I left before the sun was up this morning. My destination was a wild trout stream just under 20 miles away from home. My plan was to fish a few streams on the way there and on the way back, starting with one that produced well next year. It was a chilly morning. I could see my breath.
The first stream I fished almost gave me a heart attack. Last year it was great. Tons of big beautiful brookies, plenty of juveniles, cool tannin stained water. Today the water was warm and muddy. I was concerned to say the least! I later discovered that beavers had made some significant changes to a pond and this had made the stream deteriorate. But would there be brook trout?
Yes! I caught five in one pool and decided not to stress them any more. It was still dark, but a Mickey Finn took a few beauts.
Last year I saw a fourteen inch brooky in the spot above. This year I couldn't see the bottom. I decided to eat breakfast with the beavers. There were two. One just swan around and kept an eye on me while the other ate, did tail slaps, and worked on the hut.
Then it was on to stream number two. This one is low gradient, weedy, classic brown trout water. It used to be stocked but hasn't been for a long time, so the fish are all wild. They are also a pain in the butt. I was into some right away though, using a crayfish streamer. Not browns, but big fallfish! These things fight!
A surprise bonus... I got a nice rock bass! I wish I caught these guys more often, they are pretty nifty.
I then spent the next two hours getting my butt kicked. I still haven't landed a brown on this stretch, but today I had takes, chases, and I even broke a really good one off. Frustration got the best of me and I left.
I looked at the map and saw a spot where a nearby road crossed a stream. I was about to find something amazing.
As soon as I looked into the water I knew this was a special place. When I stepped into it I realized that it was REALLY special. The water was freezing. It was a very cold, low gradient stream with good flow and amazingly good plant life. By definition, this is a spring creek. A spring creek that has never been stocked and turned out to be loaded with brookies. The fishing was not easy. I saw thousands of brook trout, but I caught only three. But that's not the point. I have never seen so many brook trout. The habitat wasn't just suitable, it was pristine. And some of the brook trout I saw were legitimately huge. In one pool a group of 5-14 inchers was cruising around and I was watching them with my full attention. Then I felt a bump on my right leg. I had been standing still for a very long time, but I was still startled to see that an enormous brooky had glided up next to my leg. It was all of 17 inches, probably bigger. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Yet, as soon as my fly and line hit the water, the fish spooked. I almost guarantee this gets little to no fishing pressure, so the hyper clarity of the water and it's calmness is likely to blame.
I did catch a few small brookies, but these photos don't do justice. The bellies were soooo red. it was amazing. They would only go for a partridge and flash soft hackle in size 16.
The next stream I checked was suggested by a friend. It did have brookies, but they were all tiny.
The final stream of the day is one I'm quite familiar with, and even though it was low it gave up some gorgeous brook trout. Some are getting colored up. I can't really focus right now though, I'm imagining what the special stream will be like in a month or two....