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Old 06-06-2017, 08:41 PM   #1
beartooth91
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Unhappy They're Tough to Catch!

Hello.....and in need of some advice from Adirondack fly fishers:

How does one catch Brook Trout, on flies, on an Adirondack pond, on a day trip?

After moving to WI and now PA; I've spent the last 3 years fly fishing Brook Trout lakes and ponds in Michigan, in Minnesota's North Shore, and finally, the Adirondack Park. In a bunch of trips, I've managed only a few trout.

In my experience, as soon as the sun hits the water, they go find depths of 10-16 ft deep and are quite difficult to locate and catch.

On Memorial Day weekend, I hiked into XXX Pond (Siamese Ponds Wilderness) and managed a couple of fish in the afternoon, slow trolling an AP Emerger on a sink-tip line. There were 6 others fishing (wow considering its hike-in!) and almost everyone was fishing a worm with some sort of shiny blade about 18 inches above. Sure enough, they were picking up trout near the bottom in 16-17 ft of water.

This last weekend, I made a very lll-ooo-nnn-ggg drive and day hike into a pond in the Minerva area where I was skunked. I was trolling 4 flies on an intermediate line and had one strike near some submerged boulders off the pond's north side. Beautiful pond, but, that type of success is what I'm used to with stillwater Brookies.

Problem is stillwater trout fly fishing is my preferred hobby (even though I'm very good on streams).

So, what am I missing?

Last edited by beartooth91; 06-07-2017 at 11:06 PM.. Reason: to protect the fishes
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Old 06-07-2017, 01:02 AM   #2
vtflyfish
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What are you missing? About 10 years of experience with the pesky little buggers... Your frustration is exactly what all of us faced when starting out.

So first, it's not a good idea to mention ponds by name on the internet, especially if you happen upon a good one. Second, you have to realize that much of the time this is a low odds game. The Lake Clear Wabbler guys you saw are able to put a nice smelling treat in front of sedentary, non-feeding fish. You will be fishing for actively feeding fish, which limits your chances.

Maximize your odds by fishing when the water temperatures are ideal and/or times when brookies are more likely to feed. That is seldom high noon on a bright day when the water temperature is too warm. Also pick up a full sink line and get closer to those fish. Trolling a fly is sometimes productive but it's more fun to cast into feeding areas and work them carefully. Think hard about how to get your fly into the feeding zone. Typically that's 10' to 12' although evidence that fish are near the surface should never be ignored.

Search this forum. There's LOTS of advice on techniques. Also buy Bob Sheedy's book, which you'll find reference to. The Spring season will wind down shortly. [Once surface temps reach 68 I'm done. Any brookie played in water that warm is likely a dead brookie, even if it swims away seemingly unharmed.] So you'll have lots of time to read that book over the summer, understand food sources, techniques and strategies to be prepared for Fall.

Also consider picking up a few cases of dynamite. And a few cases of hard liquor. These are pesky, irritating and often difficult fish you've chosen to chase. Good luck and keep us posted with your successes and failures.
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Old 06-07-2017, 07:43 AM   #3
Pauly D.
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Welcome to the forum. In addition to Bob Sheedy's book I have found this series of DVD's from Denny Rickards very helpful.

http://www.flyfishingstillwaters.com/videos.asp

I am new to fly fishing stillwater myself and experience the same challenges that you have. There are plenty of knowledgeable people on this forum like VT who will guide you in the right direction however please be ready to log many miles carrying your gear while exploring the ponds on your own.

For me one of the biggest mistakes I made was tying my flies too big. The Sheedy book and Rickards material focuses on fish in Western lakes that are huge in comparison to our ADK Brookies. Once I started to scale down my files I began to catch fish.

Learn the various presentation techniques such as hand twist, line stripping, rod lift etc to match the movement of your fly to what it's supposed to emulate. Learn the basic entomology of the ponds to figure out what the fish are feeding on and at what depths. Be observant while on the ponds. See what's hatching at the surface or moving around in the shallows and weed beds. Keep a log and note what you see at different times of the day and season.

