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Mountain stream tactics

Joined:
2006/9/9 16:33
Posts: 681
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OK I have had abismal luck on small mt. streams. I know that some of you love them, so apparently I am missing something.

On my last venture I had a royal coachman with a bead head copper john dropper maybe 1 foot away. I focus on pools and avoid riffles and runs as they are usually only a few inches deep, and would expect that the fish would hold in the pools. I cover some ground as well. On most of these streams I don't even see fish, yet the websites say that they are there.

Look, I can catch educated trout so why are these dumb fish giving me the slip? Is it possible that these streams just stink?

Posted on: 2007/1/3 12:19


Re: Mountain stream tactics

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2007/1/2 11:55
From Bozeman
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I'm not sure how you are doing it, but you can never go wrong with wearing more natural shades and sneaking a little more.... You can never do too much of that on small streams.

Posted on: 2007/1/3 12:33


Re: Mountain stream tactics
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2006/9/13 12:42
From Altoona, PA
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Trout are stocked in pools, they live in the runs and pocket water. Try fishing those more.

Posted on: 2007/1/3 12:50
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Re: Mountain stream tactics

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2006/12/11 18:42
From Manheim, PA
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Low, slow and wear camo.

Don't overlook the riffles. Native trout can be in places with only a few inches of water. The aren't dumb either. They are native and have lived in those streams for a long time for a reason.
Stay as far fron the spot you want to cast as possible. They can see you coming from a long way. Try using wet flies like olive woolly bugges in size 12 or 14. Works every time.

Posted on: 2007/1/3 12:59
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Re: Mountain stream tactics

Joined:
2006/10/2 10:08
From Westmoreland County (near fairgrounds)
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Think of Brookie fishing more as hunting than fishing. When you see a likely holding spot you need to plan your approach. Stay low and slow as spectorfly and JayL have suggested.

I caught a couple in Camp Run over Christmas break on a #16 or 18 BH Hare's Ear. This was the baptism of my 6 1/2 foot 2 weight Christmas present.

The natives are easy to catch if you don't spook them, but they are very easily spooked!

Posted on: 2007/1/3 13:15
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Re: Mountain stream tactics

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2006/12/13 9:28
From Other side of the tracks
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Give up and go back to the bigger streams. Trout in the small mountain streams is an Urban legend.

I'm kidding. All good advice.

If you are not catching any, then they are probably seeing you first. You won't see any unless they are running for cover. Pools are where they hide, they feed in the riffles. However, they will hit in the pools too. All I am saying is don't ignore the pocket water. also, lose one of your flies. Wear Camo and stay low. for Pete sake, I'm a wide 6'6" and catch lots of trout in small mountain streams. Find a likely holding spot from a distance and sneak up on it. Use trees as a screen, crawl up there if you need to. If you aren't getting dirty, you are not catching as many as you could. Fish upstream if at all possible and try not to drop the line right on the fish. These fish are not picky, they are just very shy. Heck, they will hit a cigarette butt. The important thing is, if the trout senses you are there, you might as well move on to the next spot.

One more thing. I find that wintertime fishing in mountain freestone streams is very difficult. The fish just are not very active when the water is 32 or 33 degrees (with maybe a few exceptions). You will need bigger stuff and fish near the bottom or so some friends have told me. I am not good at fishing sculpins or crayfish patterns, so I just don't usually bother with them in the winter. Spring creeks are better in the winter than the freestone streams.

Posted on: 2007/1/3 13:24


Re: Mountain stream tactics

Joined:
2006/9/13 10:18
From LV
Posts: 7599
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First you've got to know where to fish and when, often that means cloudy days, because even brookies don't like bright sunshine, especially in late summer. Second wear camo, or the closest thing to it. This allows a more stealthy approach. Wearing camo in winter is just as important as wearing it in the summer. Third, when approaching a pool do it slowly and out of the water whenever possible, Don't wade to pools either, all this does is spook fish. Fourth, when approaching pools scope them out and wear polarized sunglasses. I cannot stress the sunglasses enough, it allows you to not only see fish, but also to see the bottom. Seeing the bottom is important because it allows you to see the deepest parts of the pool and also the best lies. Fifth, fish the best lies first. The biggest fish will always be in the best lies.

