Tuesday, December 27, 2016

And so ends 2016

Sycamores in the afternoon sun
This afternoon was a warm December day in CT so I decided to take a quite walk along a stream known to produce wild browns.  The water was up from some recent rain so I thought I might be able to find a few browns willing to take a slowly swung brace of wets.

It was pretty quite for the most part so I switched to an Ausable Ugly thinking a heavier, larger fly might attract some interest.  In the last run of the day I found this nice little brown trout.  A nice way to close out a year that was full of great fishing!

The last brown of 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wishing all of you faithful followers of Fishing Small Stream a very Merry Christmas and 
God's blessing to you in the New Year!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dry flies in December

Sun and Shadows on a December afternoon in brook trout forest

An afternoon outing in brook trout forest started out in sun but it wasn't long before the afternoon shadows covered much of the stream.  By the time I was back at the car the temperatures had dropped into the upper 30's.  All the leaves are down now and some rain this past week helped to clear some of the leaf debris from the stream.  I can't think of a better way to spend a December afternoon than outside walking in the woods.

I've had this little personal challenge going to trying to catch trout in every month of the year on a dry.  There are definitely more productive ways to fish in the winter but I just enjoy fishing dries whenever I can.  On this cool December afternoon it wasn't long before I found a few brook trout willing to take a small elk hair caddis off the surface.

A couple of small stream gems
Mission accomplished!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Wishing all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving this year, we all have much to be thankful for!  
Thanks to all of you for following along again this year. God bless - mark

Saturday, November 19, 2016

A tale of two streams

We've had some warm, clear November afternoons this week. Earlier in the week, I spent the day on the Farmington River.  I haven't fished the Farmington in quite awhile and I was curious how it was fishing after the long dry spell we had this summer and are still having into the fall.  I fished hard the whole day with little to show for it except one brown, but who's complaining when you are outside all day.  It was disappointing to see areas of the river drier than I have ever seen them.  Some of those areas held wild brown trout indicating that spawning areas were close by.  I just didn't have the heart to take any pictures.  The highlight of the day was watching a couple bald eagles flying along the river with a crystal clear blue sky above.

A favorite small stream in the early morning sun
Alan and I made plans to meet this morning and fish a favorite small stream together.  Alan commented that it was been about 6 months since we fished together last!  We enjoyed some coffee and muffins and caught up in the warm morning sun.  I choose to fish a dry the entire day and hooked a bunch of wild brook trout bringing a couple to hand.  We commented throughout the day that this particular small stream was pretty healthy probably the result of a number of small springs and seeps in it's upper reaches that had keep the water cool and flowing through the drought.  We spotted lots of brook trout running for cover as we tried crept into position as well as hooked many young trout and a fewer healthy adults.   I fished a elk hair caddis and parachute adams most of the day.

The master at work

There is short video clip of Alan releasing a nice brook trout over on the Fishing Small Streams facebook page

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Small stream longings

The golds of November are dominating the forest
It's been a long time since I've fished a small stream, way too long! So last Sunday afternoon I took a drive to one of my favorite small streams.  Lately the forest has been dominated by the golden leaves of beech and oak which are still stubbornly hanging on to their leaves. This fall it's been a bit unusual in that the trees have been changing color at different times which has resulted in a protracted fall where the dominant colors have been shifting from yellow to red to golden orange.

With the shorter days now and going back to EST, I didn't have a lot of daylight to work with before the temperatures were going to drop.  I chose to fish one of my favorite flies for small streams in late fall, the Parachute Adams.  The smaller size and darker color just seems to draw more interest in late fall and this afternoon that observation was confirmed.  I found mostly smaller fish but I did see forms darting about in the deeper pools running for cover in the low clear water.  In spite of the near drought like conditions this past summer and fall, the brook trout seem to be hanging on here which is very encouraging.

November Gold

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A November morning

A November morning on the Yellow Breeches
We went to PA for the weekend to visit our daughter at college.  Saturday morning was one of those crystal clear, warm November mornings that are such a pleasure to be outside. The Yellow Breeches was quite picturesque with it's large sycamore trees standing guard along the banks and the woodland still showing the golds and oranges of late fall.

I ended up fishing a bead head pheasant tail soft hackle and hooked a handful of stunning browns in many shallow depressions with some moving water.

