When I think of September trout fishing, I think of blue-winged olives (BWOs). The tiny little mayflies are ubiquitous wherever trout are found in moving water. Hatches seem most abundant on the gray, drizzly afternoons that seem most typical of this month. It’s a great time to be flyfishing.

I’ll be doing just that up north next week, and so I started to check my fly supply. Some of my little BWO dries are shown in the photo, along with a dime for scale. Yes, they’re tiny–generally size 20 on down to some 26s. And yes, they require 6X or sometimes even 7X tippet. In recent years, I’ve had the devil’s own time trying to tie one of those little things to a leader. I just can’t see that well anymore.

But I’ll persist, because it’s my ticket to a chess match that I hugely enjoy. Trout will be slow-sipping the small flies from the surface of clear, slow-moving pools. The fish are inevitably fussy. The first BWO version might be inspected and refused, a process even I can see from 30 feet away.

So I’ll try a thorax-style dry instead of a parachute. Or maybe a CDC-winged emerger. Or an RS-2 emerger. Or maybe even all of them in turn, until I eventually get a taking fish. Then I’ll wade carefully within range of another riser and start the process all over again.

For some reason, many of the trout seem less shy now than they were in late spring. I can wade a little closer. And a dragging dry fly seems less likely to put them down. Perhaps its because spawning season is close for the browns and brookies, so they’re making the most of whatever food is available.

At any rate, I’ll fool around with the little flies and fussy fish until I run out of patience. At that point, I’ll cut my leader back to about 10-pound-test, tie on a big streamer, and start twitching it around the log jams and undercut banks. That might pull a big fish. Or it might not.

Streamers are a more physical game. Little dry flies are more mental. At my age and most of the time, I’ll enjoy the mental part the most.