Little B’s Continued

As you can tell I have a special love for fishing small streams and brooks. They, in an of themselves, create a certain peace and serenity that I definitely need often considering what I do as a profession, and what daily life throws at me.  They provide an intimacy with fly fishing that larger creeks, streams, and rivers do not have. Also, I feel that natures surroundings look more beautiful even though mountain laurel grows along larger flowing water, too.


” Little B’s ” whether they are named or unnamed waters generate curiosity as you explore them. Are they cool spring fed trickles or are they warmer wetlands drainage from a beaver impoundment or swamp ? Do they hold fish ?


They create casting challenges like no other ! You may think your a hot shot caster on a river like the Farmington or Housatonic but, can you cast 20, 30, or even 40 feet in tight cover and confined spaces ? Even if a stream has a somewhat open canopy above, your never going to have enough space along the edges to cast freely like you would on an open river. I know that in certain circumstances you can get very close and catch some fish but to be more successful more often, distance is the key !


In the above caption, I covered the tail of the pool first and moved off to the side for more casting freedom. I also have shot successive casts further and further up to the head of this pool. That picture is not an optical illusion, it is about 25-30 feet up to the head of it. And, that’s where a few brookies were.


People often ignore casting around structure, whether it is the fact that they don’t want to lose a fly or they are not confident of their casting accuracy, I don’t know. I see it while fishing the larger rivers, too. Structure in any river large or small is apt to hold fish ! So, I’ll fish that stuff hard- behind it, around it, and even over it. Let that stuff help you get better drifts !


Brookies and browns are very structure oriented and if the water has any depth to it then it should hold something.


This time of the year, fish start to gravitate to the pools for water depth and cover. Pools also collect a greater portion of food for the fish.

As they begin to congregate, they develop a hierarchy so that the largest fish take up spaces that offer the most food, greatest water depth, and most oxygen. The smaller ones stay away from the bigger ones for obvious reasons- they could get eaten !

With that said, oftentimes, the largest fish are the most aggressive- they need the most food. So, if you catch a small one or two in the head or tail or even in the middle off to the side, then fish out the pool to see if the largest is still there. But, if you catch the largest and most dominant fish first, then move on- you caught the best fish !

20160608_141334This guy is gonna dominant a whole block !

Little B’s

Little B’s are those tiny little brooks that you see on maps or perhaps drive by in your car on your way to work that seem too small to sustain any life, however, if you stop and actually look, these ” little b’s ” are much more dynamic than they appear even from 10 feet away, looking down from a road or along a ridge line of the forest. 20160523_114648

I try and not post pictures that are too revealing in an attempt to protect the fragility of these little jems because they can not support hordes of fisherman seeking to slaughter brook trout for the frying pan. I do realize that there are some small stream die-hards and aficionados that might pick up the location(s) of some of these pictures but I know that they will keep hush, and let me know if one is too revealing !20160523_123628

Here in CT., most of our little b’s start out as tiny trickles from swampy or bogy pockets of water within a watershed area. Or, if they are luck, tiny spring seeps from underground water held within outcroppings of slate, shale, or limestone. Our geologic make-up is mostly a glacial till mess but we do have some small pockets of these special stones. These seemingly meaningless drabs of running water move on and on to become viable streams and brooks. And, they progress onward to become larger and larger waterways to form higher order rivers and eventually end up in our great seas and oceans of the world.

So, you can see that by not paying attention to these little b’s and letting careless pollution or development carry on without strict oversight can harm us all eventually ! Now I’m not here to spout off about global warming, climate change, or any of the other hot bed environmental issue- I’m simply stating that at the local level, we have dramatic implications regarding preserving our cold water sources because without cold water sources that are clean and pure the trout don’t survive and if the trout don’t survive, we don’t survive !20160523_130325

And, those tiny trickles pick up volume and size and move on down stream into larger Little B’s.20160523_131012

Now they become  Little B’s that are fishable for the most regal of all trout, the eastern brook trout! ( Although technically it’s not a trout but a char )20160523_140743

Each little stream creates little brook trout with distinctive coloring and markings and the true small stream die-hards can tell from pictures which brooks or watersheds they are from. These markings are their name tags and can indicate what type of water quality they have and/or food supply. They also show whether or not they have a good supply of gene pool mixing which can signal if they are going to survive as a species or ultimately perish.

