If you were a trout, you’d know that the current or water speed of a stream or river is not uniform as it flows downstream. Bends in the river, rocks, drops, and depressions in the stream bottom create micro-currents which can be faster or slower than the main flow, and in some cases even cause water to flow back upstream, which is what occurs in an eddy.
Trout like to hide in the slower parts of a river, camouflaged by the darkness of a pool or under the cover of frothy whitewater riffles that prevent predators from seeing them from above. Lurking in pockets of slower current, they lie in wait for food to float by them, often positioning themselves on the boundary with faster current, because there’s more food floating by them which they can snatch out of the water.
My goal this past week has been to find good trout water which not only held trout, but was also fishable with waders, deep enough without being too deep, and relatively free of overhead obstructions. In the long term, I’d rather not become too dependent on waders because they’re too heavy to carry on a backpacking trip, but I wanted to spend more time this week walking up a stream in search of trout rather than side casting, which I think leads to more fly snags between rocks (and lost flies).
Pond Brook is located in the Sandwich Range of the White Mountains, close to the smaller peaks on the north side of Squam Lake. It runs alongside the Flat Mountain and Bennett St Trails which provide excellent access to the river without much effort. Pond Brook drains Flat Mountain Pond, which is stocked by New Hampshire Fish and Game and the brook is marked in Delorme’s New Hampshire Gazetteer as holding fish.
I spent a few hours fishing the lower part of the stream near the Flat Mountain Pond Trail Trailhead, which is at the end of a rutted gravel road in the middle of nowhere, near Sandwich, New Hampshire. The conditions were perfect for fly fishing with overcast skies and the water in the stream was cold enough to warrant wearing waders.
Pond Brook is the smallest stream I’ve fished so far and it matches the types of streams I’d like to come across and fish on backcountry trips, with lots of river features including pools, drops, and riffles densely packed together. I didn’t catch a damn thing on this outing, but I got to practice a lot of front casting and accurately placing the fly exactly where I want it in the stream.
The number of flies I’m losing has also dropped because I’m more conscious of overhead trees and because I’ve started casting more frequently and letting my line drift for shorter distance, where it’s less likely to get snagged between rocks.
Wearing waders also lets me go after snags and retrieve them instead breaking the tippet and losing a fly. In the process, I’ve discovered that a lot of my snags are due to tiny branches caught between rocks instead of the rocks themselves. Useful to know.
When I fished Pond Brook, it was clear that the river is visited by other fisherman. You can tell by the paths from the parking lot to the river and along the river bank. Based on the traffic, I have to assume that there are fish in the stream and that I just haven’t figured out where they lie yet.
In the coming weeks, I’m going to switch from concentrating on riffles in rivers where trout lurk under white water, to more pools, undercut rocks, and eddies.
I feel like I have the mechanics of fishing form and equipment sorted out, now the challenge is to find trout water.
Postscript: I caught nine fish at a local pond the other day. They weren’t trout, but I could see big trout swimming around my legs in the clear water. That’s why I’m confident that I have the mechanics of fly fishing down and it’s just a matter of time before I find out where they live in mountain streams.