Small Stream Strategies, Part 2
By Paul Marriner
Reading the Water
Generally, reading small streams is simple. Look for overhead
cover such as bank-side logs, blow-downs, foam-covered bank-eddies,
trees, bushes, and undercut banks. Mid-stream rocks, particularly in
front, are also winners if the water depth exceeds a foot. Little
waterfalls are hotspots. The force of the water scoops out a deep hole
and the foaming water gives excellent overhead cover. Some years
ago I fished a Quebec stream that featured a series of tiny, rocky
plunge pools. I drew a blank everywhere else, but landed several
outsized rainbows by casting a nymph upstream to the head of each
little basin. Best of all are deep pools, partcilularly if insect activity
is minimal. Just yesterday as I write this, I caught and released a
gorgeously marked thirteen-inch wild brook trout from such a place
on a small Nova Scotia stream.
Fly-fishers often overlook the importance of trees and bushes near
the bank of meadow streams. One night last summer I had a wonderful
evenngs's fishing where the flow swings close to a clump of bushes. Adult
caddis sheltering in the bushes emerged on an egg-laying flight. Dozens of
trout congregated nearby to slurp the spent adults. I headed for that place
because of an experience half a world way.
Some years ago, I spent several days fishing a large spate river in New
Zealand. However, at the time of year I was there, the river was a small
stream, meandering many meters across the exposed gravel bed from one
bank to the other. The open water was unproductive, but anywhere the
"stream" touched the bank near bushes, hard-fighting rainbows congregated.
Sometimes the primary means of reading the water, sight, fails. For instance,
there are times when you'll find that places which usually hold trout are vacant.
In these circumstances, take the water temperature. Many eastern streams
run between lakes. In the summer these are fed by warm surface water from
the lakes. When the water temperature exceeds their comfort livel the trout
head for the lakes. A thermometer is also the surest way to find deep, spring-
fed pools. These "summer holes" will produce long after trout abandon the rest
of the stream. But don't expect anyone to show you such spots; anglers
jealously guard their secret locations. ~ Paul Marriner
Next time, Techniques and Flies.
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