If you are fishing wild trout streams some of the biggest fish are in the riffles, find the deepest pockets of these riffles and make a stealthy approach to them. Always use obstacles such as large trees, boulders, and brush to your advantage. Stay low. Know what flies are hatching and when they hatch, it’s not so important to match the hatch as it is to have flies that the trout have been seeing recently. For instance, I often use sulphurs during the day anytime in May as an attractor pattern, even though there are none hatching or in the air. Ditto Hendricksons, Gordons. Tie lots of tan caddis in #18 and use them, even a royal wulff won’t work all the time. Otherwise use large attractors. As for this time of the year all bets are off, but a cloudy day with some kind of hatch sure beats a bright sunny day with a hard NW wind for good fishing weather. Cold fronts also tend to put down fish, avoid fishing after a cold front moves through, unless the front is right on top of you, as the weather is clearing is a very good time to be out, fish will be hungry. Lastly know what temperature the water is, even in the winter it's imprtant to know the temperature, because fish don't eat as much when the water is 35 to 40 degrees as they do when the water temp is over 40.
Hope this helps, et me know how you do.

Posted on: 2007/1/3 16:56


Re: Mountain stream tactics

Joined:
2006/9/9 20:09
From Harrisburg
Posts: 2183
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Dear ryan,

Like Dave said, when you fish is important. If you are going to fish this time of year the fish will be most active when the sun is highest and the air and water temperature is warmest. That usually means high noon or thereabouts. I pretty much abandon mountain stream fishing once October rolls around for two reasons, it's spawning time, and the fish are slowing down for the winter. Try a spot you did poorly on recently next May and you will see, and catch, plenty of fish.

This time of year is a good time to walk a stream and scout for potential fishing spots in the Spring since the water is generally lower and clearer during Winter. You can see obvious holding and feeding lies much better at this time of year. Don't be discouraged if you don't see fish. They are there, they just aren't very active.

Pay attention to light and shadows when you are fishing. Cast to bright water and expect a strike when the fly drifts into the shadows. I find that if you cast into the shadows you wind up spooking the fish that are lying and waiting more often than not. I get many more strikes as the my fly leaves bright water and enters shade.

When you approach a pool from below pause and look at it for a while before you begin to fish it. More often than not you will be able to see a foam or bubble stream that shows the main current flow in the pool. Look for large rocks or roots and other structure along that line, fish will hide just off that current break and ambush prey that passes by in the current. Starting fishing closeby and work that seam as you move up the pool. By fishing slowly and carefully you can often take several fish in a bathtub sized pool.

Stream flow is really important. Most mountain streams can take a pretty good dose of rain and stay fishable. The best time to fish is often a day or two after a real gully washer. Faster current means more food in the water and less time for inspection. Mountain streams in low clear water are not much fun, Winter or Summer.

Regards,
Tim Murphy

Posted on: 2007/1/3 17:03


Re: Mountain stream tactics
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Joined:
2006/9/9 17:32
From Gettysburg
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This is going to sound simplistic but I wonder if you're fishing decent streams? All the advice posted is good but if the creek you're fishing is barren it's moot. You might want to try some other waters - not every creek holds brookies. Many have 'em but they are scarce. Even some "Class A" creeks can become nearly devoid of trout after a weather event or drought. Follow the aforementioned advice, maybe try some new creeks, and keep trying.

Posted on: 2007/1/3 17:36


Re: Mountain stream tactics

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2006/9/10 21:53
From Greensburg, PA
Posts: 13623
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I find that most of the things I do on a larger stream go right out the window on native brookie streams. I rearely dead drift anything. I almost always skitter every dry fly. Theres always movement. Sometimes completely upstream and I rearely worry about drag. Brookies are practically invisible against the bottoms ofthier native waters. I like the riffles and runs more than any other features. I like brightly colored flies that look nothing like whats biting you on the neck or buzzing in your ears. I don't fish one spot for more than a couple minutes. If I catch a brookie in a spot I usually then move to the next likely spot. We should take a quick trip to Linn run or the upper part of Mill creek some weekend and I can show you what I mean.

Posted on: 2007/1/3 20:39


Re: Mountain stream tactics

Joined:
2006/9/11 13:05
From Lewistown
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All great info.
I would like to add that just because you didn't feel the fish on your line doesn't mean they weren't. The will chew on the fly for a few seconds for a few seconds and you possible won't feel a thing. Thy dragging your fly slowly threw the water and wait for a tug back.
Winter is my favorite time for brookie fishing. Loose the first fly and fish a weighted nymph; and nymph, size 12 - 16. It must sink quickly or you'll pass right over the fish.
Contrary to belief, I have caught plenty of little guys by fishing a pocket down-stream; especially if my fly isn't heavy enough to sink at the begining of the hole. When fishing from above, definately use a tree or bolder for a blind.

