Month: June 2016

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.

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” 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 ?

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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 !

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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.

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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 !

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

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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.