Dick Pinney's Guidelines: It's a great time to fish troutBy DICK PINNEY August 26. 2017 10:06PM
By now most of the trout streams and rivers are at a low period. We don't know how long this will last because of a big storm brewing to the south of us but if it doesn't hit, this is a great time to scout the local trout streams for concentrations of fish that often choose the deeper pools with shade, spring holes, or the mouths of smaller, spring-fed streams where they join the main stream.
This is the time of year when stealthy scouting can put you right on the bull's-eye, but it also puts you in a position where some responsibility on your part can protect some spawning native book trout if you choose to just catch and keep all the fish in those precious places.
I like to use a short and light fly rod, a short leader of no more than six or eight pound test. Four or five foot length is plenty. To that leader we will tie a small (size 10 to 12) wet fly that is sparsely dressed. That completes our rig!
The trick is to be as stealthy as you can be, and not to try to wade in this water and also to stay away from the brook as far as you can. Very carefully approach a good-looking spot to swing your wet fly across and downstream, and watch for a fish to dart out of some cover or ripples to grab your fly.
This is where some calm nerves are needed, as one mistake like splashing the water or sending a cloud of silt downstream can put you out of business for 100 yards of stream or more.
Some people that use this technique like to fish upstream to avoid scaring fish. We personally like to fish downstream because we use an across and downstream cast (more like a swinging of the fly and leader) as we'll let the fly do a natural drift. When the leader is tightened up by the current, a natural swing through the deeper parts of the pool can be the most effective method. Stealth in doing everything is key to having good results.
When I'm trying to bring a couple of brookies home to eat, we'll usually crimp down the barb of the fly's hook, making it sort of barbless. This enables us to release the fish with a minimum of contact with our hands. Sometimes just slacking on the pressure of the line and hook will allow the trout to just shake off the hook.
Unless it is a big fish, we'll try to get it out of the water as soon as possible, just lifting our rod and swinging the fish up and toward us on the stream edge. Often if we can see that the hook is just barely hooked, we will give the rod a couple of shakes and hope the fish throws the hook.
When we have to remove the hook, we'll make sure we support the fish with one hand and remove the hook with the other. The practice of trying to just shake the hook free can cause a lot of damage to the fish's mouth. Don't do it unless you can be sure that the hook has just barely sunk into the edge of the fish's mouth!
If we're going to take a few fish home for a real treat, we'll wrap them in an old towel we'll keep in our kit and try to keep them in the shade as much as possible. When we plan on keeping a fish or two, we'll always have an ice-lined cooler in our vehicle. We don't dress them (remove the guts) until we get home to our fish processing board.
These fish are always too small to be filleted! We'll most likely cut into the gut and remove the entrails and stomach. Cutting off the head removes some precious meat. So don't cut the heads off!
Jane likes to roll the processed fish in a tray of white flour. We like ours fried in good oil such as olive oil. Several of my friends prefer to also roll them in corn meal. We are not in that extra move. But we do like to sprinkle some good grape vinegar over our cooked fish for a bit of a spike in the flavor. We love to use tartar sauce on some of our larger fish fillets such as striped bass but that is overkill when you're preparing and eating small native trout!
Do not fish any of your favorite small trout streams too hard. If you take only a dozen or so fish a season, you could be hurting the bulk of a very vulnerable population of native trout.
If you make these fishing trips into an experience and not just fishing, you can enjoy the calls of wild birds, the sightings of different wild animals and critters such as frogs, snakes, turtles and we'll often spook woodchucks, flush a grouse or two and, when we're really lucky, we enjoy watching a doe and fawn if we get the opportunity. And we've also seen does come storming by us with a buck not far behind! These kinds of opportunities take the sting out of days when you come home open-handed.
Maybe we'll see you out there. But if we see you before you see us, we'll be just as happy.
Drop us an email at DoDuckInn@aol.com and get out there and get you some.
Dick Pinney 's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com