Friday, November 17, 2017

Quality Over Quantity

All wild brook trout are beautiful. Big males in late fall though, are something special. Of course, there are only a handful of fish species that I have looked at and thought "man that is an ugly fish". I am a very forgiving angler in that way, I think I respect fish for what they really are rather them what people say they are. But, when I'm on a stream that has produced two of my biggest wild CT brook trout, these guys are not really a welcome sight on the end of my line:

This stream I was fishing is a weirdo.  I've never quite gotten the drop on it. I can consistently catch fish there, but for a brook trout stream in southern New England it behaves rather odd. The fish seem very nomadic, and I've spent whole days here fishing really great water in fishy conditions without even a hint that there were fish there. I've read about the random migratory behaviors of brook trout in Labrador. Fish there will move as much as 60 miles in a week, not just straight upstream either. You can't count on a riffle producing fish every day there, fish will be there one day and be gone the next. And they could be right back there the day after that. I think the fish in this little CT stream have a similar lifestyle. There aren't a lot of them, the average size is, well, above average, and they don't sit still. It makes this what I call a  'quality over quantity stream'. You are never going to catch 30 fish in day here, but you might catch a 14 inch brookie if you stick with it and really know what you're doing.

The rod for the day was 7'6" 5wt CGR, which may seem a heavy rod for a small stream, but at times it is useful for line control and punching longer casts under the brush. You still get a good pull out of a 7 inch brook trout on a fiberglass 5wt. The fly of choice is my favorite fly: the Ausable Ugly. Rich Garfield really made a winner with that one. I like it more than a all of my own patterns, and although I'm partial to the Hare of the Dog, Pine Special, Crazy Shrimp, and Floss Pinkie, the Ugly puts them all to shame.

My first brookie came an hour and a half into the outing. The second came half an hour after the first, the third another hour minutes later, and the fourth and final about 35 minutes after the third. Like I said, not a number stream.

The third brookie was the show stopper, the fish I was looking for. He was gorgeous: dark olive back, deep orange spots and belly with the trademark late fall black shading, bright white fins, big broad tail, deep purple mouth with gnarly teeth... this was a brookie worthy of the name. Though not the biggest fish in the stream, it was one of those I deemed worthy of reflection, so after he kicked away I did just that. I sat and meditated for a couple minutes before going back to working the water. I think there are a lot of young anglers in this age of instant gratification that could benefit from that every now and then.

Release a special fish, sit back, breath the fresh air, and take in the surroundings. These are the things that make life worth living.


  1. That is one beautiful brook trout, especially for a small stream. Your post was a great read.

    1. Thanks,
      Small streams grow some of the best looking brookies.

  2. Well said Rowan! That trout was a mind stopper and your description of why we fish says it all.
    Glad to see the water levels up.
    Great post!
    Tie, fish, write and photo on...

    1. On the contrary. Fish like that MAKE me think!

  3. That is a really good essay. And lots to ponder there!
    You are also making me even more ecstatic about the brook char I caught in September. And that migration thing--the river I caught that char in--and two others in the weeks before--may have that migratory behavior, too.

    As for the fallfish, well, I think they are great! :-)

    1. I'll fish for fallfish any time, but when I'm trying to catch 10-15 inch brook trout they are not so welcome.