By Nick Simonson

With all the hunting opportunities around us, it's tough to set the shotgun or the bow down for an evening and pick up the fishing rod. However, fall provides an excellent chance at some fast trout fishing, particularly in those deeper pits and ponds where agencies have stocked trout for put-and-take fishing.

Fishing always picks up in the fall and trout are no exception

If fish had a deep hole to hide in from higher temperatures, they will be on their way up into the shallows to enjoy the cooling autumn waters. They will also have packed on the weight over the summer, increasing their size from "catchable" to "worth your while." Start your search out shallow using small trout spinners, little spoons, or jigs and twister tails. Cast over and along the thinning weedlines where stocked trout seek the end of summer's buffet: bugs, baitfish and crustaceans.

Fall is generally a time of clearing water. The algae blooms of July and August have subsided and many lakes will begin to clear, particularly after turnover. In the case of clear water, use florocarbon leaders for a seamless presentation. Make your casts as long as possible, and cast beyond the areas where you see fish feeding so they aren't spooked by the splash of a lure.

Another method for catching trout that works well, where it is allowed, is trolling a small crankbait, like a Salmo Hornet, Floating Rapala or Rebel Wee Craw. This tactic helps cover water quickly and assists in finding the depth that autumn trout are cruising at. In many smaller lakes and ponds where trout are stocked, it is wise to stick to the littoral area, which runs between one and 15 feet deep. While cruising, trout can be found anywhere, but primary areas to key in on include points, bends and other contours. As you troll, pay attention to these changes on a depthfinder or by studying the shoreline.

If you're going after fish with the fly rod, focus on late-hatching insects or their aquatic stages that you know are present in the ecosystem - midge larvae, scuds, damselfly and dragonfly nymphs. By this time of the year, the stocked trout that made it through the bucket brigades shortly after stocking will key in on more natural prey such as minnows, leeches and the aforementioned insects. Throw streamers and smaller baitfish patterns to find active trout or present flies that match the hatch when you see fish feeding at the surface.

Packing two spools, one with floating fly line and another with sinking line, like a Type II or III, will help in your presentation. The sinking lines will give you a count-down rate to find the precise area in the water column where fish are holding, if they aren't feeding up top.

Generally, stocked trout that make it through the summer will be about 12 inches long in the fall; in some fertile areas, they will be bigger and will have packed on a lot of summer meat. Those fish that have dodged the bullet two or even three seasons in a row will present you with a chance to catch a trout over 20 inches in length - a quality fish in anyone's book. Examine agency reports to see how many trout are stocked each year, and what time of year they are stocked to get an estimate of the size of the fish you are after. Check survey reports, where available, to see how many fish of each length were caught in the most recent test netting. That will give you an idea of the amount of pressure a stocked water receives and the number of big fish that might survive from year to year.

If you can tear yourself away from grouse, pheasant and deer this autumn, there are plenty of opportunities to give stocked trout a try. Tack an outing on in the afternoon after a morning hunt and you have a memorable blast n' cast combo that is available almost until ice-up…in our outdoors.