Small streams, blue lining, rock hopping, knuckle busting, knee scraping, and frequent dips into the water. These are but a few examples of the adventures of a small stream angler. This angler who will seek out a four inch fish with a 300.00 fly rod when a 69.00 special will do. In his fly box are many flies, he knows this is unnecessary for his quarry really will take almost any fly. He moves along the stream often at eye level with it. Many times his eyes will focus upon a mink, a salamander or a hornet. With the sound of the tumbling of water he is still able to hear the sound of a brook trout rising to grab a grasshopper. This angler will find gourmet status eating a peanut butter sandwich, his table an elegant stone. Out here a cold drink of water seems finer than a French wine.
The small stream angler is not a special breed. This desire to be with nature in a pristine place lies in all of us, we need only to be there and experience it.
Wild jewel from that eastern Connecticut stream
In the July/August issue of Eastern Fly Fishing is a wonderful feature on small streams. The section known as "Exposure"...well worth the price....Thanks to Davis Cannon, Dave Fason, Kevin Feenstra, Joe Janiak, Joe Klementovich, Henry Ramsay, and Connor Tapscott.
The grouse and flash soft-hackle wet fly has been in my box for many years. I first came across this pattern while reading Thomas Ames book Hatch Guide For New England Streams. It is a caddis pattern that when used at those "right" times is absolutely deadly. I came across a similar fly that featured a light tan thread body with pearl ice dubbing for the thorax and a very small grouse feather for the hackle. This fly was also good when I used it. I like this fly at this time of year, the reason is that's when it has been the most effective.
"Grouse and Flash"...Hook-Mustad 3906B...Body-Pearl Mylar...Thorax-Hare's Ear Dubbing...Hackle-Grouse
I tie these flies in sizes 10 through 14...I have also tried 16's.
I spent a few hours yesterday morning fishing the Farmington river. The river is perfect for most but I still would like to see it little slower. I had taken am old buddy with me to fish this day. That buddy was my old Orvis Superfine 7' 5wt. It has been a long time since I last fished this rod and it felt good. The rod worked as I had remembered, in fact it was like the day I got it from Orvis about 30 years ago. It needs a new line though.
The sun was bright but the fish were still playful. I started fishing soft-hackles and it did not take long for the first hook-up. The fish was a fighter with skills and promptly gave me my fly back and resumed it's position in the river. I also had the pleasure of hooking several salmon parr. These little fellows know what "airborne" means. Moving about I hooked and further downstream I saw a fish rise. My cast was made just upstream and as the fly started to drop below the surface the fish took it. From the initial pull it felt pretty big. I won't detail the fight but as you will see my first thought proved to be right.
A wild Farmington river brook trout.
In this section I saw several dimples on the surface. Mind said the fish are either taking emergers or feeding on spinners. So I looked into the fly box and chose a #10 bomber.
This guy rose and took that big bomber...man did he fight. Bigger brook trout seem to handle a fight pretty much the same way. They head for the bottom and and bull-dog you and this guy was the epitome of that.
My Orvis buddy...been lots of places and tackled lots of fish. Landlocked salmon, Atlantic salmon, steelhead, lake Ontario brown trout and many bluegills.
Over a month ago I wrote a couple of posts about small stream browns. The stream I had been fishing yielded several nice browns on a couple of outings. On one of those trips I was fishing a culvert pool which is quite deep. This pool has given up some brookies and browns in the past. I had been fishing a picket pin and that's what I tossed out. Within a few casts I had a fish on. Looking down into the water I saw I had a chub on. The fish was zig zagging all over. Suddenly from up out of the bottom of the pool I saw a really big fish come and slam that chub. I estimate the brown to be at least 20 inches and very broad shouldered. The brown tried his best to eat that chub and held on to it. There was a lot of splashing and thrashing going on in that pool. I did not think I had the brown hooked but I still attempted to bring the fish to the top of the culvert, and that's when he let go of the chub.
Since that encounter I have been back there attempting to catch him again. That has not happened.
This is the chub that the brown hit. I had tied three very large streamers to try to catch that brown. They all are large and silvery much like the chub. I posted one before "One of Three"...
These are the three. I have not given up on catching this brown and I hope one of these three will get that job done.
