After surviving the post-stocking onslaught of spoons, spinners, and PowerBait in springtime, holdover brown trout have spent the past few months lurking in the depths, growing in both size and wariness. Falling water temperatures, combined with the latent urge to spawn, draw brown trout out of deep water under the cover of darkness as they look for easy meals and suitable spawning habitat. In deep, clear reservoirs where brown trout are stocked, most of the fish won’t be able to successfully spawn, but that doesn’t stop them from cruising the shorelines at night.
Target these browns by wading with a light spinning rod and a box of shallow-running stickbaits. It feels a lot like stalking backwater stripers, especially when a hook-jawed brown shatters the autumn night stillness by blasting your lure right on the surface.
Browns venture into very shallow water at night, so deep wades aren’t necessary. Cast parallel to the shoreline and use a slow, steady retrieve with occasional pauses. Big brown trout have big appetites, so don’t hesitate to throw stickbaits of 4 or 5 inches in length.
Jeff Clabault at Forestdale Bait and Tackle in Sandwich, Massachusetts, says that shiners and night crawlers just off the bottom can be very effective on nocturnal brown trout on Cape Cod ponds. Suspend a shiner under a bobber to keep it at eye level with the cruising browns, and fish the night crawlers on a slip-sinker rig so that a fish taking the bait doesn’t feel tension and spit the hook. To float the crawler in the trout’s line of sight, Clabault recommends using a Worm Blower to inject an air bubble under a night crawler’s skin.