Wild Brook Trout Stream in Virginia's Blue Ridge
I visited a mountain brook trout stream on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 30th. This stream is near the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Jefferson National Forest, and similar to others in the area except that it is more accessible because it runs along a steep, washed-out forest road. There is private property at the lower reaches of the streams, so look carefully for the red paint indicating National Forest lands.
The weather was great, with temperatures in the mid 60s, and water temperatures were in the low 50s. There were a few higher clouds, with some low clouds clinging to the higher peaks in the Blue Ridge and keeping the stream mostly shady, with a light breeze. It had rained lightly earlier in the day, so the ground was damp, but there wasn?t enough rain to raise the water level. Although many of the trees have already lost most of their leaves, the trees that still have leaves are near peak colors, and the scenery was great.
The brook trout were actively spawning, with spawning activity visible in many of the pools. In some cases, I saw three or even four fish chasing and nipping at each other, presumably to chase away competing mates. In other pools, there were a pair of trout next to each other over gravel areas. The pools with the most activity seemed to have all of the following: gravel in at least part of the pool, boulders to provide cover, and some type of biological cover, usually leaves floating on the surface, trapped by obstructions.
The fish that were spawning or competing to do so were not the least interested in a fly, and were also not very spooky. There were a number of fish that were not in spawning mode however, and they readily took a fly. They also spooked easily, so stealth was important, despite being able to get close to the fish that weren?t eating. The trout I caught were all taken on a size 16 comparadun, tied by me in light colors. In this stream, an 8? fish is a large one, with my largest being about 9?, and my smallest was a fingerling.
EDIT: I was using a 9' rod because I forgot my 8'. Shorter rods would have worked better because of the abundant vegetation. Most of my casts were with only a few inches of line out of the tip while crouched in the rocks downstream of the pool. I was using a leader/tippet that terminated in 5x and was about 8' long.