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Fishing tips for catching Brook Trout
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Truth be told, I like all the trouts. I like the wild Rainbows native to California’s western Sierra. I like the wily Brown trout originally imported from Europe, the flashy Golden Trout of the High Sierra’s Kern River drainage, the Cutthroat trouts of the Great Basin, and the rare Paiute Trout of the Silver King. But at this time of the year, I especially like the beautiful Brook Trout that were natives of the eastern half of North America. The Brookies Latin name, Savalinius Fontanalis, translates roughly to “Little Trout of the Springs” which is fitting since they prefer colder waters than the other trouts.

One of the angler’s most useful tools is the stream thermometer. You can get along without one, but if your trusty thermometer says the water is 42 degrees it’s a pretty sure bet that the primary fishing action in that water is going to be the brookies. At the height of summer, you can still catch Brown Trout in water as warm as 75 degrees as long as it is well aerated by a tumbling stretch of stream. Brookies prefer colder waters in the shady sections of stream that are fed by cold springs. They also require the cleanest waters of any of the trouts and have a very low tolerance for any sort of pollution. While Brookies are purists in their environmental requirements they are not picky at all when they slam your fly. There is nothing subtle about the smashing strike of a brookie.

Another great quality is that Brook Trout breed prolifically once they find conditions that suit them.

It’s not at all uncommon to find a Brookie stream that’s packed with hoards of small fish. They will literally breed until their population overwhelms their food supply. As a result Brookies can actually benefit from fishing pressure in some cases. That means that you can catch a creel full of Brookies for dinner occasionally and actually help the overall health of the stream population. A Brook Trout stream with moderate angling pressure will produce larger, healthier fish than a stream that gets no angling pressure at all. The icing on the cake is that Brookies are one of the best tasting fish that swim, and you don’t have to feel guilty when you eat a batch for dinner.

Oftentimes, different stretches of the same stream will produce different species of trout. The North Fork of the Mokelumne River is a great example. Along the roadside stretches on the Highland Lakes Road or at Hermit Valley the Rainbows are the predominant species but near the junction with the colder tributaries like Elbow Creek, or Pacific Creek, you will find a population of fiesty Brookies. In the huge pools below the junction of Deer Creek, lurk wary monster Browns that could cause you to have a heart attack if they attack your offering. The rainbows can handle the roadside angling pressure that the Brook Trout just can’t tolerate. But in the remote areas with a colder source of water you should find the Brookies just waiting to engulf your offering.

I like to find a remote stretch of cold shady stream and wade right up the middle on a hot summer day. I’ll use a roll cast or a bow cast to avoid getting my fly hung in the brush and flip my fly along both sides to catch dozens of eager brookies. Although I happen to be a flyfisher, brooks respond to almost anything you throw at them: Flies, lures, or bait, they don’t care. I release almost all the fish except those that are badly hooked have a ball with one of the most cooperative tastiest trout of all, the incomparable Brookie.