Sunday, June 28, 2015

Journey to a White Mountain Remote Pond

A remote wild brook trout pond in the White Mountains of NH.

Yesterday I made a trip to a remote trout pond in the White Mountains. At 2600', this is one of the highest elevation trout ponds in the Whites. Its waters are crystal clear with the blue-green tint characteristic of these high elevation ponds. Unlike most other remote ponds in New Hampshire, this pond is not stocked by helicopter. These trout are wild, spawning in the outlet stream and possibly around the numerous springs within the pond itself.

I arrived at the trailhead at 8:25 AM. No other cars in sight. Perfect.

In my excitement I half ran/half walked the 1.5 mile, 800 foot vertical trail in about half an hour. I was greeted with the sight of fish rising on the glassy surface of the pond. All around the pond dimples formed on the surface.

I couldn't see what they were rising to, but I decided to try an Ausable Wulff. Armed with ym 2 weight, I waded into the shallow outlet of the pond and began casting. On the second cast I watched as a brookie rose from the depths, paused, then smashed my fly. 

The next cast had the same result. It went on like this, with fish nearly every cast, until about 11 am.

 I was worried that the bite may have turned off for the day, but I moved up the shoreline to a small tributary. The water in the pond was quite cold, probably somewhere in the upper 50s, but the water in the stream was frigid! It couldn't have been warmer than the low 40s. 

Brookies were stacked up near the tributary - I caught at least 10 within a 50 foot radius.

New Hampshire Remote Pond Brook Trout
I continued to catch fish after fish as I traveled around the pond. Every time I thought the fish had stopped biting, another fish proved me wrong. 

I lost count of the fish I caught. It was easily 50, but it could have been 100. 

The brookies destroyed my Wulff, so I moved on to a Light Cahill, but the brookies didn't mind the change.

It was an incredible day. Never in my life have I caught so many trout, and the fact that all came on dries is icing on the cake. I can't wait to head back again.

How to be a Wild Trout Detective: Part II

Part I Here

Digging Deeper

Once you've thoroughly searched the web for mentions of wild trout streams in your state (see Part I), you should have a solid list of streams. But they might be too far away for easy travel or they might be popular destinations, and therefore crowded. What can you do to find more streams?

Fish Surveys

Many state fish and game departments perform electroshocking surveys on streams. Oftentimes, they publish reports which can be found online. Massachusetts publishes them as part of "Water Quality Assessments" (see Part I for link) which examine several water quality metrics, including fish species. The best trout streams are dominated by trout, with lesser numbers of blacknose dace and/or slimy sculpins. If a stream has few trout relative to other species and/or warmwater species present, the trout fishing may be marginal. There's still a possibility that they hold nice trout though, as some of the biggest trout in a system are often found in marginal water, so don't count this kind of stream out entirely.

Water Quality

Water Quality data is readily available in most states. While it is conveniently paired with fish survey data in MA, it is often reported separately. The two most important metrics for trout are temperature and pH.

A trout stream should ideally never go above 20 C (~68 F), but trout can survive higher temps if they are infrequent. Some streams have springs that serve as cold water refuge for trout in streams that are otherwise too warm, so warmer streams can still hold trout. Regardless, look for streams that stay sufficiently cold first - they are most likely to have a large trout population.

The ideal pH for a trout stream is between 7 and 8. Aquatic insects thrive in these conditions, giving trout a larger food base. Streams with pH between 7 and 8 are also more likely to contain brown or rainbow trout, which have a lower tolerance for acidity than brook trout, which can survive in streams down to pH 5.0. Streams that flow through limestone or other carbonate based rock often have ideal pH, while streams that flow through granite are often acidic, especially in areas affected by acid rain.

Aquifers (See Full Post Here)

Aquifers provide cold ground water to streams, keeping them within the ideal temperature range for trout. Because aquifers are often a source of drinking water, they are well-documented and often available as map overlays (see MA Oliver from Part I). All other things being equal, streams that flow through/near aquifers will usually be better trout habitat than streams away from aquifers.


