Small Stream Report: First foot instead of last blast

As a creature of habit, I lovingly cling to my routines. So I was as surprised as anyone when I decided to not go small stream fishing on New Year’s Eve. Logic trumped tradition; by delaying a few days, the water would be a little warmer and hopefully any residual ice would be long gone. On the drive up, we did see some sheltered woodland streams where mini-glaciers abounded. But when we (myself and surfcaster extraordinaire Toby Lapinski) arrived at the stream we were relieved to see that frozen water was almost non-existent.

The water was barely into the high side of medium, which is just about right for winter fishing, and the brook was running clear and cold. Overcast skies didn’t hurt, nor did temperatures in the low 40s. Toby started out bottom bouncing and jigging, while I went the dry/dropper route. The action far exceeded our expectations. As you can imagine, going deep won the day, but I had enough action on both the dry and dropper that I kept them on for hours. (If reading this is getting you fired up for small streams, I have a presentation tonight in Danbury, The Eastern Brook Trout; later this month, you can see me present Finding Small Stream Nirvana at the Marlborough Fly Fishing Show, and a week later in Edison.)

The first fish of any year is noteworthy, even more so when it’s a stunning display of nature’s paint box. Taken on a size 14 Improved Sofa Pillow.
When I was a kid, I ruefully wondered why tropical fish had all the cool colors. Cut to 55 years later when I now know better. Since fish like this aren’t ever getting replaced by the stocking truck, it bears repeating: barbless hooks only; keep photos to a minimum (I landed dozens and took shots of only three); make sure your hands are wet; keep fish in the water in your net until ready to shoot; never expose fish to air for more than a few seconds; and never lay a fish down on rocks/gravel/leaves/grass. Thank you. (Photo by Toby Lapinski)
Small stream fly fishing for native trout may be fly fishing in its purest form. (Photo by Toby Lapinski)
Halo, I love you (again). Besides pulchritude, this fish is noteworthy because its thinness indicates a spawned out fish — and therefore a redd may be nearby. It’s a good idea to limit walking within the stream bed from mid fall to mid spring; the last thing anyone wants to do is tread on a redd and make all those future brookies dead. (Yes, I know it.) (Photo by Toby Lapinski)