How can they perish ? Well, if a portion of the brook dries out due to a micro draught or poorly designed development drains underwater aquifers, or a new road with poorly designed drainage cuts the species off from one another, the gene pool eventually weakens and the species as a whole becomes weaker and unable to survive the rigor of nature and man’s impact on their existence. In addition, dams, poor viaducts, and other naturally permanent and semi-permanent barriers can cut them off from one another.

Connecticut, through TU chapters and other conservation groups, with the help of DEEP,  are making headways  into reestablishing headwaters but it is a long and slow process- too long, slow and costly , but it is being done none-the-less.

Also, DEEP with the aid of UCONN, are monitoring some streams and collecting DNA from brook trout to study how all these factors come into play. Fascinating stuff !20160523_121322

Water seeps that squish under your feet turn to trickles like before that ultimately become what we all come to recognize as an eastern brook trout stream with pockets and pools. A pool like this is substantial and surely holds fish if approached and fished properly. Pools create a food supply (a grocery store for the fish), and they have water depth which is one of the most important forms of shelter for them. Pools that remain cool help fish survive the summer and draughts. They also help survive the winter and ice. Finally, they can hide from predators like mink, otter, raccoons, water snakes, bear, and us !20160523_142547

Pools also help the larger brookies survive-they are the ones most apt to reproduce !20160523_131607

The very heads of pools are where some of the best brookies are found. They provide the first available food source, they provide the most oxygen, and often the best shelter in the form of undercut rocks…but…not always ! Sometimes the tail of the pool is the deepest, has the best hiding, and funnels the most food !20160523_112449

This one was in one of those pools, at the very head where the water first comes into it. Sorry for the blur, my camera’s auto focus sometimes does not agree with the ever-changing lighting and stream conditions.

I’m not a gear freak by any means but the rod pictured is perhaps the best small stream rod on the planet. It is an ADG Titanium 7 1/2 foot 6 weight rod. The late David Ahn teamed up with Joe Humphreys, who is perhaps the best mountain stream fly-fisher in American history, to create such a rod. It is light, sensitive, durable, and powerful. A 6 weight in brush you ask? Yes. Joe over decades of fishing the mountain brush feels that the heavier weight of a 5 or 6 weight double taper line helps load your rod quicker, faster, and right off the tip so you can get distance in the brush with some casts and hardly even move the rod while your doing it. Having seen it, been taught by him for many, many years, and fishing myself, I can attest to his beliefs- it works, trust me ! ( I do have to say, that I’m not a fan of the fighting butt on ADG’s newer brush models- sorry Jubie- but, I’m being far with my assessment. Otherwise it’s a top notch brush rod ! )20160523_114041 Even at high noon, the sun has a hard time shining through the forested canopy. This also is a protective barrier (many  parts of the Appalachian mountain chain have seen a dramatic degradation of the eastern brook trout through decades of poor lumbering practices). But,20160523_110303

Finally, carry a thermometer with you. You must follow the water  temps ! For example, there is a promising looking small brook that should be a great Little B , not that far from my home, but it drains a large beaver dam impoundment so it warms up very quickly. But, as it moves deeper into the woods, it cools down somewhat, picks up some spring seeps and cools down- that’s where the trout will be !

You can’t be a slave it either. Brook trout can be conditioned to higher water temps if they are trapped but, it must have a good food supply, have high nutrient and water quality, and most of all remain highly oxygenated . I know of a Little B in Litchfield County that gets into the low 70’s in the summer yet brook trout thrive in it because it runs through a dark forest with a steep gradient and remains well oxygenated.


Lessons Along a Stream

It has been cold, raw, gray, and rainy this week but despite that fact, I managed to get a few days of fishing in and enjoy what God has created. My career in EMS has afforded me the time and opportunity to both guide on the side, fish on my own ,or fish with friends and family. It also has given me a unique perspective on life and as a result, I think it has heightened my enjoyment for fly fishing, the surroundings it is done in, and life in general. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as competitive as the next guy – I’m just not wrapped up in posting nothing but size and numbers of fish. For me, it is more of a pleasure to share, write, and teach what I know.

