Thursday, November 5, 2009

Salamanders & Brook Trout.

I slept in far too long a few Sunday's ago. I awoke worried that there would be someone in my favorite fishing spot but those worries subsided once I opened my front door. I stepped out into the cold autumn air that my lungs felt first. Taking it all in, I noticed the wind next. It was wrecking havoc on all the fall foliage. It seems, like every autumn once the leaves reach that perfect shade, a long night of wind, cold temps, and frost destroy one of nature's best events. There would not be anyone brave enough to fish my small stream in this weather. I gathered up my gear, hopped in the truck, and hit the long scenic road to my destination.

When I hit the trail about an hour later it was like stepping into another world. The wind was deflected away from the small ravine and the tall pines surrounding me seemed to block out the sound of rushing leaves. All I heard and focused on was the babbling brook crashing through this perfect scenery. I made my way down to the stream and began searching for some trout. The water was low for this time of year but gin clear. The stream was chocked full of leaves and in some areas it looked like there wasn't any water. The colorful oranges, yellows, and browns covered everything including the stream bottom. It just looked like one big continuation of color. This made finding a few trout quite the challenge.

The Trail to the Stream.

Looking Down & on the Lookout For Browns.

As I made my way upstream looking and hoping for a migratory brown running up to its birthplace, I nearly stepped upon a creature I have never seen before. Sure, they may be common place in many areas of the country, but for where I am from, they are a rare occurrence. I spent a large part of my life playing alongside streams and I have never seen a salamander like this before. The large Northern Spring Salamander laying upon the side of the stream peeked my curiosity. He was out in the open and upon closer inspection, it was likely due to his injured tail. It looked like a it had been chewed upon. The back of the the Northern Springer lacked any moisture. I took several pictures before placing him in a moist spot under some cover. I lapped some water on his back and hoped the little guy would survive the day.

Northern Spring Salamander.

Sweet Little Guy.

He Was Injured.

Fire Eyes.

Farther upstream alongside an old dam, I spotted my first trout. As usual it positioned itself near a very difficult lie. The water was still, deep and protected by a crumbling concrete wall and overhanging branches on the other side. I positioned myself upstream around a slight bend hidden behind the bank and overhanging trees. The brook trout slowly glided in and out of plodding current. I only noticed him because of his movement. Once he stopped I had a hard time seeing him from my position. I gathered up my line and my butch caddis and made sure all was ready to go.

The View From My Casting Position.

The Brook Trout.

I carefully crawled into the best position, my knees aching atop the small rocks. I let out some line by using the downstream current before arching my rod up for a roll cast. The seven foot rod barely fit between the bank I kneeled upon and the dam on the other side. I had to be careful to fit my roll cast between the calm water and the four feet of clearance under the branches without spooking the fish. The sideways roll cast arched my line downstream and my caddis plopped about a foot above the fish. The brook trout slowly rose from his bed of leaves extending his ten inch frame vertically towards my fly. With a small sip the brookie took the caddis down. I waited a split second longer before setting the hook with a sideways tug. I carefully played the brook trout to my knees and gently cradled him for two shots. I let him go and he waddled down into the depths slightly camouflaged by the bottom.


Stocked Fish, But Sweet Nonetheless.

Underwater Release.

Back To His Lair.

Fishing a small stream for trout surely cannot produce the same knee shattering adrenaline rushes a hundred pound tarpon torquing a ten weight can. However, around every bend a different scenario and challenge awaits those willing to give it a try. Sighting a fish hidden in a labyrinth of colors and figuring out the right way to coax him into eating a dry fly is a challenge in itself that produces an entirely different form of satisfaction. Different species produce different moments and they always keep you coming back for more.

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