Tips for Adventurous Stream Anglers
Vermont Freshwater Fishing
While some of the brook trout habitat improvement occurred within sight of roads, the wood-addition crews worked over a mile from the nearest road in some cases. This means adventuresome anglers will be rewarded with great fishing and breathtaking scenery while seeing very few boot prints.
The best tip for fishing these streams is to get away from the roads. There are always some brook trout near the roads, but these fish can be wary, having attended the fishing school of hard knocks.
Whether fishing near the road or deep in the woods, look for brook trout in places that maximize their access to food while minimizing their energy expenditures and risk of becoming food themselves. Stream-dwelling brook trout feed by waiting for insects to drift into their territory, so the most attractive lies provide safe, slow water with easy access to fast current.
A deep plunge pool with a turbulent surface, which can screen brook trout from predators, is a classic location. Plunge pools can be created by waterfalls, large boulders, or downed trees. Undercut banks, boulders, and logs can also provide overhead protection and are likely to harbor brook trout. In small streams, good overhead cover near fast water will often hold brook trout, even in water less than a foot deep.
Brook trout prefer locations where they can be safe from predators (including you), so it should be no surprise that fishing the best habitats can be challenging. Working around recently fallen trees, with their many hook-hungry branches, can be especially difficult. However, where there is a will, there is a way … sometimes. It is usually possible to drop a live worm near the wood, and I have had some success roll-casting small bead-head nymphs near such cover. (The bead head is important to get the fly down quickly before it is swept into the wood or past the brook trout’s lair.) In the angler’s favor, brook trout are used to darting out and grabbing food that is racing past, so if you can get the bait or fly into the fish’s field of view with some semblance of a natural drift, an actively feeding fish will likely attack your offering.
The efforts to add wood to streams were done with the express purpose of increasing brook trout abundance and improving brook trout fishing, so get out and enjoy it! Great places to explore include Paul Stream upstream of Ferdinand Bog, Madison Brook, the Black and North Branches of the Nulhegan River upstream of the bogs, and the East Branch Nulhegan River upstream of Fisher Brook. Fly-fishing enthusiasts will find the East, North, and Black Branches of the Nulhegan River more accommodating to a back-cast. Bring a short rod, if you have one. While you’re out there exploring these waters, don’t limit your search to the areas where wood has been added. There are many miles of great brook trout habitat out there that needs no improvement. You just have to find it, but to some, that is half the fun.