Our Man In Canada
October 11th, 1999
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Small Stream Strategies, Part 2


By Paul Marriner

Reading the Water
Generally, reading small streams is simple. Look for overhead cover such as bank-side logs, blow-downs, foam-covered bank-eddies, trees, bushes, and undercut banks. Mid-stream rocks, particularly in front, are also winners if the water depth exceeds a foot. Little waterfalls are hotspots. The force of the water scoops out a deep hole and the foaming water gives excellent overhead cover. Some years ago I fished a Quebec stream that featured a series of tiny, rocky plunge pools. I drew a blank everywhere else, but landed several outsized rainbows by casting a nymph upstream to the head of each little basin. Best of all are deep pools, partcilularly if insect activity is minimal. Just yesterday as I write this, I caught and released a gorgeously marked thirteen-inch wild brook trout from such a place on a small Nova Scotia stream.

Fly-fishers often overlook the importance of trees and bushes near the bank of meadow streams. One night last summer I had a wonderful evenngs's fishing where the flow swings close to a clump of bushes. Adult caddis sheltering in the bushes emerged on an egg-laying flight. Dozens of trout congregated nearby to slurp the spent adults. I headed for that place because of an experience half a world way.

Some years ago, I spent several days fishing a large spate river in New Zealand. However, at the time of year I was there, the river was a small stream, meandering many meters across the exposed gravel bed from one bank to the other. The open water was unproductive, but anywhere the "stream" touched the bank near bushes, hard-fighting rainbows congregated.

Sometimes the primary means of reading the water, sight, fails. For instance, there are times when you'll find that places which usually hold trout are vacant. In these circumstances, take the water temperature. Many eastern streams run between lakes. In the summer these are fed by warm surface water from the lakes. When the water temperature exceeds their comfort livel the trout head for the lakes. A thermometer is also the surest way to find deep, spring- fed pools. These "summer holes" will produce long after trout abandon the rest of the stream. But don't expect anyone to show you such spots; anglers jealously guard their secret locations. ~ Paul Marriner

Next time, Techniques and Flies.

We thank the Canadian Fly Fisher for re-print permission!

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