There’s an old fellow coming down from the forest trail this afternoon to fish for an hour or two. He claims to be suffering from a serious cold, but to cast here for brook trout won’t be detrimental since the air temperature is a mild 43 degrees F., and he really needs to get out on the water. Yes, it feels like it could rain here at any minute, but the snow-lined stream looks and sounds inviting, and he’s ready to give it a shot.
Our February angler wields a 7-foot fly rod, and he starts off by casting an Egg fly but he’ll soon switch to a bead-head nymph. Time passes and, oddly enough, nothing seems to work as well as expected.
Ah, but here’s some consolation– fisher tracks on a snowy log across the brook. The angler has seen these tracks on several visits here, and he fondly remembers a brief encounter in the area when, about a year ago, he crossed paths with the dark-furred predator hunting its way upstream.
He’s not feeling very well today, but he’s happy to find some time to freely work the stream. He checks the water temperature and notes a cool 42 degrees, almost identical with that of the air. Recalling a recent outing on upper Pine when brook trout rose to take a surface-floating Stimulator, he wonders about the dry fly possibility and then decides, no, it’s just too cold to expect a trout to rise and take a floater.
Our mountain angler, you see, has been stuck in a rut for years. When considering what a trout will feed upon, he relies too heavily on his past experience which, believe it or not, has been rather limited when it comes to mountain streams in February. Maybe he’ll desire some reader input on personal experiences from casting dries on winter creeks.
This fisherman’s been casting 90 minutes or so, with only one brief hook-up on the nymph. He’s about to quit the effort but decides to sample a dry fly. Doing so, he’ll be able to drive home thinking that at least he tried it. No regrets.
He ties on a small Stimulator, a pattern that resembles a light-colored stonefly, and he lays it on a tiny pool where a drifting nymph had not prevailed.
A bit of color on this otherwise drab, cold afternoon. A small trout but, nonetheless, a fish that makes him a believer, someone who can see new possibilities in winter fishing on chilly mountain creeks.
He’d been hearing and reading accounts of dry fly success on streams like this, but he always worked on the assumption that dries have been productive where water temperatures are warmer than these Fahrenheit readings in the high 30s or low 40s.
Leaving Fisher Brook, our angler friend decides that it can work… Small, high floating dries can be effective on cold water brooks, even when temperatures seem too low for this approach. It can work on little streams where trout mobility isn’t as great as previously imagined.
He’s a believer, and he breaks into an old Monkees song, but much prefers a tongue-in-cheek version by the idiosyncratic master of British songwriting, Mr. Robert Wyatt. Like a Valentine from trout.