A beautiful wild Yellow Breeches brown

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It was a nice day to be outside

I decided to fish for some of the broodstock Atlantic Salmon that the state of CT stocks in the Naugatuck River.  The day was one of those clear fall days with a northerly breeze.  I fished a couple spots pretty hard and got a couple bumps but couldn't coax the fish to take a fly.  About mid afternoon I changed locations and got another bump.  This time I rested the fish and tried again, stripping the fly back through the area and bam, fish on!  I had pretty good control of the fish until it decided it was time to get to work and was about to go airborn when the knot to the fly gave way I end up with a fly-less leader.  It was a good day from the learning perspective in that I got a couple of opportunities to work fish that had shown interest and was able connect with one and it was gorgeous day to be outside at my favorite time of year.  Special thanks to my friend and salmon expert Ben for doing some text coaching during the day.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A brief stop along the way

After spending a few days with my oldest daughter in the SNP, my wife and I made our way up to central PA to pick up our youngest for her fall break from Messiah College.  It just so happens that the Yellow Breeches runs right through the campus.  So what is a father supposed to when you are waiting for your daughter to get out of class?

I had a wonderful couple of hours exploring the river and even managed to find a few fish.  The browns looked in excellent shape and from the red fringe on the tail and the complete fins were likely holdovers or wild fish.  I even found a little wild brown, suggesting that this river is in excellent health.  What a great break from driving and I look forward to exploring it some more over the next 4 years!

A very good sign for the future

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fall colors

My wife and I had the pleasure of spending two wonderfully clear, warm days in the Shenandoah National Park with our oldest daughter this past week.  I've said this before, but the SNP is one of my favorite places and having the opportunity to visit during the fall foliage season made our visit especially memorable.

We spent the days hiking upper Hawksbill and the White Oak Canyon trail and taking pictures.  It was fun for me to show them around and I was thrilled that they were able to see lots of deer and watch a black bear along the Skyline Drive.

In addition to hiking and spending time together, I did manage a couple hours to fish a stream that I haven't had the chance to return to since my first trip to the park in the spring of 2015.  With 2 hours to fish before the sun set, I figured that if I really moved quickly I could reach the area I wanted to fish in about 45 minutes.  That would leave 30 minutes to fish and then hike back out but I would have to push since it would be all up hill on the way out.  Unfortunately, my watch had died a few days before so I was running solely on my internal sense of time.

I was not certain if the stream would have a decent flow of water with the dry summer and fall the East has experienced this year. When I reached the spot I had in mind, I was delighted to see a healthy flow of water, probably the result of Hurricane Michael that passed through the area about a week before.  I started fishing a foam ant but quickly switched to a Royal Wulff and then added a hare's ear dropper with a bright red bead in an attempt to move the larger fish hanging on the bottom of the plunge pools.

Southern Appalachian brook trout have to be one of the most beautiful strains of eastern brook trout and truly stunning in their fall colors.

After fishing a pretty stretch of stream and finding fish, I thought I should pack up and head back up the trail to the car.  On the way out, I startled an owl which silently took off through the trees in the late afternoon light.  As I ascended out of the hollow, I could see the sun still in the sky bringing a sense of relief that I hadn't stayed too long. When finally reached the car it was a few minutes before six o'clock, just enough time to pick up the girls and the camera gear and find a spot to watch the sun set together!

The end of a wonderful day in the park

Thursday, October 13, 2016

On of those afternoons...

What says "New England" more than a covered bridge over the
Housatonic River in the fall? 
It was one of those afternoons, those crystalline clear, cool early fall afternoons that we day-dreamed about back in the hot humid days of summer.  One of those afternoons, when you just wanted to be outside to breathe the air and to lift your eyes toward a vast landscape of greens with small pockets of yellow, orange, and red.  All signs of even more beautiful days ahead.

It was one of those afternoons, when you explore miles of good looking water without even a bump using your go to nymphing rig.  But, no worries because it's just one of those fall days that being outside is enough.

Some great looking water but NO interest from the fish!

It was one of those afternoons when everything seemed to turn on at just the expected time.  Where you were in the right place at the right time.  Where you had everything figured out before things even started to happen.  It was one of those afternoons, where for 2 solid hours you and your buddy had non-stop action starting with a small #20 CDC olive emerger and then swinging small wets.  It was one of those afternoons when everyone around you was wondering "what are those guys doing right?".  Yes it was one of those afternoons you dream about and every now and then experience! It was one of those afternoons.

The first fish of the evening, a "survivor strain" brown as indicated by
the red elastomer behind the left eye

The best brown of the evening, a solid, highly colored brown that took the small olive CDC emerger

The last brown of the night before things settled down

Monday, October 3, 2016

A fall day on the big river

An early fall day on the Housatonic River
The leaves are starting to turn in CT and it won't be long before the trees will be covered with maple reds, oranges, and birch yellow.

