By Canadian Fly Fisher Staff
Canada's best kept fly fishing secret
This is a brookie?
The fly fisher from the south gasps as his eight-weight bends to
the handle, reel screaming as the huge coaster brook trout tears into the
The guide smiles enigmatically. He's seen all this before - many
times - southern anglers, used to pan-sized brookies on their
home streams overwhelmed by the sheer size and power of Lake
Gradually, the angler coaxes the fish closer - it's runs getting
shorter. Finally, it's close enough for him to slide his hand
down the leader and touch the broad, flistening flank as he carefully
removes the barbless streamer fly. He cradles the fish gently
in the cold clear water of the Lake Superior tributary. It holds
quietly, recovering the energy it expended during the long fight.
"About seven pounds," the guide estimates.
"Seven pounds!" the angler's hands tremble.
"They get bigger - fish in the ten pound class are taken here
By the time they've posed the fish for a photo, it's ready to go.
The angler from the south watches as it swims slowly out over
the bright gravel into the deep water at the head of the pool.
It is a moment which will be etched in his memory forever.
The guide looks at the sun. It's still well above the dark fir
trees which line the boulder-lined river bank. "Time for another,"
The angler from the south, quickly hooks his fly in a rod guide,
tightens the line on his reel, and clambers hurriedly across the
gravel bar to the bank. He's ready - more than ready.
As he follows the guide upstream, he finds it hard to believe that
this huge brook trout and this pristine river on which they've
encountered no other anglers all day are a scant one hour drive
from a bustling city of over 100,000 souls.
"I can see why you find this so beautiful," he remarks.
"It's hard to share."
Yet this river is not unique: there are scores similar along the
norther shore of Lake Superior which are haunted by double figure
Most of the rivers and lakes see little pressure from fly
fishers-world-class, largely unexploited fly fishing. And all
this is just a short drive from southern Ontario and most
mid-western and eastern US cities. That's Northern
Ontario-undiscovered, affordable, and accessible.
World Class Brook Trout Quiet Water, Big Flies,
and the Right Jive
Brookies in big water tend to be bank oriented, for this is
where they find their food. Don't look for them out in the
blasting current in the middle of the river, but near structure
in quieter water near the bank-especially behind sunken islands,
log jams, or gravel bars where they wait for food to come to them.
Big brook trout also like big things to eat. Use large streamers
that represent baitfish, sculpins and crayfish. Rabbit-strip
streamers 3" - 4" long are particularly effective. It's also
important give the fly some action. Forget the stiff-legged,
stiff-wristed swing of the English wet fly; get into the groove
and pump away. Flex those knees, loosen up those hips, and pump
the rod to make that fly look like a live minnow. And, if you
see a big brookie following, don't stop the retrieve. If you do,
you'll see that trophy turn away and swim back into the depths,
because something in his natural-prey-memory chip tells him that
fleeing baitfish don't stop and wait for him to catch up. Instead,
keep that fly moving-speed it up even-or give it a change in
You'll need a steelhead-sized rod (eight or nine weight) with
a heavy-duty, full-sinking line to help get the fly down deep
and lots of backing on the reel to handle strong, heavy fish
in big water.
Sinking lines are hard to keep up in the air. Use a side-arm
stroke on the back-cast and an overhead stroke on the forward
cast. Give it lots of muscle, but keep the cast slow and with
an open loop.
We thank the
Canadian Fly Fisher for re-print permission!
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