I’d intended to fish the brook ever since a friend indicated that his son had looked for trout there years ago. Through my decades of digging into local history, especially with regard to native fish populations, I had never seen a reference to, or heard of, brook trout being found in that stream. More recently, I received a gift of Perdigon trout flies sent from a former resident of this town, and I figured that these neatly-tied creations (new to me) might be the perfect ticket for exploring the little-known waters of the brook.
It was a beautiful morning to commence with Operation Perdigon. I wanted a quick, unobtrusive visit to the deep culvert pool found about halfway up the hollow. There were few people living in these woods, but I did know a couple of them, and I preferred not being visited while performing my surgical inspection, even though the fishing operation would be legal in every aspect.
Perdigons are basically an attractor fly designed to sink quickly in fast deep water. These small, tapered, barbless flies are based on an original Spanish pattern (less than a decade old) that my friend, Don Tolhurst, follows, tying the weighted flies with his own creative spin.
The “Pliva Perdigons” are usually tied with a large bead, a tail of Coq de Leon fibers and a steeply tapered body often covered with a UV resin. They aren’t typically fished in headwater streams, said Don, but work well in rivers like the West Branch Ausable, Genesee, and Farmington, and in smaller waters like Pine and Kettle Creek in Pennsylvania.
Nonetheless, I was ready to attempt a tricky culvert pool with a pair of Perdigon nymphs, ready to straight-line into deep headwaters situated 20 feet below the steep edge of a gravel road. I heard no vehicles coming or going on the wooded slope. I assembled the two-piece rod, already equipped with tandem Perdigons, and left my fishing vest and other tackle in the car. So far, so good.
Seeing an overgrown path leading toward the pool, I abandoned my original idea of casting from the road, and stepped toward the path. I wore street shoes and a pair of shorts containing my camera in a back-pocket. The slick soles of my footwear let me down, quite literally… I fell on my back and took a mud ride toward the bottom of the gully. Luckily I broke no bones, rod or camera on this inauspicious debut.
Eye-to-eye with the pool, I saw the flash of something at the Perdigons. I worked out a few technical problems concerning my position here, then hooked and lost a small fish. Damn! Would I get another opportunity? I did…
A six-inch brookie came to hand, was quickly photographed and released. At last, the stream could be added to the list of local waters still containing “endangered” natives– good news, certainly, though I wasn’t about to publicize exact locations.
Before the Perdigons were broken off and lost, I caught yet a larger brookie, a fish about eight inches long and, like myself, unwilling to be photographed. With that, the operation was successful.
It’s important to have personal experience with the natural world, both close at hand and at the frontiers of our knowledge. It may seem a small thing to have found a remnant population of a struggling native species, but I now have another stream to lend my voice to if and when the stream requires some defense in a court or village office. Also, it just feels good to know that a native fish is there– plain and simple.
Thank you, Don, for my intro to the Perdigons, and thank you, readers, as always, for your interest and support. You bring a positive accent to this delving into nature.