Changing My Mind: Exploring a Small Stream for Wild Trout, November 2013

At some point in time, most of us have driven by skinny waters close to home and wondered if they’re fishable. For whatever reason, we decide not to explore their potential, dismissing them as too small or classifying them as drainage.

Yesterday I decided to test  my opinion of a small stream that runs near my home.  It appears along a side street used as a cut-through to the main road. I’ve passed over this water several times and thought of it as primarily a place for runoff, with not enough current to sustain anything other than mosquitoes. I was wrong.

During a Google search to determine the stream’s path, I found that, according to the State of Connecticut, my stream/ditch was actually a river. Yes, a river.  A little more online sleuthing revealed that it is known to hold wild browns and brookies.  Best of all, it does not appear in the CT Anglers Guide, so fishing pressure is most likely limited.

I packed the waders, boots, flybox and 7′ 4″ 4wt fiberglass rod in the truck and headed out. It was an overcast, 50-degree day with little wind, perfect for the small loops and roll casts needed for this type of water.

After parking on a nearby pulloff, I walked along the first hundred yards of stream river.  Branches extended over the water, but it wasn’t canopied and there would be plenty of room for casting.  Although classified as a river, it would be better described as a series of riffles, runs and calm pools with plenty of rocks in view.  The bottom could be seen at all times, so wading would be knee deep at best. This was skinny water, but it had potential.

Small stream, November 2013. A series of small pools and runs that seem to go on forever

A series of small pools and runs that seem to go on forever

I went back to the truck and slid into my waders, rolling them down to the waist before fastening the belt. I tied on a small brown bushy fly and walked down to the water.

The next two hours were spent exploring every run and pool encountered. Despite the size, it offered quite a variety of opportunities, ranging in length from 10 feet to 10 yards, and never exceeding 20 ft. in width.  I had not fished water like this for some time, and noticed that my casting improved along the way. And while the trout weren’t as large or as plentiful as those found in stocked waters, the challenge of stalking and landing small wild native trout was well worth it.

Wild brookie caught with a dry fly on a local stream, November 2013

Wild native brookie caught with a dry fly on a local stream river, November 2013

This type of  fishing requires stealth, positioning and most important, patience. Often I cast into a run while sitting on the bank or standing in an adjacent pool. More than a cast or two would put the fish down, so I was careful to time any rises before making a presentation.  There was also a fair amount of crouching and climbing over rocks. At the end of the day it felt like I had a workout.

The next time you’re driving by small local water, give it some thought.  You might find a hidden treasure. Enjoy!

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  1. Wonderful post Leigh. Having found a similar “in plain sight” secret stream back home in PA, I know how wonderful they are to fish. Beautiful brookie. BTW, that water looks tenkara-perfect, if you’d ever want to go that route.
    Michael Agneta´s last blog post ..My Tenkara Submission to F3T or IF4 or STFU5

  2. Thanks Mike. Although I have never tried it, I did wonder if this water would be good for Tenkara.

  3. Small streams can be hidden treasures, as you say, and if they’re cold and clean, they’re trout streams, at least potentially, no matter how tiny. Love to explore them.
    walt´s last blog post ..Hidden Springs

  4. And they’re seasonal. We’ll see if this one has a few visits left for this year before it freezes over. Hope all is well on your end.

  5. Really nice post! It’s amazing how many fishing opportunities we drive by on a daily basis. To think that most people drive many hours to fish well-known waters with lots of other anglers when then are beautiful fish like that to be caught in your back yard. Well done and once the water starts running again I am sure there are more to be found…

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