by Mark Hanes
Well it has been a rough and long winter in the Northeast so far this year and I have not been able to beat the winter blues with a few fishing trips to get by. To this point the reading of magazines and looking at the latest and greatest new gear on the web is beginning to become more depressing rather than a way to pass the time in anticipation of warmer weather and hatches. Cabin fever has been in full force this winter.
I enjoy all types of fly fishing and trout is normally my target, but as I look back on many of my favorite times fishing over the years I realize they often happen on many of the small brooks and runs that are within an hour or two drive of home. There is just something special about walking into a small stream and catching wild fish that seem to be perfectly made for those small streams. What those fish lack in size they make up for in beauty.
One of the beautiful things about small stream trout is that you can keep things simple. Rods used are usually in the 6 ft to 8 ft range and 3 wt to 5weight. Reels do not need to do more than hold the line and I even suggest not spending too much on them since they will likely get scratched up in time due to climbing over rocks and logs. When it comes to flies I only carry one small box of flies with it mostly being dry flies. I am partial to elk hair caddis, Adams, and the classic royal coachman. I will usually have a few ants and beetles as well. The Nymphs I carry are simple like a selection of pheasant tails and hare’s ears will do the trick. A couple of wooly buggers are also good to have just in case you feel streamers might be the ticket. I usually only use flies from size 10 to 14. Throw in a couple spools of tippet and a short 6 to 7.5 foot taper leader and you are set. I do personally take a net to help take extra care of fish that I may want to photograph. I guess that means a digital camera is required equipment for me as well.
You do not need to be able to make long cast when fishing the tight quarters that you will encounter. I rarely cast more than 25 feet with most cast being in the 10 to 20 foot range. What is more important with casting is accuracy since on these small streams you will likely spend more time keeping your flies out of the brush and trees. One of my favorite tactics is sneaking as close as I can and dapping flies on the water. When doing this close up fishing you get the thrill of seeing all aspects of the trout taking your fly. The fish are spooky so you will want to tread lightly and keep a low profile often fishing from your knees to increase your chances of catching.
I hope you all get a chance to enjoy a few days experiencing the joys of small stream fishing. You won’t catch a fish that will be one to brag about but you might catch a few that have the beauty to leave you wanting more. By getting a little off the beaten path and fishing some small streams the gems (fish) are worth the adventure.