Small stream report: First wild brookies of 2017

The older I get, the more I embrace the philosophy of, “I don’t need to be right.” But boy, did I make a good call about fishing a small stream today.

I thought there would be enough water for the fish to be comfortable in. Yes, there’d be more tomorrow, but with a cold front approaching — and plenty of cloud cover — today would be the better mid-day option. So I visited an old friend from 11am-1:30pm. There are three things I want to tell you about.

Nature finds a way. This particular brook was disastrously low  when I visited it in August (not to fish, just to look). Yet somehow the brookies made it through the stress of a scorching summer that reduced their home to a trickle. Today, I pricked ten, landed six. Jeez, I’d sign up for that in May. In January it comes off as an unimaginable bounty. I’ve never done this well on this stream in winter.

The first salmonid of 2017. I don’t usually handle fish this small, but this gorgeous creature made my heart leap up in my chest. Happy New Year!


Droppers are the quickest way to find out what the fish want. You may be bored with me saying this, but I will continue to shout it from the rooftops. I started the day with a size 16 Improved Sofa Pillow dry. After 15 minutes of no luck, I added a 2x short size 18 SHBHPT dropper. While most of my fish — particularly in the deeper pools — feasted on the dropper, the dry took the largest char of the day.

One swing and a miss — then on the next cast, the kill shot delivered. 


Small streams in winter are places of unparalleled tranquility. It rained the entire time I fished. My left boot foot leaked. My fingertips were frozen. Funny thing! I looked at my watch and realized I’d been fishing for two hours. Sure, it helped that the catching was good. But watching the smoke from my Punch Gran Puro Robusto curl into the mist didn’t suck either.

Looks cold. Was cold. And wonderful. 



How my fingers got so numb. But the Fontinalis fins were worth the price of admission.


12 comments on “Small stream report: First wild brookies of 2017

  1. Right on man!! Success comes in all forms. One of the most profound statements about survival and brook trout came at the last paragraph in the book by Cormac McCarthy in “The Road” about the lines on the back of a brook trout. They find a way!!

  2. Alan says:

    Steve, that’s “real fishing” beautiful brookies. Such survivors.

  3. Bill says:

    Gorgeous fish.

  4. Pete Simoni says:

    Beautiful brookies and love that photo of the stream, snow and ice. I found some “gold” yesterday myself.

    • Steve Culton says:

      Today on the Farmington was a different story.

      • Bill says:

        I went to the Farmington on Monday. First time ever there. what a great place. I caught a brown trout along the ice. I have been tryin unsuccessfully to find a trout since April, and now I realize the Farmington was what I needed.


        I would be absolutely thrilled beyond belief if I could coax a native char out of the little brooks I’ve been attempting to find fish in…the Hammonasset, the Farm, and the Muddy…so far only native minnows and sunfish.

      • Steve Culton says:

        Congrats on your first Farmy trout. You’re on your way.

        This can be a tough time of year on small streams.

  5. Alton Blodgett says:

    They are masterpieces of art to me. And the reason I spend so much time in Maine and northern New Hampshire.

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