Also, don't jump right into fish. Spook 2 or 3 holes to see where the fish are laying. A morjority of the fish will be in spots just like the ones you spooked.

Posted on: 2007/1/3 23:34
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Re: Mountain stream tactics

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2006/9/9 16:33
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Fish idiot. That the fish may not be there at all were my fears. Both streams were new water for me so there was a chance that I was fishing in a poor spot or it was an overall poor fishery. Blue hole was small, and even in the big deep name sake I didn't see a fish.

I will keep trying until I get what works, then maybe go back and revisit some of these waters.

Posted on: 2007/1/4 9:10


Re: Mountain stream tactics

Joined:
2006/9/14 10:34
From Southeast PA
Posts: 521
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Ryan, I think you already came to this conclusion, but go to streams you know have decent populations of wild trout in them, based on what you are told by reliable fellow fishers who fish those streams often and recently, not based on what it says on the PFBC lists or maps. After you get confident that you can sucessfully fish small wild mountain streams, you can explore others which may or may not have many fish in them.

Posted on: 2007/1/4 12:47


Re: Mountain stream tactics

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2006/12/2 21:41
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Ryan,

Don't be discouraged on fishing these small mountain streams. I have had similar experiences as you. Everyone acts as if these streams just give up trout without any skill or patience. I have fished Camp Run several times and for that stream I have found that water volume and water temperature are imperative to my success . My best time fishing Camp Run was on a warm March Saturday morning when the stream was bankful with rushing water. Conversely, the time that I had the least success on this stream came in November with snow on the ground and little flow.
Just don't give up. There are a lot of natives in Camp Run. I witnessed a PFBC fish population study on this stream about 6 yrs. ago and there were tons of fish in it. You just have to hit it right on these little streams. Also, a great time to fish mountain streams in the summer is after a good rainstorm, when larger waters are chocolate milk, these smaller streams will be just about perfect.

Well good luck on the hunt for natives,
Curt

Posted on: 2007/1/4 23:24


Re: Mountain stream tactics

Joined:
2006/12/7 18:13
Posts: 212
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ryanh:

Just to offer you some encouragement; you may be pushing too hard to catch fish and ignoring the biggest pleasure of fishing those small gems, the scenery!

I fish a LOT of small Class A water. This past season I challenged myself to fish 20 new streams and I did 25. When I got to a new place, after taking like 2,000,000 pictures; I went about the business at hand, fishing. Funny thing is I caught fish in all but two new places using the same tactics I use everyplace else. None of it is earth shattering, none of it is new; all of it was covered by the previous posters.

I don’t crouch any more than usual, I don’t wear cammo, (in fact I wear a blaze orange hat and bandanna when I fish in State Game Lands); no special tackle, weather conditions or time of the year, week, or day.

“Hatches, hatches…? I don’t need no stinking hatches”

I ALWAYS fish upstream and I ALWAYS explore all potential holding spots, even those 2” deep until I catch my first fish.

Best of all, the same flies that work for me everywhere, worked for me on these dinky wild waters. The list of flies is short, very short and the order I try them almost never varies:

#1 - Elk Wing Caddis, usually tan so I can see it.
#2 - EWC fished with a Starling a Purple soft hackle dropper
#3 - Beetle
#4 - Bead Head Prince Nymph
#5 - Bead Head Gold Ribbed Hares Ear nymph
#6 - A Sip of bourbon. (#6 can be substituted for any other #)

If I don’t catch a fish by #5; I immediately go to #6, regroup and start over.

Four things I learned or re-learned in 2006 were:

#1 - Nymphs really do work and depth is CRITICAL, especially when temps are down.
#2 - Don’t ignore ANY spot in a small creek. The holding spots will amaze you!
#3 - If you catch a fish in a riffle, fish riffles; if it was a pool, fish pools, etc.
#4 - Whiskey will get you through times of no fish, better than fish will get you through times of no whiskey!

Have fun, the fish will come!

Posted on: 2007/1/5 8:44



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