I chose a smallish Eastern Connecticut stream to fish today. It has good water quality, plenty of woody debris,  cool springs and  seeps, and boggy areas to maintain a water table which will become very important later in the season. It does receive some stocking from the state but the area I fished today is a distance from any convenient stocking point and I am not aware of it having been float stocked in some time. Fish do tend to spread out over time but it is a misconception that stocked trout will always migrate out of an area unless heavy rains, spawning urges, or stream temperatures moves them faster. Therefore, I suspect that the brookies I caught today were either native born and/or from a previous stocking(s) and were given the time to gravitate to suitable water for them.

Come along with me and read the captions as I explain them. I hope that you  enjoy them and learn something, too.


The stream is surrounded by giant Hemlocks and other pines, and they help keep the area cool and covered. It isn’t a concern now, but come late June, July ,and August, they become life savers for the inhabitants of the stream. Connecticut was largely deforested during the colonial era and into the early industrial era-we as a state are much more forested now than ever before. So, can anyone guess how old these trees are ?


I don’t know many names of the wild flowers that grow on the forest floor underneath the giant hemlocks but I do have a friend who is very knowledgeable and should ask him more often. Again, look down, look around, and look up. You will find a whole host of wondrous things to admire as you fish and it will add to the enjoyment.  


We have gotten some water back since our drought last summer but we are still short a few inches. These boggy/sinkhole areas hold water and slowly contribute to the ground water table. Somewhere and at some point water from here will make it to the stream in the form of an underground spring and/or cold water seep. If your stream has these in sufficient quantity, then the overall water table will remain good. If they run straight into the stream, then it could add warm water into it  which wouldn’t necessarily be beneficial, plus it would most likely dry up and have a limited impact overall. 


This is a major source of cold water for this particular stream and I suspect it is why I caught the brookies in this vicinity. Water temps aren’t much of a concern now but as the summer progresses, they do become vital to the trout’s survival. Hence, I believe they either migrated to this source as a stocker at some point and/or were native born and migrated. Trout are amazing creatures- they find a way to survive year after year.


Always carry a thermometer ! It will tell you a lot like: where the cold water is; where fish might be; or how active they may be and what type of fishing you are going to have to do. For example: Is the water super cold and the fish sluggish, then you might have to slowly nymph the bottom? Or, are the fish active because the water is at their optimum temperature range and you can fish either dries. wets, nymphs or streamers.

This water temp was actually 46 degrees and taken from the spring in the previous photo( my fingers holding the thermometer started raising the temperature while I was trying to get a clear photo ).


The water temperature of the main stream has been 50-52 degrees this past week because of the cold front. The differences aren’t great now but like I said, come July if the main stream is 68-70 degrees and the springs are 50-52 degrees, then trout will migrate from all over to take advantage of thermal refuge no matter how slight or how small it is….they find a way to survive….year after year !


Seine the bottom of the stream or look under rocks and vegetation and find out what is there and when it is there. Pick your fly patterns to mimic the prevailing insects or the most active ones.


Trout like safety and cover. They also like shelter from the currents. Look for areas of the stream that display these and more often than not, you’ll find fish. Don’t hesitate to fish around woody debris too. It provides overhead cover, it provides velocity changes from the current, and it attracts other food sources as well. If you loose flies, you loose flies…at least you gave it a shot.


Fish the edges of the bank, they provide food sources and velocity changes. This particular stream has many undercut banks that provide some of the best shelter of all. Fish the riffled water, it is the grocery store of the stream. Riffles provide oxygen to the stream, it provides cover in the form of broken water, and another food source.


Fish the bends and soft seams- they love this kind of set-up.


You don’t have to go crazy with exact representations of food sources. A general Hares Ear nymph imitates nothing in particular but mimics everything in general. Several sizes,colors ,and weights is all that is necessary on most of your Eastern CT streams- most are not all that fertile in terms of biomass.  