Best of luck! Enjoy the journey!
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:47 AM   #4
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these guys made great points. I will chime in from a different perspective. Over the years I have spoken to several members of this forum and have learned more than I can even say in a post. In the beginning, however, I was in the same boat. I chose to switch over to all fly fishing and the I had a horrendous season the first year that I switched. I longed for the days where I would drag a wabbler pretty much anywhere and pick up fish. Time on the water is more valuable than anything. Learning to recognize when fish are up on the surface vs. when they are down deep is a skill that will go a long way. the more you are on the water, the better.

I would also like to add...buy some overnight gear. I used to do nothing but day trips. Now that I have invested in some light backpacking camping gear, I have been able to be on the water longer as well as at more ideal times. This helps teach you fish behavior as well. its also easier on the body. instead of waking up in the middle of the night, driving, hiking, fishing, then hiking out, you can get a good nights sleep and still be home at the same time the next day and not be wiped out.
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Old 06-07-2017, 11:11 AM   #5
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Beartooth,

The good news is that you've made the right choice in how to fish the ponds. The bad news is that there is a significant learning curve. Once you get good at it, you'll outfish the wabbler guys (my opinion). In addition to the good advice above, here are some general comments:
1. Location, location, location: You need to locate good ponds. For a variety of reasons, some ponds are better than others with respect to quantities and quality of fish. Word of mouth, internet searches, calls to DEC, and this forum are sources that might point you in the right direction but the best ponds are held pretty tight. Also learn about strains of brook trout.
2. Size: For the beginning pond flyfisher, I would stick to smaller ponds and avoid large, deep, oligotrophic ponds. The ideal pond for the day tripping flyfisher would be under 30 acres, 15-30 ft deep, and preferably longer than 1.5 miles to reach.
3. Presentation: Many fly casters use the countdown method. Look this up either online or in a book and follow this method to locate fish.
4. Fly: Keep it simple when starting out. Pick a fly that could represent many different pond dwelling fauna and thoroughly fish a pond using the countdown method. If its a good pond and conditions are right, you'll catch fish. My feeling is that presentation is more important than the fly.
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Old 06-07-2017, 05:33 PM   #6
vtflyfish
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Creekwader View Post
Beartooth,

My feeling is that presentation is more important than the fly.
Except when it isn't.
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Old 06-07-2017, 11:14 PM   #7
beartooth91
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Thank you, all for the replies.

Here's where you laugh: I've been fly fishing for 30 years and I've been a Stillwater specialist for about half that time. Yes....a Stillwater specialist that can't catch pond Brookies!

Except for the last 3 years, all my specializing has been on western lakes.....ie. Rainbows and Cutthroat Trout. I've even had lots of success with nice Brookies.....but at high elevations -> 9000 to 10,000 ft in the northern Rockies. Seems like when you drop below that; the Brookies are much, much tougher to catch.

I have all of Denny Rickards' books, along with Johannesen, Gorman, and I read a lot of Brian Chan/Phil Rowley stuff. But, for the most part, they fish western waters. Lake Brook Trout are different.

I do carry a Type II sinking line which I do use, on occasion, perhaps not enough.

As for Sheedy's book - and I don't mind springing for another book - what makes it different than the authors mentioned above?

Thanks
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Old 06-08-2017, 08:47 AM   #8
gmorin71
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Originally Posted by beartooth91 View Post
Thank you, all for the replies.

Here's where you laugh: I've been fly fishing for 30 years and I've been a Stillwater specialist for about half that time. Yes....a Stillwater specialist that can't catch pond Brookies!

Except for the last 3 years, all my specializing has been on western lakes.....ie. Rainbows and Cutthroat Trout. I've even had lots of success with nice Brookies.....but at high elevations -> 9000 to 10,000 ft in the northern Rockies. Seems like when you drop below that; the Brookies are much, much tougher to catch.

I have all of Denny Rickards' books, along with Johannesen, Gorman, and I read a lot of Brian Chan/Phil Rowley stuff. But, for the most part, they fish western waters. Lake Brook Trout are different.

I do carry a Type II sinking line which I do use, on occasion, perhaps not enough.

As for Sheedy's book - and I don't mind springing for another book - what makes it different than the authors mentioned above?

