Monday, January 31, 2022

Moving on.....

This is the scene as the nor'easter blew up New England on Saturday. Sixty five mile an hour winds, heavy snow falling at rates of 4 inches an hour. And to top it off the cold was intense. On the deck here I measured 13 inches and a few really big drifts. January is the end of a cold month, some moderating temps are forecast for the first week of February which is good news.

There was a time not long ago when I would be out enjoying snowy conditions like these but....


...not today. A stream like this on days like this can give you a few pages of  writing in your journal. Over the years I can recall memorable surface activity on such streams.

It is a time for these "little winter stones"...they can cause a few splashes and subtle rises.

Cast your fly just off the bank, or perhaps near a large boulder. Twitch your rod tip and just wait a second...

Here are a couple of my favorite "winter stone" spiders. These are tied on 14 and 16 hooks. Some spikey black dubbing, silk thread and a couple of turns of Starling hackle.

Stay warm and safe my friends...


Friday, January 28, 2022

The browns of "Rick Creek"....

Rick Creek is a small tributary to a small stream that I have long fished. The area in which the streams are located run through a large tract of state land. Rick Creek can be quite tiny at times and at other time a decent stream in which to fish. It's main attribute is wild brown trout that are quite tough to catch. These browns are born and live in this little stream and I believe never venture out of it. It seems they find what they need here at home and are satisfied.

Most times these browns prefer a fly under the surface, be it a wet, nymph or soft hackle. Many of the short runs in the stream feature undercut banks and there is also a great deal of woody debris which is vital to these browns survival.


Quiet and slick, a perfect place to float a dry fly. But you would do better with a soft hackle under the surface.

A typical wild brown from Rick Creek. Many of them are smaller and this one would fall into the "trophy" class. This brown is well marked.

You have to love those corners in the stream. Most times where you find places like this it is worth your time to fish it, slowly and completely.

Stream corner browns.

No flashy flies for those Rick Creek browns. Your basic brown soft hackle.


Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Just some early morning thoughts.....

Very early Tuesday morning, 2am to be exact. I am sitting at my kitchen counter having just finished the book River Flowers. Looking out the window the snow is falling pretty heavy, a clipper they call it. My second cup of coffee is brewing, a McCafe K-cup and my thoughts are all over the place. River Flowers takes place mostly in western Maine. It's well written and covers it all as far as I'm concerned. Although Bob Romano does not list the actual places the descriptions he gives put me there again.

Reading reflections of others always brings me back to where many of mine originated. Those little things that may have happened and were not really block buster stuff seem to come back so vividly. I'm certain most of you can relate to what I'm saying.


A late spring day. A free flowing stream. Lush surroundings. A 5' bamboo rod with a soft hackle fly attached starts a drift through the stream. As it bounces willy nilly over rock and boulder like some something totally out of control it's progress stops. Suddenly there is resistance ans a quick movement upstream. I pull back and the fish does not like the sting. A valiant effort is made by the brookie in an effort to rid itself from the fly now in it's lip. What is only seconds the brookie is at hand and does one last maneuver to free itself....and mission accomplished. It swims off like a lightning bolt and a memory is created and not to be forgotten.

Soft hackles, will they work?


Sunday, January 23, 2022

Wonderful, you are....

Many who visit Small Stream Reflection's will comment on how wonderful a site it is. My reply to those comments are it is because of you that make the site a pleasure to visit. Many of you take the time to e-mail me your thoughts and some even take the time to hand write me their thoughts. I appreciate every one of them.

Now here is a thought or two from me....I cannot tell you how much your participation has made a stable presence  in my life, especially over the last year. You give so much support to me that I can't tell you in words. I can't imagine my life without Small Stream guys are the absolute best.

Thank you....


This Sakasa Kebari was chosen for a reason....the bright colors, the uplifting hackle and the promise....


Thursday, January 20, 2022

"The" Brookie.....

Over the years I have fished for and have caught some pretty impressive brook trout. Impressive in the fact of their absolute beauty and their size. While I'm not bragging and please don't take it that way but it is a truth.  Looking back over the photos of years past and trying to find what maybe the most beautiful brook trout ever to grace my hand and eyes was quite an undertaking. As I have said many times that their is more to small stream fishing than just bringing a fish to hand. It is with that though that I was able to bring to you what I consider the most beautiful brook trout I have ever taken.

Last year I found a bunch of feathers. They were on the ground and so I picked them up and tucked them away. These feathers were lovey, and nicely marked. They were also quite soft and would make for a nice fly.


The fly that was created was a simple one. It incorporated an orange silk body, the hackle  and a  bit of sparkle dubbing for the head.

The little stream that the fly was first cast upon. A lovey bottom of medium cobble. Shade in places,green grass and some yellow wild flowers. The fly was cast downstream and worked back. This was repeated several times until it was taken.