In warmer, low elevation areas, like Eastern MA, high-gradient (steep) streams often provide the best trout habitat, as they don't have much time to warm as they flow quickly downhill. Some lower gradient streams get too warm in these areas, but those that don't provide excellent trout fishing. Lower gradient streams are often better in high elevation areas, as they are one of the few areas the water can slow down enough to form the deep pools needed by large trout.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


On one of my recent small stream trips I decided to switch it up and fish a bigger body of water. As the second largest body of freshwater in the state, the Wachusett Reservoir certainly qualifies as "bigger".

Though I was too late for the reservoir's famed Lakers and Landlocked Salmon, I hoped to find some of the monster Smallmouth Bass I've heard inhabit its waters.

I got one decent smallmouth from the main shoreline before the wind drive me into a cove. There, I found a nice sized largemouth slowly cruising one section of shoreline. I tried every fly in my box - wooly buggers, poppers, and finally a mouse, but I couldn't entice it to do anymore than take a quick look at my fly.

Just as I was about to leave, I ended up getting a hit on the mouse from this small rock bass - I'm not sure how he would have swallowed a real mouse, but props to him for the effort.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Factory Brookies

Last week I fished a new stretch of the Meadow Stream. This section flows through some woods between two factories, and the several concrete structures in the stream point to an industrial past. Although it wasn't the prettiest stretch of water, I found a few nice brookies in the deep pools formed by these artificial structures.

Massachusetts Wild Native Brook Trout

Massachusetts Wild Native Brook Trout

Massachusetts Wild Native Brook Trout

Massachusetts Wild Native Brook Trout

Friday, June 19, 2015

More Small Stream Brookies

If you've read any of my recent posts, you've probably noticed I like fishing small streams. A lot.

Here's some more brookies from the "Meadow Stream" I mentioned in a previous post. All were caught on dries - I'm happy I can to say I haven't tied on a nymph in months :).

This meadow is my new favorite place to fish dries. The water is deep and flat, so you can see the fish as it rises through the water column. Sometimes it's a slow, cautious rise, where time seems to slow down as the trout moves its tail side to side. Other times it's a vicious strike, visible only as a greenish streak moving upwards, followed by a splash and an airborne brookie. But the riseform doesn't matter to me - it's always a thrill.

On another note, Mountain Laurel, my favorite wildflower, is in bloom right now. The bloom is waning in Eastern MA, but it should still be good at higher elevations. They tend to grow well near trout streams - be on the lookout for white and pink!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Pic Dump

A few pictures from the last few weeks:

Sunday, June 7, 2015

New Find at an Old Favorite

Yesterday I fished a couple of my "Home Waters" - the streams I fish most often. I these streams well, but I still learn new things every time I fish them.

I started out on one stream and didn't even get a nibble, despite good conditions. Maybe someone fished through ahead of me? I've never seen anyone else fishing here, but I don't know how else to explain the lack of bites.

I moved on to the other stream. This stream has given up some nice brook trout over the years, but there s only a short stretch of good trout water - or so I thought. After catching a few brookies from the good stretch, I weighed my options: I could go back to the other stream and try again, move to a different, but likely unproductive, section of the current stream, or go home. I ultimately decided to explore another section of the current stream.

This section begins in a meadow full of thick brush. The only other time I fished here I caught only one trout and spent most of my time untangling my fly from the bushes. I was pleasantly surprised to catch several nice brookies in this stretch.

I took my newfound confidence and forged on to a section of the stream I'd never explored. After passing through a swampy area upstream of the meadow, I saw a beautiful forested ravine. The ravine is well-forested by hemlock and white pine, so there's little undergrowth. The gradient of the stream in this section is much higher than in the meadow, and the water tumbles down through one plunge pool after another - textbook brook trout water.

I spent a couple of hours working my way upstream, picking up a brookie or two out of every pool. The lack of underbrush made for easy casting and my new 2 weight Echo Carbon delivered my dry gently every time.