This brookie is the size of a typical stocked trout but its fins are pretty well formed and not mangled or clipped like most stocked fish are. I don’t think that it is a truly wild fish, it could be from a previous stocking. If that is the case, it migrated to its spot probably in search of a cold water source. I caught one other brookie in the same spot that was less than 6 inches and was certain that it was native. It wasn’t very cooperative for a picture and too small to hold in my net.


Pictured is the nest or redd of a fallfish. They inhabit this stream too. They spawn in the spring and build these nests. This one is about the size of a small beach ball. They suck in rocks and stones into their mouths and deposit them into a nest pile. They are very obvious to see. This picture is obscured by the tail of a pool and the fact that it was raining as well. Plus, I admit that I am not a great photographer, either. Please don’t disturb them. Some of the fall fish can obtain near trout sizes and fight equally as well.



Fly Caught Trout

One of the greatest pleasures a guide can experience is seeing the look of joy in a new fly-fisher’s face when they catch their first fly-caught trout. Today I had that pleasure.

I met up with a new client of mine, Louis, and fished the Natchaug River together. The mid-morning started off slow but as the water and air temperatures climbed, the action started to heat up. Fortunately for me, the fish  were cooperative and there was a fantastic Quill Gordon spinner fall.

Congratulations Louis and welcome to the club- the crazy obsessed fly-fishing club- because, the look in your eye revealed that you are hooked !

Brrrrr….Spring in New England & CT


Scott Radian 9 ‘ 6 wgt. with a Hatch Finatic 5



This smallish rainbow was in a fast water pocket



This holdover  bruiser was in  deep, soft water adjacent to a fast run



Another decent brown in the same type of water as the larger holdover



A recently stocked rainbow



A freshly stocked brookie



Hendrickson Nymphs

As the old saying goes:  ” If you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute ! ” Well, it’s not like that literally but close to it. 2015 and the start of 2016 weather has been crazy to say the least. We had March like weather in February, May like weather in March, and now February like weather in April ! Ugghhh…

I traveled to the Farmington today despite the cold temperature and blustery wind to get my fill of fishing before I start my 3 day rotation and the start of fishing season. I went to a patch of water in the Burlington section of the river to see if the Hendrickson hatch would come off in this weather. I anticipated that it would- very sparsely- even though the water  and air temps were down ( once it starts, it comes off regardless of the weather but, weather does affect how it progresses ). The hatch started recently due to the prolonged warm winter and early spring. However, it has been very slow, sporadic, and not lasting very long each day. Today some came off around 3 pm and lasted for about 45 minutes. In addition it them, midges and winter caddis were about – also sparsely.

I borrowed a friend’s Scott Radian to try it out. I chose a 6 weight in case I needed to CHUCK streamers, but my intent was to  use nymphs, wets, and possibly dries if any fish were on top. I don’t like to carry multiple rods with me so I like to use a rod that can do it all. I normally fish Orvis Helios 2 series and/or ADG Titanium rods-with my first choice usually being an ADG.

I dabbled with a bit of everything regarding tactics but the most productive was running a cast of three wets spaced 30 inches apart  and deep in the softer seams and worked up slowly through the water column using a long leader and a thin running line to combat the heavy winds today. I didn’t exactly put huge numbers up- I didn’t expect it with our current weather- but I did get enough to put my mind to rest and savor another day on the Farmington completely by myself ! I know that won’t happen again any time soon after Saturday. That being said, I wish everyone a successful opening day and fishing season.

By the way, as you can see from the pictures, some of the trout ( browns ) were holdovers  and the rest were recent stockies straight out of tank # 2 at some point during the past week or so….A fish is a fish though !


A Snapshot in Time

I’ve mentioned it before that we have been lucky with a mild winter this year since the past two or three had been pretty rough. Even though the groundhog predicted an early spring, mother nature has its own way of determining that. The past couple of days have been demoralizing but I still have to think it could always be worse. According to my journal notes from last year we had frigid temperatures everyday for over a month so a few days isn’t that bad. Despite that fact, cold snaps like these past few days make me think back and relive in my head nice days on the stream. This is a video clip of one of them. I was nymphing for brookies on an eastern Connecticut stream.



A Blustery Cold Winter’s Day on the Stream


Notice the green vegetation on the stream bottom ? That indicates springs entering the stream from the bottom.


