Yesterday, I decided to switch back to Brook Trout hunting, so I switched to a nearby freestone stream that has a stretch where Brookies use to be. I fished this stretch last year and was unable to catch any. The only brook trout that I saw there last year was a dead one of about 12 inches. It was freshly dead and belly up in some slack water. I knew by the white fin marking, but I had to get a closer look. It was sad for me. Here I had been trying to find the only native trout in my area where they once flourished, and there beached in in the rocks was a nice sized dead one.
I can not say enough times that as catch and release fisherman that we must treat the fish well. Don’t throw them in the water. Don’t hold them by their mouth and hang them. If you are going to let it go, treat it with the greatest care that you can.
Back to the hunt. It was the first day in a week where the wind wouldn’t have the upper hand over me, but it was cold. When I stopped to water a bush on my hike in, steam rose from my stream. I had to wear gloves or my hands wouldn’t be useful. I started at an old bridge that I knew would likely hold a few trout.
Between the cold and the wind lately, there has not been much in the way of emerging bugs. Most of the water in this river at this spot was about 6-8” deep, but under this bridge the water was at least two and half feet deep- a hole. I tied on one of my own mayfly patterns- the Golden Ear, and I went to work. I landed four brown trout out of that hole, but still no Brookies. I moved on and worked my way to anywhere the water was slightly deeper than the norm. It was rough fly fishing past the bridge. A half cast to maybe one cast type of fishing. Half meaning that there was a good holding spot, but it would be impossible to cast there without scaring the fish. Maybe the famous Tenkara bow arrow cast would work, but it would still take lots of luck too. In other words the trees owned the water. I did a lot of wading in-between fishable water. I ended up netting about eight brown trout and missing a bunch more. At the end this long stretch of water is a dam and I knew that there could be a brookie there. I quickly hooked several browns in the tail water of the dam, but landed none. Then no more hits.
I tied on the heaviest nymph and cast my line into the dam churn- holding my rod tip up with the line taut. The canopy of trees in my area made any maneuver difficult. The water forced my fly down and not long after I had a larger fish on. It was soon off because of my inability to move my rod in the trees. I tried again with a little more mental organization. One minute past. Then five minutes past. I was ready to pack it up and then my line went down. Another larger fish on. He pulled and I pulled. He turned and I counter turned. I was going to land this one. I was prepared for him both mentally and physically. I could tell he was well hooked. I was not going to give an inch, but it seemed that he wasn’t going to either. I could not get him to surface. He fought and fought- never showing me much of him. I finally had him under control, but he still would not surface.
His dark shape was at my feet in the foot and a half deep water. I tried moving the net in while keep the rod away from the trees, and that’s all he needed. He shot between my legs and got off and disappeared- never showing my what he was.
The hike back to the car was beautiful. It was warmer now and I didn’t need my gloves anymore. I kept wondering about that fish and hoping that he would still be there if I ever came back this way. Maybe he was a brook trout, but I’ll never know.
To date I have caught one Brook Trout, 9 Rainbow Trout, and 110 Brown trout in the 2012 season