Thanks

hahaha, now that I look back on it...I read so much including the other responses that by the time it got to me typing my response, I had completely forgotten that aspect of your post. I responded like you were a bumbling rookie with a fly rod haha my bad!
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Old 06-08-2017, 09:29 AM   #9
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Oh, Those Beartooths... Forgive me for marking you as a beginner.

The big differences between there and here are the length of the growth season, the time that water temperature is in the ideal zone and water chemistry.

Adirondack brookies here are often separated from their food sources by temperature. When temperatures are not ideal they tend to sulk near springs or where the thermocline meets the bottom. They will make feeding forays into feeding zones episodically and when they can tolerate them. That's a huge difference from the behavior I've seen on your western high elevation lakes, where there is no thermocline and the fish feed almost continuously.

You will need to adjust your techniques to exploit their feeding times and fish deeper when they are not in the shallows. Note that brookies will tend to cruise along dropoffs and are very structure oriented.

I'd suggest adding a type V line to your arsenal and using a fish finder to learn the bottom structure of a few chosen ponds.

The Bob Sheedy book is a good one to have. He's a much better writer than Denny. Plus he's a real character.
Ever fish Cairn for brookies?
PM me for more...
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Old 06-08-2017, 09:47 AM   #10
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Oh, Those Beartooths... Forgive me for marking you as a beginner.

The big differences between there and here are the length of the growth season, the time that water temperature is in the ideal zone and water chemistry.

Adirondack brookies here are often separated from their food sources by temperature. When temperatures are not ideal they tend to sulk near springs or where the thermocline meets the bottom. They will make feeding forays into feeding zones episodically and when they can tolerate them. That's a huge difference from the behavior I've seen on your western high elevation lakes, where there is no thermocline and the fish feed almost continuously.

You will need to adjust your techniques to exploit their feeding times and fish deeper when they are not in the shallows. Note that brookies will tend to cruise along dropoffs and are very structure oriented.

I'd suggest adding a type V line to your arsenal and using a fish finder to learn the bottom structure of a few chosen ponds.

The Bob Sheedy book is a good one to have. He's a much better writer than Denny. Plus he's a real character.
Ever fish Cairn for brookies?
PM me for more...
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Old 06-08-2017, 06:55 PM   #11
beartooth91
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Oh, Those Beartooths... Ever fish Cairn for brookies?
PM me for more...
Never made it to Cairn. Had been on my list, but, it was one of those trips I never got to. Cutthroats and Goldens were my chosen quarry and, when I lived in Billings; I was in the high country probably 15-20 times per summer......mostly the Beartooths, but, in the last few years I've spent more trips in the Winds, Tobacco Roots, and East Pioneers.

There are good lakes, in the Wyoming section of the Beartooths, for nice Brook Trout. I used to fish these occasionally. They were up around 10,000 and were basically north/northeast of Beartooth Lake. Most always fished well. Interestingly enough; there are two lakes a bit lower in elevation, near Cooke City - Vernon and Rock Island. Both are predominately Cutthroat lakes, but, both have some Brookies. For the Brookies anyway, they tend to fish very similar to these ponds. I used to fish both one or twice per season. At Rock Island, I caught Brookies on my very first trip in '91 and on my last trip in 2011; none between. Despite the loads of Cutts out of Vernon; I've never caught a Brook Trout there. What a difference 1500 ft makes!

I also used to fish E Newton, near Cody, regularly. Its a trophy lake and is stocked with Rainbows, Browns, Brooks, and Splake. I'd regularly fish it in the spring, catch all Rainbows never catch any of the others. Then in 2010, I fished it on an early November day, catching a very nice Brown and a Brook. At the time, I thought it coincidence.....They are more vulnerable in the fall.

My apologies for the rambling. I miss the northern Rockies.

A type V sinking line.....Wow. When I have used my Type II sinker; I typically have used something along the lines of a small Seal Bugger.....without success.

Yeah, about a year-and-a-half ago, due to Brook Trout catching troubles; I purchased a nice Humminbird FF with SI. Its in Wisconsin now, awaiting the final move. I have one of those portable Float Tube Fanatic portable battery rigs and take it in with the float tube. It does add a bit of weight though.

Last edited by beartooth91; 06-08-2017 at 07:00 PM.. Reason: grammar
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