I’m not a gear junky fanatic so use whatever gear you have. But, use as long of a rod as you can get away with. In this case it is a 9 foot 5 weight Orvis Helios 2 with a Hatch reel and Cortland 444 DT line.  


A long rod can help you play a fish over woody debris and bushes.


A nice size native brookie being landed.


Any brookie under 12 inches is not stocked.


Another one caught in a deep wintering hole.



Final brookie of the day.


Insomnia the night before you start your three day work rotation is never a great way to start your shifts, but I had this blog on my mind among other things so I decided if I can’t sleep I might as well be productive.

I went to my club stream yesterday to fish for an hour or so in the morning since it was the only day this week I was able to get out. The two previous days were bitter cold and windy with gusts up to 50 mph in the Coventry/Mansfield area. I chose my club stream over a local freestone one because it is spring fed and therefore does not freeze over. It is stocked in the spring with a substantial number of browns, rainbows, and a few brookies. The browns and brookies tend to survive the best due in part to the fact that they like to be around structure more. However, I have seen some natural reproduction of rainbows as well over the past 3-4 years. Despite that fact, our members tend to harvest a lot of fish, too. Luckily, the natural reproduction on this particular stream is fantastic and any fish under 12 inches is native. It has become an increasingly tougher brook to fish as the wild populations increase each year.

Very few members fly-fish this stream so I tend to have somewhat of an advantage when it becomes ” difficult ” during certain times of the year when the trout are turned off of bait. That tends to be when the stream is at a summer low and very little in the way of runoff occurs except when it rains heavily or thunderstorms deluge the area. That being said, it is a stream primarily composed of fine gravel, clay, and silt and has a low amount of insect biomass. What makes it such a great fishery is entirely due to the fact that there is a lot and I mean a lot of woody structure and of course it’s spring fed.

The stream gets over grown in the summer and makes working a long rod harder but in the winter and early spring a 9 foot rod is wonderful because you have so much line control and ability to reach over pucker bushes, downed tree limbs, and keeps your nymphs, wets, streamers or dries in drift lanes or thalwigs better. That is a big advantage when you only have one shot at getting a good drift. Also, I nymph traditionally without indicators or sighters, and use weighted nymphs and/or shot so I want that long rod to control my drifts precisely even if it is a small brook or stream.

As I have mentioned previously, this stream does not harbor a huge amount of insect biomass so any generic wet, nymph, or streamer works well at any time of the year. But, egg patterns and any of their derivatives like sucker spawns, etc., are excellent because fish have seen eggs of all types since they were fry and know what they are. Although I’ve use all kinds of colors in the past, natural fleshy tones have out produced everything else and proved so again on this trip.

Yantic River

Yesterday was the first day of my 2016 fishing season.  I journeyed to the Yantic to see how it would fish with higher water levels since we received a goodly amount Sunday. Plus, I had some success on it earlier in the fall after the state stocked it and wanted to see if it remained productive.

I arrived mid-morning with the sky partially sunny, temperature around 30 degrees, and the wind mild. However, within an hour or so, that drastically changed and the temperature with the wind chill made it uncomfortable. I don’t mind fishing in colder temperatures so long as it isn’t windy. Besides, I have never done well in the winter when a cold front is approaching and the temps continue to drop from cold to colder. With that said, I thought I might be able to get a fish or two in some deeper, softer water before it really changed.

The river was higher than it has been in quite some time, cold in the mid-30’s, and slightly stained but still very fishable in sections. I chose an inside bend where a riffle cuts deep into a gut/drop-off and then turns abruptly and creates a deep and slow corner seam. I figured the trout that normally would be nose to gravel on the edge of the riffle/drop-off would move closer to the shoreline and softer water. And, I was right. I ended up catching two rainbows back-to-back within an hour. One took a white minnow pattern fished dead drift nymphing with a brown wooly worm dropper. The other bow took the dropper. Each fish was a decent stocker that the state put in this fall. The male one might even have been a hold-over from a previous stocking.

With two caught and released in a pretty  short amount of time for winter fishing ( mind you that every few casts I’m placing my hands in my waders and holding hand warmer packets ), and with the wind gust getting stronger by the minute, I took that as a sign to quit while I was ahead and revel in the new year’s successful outing.


