Sunday, August 23, 2015

A few pics from Western MA

Last Tuesday I travelled to a few streams in the Deerfield River Watershed. These streams stay cool throughout the summer, but they were at quite low levels, which limited the fishing. Luckily I was still able to find a few fish.

Massachusetts Wild Native Brook Trout

Massachusetts Wild Native Brook Trout

Massachusetts Wild Native Brook Trout

Thursday, August 20, 2015

King of the Stream

Yesterday I got out to a favorite small stream for a couple of hours in the morning. This stream is always small, averaging about 3-4 cubic feet per second, but yesterday it was particularly low. The section of fishable water is short, maybe a half mile, but its home to both brown and brook trout.

I caught only one fish yesterday, but what the outing lacked in quantity, it made up in quality. About halfway through the trip I cast my Ausable Wulff into a still pool behind a fallen log. My fly landed just behind the log and began to drift. The next thing I knew, the silence of the stream was broken by an explosive splash. I set the hook and soon had this beautiful brown at hand.

At about 12", this was the largest trout I've caught in this stream. Catching it was a great way to end my last outing of the summer to this stream.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

In Search of the Turquoise Pool

The Pool

I spend a lot of time looking over satellite and topographic map imagery on Caltopo when looking for new streams. I look for things like gradient, impervious cover in the watershed, and tree cover. Most of the time that's all I can really get out of satellite imagery. But sometimes something else catches my eye - a pool. On most of the streams I fish all but the largest pools are obscured by trees. Fortunately, these large pools are exactly what I'm after.

Earlier this year, trapped inside during the cold Minnesota winter, I scanned along a stream in the hills of Western Massachusetts. I knew it would be months before I could fish it, but I needed something to get my small stream fix in the winter.

As I looked at the stream bed of light-colored rocks, I assumed the stream was mostly pocket water and riffles - not bad habitat for trout, but not what I was after. But then I saw a shade of deep turquoise, sandwiched the dark green of hemlock boughs and the light gray of a granite shelf. I had found my pool.

Excited, I marked the spot on my map, then promptly forgot about it. By the time I made a couple trips to the area in May, I ignored it completely. Only this week, when scanning my map for locations to check out this week, did I remember the pool. Now I have a mission. Today I set out in search of the pool. Hopefully reality will meet my expectations, but I'm sure the trip will be worthwhile regardless.

Monday, August 17, 2015


Now is the time to use terrestrials – aquatic insect hatches are waning, but terrestrials are out in force. Grasshoppers, beetles, and ants are all great choices this time of year. They frequently fall into the water, and unlike aquatic insects, they have no way to get out. Trout know terrestrials are vulnerable in the water, and as such are quite willing to hit them.


This year I’ve had a lot of success with the AZ mini hopper. It’s easy and cheap to tie, floats like a cork, and just looks buggy. I’ve been tying them on size 12 streamer hooks, as these are more durable than dry fly hooks and you don’t have to worry about the extra weight on a foam fly. I’ve also tied a few on size 16 dry fly hooks, but I think these better resemble a beetle than a hopper.

This Brookie took a size 16 Mini Hopper
I’m also a big fan of the Turck’s Power Ant. With its long rubber legs, I think it looks more like a spider than an ant. Perhaps non-coincidentally, one of my best days with this fly came when I saw a bunch of large spiders on the bank. It also works great for panfish.

This Brookie took a size 12 Mini Hopper

There’s surely many more terrestrial patterns that produce fish – don’t limit yourself!


Terrestrials work great on small streams – one study I read found that they can make up 85% of a trout’s diet in a small stream. That terrestrials work well on small streams makes a lot of sense – not only are aquatic insects less common on these streams, but a larger portion of the water in a small stream is close enough to the bank for land-borne bugs to fall in. Streams bordering meadows are ideal, as these are home to far more insects than forests, but these streams can also have issues with water temperature at this time of year, so be sure to check the temperature before you fish.

A nice bank pool on a White Mountain Stream 
Terrestrials can also work well on larger rivers and on ponds. A hopper or power ant is my go-to fly when fishing for panfish in lakes with overhanging trees, and sometimes a bass will take a terrestrial. On larger rivers, look for deep water near banks, especially in grassy areas, or areas with many over hanging trees. I’ve heard that even the picky fish at the Swift will take a terrestrial, though I’ve only fished it in winter so I can’t say for sure.


Terrestrials often land hard, so don’t worry too much about finesse when casting. I like to try to cast as close to the bank as possible, but I’ve also caught plenty of fish in the middle of the stream, so it may not be worth the risk of getting snagged. I usually try to dead drift the fly, but sometimes I will give it a small twitch – grasshoppers in particular create a lot of commotion on the water. Don’t spend too much time on any piece of water – terrestrials are east for the fish to see, and they are willing to move a good distance for the large meal, so if you don’t get a bite within the first few casts, the fish in that spot probably aren’t interested.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Weekend in the Whites

This past weekend I drive up to the White Mountains for a quick camping/fishing/hiking getaway. I arrived just before dark Friday night and went to sleep, poised for an early start Saturday morning.

