I finally got my first chance of the year to get out for some native brookies over the weekend. I didn't want to stray to far from home so I just headed up to my favorite little stream the Catoctins.
Being that it was such a gorgeous weekend there were lots of people out, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and fishing. But fortunately, my favorite stretch of stream was void of fishermen. The stream was a bit high but crystal clear. Parking the car I rigged up my outfit of choice for the day. This brookie season would start with a bow toward tradition; 7' 4wt. split cane rod, a 1909 Pfluger Progress brass reel and Cortland's new imitation silk fly line.
Stepping into the stream it wasn't long before the first fish hit my little coachman...........missed him, and so it went for the first three risers. As usual, first time out, the timing was a little off. Finally after about 10 minutes a solid hook up to a fat little brookie. I wonder what he'd been feeding on?
Over the course of the next three of hours, it was never more than a few minutes between hookups. Most of the fish were in the 6" to 7 1/2" range. However. it was good to see a fair number of fish in the 8" to 10" range, a size that has been pretty much absent for the last two years due to the drought conditions in 2001/2002. In fact this guy, a nice hook jawed 10" male, was the nicest brookie I've caught on this stream in 3 years. He definitely put a nice bend in my little cane rod.
After about three hours of catching brookies, I decided to move over to a stocked stream to try for a couple fish for dinner. But, since the stream also has a some brookies, I rigged up a wooly bugger for the stocked fish and a coachman wetfly dropper just in case. This stream is considerably larger both in stream width and volume of water.
Even though this stream had been open for three weeks there were still a number of people fishing, so it took awhile to find an open stretch of water. After a half dozen casts, I was hooked up to a 6" bookie on the dropper. Moving up to the next pool, I hooked a 9" rainbow which got off before I could land it. Next couple pools nothing but a couple taps from some small brookies. The next pool was a good sized pool with a four foot water fall at the head and backed up by a debris dam at the tail. It was deep enough that the bottom could not be seen. Third drift through the pool, my line just stopped dead. Lifting up on the rod nothing happened leading me to think I was hung on the bottom. A couple of jerks and the line slowly drifted in the current toward the log jam. As I increased the pressure to keep whatever I was snagged on from getting into the debris and loosing my two flys there came a head shake and an airborn fish. At that point my jaw dropped and I thought, I hope he dosn't break my rod.
The rainbow measured a tad over 18". A couple times when he got into the current, my rod was bent over double trying to keep him out of the log jam. Did I also mention that he was hooked on 6x tippet which meant no room for trying to horse him across the current. I was extremely lucky he never got into the log jam at the pool tail. If you noticed in the picture the reel is held on with a traditional slip ring; well it was the first time I've used this reel and the fit wasn't very tight and halfway throught the fight the reel fell off. Through blind luck, I felt it fall off and made a reach for it and it fell into my left hand instead of the pool. Somehow I managed to keep the fish under control with my right hand and finger pressure on the line while I put the reel back on the rod with my left hand and after about 10 minutes manged to net him as he drifted by in the current.
The last hour of fishing was considerably more ordinary, no more rainbows but another half dozen brookies on the wet fly dropper.
As far as I was concerned, it was a dynamite way of starting off spring.
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Brookies And A Little Something Extra
Such an outstanding report, I almost don't know where to start. Ok, I 'll start with the tackle. What did you think of this line? I'm also curious about the rod and reel.
I was enjoying the pictures of the brookies and their steam, and then my eyes widened when I scrolled to the big rainbow. Wow, "something extra" sums it up. I going to have to reread this detail (hell, I'll probably reread the whole post multiple times). I can imagine how you felt, but imaging it and experiencing are, of course, vastlly different.
I've actually had that reel for about 15 years. I have about a dozen antique reels, but this is the only one that old that still works - right down to the drag. I bought it at the Easton Waterfowl Festival in the building which is mostly like a flea market in that is has almost anything to do with hunting or fishing. At the time I think I paid about $20 for it. Over the winter I decided to clean it up really well and put a line on it.
After seeing what the price of actual silk lines has done I was pleased to see Cortland "tradtional" product line. It is called a 444 "Sylk" line. It has the diameter of a comparable silk line and is designed to look and cast like a traditional silk line but is made with modern materials. It really worked very well on the rod at the distances I was casting - 10' to 25'. I have not yet tried longer casts.
One nice thing about this area is there is almost always someplace to fish. The above average rainfalls of the past 2 1/2 years has made for some of the best trout stream flows in the 30 years I've lived here. The brookies were everywhere in the stream I was fishing.