Industrial-Strength Wild Browns

Not all trout streams are created equal. There may have been a time when this one could have been called pristine. But that was a good industrial revolution and dozens of deserted factories ago.

This river may have hit every branch on its way down the ugly tree, but it is not without its charms. If you can get past the cinder blocks, broken glass, and discarded aluminum siding, you’ll find ducks. Plenty of invertebrate life. And wild brown trout.

Just look at those pecs. Someone’s been working out. My best fish of the day.


I had originally planned to go striper fishing today, but unfavorable reports, unavailable cohorts, and a nasty south wind put that idea to rest. Still, I needed to fish. So I decided to head over to a Class 1 WTMA. Before this past March, I hadn’t fished this stream in years. Buoyed by my success 10 days I ago, I thought I would explore it a little further.

Nothing says “wild trout” like urban factory blight. You could hit this building from the stream with a good enough cast.


Second cast, and I was into the fish pictured above. Today’s fly was a white beadhead min-bugger, and this lovely brown clobbered it on the downstream strip. It’s funny how you find fish in the same sections of river over the years. This one was sitting in — where else? — a current seam. I took a few more smaller fish in parts below, then headed up to another section.

I find that old heater hose gives any fly fishing experience that romantic je ne sais quoi. Don’t you?


That was a mistake. Most of the river was densely overgrown with saplings that made even roll casting impossible. The bottom was covered with fly-eating branches and in one pool, some kind of evil magnetic-to-tungsten bead flies metal grate.  By the third snagging encounter, I decided to pack it in.

I did notice that the suckers were in for spawning. There was also a strong midge hatch. Most of all, there were gloriously-colored wild browns, alive and well in living in their own little version of paradise.

Beauty truly comes from within.

11 comments on “Industrial-Strength Wild Browns

  1. stevegalea6953 says:

    Great report, fine fish. I used to fish for steelhead in creek that ran through the middle of a city, It was not unusual to find a stolen car nose deep in your favourite pool. The jerks would drive to the edge of the slope, put them in neutral and let them roll. But that creek did have a good run of steelhead and smallmouth and suckers etc, so you forgave the blemishes….
    Funny you should mention white beadhead buggers. I tied a couple more the other day. I find them great in some of the tea-coloured waters around here. The brook trout there love them.

  2. bobdog93 says:

    I was wondering. When you fly fish do you try to get into the quicker moving parts of the river or creek? Or are you looking for calmer water? I have done more lake fishing than river or stream fishing. This is also my first try with fly fishing. I enjoy pond and lake fishing quite a bit. I really appreciate any help you may give. Good post by the way. Thank you.

  3. Steve Culton says:

    Thanks for your kind words, Bob.

    You’ve asked a great question. The answer is, “it depends.” Your intuition is correct in that streams are different from lakes and ponds. In a body of water with current, sometimes the fish are in the fast water. Sometimes the slow water. Sometimes the deep water. Sometimes the shallows. Sometimes right behind the rock. Sometimes off to the sides. It depends on multiple factors, among them season, weather, flows, water temperatures, what/where the food is, etc.

    Here’s a good starting point: think like a fish. If you were a fish in that river, where would you be? Where would you have cover from predators like bigger fish or birds? Where could you ambush prey? Where could you sit in the current and have it bring the food to you?

    Another simple place to start is what I call the cafeteria line. The cafeteria line is the deepest part of any stream. It is marked on the surface by a line of foam. Fish there.

    Last but not least, consider the title of this blog. Fish the current seams — on either side of the cafeteria line. Where water divides around that big boulder. Where that log juts out. Where that drop-off meets the sandbar. Fish love current seams.

    Most of all, get out and go fishing. Pay attention to where you fish and how well you do. And repeat your successes.

    Hope that helps,


  4. M. Cisneros says:

    Beautiful brown vs industrial wasteland – great contrasting images. Glad to see nature fighting back in the most unlikely places.

  5. Steve Culton says:

    It’s an intriguing stream. It doesn’t smell all that good, and the landscape is decidedly low rent. But there’s something about its staggering contradictions that I love.

  6. cutthroat143 says:

    Urban fly fishing can be a real kick. It is so surprising how resilient trout are. Great to browns thriving no mater where they are. Kudos.

  7. cutthroat143 says:

    Urban fly fishing can be a real kick. It is so surprising how resilient trout are. Great to see browns thriving no mater where they are. Kudos.

  8. Long says:

    Beautiful brown! Its definitely impressive the ability for trout and other fish to survive (and thrive) in really adverse conditions. I fish for pike in a river that probably most people wouldn’t even set foot in, yet somehow the fish thrive in the river and grow very large. I wash my hands and my gear big time after fishing this river though.

  9. Steve Culton says:

    My waders still smell.

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