October’s trout and salmon can offer feast or famine action in Maine, so anglers may enjoy nonstop, rod-bending days or may endure several outings in a row with zero catches.

The good news thrills anglers in the know, though: Late September and the first two weeks of October often produce the “feasts.” Then, when salmonids fix their minds on spawning later in the 10th month, action can slow to a crawl until later in November, after the procreation urge subsides.

Gary Corson, a full-time guide from New Sharon, once told me, with no prompting, that fishing for trout and salmon slowed considerably in later October, and this man successfully led the charge to open more Maine waters to fall fishing.

Not to belabor the point about slow fishing in late October and early November, but I was once fishing the Shawmut stretch of the Kennebec River at the end of the third week in October — the Pasture Pool to be exact.

Through an unseasonably warm, sun-splashed afternoon, a fly rodder working across the channel from me stayed in my field of view as I bottom-dredged with weighted nymphs for several hours. The man didn’t know that I knew his name — just one of those things, a friend of a friend of a friend. I didn’t see this guy catch one fish, even though he stayed in my sight all afternoon. My score was zero, too, just typical late October.

So you can imagine my surprise that evening while looking at an online fly-fishing bulletin board. This man claimed he had caught brown trout one after the other all that afternoon.

I might have believed one or two browns. My head could have been down to change flies, but he surely didn’t catch many browns. In short, folks can claim as many fish as they want when they think no one is watching.

These people may say they have fast fishing in late October and early November, but friends and I have endured dismal outings in those weeks.

Occasionally, a hatch may instigate a late feeding spree during spawning time, but no one should bet big bucks on that happening.

Three categories of flies have worked quite consistently for me in late September and into October:

Small flies in the size 20 to 24 range that literally match the size of a mosquito. For dries, blue-winged olives, up- and down-wing cream flies tied with pale-yellow thread, and olive-bodied CDC Caddis Emergers give me lots of faith. For nymphs, size 18 to 24 Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ears, olive-bodied Hare’s Ear and caddises work, too. A tiny rust-colored caddis with a gold bead head and tiny slate wings can also produce consistent action, my second favorite fall caddis.

My next favorite category includes large, dark, weighted nymphs, preferably with palmering down the length of them. Size 4, 6x and 8x long hooks are not too large, and smaller ones on size 4, 3x and 4x long hooks can also produce at times.

My third favorite grouping would be bright streamers and bucktails with orange or red in them, tied on hooks size 4 to 8 with 6x and 8x long shanks. Cardinelle, Wood Special, Red Gray Ghost, Slaymaker’s Little Brook Trout, and Red and White bait-fish patterns have kept the good times rolling.

For spin-fishing, Tom Seymour of Waldo does gangbusters with Trout Magnets. This lure resembles a small bass jig and fools brook trout, brown trout and landlocked salmon. Maine Walmarts sell Trout Magnets.

Seymour loves to fish and has learned the sport, but for him, fishing rises beyond a hobby. He lives off the land and depends on fish, wild game, wild plants and home gardens for food. He has no qualms about fishing live bait, but for him, Trout Magnets put meat on the table without dealing with bait buckets or worm digging.

I’m strictly a catch-and-release advocate, but shooting photos of fall trout and salmon in spawning colors helps pay my bills. The above guidelines for fly choices have given me faith in hooking plenty of fish.

Now is the time to get out fishing and enjoy autumn’s splendor while having one of those feast days, when trout and salmon may be hitting fast and furious, great medicine for those times when action slows to nothing.

Ken Allen of Belgrade Lakes is a writer, editor and photographer. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]