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.



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