Fall always reminds me of some memorable late afternoons fishing one of our larger rivers, the Housatonic.  I love fishing smaller water but there is something very enjoyable about fishing the Housatonic in the fall.

Most years, there is a good population of holdovers in the river but with this year's drought and high water temperatures, I wondered how many fish survived the summer. With cooler weather and overcast skies, I headed up to the river to find out.  I fished an area that doesn't see a ton of attention and probably wasn't stocked recently.  I was quite pleased to pick up a nice holdover brown on an iso comparadun after a couple of decent drifts.  However, the iso was ignored for the rest of the afternoon.

I did see a few fish working during the afternoon but nothing really rising and nymphing proved unproductive so I stuck with dries.  Later in the afternoon, there was more bug activity and I did manage another colorful brown and a handful of smallmouth bass on a larger cahill comparadun.  I didn't have a banner afternoon numbers wise but you can't put a price on a quiet and peaceful afternoon of solitude!

Some interesting markings on this brown

The largest of a handful of small mouth bass

Monday, September 26, 2016

PA Limestone 101

The Lake at Boiling Springs,the shop is the building on the left
This past weekend my wife and I went down to south central PA to spend Parent's weekend with my youngest daughter who is attending Messiah College.  She was expecting to have a fair amount of work to do for school so I was told to bring my fishing gear as the famed Yellow Breeches runs right through campus.

Brad Bashore was gracious to provide a lot of information on the Yellow Breeches and some suggestions on where to fish, flies, etc.  He also suggested that I stop by the TCO fly shop in Boiling Springs.  Neil spent a good deal of time telling me about the area and what to expect.  He took a look at my fly boxes and then suggested a few local favorites.  I like having a few local flies from the places I visit.  If you are ever in central PA, this is a shop I would high recommend you stop by.  They are very knowledgeable and will give you an honest opinion of what you need to be successful and nothing more.

One of several springs at the one end of the Lake
Boiling Springs is a very unique place.  There are several springs at the end of the lake that supply crystal clear cold water to the lake, "the run" and then eventually to the Yellow Breeches where "the run"dumps it's cold flow into the main stem.  I enjoyed a walk around this picturesque lake, marveling at the size of some massive sycamore trees that had me wondering how old they were.

I chose to focus during the afternoon on the main stem of the river below the run.  I didn't see any rising fish during the time I was on the river so I focused on nymphing and managed to entice a rainbow and a brown with one of the local nymphs that Neil had suggested.  Later in the afternoon I did venture up into the run but my long 10ft nymph rod was way too long to effectively fish the smaller run.  I would have been more at home with my 6ft fiberglass rod and some tiny nymphs.  I was amazed at how many fish were sitting in the shallow riffles of the run.   This is obviously a very productive stretch of water.  I did see a couple of pairs of fish looking like they were getting ready to spawn, one of which was a massive brook trout.

The beautiful Yellow Breeches where the "run" joins the main stem
A nice Yellow Breeches brown
A special thanks to Brad Bashore and Neil Sunday for their help, suggestions and advice.  They definitely made my visit so enjoyable.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Adirondack Summer

A video I put together of pictures from hiking a fishing this summer in the Adirondack Park.  The music was written and produced by Rachel Lynn Wittman.  Check her out on Soundcloud.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Tale of two brooks

Wood aster dominate the September
I had been wanting to fish a favorite mountain brook all summer but the heat and dry weather had reduced it to barely a trickle for most of the summer but with hopeful optimism, I assembled my fiberglass rod, put a small fly box and some odds and ends in my pockets, slung my camera over my shoulder and headed up the trail along the ridge line of a deep valley.  I listened intently for the sound of running water but the forest was silent.  After a steep descent into the valley I realized just how dry this little stream had become.  Depressions that were once a couple feet deep and provided refuge to the brook trout were now mostly exposed. Knowing this brook pretty well, I could estimate that the water level was more than 2 feet below typical summer levels.  A couple small brook trout did attack my Royal Wulff but I just didn't want to fish the brook under these conditions so I hiked back up the valley and back to the car.

While the first stream was disappointingly low, I did have a plan B in mind.  Arriving at a second brook, I could see that the water was low but still cold and there were still pockets of deeper water for the fish to take refuge in.   Even though I brought along a small fly box, I really only need one fly for the couple hours I fished, a #16 foam ant.  Anywhere there was a little depth and some moving water there was usually a brook trout waiting to pounce on the ant.   It was so nice to fish a small stream once again after a very dry summer.