Finding solitude and success along the creek less traveled.
As I snaked my way through the thick woods, the sound of the brook rushing along was getting louder. My anticipation was greeted at the bank of the stream by a beautifully colored brown trout holding in the crystal clear pool.
I carefully placed the small bead head nymph just upstream of the fish with a roll cast, and as it drifted by, it turned, and took the fly. It darted downstream from its lair up onto a gravel bar and made a turn just in time for me to bring it to the net. I admired its colors and gently released it back into the clear cold water.
These small streams are scattered all along the Northeast, from the mountains on out to the coast. The best part is that many of them are lightly or not fished at all. Many anglers bypass these smaller creeks or don’t even think there are any fish there to be caught there. Brown and rainbow trout and even native brookies find solitude in these little out of the way creeks that meander quietly through some of the most remote, and sometimes more populated locales. With a little exploring you can find these secluded spots for a quiet score.
I really look forward to fishing these waters in the late fall and winter when other fishing is winding down. The waters have cooled down and the trout will be more active. It is very relaxing to fish these small brooks, working from one pool to another, never knowing what the next cast will bring. Some of the creeks hold some really nice brown and rainbow trout especially if these streams are connected to lakes that are stocked. Some of these vagabond trout will move out of the lakes and take up residence in the streams.
Check your state trout stocking lists for your area and see when the fall winter stockings take place. This will add to the holdover and native populations.
I try to keep the tackle on the simple and light side of things. A 5- or 6-foot spinning rod with 2- to 4-pound test mono, and perhaps a fly rod in the 4- or 5-weight class will get everything done in these small streams and creeks. Casting room will be at a premium so keeping the rods shorter will go a long way. Many times you won’t actually be casting but rather drifting your bait or fly along into the pools. Walking quietly along the banks will also help in not spooking the wariest trout.
If using spinning tackle, small Mepps and Rooster Tail spinners work well, a do tiny feathered jigs tied from marabou. Live baits such as the common earthworm and mealworms will also get a trout’s attention. On the fly rod, scud patterns and small streamers along with bead headed nymphs will get you some action.
Needless to say, if you’re venturing out on a colder day make sure to dress warm; neoprene waders are a good choice as waters get cooler. Also remember to hydrate if hiking long distances. I also like to tote along a Thermos with a warm beverage around my neck.
Most of the trout in these small waters will not be huge, but this type of fishing is not about the size of the fish. For me, it’s the surroundings that count, the fall foliage or snow covered trees, and the sound of the babbling brook tumbling into deep pools populated by one of nature’s most beautiful fish.