Having just returned back from a brook trout trip to Algonquin Provincial Park (Ontario, Canada), I was able to learn first hand what is needed to catch these often cunning, yet scrappy little fish.
Here is what works when encountering small stream brookies.
#1 - Spinners
A mainstay on my ultra light rod the entire trip, these metal and lead wonders allowed me to work varying depths easily while covering all sections of the stream. Depending on the size of fish that are present, a selection of # 0, 1, and 2-sized spinners will get the job done. A #1 got the most action from the 8- to 14-inch trout I caught.
In terms of color, a selection of muted and drab shades is recommended. Silver is always an excellent choice, but chartreuse, pink and black also work well when fish are finicky. One point worth noting — feather adorned spinners accounted for the most fish. A tip worth sticking under your trout hat.
#2 - Crankbaits
Mini-crankbaits are an often under utilized bait that is worth stocking the box with. These tiny baitfish mimickers can fool even the most elusive brook trout and will often pull in the biggest fish.
Mini-cranks can be worked a number of ways. Twitched on top in the slack water can produce mini-irruptions, while held in place throughout the fast water can fool those brookies holding in current.
Keep size at an inch or two and carry a couple of color choices to experiment with on the water.
#3 - Banana Plugs
Banana-shaped plugs are lipless-style crankbaits that excel when held steady in fast water. The idea is to let them drift with the current until they reach a spot worthy of a trout's attention — such as a logjam or beaver lodge. Once there, engaging the reel and letting the lure provide the action is all it takes.
Similar to the crankbaits, keep size small and experiment with color. Black with white flecks (skunk) is a proven producer in small streams.
#4 - Slip Float and Live Bait
For purists, and when the fish just won't bite, a slip float saddled with a worm (when allowed) is the closest to Mother Nature you can get. Offerings will be small, so match hooks, split shot and floats accordingly.
When live bait is not allowed, or if none is available, soft plastic micro worms will hold their own.
The Business End
A 6 or 6.5-foot ultra light rod is perfect for small stream brook trout. A rod such as this will allow you to effectively work small lure offerings, while also providing a fun and exhilarating fight. Pair it up with an ultra light reel matched with 4-pound test monofilament.
Give small stream brookies a try this season. And one last tidbit of advice: Don't forget the frying pan.