Like much of the northeast, western Pennsylvania has experienced a wet — make that very wet — spring and early summer. While the rain has put a damper on some outdoor activities, our mountain streams, which rely on rainfall, are flowing well. This means a person can enjoy fishing for the wild brook trout that inhabit many of these streams, which is just what I've been doing.
Here are four tips sure to increase one's chances of catching these spooky fish.
#1. Choosing the right rod. A fly rod makes a great tool for plying mountain streams. Being an accomplished fly caster isn't necessary. In many cases there isn't room for a traditional casts anyway. A fly rod in the 7- to 7.5-foot range, made to handle a 3 or 4 weight line, is ideal for making short roll casts. It's also great for "dapping" a fly, a short line tactic similar to flipping a jig for bass.
#2. Bring the right flies. Brook trout seem to have an attraction for brightly-colored flies. I've had great success with colorful dry flies such as the Stimulator and Royal Wulff. Folks that tie their own flies might want to create some Wooly Buggers in a pink or salmon (orange/pink) color; also Inch Worms (aka Green ***) in a pink rather than traditional green color. I've had outstanding success on native brook trout with both.
#3. Fish upstream. Native brook trout are wary beings, always on the alert to keep from being eaten by a long list of predators. Thus, it's much more productive to fish upstream, approaching them from behind. As you approach each pool, do so from a distance, evaluating the best position from which to make your cast (and your first cast is often the one most likely to be bitten).
#4. Pack light. Since it's common to spend a lot of time hiking when you're fishing mountain brook trout streams, it makes good sense to keep your tackle to a minimum. A single box with flies; plenty of water and energy bars; an extra leader and tippet material; some split shot; hemostats (forceps) and nippers; and you're pretty well set. All of this fits nicely in a small chest pack or sling pack, creating a streamlined profile for traversing the woody banks of a brookie stream.