DESPITE the strange times that the world is going through, professional sports are being played. October also brings the time of year when two outdoor sports overlap, one just beginning while another comes to an end.
Oct. 1 marks the beginning of bird season and Oct. 15 marks the end of (most of) the fishing season. This provides a window when both activities can be pursued on the same day. With the beautiful fall foliage as an appropriate background, old-timers like myself affectionately refer to this opportunity as the “cast-and-blast” days of October.
The sun has gotten lazy and does not seem to illuminate the landscape until 7 a.m. This allows for a slower, somewhat relaxed beginning to the typical cast-and-blast day for me.
Although I have never walked through the woods carrying a fly rod and shotgun at the same time, I have given it serious consideration. I often chose the angling opportunity first as the fog and low light keep the trout in a relaxed state and more comfortable when it comes to rising for a fly. Grouse hunting can be interspersed among the fishing episodes as the weather and climate dictate.
I have written about countless observations as they pertain to fall fishing. The changes in behavior and appearance of trout and salmon make autumn an angler’s dream, and the beauty surrounding it all can be overwhelming. Although most trout ponds grew dormant in the warm summer, the fishery can be reactivated in the fall. Those remote ponds that require a hike are some of my favorites as they allow for effective scouting of bird covers.
On one instance last year, I flushed so many birds walking out of a pond that I quickly put my fly rod in the back of my truck, loaded up my shotgun and proceeded to hunt in my waders for a few hours. It was uncomfortable and a game warden interviewed me to determine my level of understanding concerning both sports.
October is also a great time to fish the small streams that trickle through the leafy landscape. Like the remote ponds, these waterways provide subtle paths as they travel through good cover for both grouse and woodcock. It is not uncommon to see or hear birds rustling streamside while I cast for tiny trout.
Likewise, when I am in full hunting mode and step over small brooks, I am drawn to wonder about the fish that swim among them. My brain is pulled in two directions as I walk through the October woods.
As evening approaches and the sun starts its descent, I am often torn as to which adventure suits me the best. I can’t duplicate the beauty of a fish rising for a fly as it drifts on the mirror-like surface of a calm water body. Also, I long for the quiet and stillness of walking on wet leaves as my eyes dart from right to left searching for birds. When the calm is broken by a flushed bird, every part of me comes alive.
The start of October is a unique time frame for outdoorsmen and women. It can be difficult to choose my favorite adventure but I feel lucky to ponder such great opportunity.