shorter days of September bring rain and higher water to the province, a second and larger run of Atlantic Salmon begin their spawning run.
From September 1st through October 31st, licensed anglers pursue Atlantic Salmon in a variety of different rivers – many of which never see a summer run fish. Any sizable river bordering on the Northumberland straight and up the western coast of Cape Breton, and the rivers that feed the Bras D’Or lakes get sizable runs of strong fall fish. These fish, unlike their summer run brethren, are more determined to reach their spawning ground. Their internal clocks are considerably shorter and they are more anxious, more aggressive and thus more susceptible to the anglers presentation.
In the fall, anglers will continue to use the same basic tackle – single handed 8 wt and 9 wt rods – though increasingly popular are longer switch and spey rods, which can be useful for longer and less strenuous casting. While floating lines continue to be the norm, when the water rises to high levels, frequently a sink tip is incorporated in the presentation.
Larger flies are also the order of the day. While larger summer flies have a great track record of success, many experienced anglers will use Marabou flies, shrimp patterns and larger streamers to tempt territorial fish into protecting their lies.
Cool temperatures, shorter days, brilliant foliage, increased catch ratios and the lack of bugs can make a good fall day one of the greatest fly fishing experience imaginable.