Small Stream, Big Rewards
Monday, August 22 2011 @ 08:38 AM EDT
Contributed by: joela
By: Joel Anderson
You might think that a guy who recently returned from a trip to Montana that featured world class trout fishing on the Big Horn River wouldn’t have much interest in chasing 6-8” mountain brookies. You might think that, but you’d be wrong.
There was a time early in my fly fishing career when I was somewhat intimidated by big water. I wasn’t quite sure if I was ready for the “big leagues”, so I spent a lot of time perfecting my craft by fishing obscure mountain streams for wild brook trout.
I was a disciple of Joe Humphreys’ wonderful book, Trout Tactics, devouring every page, especially where “brush fishing” was concerned, and then employing and fine-tuning the lessons learned from the book on the stream: leader construction; fly presentation; reading water; pecking order; lip currents; dead drifts; exacting casts; the lessons were endless. Turns out the lessons learned on my small mountain streams translated very well to bigger water when I finally made the transition. Show me a highly skilled small stream fly fisherman and I’ll show you a guy who can catch trout anywhere.
Life for mountain stream trout is harsh. The growing season is short and food is scarce, so they can’t afford to be too picky. At the same time, they are very skittish to anything “threatening" in their environment, so stealthy approach and presentation are key to success. While fly patterns are unimportant, a dead drift is critical. Anything remotely edible will be readily taken, as long as the presentation doesn’t spook the trout.
Although foam terrestrials patterns have become vogue, I still favor the Letort Hopper for late summer mountain stream fishing. The Letort Hopper is a little more streamline, making it easier to cast very accurately. Sometimes the "window" you have to land your fly is only 6" x 6". The Letort Hopper also seems to have better hooking qualities than the foam patterns I’ve tried so far.
Returning to my roots today, the first few minutes were a little frustrating. Getting used to the intimate setting and confined casting space again does take a little time, but in no time, I was back into the swing of things. The beauty of this type of fishing is that you literally only have to take a step to access a new pocket of likely holding water. And if you screw up one pool, there’s always another pool just ahead.
Typical Mountain Stream Pools
Typical Mountain Stream Brookies
This Bad Boy fell for a fluorescent orange bead headed scud left over from the Montana trip