Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Feeling Has Begun


It’s a feeling that has slowly been growing on me. It began on opening day of the statewide trout season, and it has grown more intense by the day, and I suspect that a brook trout fishing trip isn’t too far away.

It’s my intention to get at least one day of prowling tiny brook trout creeks and hiking back in to several brook trout ponds that have been productive over the years, and I want to do it before the bugs get too bad. It should go without saying that most brook trout ponds can, and often do, change from one year to the next. They could have been great last year only to get flooded out by high water from deep snow in the swamps this year. Beaver ponds are fragile by nature, and it does take much for a once-fine pond to go dead during the winter and never recover.

Once gone, beaver may rebuild it or they may start building a pond somewhere else. A pond that once produced 12-inch brook trout occasionally go out in high water and the trout head downstream with the high water.

Brookies hold a special appeal for me. There is something very special and very wild about brookies. They don’t tolerate civilization very well, and they don’t compete with other trout well either. They demand cold, clear water, and once a stream or pond warms up, they either move out or die.

Much of the fun of fishing for brookies is finding those places where they live, and many of these spots are tucked away a long distance from mankind. I’ve got some spots that I’ve fished off and on for many years. My habit, when I keep a fish, is to keep only one for the frying pan. These fish are beautifully speckled with white piping along the edges of their fins. As gorgeous as brook trout may be, it would be easy to say they were standing behind a locked door when brains were handed out.

They are gullible to an extreme. Approach an area with reasonable caution, and a light tread, and if a brook trout is home the odds are very likely the fish will hit on the first cast. My favorite lure is a No. 0 Mepps Aglia spinner with the treble hook removed and a long-shank No. 8 hook attached. Bait the hook with a bit of worm and drop it into any opening in the water with brush nearby. Brook trout are suckers for this rig, and the long-shank makes hook removal easy. If the fish is undersize, unhook it without removing it from the water.

Most brook trout are small, and if you are catching sub-legal fish, it might pay to move elsewhere. If you catch very few brookies but all are 10 inches or larger, don’t become greedy and wipe them out in a single fishing season. Chances are that area will seldom recover. Sometimes a 10-inch brook trout may the sexually mature fish in that pond or stream, and if caught and kept, the brood stock will be depleted or eliminated.

Brook are fun to catch, and can be easy caught on flies as well. They are willing biters, as slick to the touch as a bald racing tire, and lovely to look at. The future of our fisheries, and our fishing for these game fish, depends on the angles who fish for them. Hoggish anglers often are boorish in conversation and piggish on the waters they fish. These little speckled beauties deserve to be treated kindly, and fishermen should certainly limit their catch rather than catching their limit.

We can’t afford to lose our brook trout.

Posted by Dave Richey on 05/05 at 06:13 PM
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