Friday, November 23, 2018

Don't Overlook ANYTHING!

It's amazing what water I've caught trout out of over the years. Really hard stuff, so white and fast and frothy it'd seem like a fish couldn't possibly hold position. Soft, almost still water only 4 inches deep and right out in open sunlight. That's always a surprise. Step pools between waterfalls. I always wonder how long those fish had been there. I've learned throughout the years that there is, over the course of the year, very little water that I'd overlook circumstantially. Everything has it's time and place. This time of year the fish are in transition. They're mostly done spawning, it's getting cold fast, and the fish have a lot to do really quickly. They have to eat a lot to bulk back up, they also have to get into winter lies which are typically the polar opposite of the water they spawned in. In very small wild brook trout streams good wintering holes can be a long way from spawning water sometimes. So this time of year the fish are moving a lot, and you may find them in places you wouldn't quite expect as they transition.

The other day I was on a brook trout stream moving up, picking the pockets. There's a long rock slide that I climb with one little step in the middle. As I approached that step I saw the tell-tail olive colored back and red fins of a brook trout. This water was only inches deep. There was a little bit of cover there in the form of a fallen birch tree and an overhanging rock, but believe me when I say this fish was in barely any water at all. Hardly anybody would give this little step much thought, including myself most times.

I made a few casts and the fish showed interest by following right to the edge of the step each time. Eventually I took the hint and just let the fly settle. The fish picked it up off the bottom. The hook-set alone was enough to pull it out of two inches of water. At hand it was pretty obvious that I had caught this fish before. Last time was 100 yards upstream about a month before and she was gravid. Now she was quite thin and I kind of felt bad for catching her again. I hope she spawned successfully. This stream has been so dramatically changed over the last year that I can't help believe that it was challenging for the brookies. But that's a story for another day.

Basically, the what you should take from this is to fish a stream as thoroughly as possible and that water depth isn't a particularly important factor in what determines holding water vs. dead water, especially in mountain streams. Don't overlook anything with cover and a little current. This goes for just about any species in any water body really, fish follow their own rules first an foremost. I could go one and on: big bass in seasonal springs, carp tailing in storm drains, striped bass in mosquito ditches... you could miss out on something really special if you don't give everything its due.

The water just brushed my gravel guard where that fish was sitting. 
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Thanks for joining the adventure, and tight lines. 


  1. At this point, I'm 79, I'm very selective about where I fish. I fish only easy scenic locations. When I was younger I fished plenty of urban sites. For example, fishing for Tommy Cod beneath the GW bridge and Saddle River for trout (suburban, like fishing in someone's backyard). Keep up the good work.

    1. Sure. But that's not really the point of this post. This stream is about as scenic as they get. Easy casting too. But there's water in any scenic, easy trout river that hold fish but gets overlooked.

  2. Keep it up my brother! Your blog is awesome, educational and a ton of fun to read!