The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will begin their annual fall trout stocking in October. Trout anglers can expect a variety of golden, rainbow, and brown trout to be stocked across the state. You’ll need a trout stamp if you are 16 years of age or older and will be fishing in a “special catch-and-return trout management area” or to possess trout taken from non tidal waters. Maryland residents with a valid Consolidated Senior Resident Sport Fishing License are exempt.

The Terrestrials

The fall fishing season kicks off right after Labor Day weekend. With weather still rather warm and terrestrial insects are at their peak abundance, this is the ideal time to use foam grasshopper or cricket patterns anytime of the day. Fishing with these large “flies” can produce some rather explosive strikes from trout!

Fly Fishing Foam Grasshopper Fly. Photo by Alan Klotz

One of the best areas to fish these patterns is the Upper Catch and Return Trout Fishing Area of the North Branch Potomac River just downstream of Jennings Randolph Lake Dam. The property adjoining the river near the upper boundary are large fields loaded with grasshoppers and crickets. Just cast out towards the middle of the river and “swim” the fly in short twitches, just like a real grasshopper trying to get back to shore. The strikes are aggressive and about as much fun as one can have while fly fishing. Other good terrestrial patterns include beetle and green inchworm imitations during early fall.

The Little Olive Mayfly Hatch

During drizzly overcast days in the fall, great hatches of small #20 olive-bodied mayflies can occur. Unlike the explosive strikes produced by the grasshopper patterns, trout will sip these small mayflies constantly in their feeding position. You will need light tippet 6x or 7x, and cast with precision. Try using a parachute pattern with a bright white wing to help see this fly on the water.  The Youghiogheny River Catch and Return Trout Fishing Area has great hatches of these mayflies, and this hatch gives anglers reason to look forward to those drizzly fall days!  

Fly Fishing A parachute style olive-body mayfly, tiny but easy to see. Photo by Alan Klotz

The Best for Last – the Ant Hatch!

Without a doubt – the best time to fish for trout in the fall is during those last warm sunny days when the winged ants swarm and start a feeding frenzy on just about every trout stream! If I’m ready to mow the grass one last time, and start seeing the ants flying from the lawn, I drop everything and head to the nearest trout stream! The grass can wait until next spring.  

Fly Fishing A size #16 Foam Ant. Photo by Alan Klotz

Even the largest trout that may eat other fish throughout the year cannot resist the smorgasbord of ants covering the surface of the water. During the ant hatch, trout are rising everywhere to the point where you may become overwhelmed as to which rising fish to cast. Foam ants with a painted white head pattern work very well. Pictured below is my largest trout I caught last year during an ant hatch, this big fellow was fooled by a size #18 peacock-bodied elk-hair caddis that looks a lot like an ant in the water. The Savage River Trophy Trout Area is a great place to fish during an ant hatch. This river can be quite humbling during the summer, but the trout lose their cautious feeding behavior when the ants are on the surface of the water. The hatch lasts only a day or two, so make the most of it.

Fly Fishing A trophy brown trout caught in the Youghiogheny River Catch and Return Trout Fishing Area during a fall ant hatch. Photo by Alan Klotz

The Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Areas

Anglers should remember that many of Maryland’s trout waters will receive a fall trout stocking in October. While not receiving as many fish as they do in the spring, there is less fishing pressure and anglers can have an enjoyable experience during a beautiful time of the year. Some of the best places to fish for these fall-stocked trout are the Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Areas of Town Creek within Green Ridge State Forest, the Casselman River within the town of Grantsville, North Branch Potomac River within Potomac State Forest, and the Youghiogheny River within the town of Friendsville.

Fly Fishing Image by Bidyottam Mittra via Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Fall Foliage

While you’re enjoying some of the year’s best fly fishing, you’ll also be treated to the country’s most spectacular fall colors on Western Maryland’s rolling hills and mountains. Join in the celebration of the fall foliage at Garrett County’s annual Autumn Glory Festival, one of the top fall festivals in the world, complete withG concerts, band competitions, art exhibits, fall foliage driving tours, antique and craft shows, and the Turkey Trail—a map and information for all of the traditional turkey dinners being offered across the Garrett County during the festival. Yum! Fabulous fly fishing, fantastic fall foliage, and a fun festival are the makings of a not-to-miss weekend getaway on the Open Roads of Maryland.  Subscribe to our Fall Foliage report here to learn more about what’s happening this Fall in Maryland. This post was written by Alan Klotz, Images courtesy of the author and Bidyottam Mittra In need of additional inspiration? Check out Fish & Hunt Maryland’s latest articles written by fellow sportsmen and local partners. Be sure to acquire your license from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources before heading out. Visit our Plan Your Trip page for information on fishing charters and guides, lodging options, marinas, retailers, and more. Be sure to visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources online for more information on seasons and regulations before heading out!