My first destination was the same pond I've fished twice already this year. I was on the trail at 7:00 and, thanks to my excited pace, arrived at the pond around 7:30. It was windy when I got there and I only had my 2 weight, so I moved to the back of the pond, where wind was partially blocked by trees.

I caught a few fish on terrestrials during the first hour, but after that the fishing slowed down relative to my previous trips. I noticed groups of fish congregating near round patches of lighter sediments on the bottom. I realized the lighter sediments must have been caused by springs upwelling through the bottom. The water in the shallows felt a bit warm, so the slow fishing must have been caused by warm water temperatures.

I hiked back down to my car around 11 and drove to a moderately-sized stream nearby. I tied on a size 12 hopper pattern and found fish in nearly every pool. Most were small compared to wild brookies from MA, but they were brilliantly colored and plentiful. Plus, there's nothing like fishing a crystal clear mountain stream.

I found this guy hanging out in a tiny tributary to the river I was hiking to
I hiked back to the pond around 6, hoping to catch an evening hatch, but the only fish rising were out of casting range. I caught one fish and hiked back to my car.

The next day I hiked to a new pond. The fish there are stocked by helicopter as fingerlings, but the views near the pond were spectacular. Several cliffs on the side of Mt. Osceola were visible from the pond. I caught a few small brookies before the action slowed down.

I decided to hike back down and fish a small stream I had crossed on the trail. It turned out to be a great decision. Though the stream was fairly small, the gradient was steep, so there were plenty of deep plunge pools holding fish. I even found a few large pools that were at least 4 feet deep. In one of these I caught the largest brookie of the day.

Small brookie, big appetite
It started to drizzle around noon, so I left for home, content with a great weekend of fishing.

One of the biggest pools...
...and one of its residents.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Fishing for Pond-Dwelling Brook Trout

A high elevation trout pond in the White Mountains
I mostly fish small streams, but I've fished several brook trout ponds this summer. I've found them challenging, but rewarding. Trout in ponds are less spooky than their stream-dwelling relatives, so you can catch fish after fish without putting others down. These trout also have the potential to grow much larger than stream-dwellers, with 12"+ fish common in most ponds.

A small, spring-fed trout pond in southern Maine 
Where to Fish

As long as water temperatures are favorable, trout will tend to hold relatively close to shore. I've found many fish willing to take attractor dries, which leads me to believe terrestrials are an important part of their diet. They also tend to bunch up around inlet streams, which bring both food and cold water. Although these trout are not particularly spooky, they tend to move away from the part of shore where you are standing. It's often best to cast parallel to the shoreline, which has the added benefit of avoiding obstacles in your back cast.

I caught several trout within 10 feet of shore in the area in the center of this picture

Brook trout in ponds readily take both wet and dry flies. I've found that they particularly like dry flies stripped on the surface of the water. Although they will take a dry fly floated still on the surface, I think the added commotion on the surface is important to help attract the attention of trout lurking in deeper water.

Streamers also work well, especially in deeper ponds. Leeches are common in trout ponds, so wooly buggers and other leech imitations are a good bet.


The White Mountains of NH are home to many trout ponds. There are 48 ponds stocked with fingerling brook trout by helicopter, and there are many more accessible ponds stocked with larger fish. There are also a few wild trout ponds (like the one above).

Maine has even more trout ponds, most of which contain wild trout. As expected, the northern part of the state is loaded with ponds, but the southern part has its fair share as well, thanks mainly to large aquifers in the sandy soil.

Beaver ponds in small trout streams can be found throughout New England. Although these tend to be small and don't always hold trout, they can provide some awesome fishing when you find a good one.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Meadow Stream Evening

Last week I found time after work to fish one of my favorite small streams. It was a hot day, but I found the spring-fed stream plenty cold enough for trout, although water levels were a bit low.

Massachusetts Wild Native Brook Trout
I found several trout, although I likely spooked many more in the low, clear water. I had only a couple hours to fish, but it was nice to get out and cool off by wet wading in a cold stream.

Massachusetts Wild Native Brook Trout

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Blueberries and Brook Trout

Yesterday I visited a small wild brook trout pond in southern Maine. The weather was perfect, with temperatures in the low 80s and low humidity. A cool breeze blowing from the nearby ocean also provided comfort, at the expense of easy casting.

The pond is no more than one acre in size, but it's full of brook trout, some up to 12". Springs feed the pond, keeping the water cold throughout the summer. The bottom is muddy, so it is ideally fished from a small boat, but I was able to find a spot where I could wade in far enough to cast. I caught 10 brook trout in the course of an hour, all on dries. The largest of the day was a fat 9" brookie that successfully evaded the camera.

About a quarter mile from the pond is a large meadow of wild blueberry bushes and wildflowers. I think I was a bit late for the blueberries this year, as they were not present in their normal densities, but there were still many to be found after a little hunting.
Wild Blueberries