Spurred on by the experiences I had on New Year’s Day, I decided January 2nd should be another day devoted to fishing streams I’d either never fished or had only been to once or twice. Winter is not the best time for small stream exploration simply because the fish are less aggressive, more skittish without tree canopy shade, and often more oddly distributed in the stream. However come spring I’ll have other things on my mind and less urge to spend good weather days of that oh so short season on a “maybe.” Because every new small stream is a big “maybe;” I never know what exactly I can expect.
I initially made my way to the stream that had given up my first trout of the year the night before. I knew I was doing basically the same thing I’d done when I discovered the stream: I’d caught one fat wild brown out of the same plunge pool, revisited it the very next day, then found every other pool seemingly troutless. This trip was an exact repeat. Try as I might, I simply could not find another fish. I suspect they are either very sparsely populated here or simply moving in and out from the river the stream empties into.
The next stream held some promise with one old record of brook trout from the 2000’s. I’d gotten one big take the first time I fished this stream. This time around it was unfortunately even less productive. The water looks very good though so I am fully intent on returning to this one in the spring.
Then I was back on the stream where I’d found the motherload of fallfish the day before. Those were still there, fortunately. However I also wanted to see if the big grab I’d thought felt very trout-like indeed was, and if so I wanted to find more of that fish’s brethren. I made my way to the bend run where I’d had that take without any trouty encounters, but when I stripped my Ausable Ugly through that same spot it was stopped by a solid fish. I set the hook and to the surface rose an angry behemoth, a brook trout well over a foot in length and so girthy it must have been dining on the same fallfish I’d been catching. The hook came unbuttoned and my heart sank. I don’t think that was a holdover fish. I think it was wild. And he was so big. Fallfish aside, this stream had become very interesting.
Downstream, I missed another fish I was sure was a brookie, then finally caught the first of the day. This stream has been an exciting discovery. It isn’t loaded, but it clearly has some large brook trout.
After spending a little time in the headwater of that stream and finding it a little shallow for my liking, I drove over a ridge to a stream in the next watershed over. It was clear and had a high gradient. It reminded me of brook trout waters I’ve fished in the Berkshires and White Mountains. Rumor had it there were large wild trout. Unfortunately access was spotty. I found three access points though, two of which held promise. I didn’t catch or see any fish. I am convinced they were there though.
The fifth and final stream was a tiny drainage I’d seen brook trout in over the spring and summer while visiting a copperhead population. It was so incredibly small that I’d have a very difficult time fishing it, but I knew for a fact that it had fish so I couldn’t resist. I scaled down the ravine with blackberry and raspberry bushes and greenbrier cling to every bit of clothing they touched, trying to find a pool I could get a cast into. Eventually, I was able to drop my fly into a plunge pool and a little brook trout darted out and took.
This was probably the smallest permanent stream I’d caught brook trout from in CT. The handful of smaller streams I’ve done well in are seasonal and the brookies come and go from the streams they flow into just as the water comes and goes with the seasons. This stream emptied directly from the hillside into the Connecticut River, so these fish had to be year-round inhabitants.
Small stream exploration has always been one of the most exciting things in fly fishing for me. I haven’t dedicated as much time to it in the last couple years. 2021 should be the year I get back on that horse.
Until next time,