Photos: The “20 Days in September” Project


Written by: Phil Monahan

This beauty came from a swimming hole that had been full of people all day long.
Photos by Phil Monahan

Although meteorological summer doesn’t end for another three weeks, Labor Day is usually considered the end of the season. The kids are back at school, summer hours at work are over, and the nights are growing increasingly crisp. It’s a time to reflect on how well you spent those longest days of the year.

Over the weekend, I looked back and realized it hadn’t been such a great summer for me, anglingwise. I won’t bore you with the details, but various responsibilities kept me off the water far too much. To make up for it, I’ve set myself a goal: to go fishing 20 days in September. Of course, these won’t be full days. I’ll have to steal time when I can: before work, after work, . . .(ahem) during work, when I can justify it. On weekends, I’ll work around soccer games.


Rocketing out from beneath a fallen branch, this brookie smacked a deer-hair stonefly pattern.

I started yesterday by heading down to one of my favorite Green Mountain streams—a great piece of brook-trout water that’s hidden in plain sight, yet very few people fish it. As I parked the car, three SUV-loads of swimmers were just leaving the big hole that draws locals on hot days. I figured I’d give that pool an hour to recover, so I walked quite a way downstream, ducked into the woods, and emerged in a nice pocket water section.

On my third cast with a size 12 Royal Wulff, I had my first native—a feisty three-incher with parr marks and lovely spots. I caught a couple more little guys before I got to a deeper pool with a big downed branch in it. When the Wulff didn’t draw a strike, I switched to a rubber-legged stonefly pattern, and on the first drift, a trout shot from beneath the wood and hammered the fly. It was a real trophy, which put a nice bend in the 3-weight.


The PMX attractor pattern is one of my favorite late-summer brookie flies.

I caught several more nice fish on a Chartreuse PMX dry before I got to the swimming hole. On my first cast to the corner where the current comes around a large rock, a little guy whacked the fly. After a couple more drifts produced nothing, I switched to a Yellow Stimulator, and a fat brookie rose from the bottom to eat it. Where 10 people have been splashing and cannonballing just an hour before, this fish had hunkered in the rocks, waiting to eat. It was a great capper to fine evening.

Over the next month, I’ll keep you updated on my new project, and I invite anyone else who had a rough summer to join in. I’ll be posting photos to the Orvis Instagram page hashtagged #20sepdays.

15 thoughts on “Photos: The “20 Days in September” Project

  1. Patrick Frazier

    I fished little stony creek in Pembroke, Virginia yesterday and had an amazing day. the first hour or so I spent trying to figure out what the fish were feeding on but after I did I had an amazing day, 15 brook total. the were smashing a small black ant pattern that I had, in fact I had to tie on another black ant late in the afternoon because my original was starting to unthread.

    Reply
    1. Andy

      Whether it’s 3 inches or 30 inches, it’s got a mouth. If it can put that mouth around the fly, well, it’s legal in my book, just as long as you release the little sucker.

      Reply
      1. Andy B.

        I can often see the fish come up for the fly in the clear waters around Jackson, which I assumed you’d be able to do in the mountain streams of Vermont. I guess not though. If I see it’s a small fish or think it is from its take, I won’t set the hook. I prefer not to chance “ripping lips” or damaging eyes.

        With that said, those are some beautiful natives!

        Reply
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