With the rains and relatively cool temperatures this summer throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, small stream fly-fishing has held up better than it usually does at this time of year. Many small streams have enough cool water that the trout feel comfortable moving about in search of food.
I’ve been able to venture out to brooks and creeks typically off-limits during the summer months. In looking for trout, I visit only those streams where I know the water temperature remains 65 degrees F., or less. A stream thermometer is an important tool to carry at one’s side. We don’t want to stress the coldwater fish at a time when the going can be rough for both the angler and the trout.
There’s plenty of chest-high vegetation and riparian growth to make access to these little waters difficult at times, but once you’re on the stream itself, the casting is enjoyable.
One evening I discovered excellent fishing on the West Branch Genesee, wading upstream through the knee-deep pocket water. I was hemmed-in tightly by the rapidly growing willow trees and alders, but when I reached an open pool I caught and released five or six wild browns averaging nine or 10-inches long. A dry Ausable Wulff was the ticket, though a Rusty Spinner might have worked as well.
At a favorite stream for native trout in NYS (a trib of Wileyville Creek), I enjoyed the peace and perfect solitude of a brook occasionally reminiscent of a small Slate Run. On other private property (angling permission granted) at Spring Mills Creek, I quickly landed and returned four nice brook trout, one of which was a hefty 10-incher, and another of which measured eight inches plus.
The fish weren’t huge, but an angler’s expectations are adjusted to a small realm of beauty, greatly appreciated in a season when typically the angling is off-limits or just about impossible. The trout don’t have to be large to make an outing pleasurable.
In fact, if we allow our senses of who we are to be adjusted by the world of nature at large, we might see ourselves as also small– no less important in the scheme of things, perhaps, but diminished in stature, like a wild trout in a mountain stream.
When we momentarily abandon our hifalutin’ ways and all the junk of self-importance (see the social media if you’re wondering what I mean), we appreciate the small world of our real concerns, where trout and lilies and human smiles suffice.
Sorry for the philosophical tangent, but now that I’m on one, here’s a final note– a few words from my favorite living poet, Gary Snyder: …One granite ridge/ A tree, would be enough/ Or even a rock, a small creek,/ A bark shred in a pool…
This morning I went down to Dyke Creek for the Trico (tiny mayfly) hatch. I tied on a 7x tippet with a #22 imitation. Micro-flyfishing is a blast, especially when the wild fish feed selectively and don’t refuse your efforts.
I wish that every region of the world with flowing water was at least as lucky as this one in the current season. Many are suffering from drought or flood or habitat destruction. I would pray or work some mojo for them if I thought it would do any good.
Meanwhile, enjoy the summer’s beauty wherever you find it…