The brookie that took the fly was a strong tough fellow. He was in excellent condition. As my hand slid under his body and lifted it out of the water I could not believe the beauty that was before me. A moment later it swam off and I had a hard time putting the camera away. I just kept on looking at that picture of the brookie.

I have since framed a collage photo of the feathers, fly, stream and brookie.


Monday, January 17, 2022

A Maine Pond

When I first started fishing the waters of western Maine way back in the late 70's, I was like a sponge that was so thirsty. I probably questioned more people about the ponds streams and woods almost to the point of making myself a pain in the ass. I was given a great deal of information and it was not brush off stuff if you know what I mean. These folks were serious and very descriptive in what they told me. Now I know there are those who say that getting valuable information from a Mainer just does not exist. The old saying "you can't get there from here" comes to mind. Here is one adventure I'd like to share with you. Over at Haine's Landing on the shores of Mooselookmeguntic Lake in the town of Oqussocc Maine. We stated at a cabin and one of the good people we met was a grounds keeper named Howie Lewis. Howie was also the fire chief of  the Oqussocc fire dept. He was a native Mainer and full of info. Durring one of many conversations I had with Howie he told me of a little pond in the woods. This pond was known to few and kept sort of secret to those who knew. It's access was not an easy ride and Howie was gracious enough to highlight the route to take in my Maine atlas, which I still have. The pond lies 23 miles through the woods and is right on the US- Canada border. 

The land is wild and with exception of an occaisional logging truck there was no sign of humans. The main road had lots of side cuts and his warning to me was don't take any of them. Stay on the the road he marked. Also in his instructions were if you get into trouble up there help is a long time coming. So with my Toyota 4x4 CB radio and a couple of fly rods I set off to find this pond.  

The road in the first picture is what it looked like all the way there. Areas of logged out forest and areas so dense with spruce that you could not see 2 feet into them. I encountered many moose along the way, even one that starred at me from the road I was on.


The pond...the moose was feeding in the shallows as were the brook trout, the rise forms are clearly visible. Trying to find a spot to cast I glanced down into the water to see what looked like the bottom was moving, and it was. The pond was full of leeches. No dry flies needed only black wooly buggers. Well when you don't have a black wooly bugger you choose a streamer.

The streamer was the Warden's Worry..a Maine classic. First tied by Warden Joseph Stickney of Saco Maine back in 1930. A simple pattern of wool, brown bucktail some gold tinsel and a red tail and yellow throat. That streamer kept me into brook trout the whole time I was fishing. The brookies were small and a large one was 7", I kept a couple and fried them up along the pond.



Friday, January 14, 2022

An Hour Or So......

 Yesterday was a day that was to be probably the best weather wise in the next week. It also was the best day in a string of brutal cold days we experienced in a week. So given that i managed to get some time to fish a stream that has given me success in the past. With only an hour or so to fish I chose a place that would give me the best chance of bringing a trout to hand. The stream was in a almost perfect condition with exception to the snow. But this old guy found a place or two where I was comfortable to cast my offerings, which today would be a Mickey Finn streamer and a February Red soft hackle.

The Mickey Finn produced nothing which i thought odd, but these are wild brookies I'm fishing for and contrary to what you may have heard they can be "selective" as hell. The February Red was next and even though it's only January I still like the fly at this time of year. On the third cast I had a brookie come of the bottom and strike at the fly and miss, but he did take a second swipe at it a moment later and was hooked. The brookies was only 7 inches but man did he fight. As he came close to hand he managed to free himself and swim off. I continued to fish for a short time after and had one more strike but no more hookups. What the day did accomplish was I fished, I caught, and I was able to enjoy the peaceful solitude of a wild brook trout stream in winter.


The February Red

Baked flounder....what a great way to celebrate the day.


Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Royal Coachman

Though a famous historic landmark in Connecticut carries the name of one of the most recognized flies in the world that is not what we are going to focus on here. Now I will tell you that I have plans to visit the tavern for lunch because I have heard some good talk of how good an establishment it is. Also the tavern is located on the banks of the Farmington River and is actually a short distance from where I caught my first brook trout on the Royal Coachman now going on over fifty years ago.


The Royal Coachman streamer....I know many are familiar with the Royal Coachman dry and wet fly versions but how many are familiar with the streamer fly. This fly has been in the lips of many a brook trout and depicted so in some fine paintings. I have in my possession and displayed a painting by Mark Susinno. It shows a magnificent brook trout in hot pursuit  of a Royal Coachman streamer.