July has been a month of changes. The beginning of the month saw rather comfortable conditions and favorable conditions on the small streams...and then summer really took hold. High temps and low rainfall put a damper on some of the fishing. Some streams held up better then others keeping water temps in the low sixties and sufficient flows to keep the fish well. Unlike several years ago when a nasty drought took place and pretty much wiped out a lot of brook trout, this is really not bad. As I write this I can say very happily that a very good substantial rain event took place overnight and continues this morning. Some numbers tossed about have the amount so far upwards of three inches.
I take water temps every outing and you can see from my last one the water is cold.
The issue in fishing low water is finding the brookies. While the deep pools will usually give up some fish, it's the riffles and faster water that hold more fish. A problem fishing these areas of swift water is hook-ups. The fly moves by the fish pretty fast and while the brookies will see it and attempt to take it there are a lot of misses. But I still love those riffles.
A real dark brook trout taken in a riffle. This guy took a soft-hackle and did not miss.
Now this is not a fishing story, this really happened. You can see the large grass covered rock. To the left the stream is really pushing water over the cobble. Right below the rock is a deeper flat that appears to be gray in color. I drifted a fly through that spot and took a nice hit. Again the fly drifted a again a hit. Both times I missed the fish. Just slightly down from that rock I did find this....
...this jewel was holding in the riffle in a shade spot and did not miss the fly. Did I ever mention just how much I love this fishing and the lovely brook trout I find.
Pretty much all I needed that day...Purple silk and a pheasant feather.
Can someone be considered a friend even though you have never met them? Can he be a friend even though you have never shook hands? I have such a person that I consider my friend and that friend just left this world.
William "Bill" Shuck is a man that I met online several years ago. He commented many times on my blog as well as conversing with me via email. Bill was a very talented fly tyer and fly historian with a passion for soft-hackle flies and flymphs. The man was an encyclopedia when it came to these types of flies. So many times he would email me with his thoughts on a particular fly and most times those thoughts were right on. Having known Bill for those few short years gave me a lifetime of expertise from a gentleman who offered it so freely. Bill Shuck thanks for your friendship, you will be missed.
The flies shown all have special meaning. They were tied by Bill and sent to me with a bit of history behind them.
One morning last week or maybe it was the week before, I'm not sure for certain. We had a pretty heavy rainstorm in the early hours of that day. Now most folks know how fast a small stream can come up during such times and how they can come down quickly. So with that thought in mind I set out to fish a little stream that I just knew would benefit from a surge of rain. Fast and deep flows will move fish around and that thought was first in my mind. As I pulled into the cutoff to park my car I could hear the stream. The dirt pull-off was real muddy with a few big puddles. It looked like the rain had just stopped. I got geared up and headed to the stream where I saw a fast moving stream of "chocolate" milk. I was expecting the stream to be this bad, like I said they usually clear pretty fast, not so today. Well Alan make the best of it.
I tried several flies of various styles and colors with no interest shown. So an article I read a long time ago in either Outdoor Life or Field and Stream came to mind. The author talked of fishing a very off colored stream. As it began to clear ever so slightly he said "it's time to fish"..the fly he selected was a Leadwing Coachman. A dark fly. Looking into my box a did not have a Leadwing Coachman but I did have a black fly. I tied it on and cast it out. On my retrieve I took a hit. That was the start of a good day with that black fly.
Most takes were just as the fly was being lifted near the surface.
I was right on the rain moving fish around. Several were caught where I have not caught them before....It rained substantially yesterday afternoon and last night?
This is a place where you can find most of what you have been searching for. Here is a place where you are not judged. All that you see is real. Where what is seen and done is not scripted, directed or produced for vast audiences. This is a world that is closer then one would imagine. So please join me on a day I would like to share with you.
The lush green of a July morning. This day it was wet from a overnight shower.
The stream is fast here and flows into a deep undercut. These are places where brook trout lie and will pounce on food as it swings by them.
Taking my offering without hesitation.
A Kingfisher sat in the tree observing my goings on. He must have approved for the usual chatter of this fisher did not occur while I fished the stream.
How it piles up. Cold water and a hot spot together.
Odd looking red bug, make a note not to eat it again.
A small stream anglers dream. I observed several brookies rising. They were just braking the surface.
I managed to fool one. They do make a fuss when hooked.
Another open but tight spot. Is there a trout in there.
Yes there was.
I know when I saw this I was in for a treat. Places like this hold bigger fish. Many casts were made here without a response. Just as I was about to give up a rise and a take.
Not the monster I assumed would be in there but a nice wild jewel still.
My walk back to the car was gentle. Lot's of fine memories today.