A Late Fall Day Along an Eastern Connecticut Stream

We have been blessed with fantastic weather since summer. However, it has come with a price- little to no water ! We have received some back like my previous blog mentioned, but we are still inches short from what we normally should have. November turned out to be one of our warmest ever on record. And, December has been very mild, too ! I’m not complaining though since it has made for some very comfortable fishing days even on our ” frosty ” mornings.

Yesterday was predicted to be another 50 degree day so I decided to hike and explore some more water on this side of the state to assess the damages from our persistent drought. I went to a stream that is stocked in some sections, and may have had some fingerlings put in at some point, but remains predominantly wild in the majority of it. It doesn’t appear to receive much pressure based upon what little trash I came across. I hope it stays that way. It is a jem of a stream and will do my best to protect it. As you can see, it holds decent size wild fish. I’m glad that they survived the summer  and hope they’ll survive this winter, too. We definitely need to keep chipping away at our drought. Anchor ice is one of the greatest winter threats to a trout stream- especially if it is low and the bitter cold hangs in for weeks at a time like last winter.  Perhaps mother nature will be kind this winter.

Natchaug State Forest


Low water for sure. This is even after we’ve gotten back a few inches since summer.


The Trout Park area of the forest is a beautiful place. Although it is heavily fished in terms of ” Eastern CT “, it stays pretty clean of trash. Please keep it that way. Walk out with what you bring in. Better yet take some out with you that someone else carelessly left behind.


The forest is well marked and has numerous marked trails, too.


Typical fall stocked rainbow. The state DEEP chose to stock more rainbows than browns this year for better fishing in terms of catching. They felt the browns get too stressed in the fall and last year they received many complaints about poor catch rates.


This one is probably a holdover from this spring ? It was caught in an area that the state does not stock and migrated to a deeper pool during the summer, probably.


Above Diana’s Pool. This bedrock gorge area is a nympher’s dream if you can wade and get into position- most of the time its difficult if not dangerous !


A giant must have walked through here ages ago. I saw that and thought of the movie Jack the Giant Slayer my son loves to watch. When he’s old enough to wade  I’ll have to show him it.


It always amazes me how rock formations get worn out. How did this start and how long did it take ? We live for only a fragment of time compared to this.


Again, pockets and pool for the dedicated nympher if you can physically wade it.


Beautiful plunge pool for rolling the bottom using Joe Humphreys’s deep nymphing techniques.


I have a hard time and spend a lot of money trying to keep some semblence of a green lawn, yet trees can easily grow in and on rocks…shake my head. Only in nature can it be done !!!


A future rock busting Hemlock. Whose gonna win ? I hope to live long enough to see.


A well protected bee hive.


Woody Woodpecker has been hard at work on this tree…haha…


This tree is a Giant ! It looks to be a decent climbing one too  with well spaced limbs. Some look too weak for me though.


A sad sight…no matter how remote, how ” wild ” a place might be you can always find beer cans…everywhere…all the time. I hate it !!!

The Eastern half of Connecticut took a pretty big hit this summer in terms of fishing conditions due in part to our rain deficits and summer temps. Luckily, it wasn’t super hot this year with weeks of extended 90 plus degree days. Despite that fact however, Eastern streams still get punished. Add to the fact that the state DEEP could not restock most of the major river and streams because of low, warm water conditions, only adds to the frustration of Connecticut fisherman living East of the Connecticut River.

Most of my spring and summer months are devoted to guiding and teaching fly fishing on the Farmington River. So when it becomes late fall and throughout the winter, I like to reconnect to my eastern streams. This fall has not been great to say the least. I have caught fish but they have been tough and only in a few select places- which I will not mention here- not to be a jerk or hoarder over it but to protect what little stocks of fish do remain or have returned from places unknown.

One of my favorite places to visit whether I’m fishing or not is the Natchaug State Forest. It is a vast area and beautiful and is one of the only places in Connecticut that reminds me of some remote streams I love to fish in Pennsylvania. When I can’t travel to that beautiful state, I can at least be reminded of it with state forests in Eastern CT., like the Natchaug. The Salmon is another one, too.