Just a few hundred yards upriver from the tavern along a swift stretch I started fishing the streamer. Remember this was an early time in my fly fishing and it was pure speculation that I knew what i was doing. The streamer was cast downstream and stripped back. Maybe the forth time I felt the hard take of a fish. After some tough going the fish finally gave up. At my thigh was a beautiful brook trout. I carry the Royal Coachman but don't seem to fish it as much....maybe I should reconsider.


Sunday, January 9, 2022

More of your photos...thanks

These are more of the photos sent in by the readers of Small Stream Reflections. Enjoy.

The first photo is of a group of fly tyers that are perhaps the best in the world. These fly tyers are in many places recognized as the best soft hackle, flymph, and spider tyers. Photo courtesy of Ray Tucker.


Adirondacks...Whiteface Mountain...Mike J. photo

Chrome...a steelhead from a Great Lakes tributary. Beaverdam photo.

The "Bomber"...Art Urban's fly...Art Urban photo.

A bluegill, nicely captured in this by Shawn

Adirondack wild brookie...Mike J. photo.


Friday, January 7, 2022


We got our first big snow fall last night. As you can see it was still snowing this morning but the good news is it's winding down. Total snow on the deck is going to be about 10 inches. 

I'm not one for New Years resolutions. Most times it's because I can't keep them. Oh like others I'm steadfast in the thought of this is the year but come February it's all forgotten. This year I made a resolution that I think I have a good chance at fulfilling. That resolution I will share with you.

As soon as the warmer weather returns I am going to focus on the pursuit of warm water fish, bluegills and bass. I have a large variety of local ponds where I can find these fish. This is not such a big challenge but what will make it a bit more of a challenge is the way I will fish for them and what I will use


Hot Cream of Wheat on a snowy winters morn.....

Typical warm water pond...chances are bluegills and bass will be at home here.

A Pumpkinseed beautiful as a wild brookie and quite the fighter on a 3wt fiberglass rod.

What  I intend to use to make my resolution a challenge is I will only use those sparsely tied North Country spiders. Silk bodies, hares mask thorax and two wraps of hackle....

My early thoughts are that the bluegills will take these flies, but will the bass?


Tuesday, January 4, 2022

"Frenchman's" a vision from......

Located in the Upper Pininsula of Michigan there is a place know as Voelker's Pond....down a dirt and stone road one can see only forest. The trees are hemlock, birch and a smattering of maple. The road leads you to and underground fed pond. The water is cold and dark. It's bottom is so thick with dead vegetation and hemlock needles that to try and wade it would be a disaster. The pond is home to resident wild brook trout who have a way of turning a seasoned angler into an incoherent fumbling idiot. But to spend time here will give you a feeling of well being. Come join me for some time on this pond.


As he saw it, so did I...birch and hemlock every where.

The "pond"...a quiet autumn morning. Yes that is a blue jay squawking.

On the pond is a smattering of leaves. Autumn has given me some perfect natural camo. Just under the surface is a soft hackle fly moving it's whispy hackles. A brook trout looks at it's life like movement a moves for it.

The strike reveals the "ponds" boss.

Welcome to Voelker's Pond Connecticut version. For those who have read Voelker's Pond know what I speak of. The book has been an inspiration since I first read it many years ago.

The fly is the first one pictured in the book...a Royal Trude perhaps.


Sunday, January 2, 2022

The last day of 2021

December 31st, the morning broke with a cold dampness in the air. I shuffled to the kitchen and made a cup of French roast coffee. Dark hot was the brew and just perfect for such a morning. It had rained the day before and the low hanging fog and drizzle persisted. As I sat drinking coffee I was in thought as to how I was going to bring myself to fish today. In years past I always did my best to fish both New Years Eve day as well as New Years Day. This year it seemed like that was probably not going to happen because of reasons that had made it to difficult....nonsense man! I was going to give it a shot and fish this last day of the year.


I chose a stream that I was familiar with. A stream where most sections were easy to cast and work a fly. The water levels were perfect, and the walk was manageable. Caution was place as the wet leaves and rocks made for "walking on marbles" take effect. The woods were quiet and a nice feeling of peaceful solitude took over. It felt good after so long to be casting flies in a stream again. It took a spell before I had my first bite. It came as the fly stopped at the end of the drift and sort of sank slowly towards the bottom. The slight movement as the rod tip came up brought the strike.

My first brookie on the last day of 2021.

Even on a damp cool day in the winter one can find some beauty along the stream.

I continued to fish those slow pockets and managed a hookup or two but failed to bring another to hand. With the thought in mind that this was going to be a one to hand day I prepared to head for the car. That old saying came to mind "how about one more cast" well that one more lead to many more.

And as it turns out it was worth it. As the fly dragged on the surface the brookie rose and grabbed it. This my friends was the last wild jewel of 2021....

As I headed to the car and to a nice hot cup of coffee waiting for me I saw this mallard drake heading off. Good bye 21 and hello 22.....