Friday, June 6, 2014
Slaymaker's "Little Brook Trout"
I am sure plenty of Flyfishers enjoy the thrill of backpacking into the high country and fishing the alpine lakes during the summer. Breath taking views and pristine lakes with often very willing Trout are your reward for slinging a 45 lb Pack on and Hoofing it in many miles from your Car.
Been enjoying such adventures since the mid 70's and always a great time is had. While often the fishing is rather easy. there has always been times where you had better stay focused and on top of your game if you expect to connect with Trout.
Brook Trout have always been a favorite because they are very willing to grab your fly & are scrappy fighters. However I am certain most of the Brookies we catch in the Sierra back country lakes are the smaller 4 to 9 inch variety. It makes logical sense, there are far more of the "Dinks" in a giving lake, then their older & larger brethren. And most Anglers go to the high lakes with only a floating line and a fly box of smaller nymphs & dries ~ we're targeting the Dinks more so then most of us imagine.
I had fished the exact same way for years = work the shoreline or the inlets & outlets with small nymphs and dryflies, catching plenty of Dink Brookies.. I was fine with this as it was enjoyable & the scenery is the greatest.. occasionally I'd hook and land larger specimens -10 to 14 inches. but had the idea that these were few & far in between. But then i started a new practice : I'd work a promising stretch of Shoreline with a Nymph (my favorite over dryflies) and if all I caught was Dinks, i would walk back down the shore and switch to a #10 or #12 BH Wooly Bugger, then work the same stretch of shoreline.. and often i would start landing larger Brook Trout... This was a pleasant experience and an Eye opener as well, not high numbers of larger Brookies, but a handful that would run 10 to possible 14-15 inches. fun fun fun indeed.
I took to research about the Brook Trout and found some interesting facts about them. First off they are not really Trout, but are Char, which is a branch of the Salmonoid family and includes Lake Trout, Artic Char, Bull Trout, Dolly Varden, Sunapees, Bluebacks, etc... Char are easily identified by having light spots on a dark background; Trout have dark spots on a light background.. Char also live longer then most Trout species: Lake Trout have been found that are 100 years old. Brook Trout can live an average of 8 to 12 years, but are known to live to 24 years of age. Char also can become highly cannibalistic, eating their smaller cousins is no big deal to a larger Char. And finally Char do not need running water to spawn. they are able to spawn in lake gravels if the gravels are of the right size and have a nice current that washes and aerates the gravels. in short : no inlet or outlet creek ~ no problem for Char.
Back in the 1980's the National Parks in the Sierra Nevada ceased with Aerial Plantings of the back country lakes. This resulted in some lakes going sterile of Trout, as being pothole lakes without inlet or outlet streams , the Rainbows & Goldens could not reproduce. the plus side was that for a number of years after the end of plantings a number of these lakes had small populations of larger Trout that you could target- until they died off & the lakes became void of Trout.
The alpine lakes with Brook Trout populations did better, if there was no streams to spawn in, but there was gravels of the right size, the Brook Trout could reproduce. so the dinks remained for the average Flyfisher to have fun with after their long hike in. in laymen's terms, the Brookies had no problem dealing with no longer having the next generation delivered from the air- they could reproduce on their own.
a Personal favorite pattern to carry with me to the alpine lakes to target the larger Brook Trout is Sam Slaymaker's "Little Brook Trout" .. it is a simple Bucktail pattern that imitates Brook Trout fry pretty good. It is a easy & straight forward pattern for a Tyer to assembly...
LITTLE BROOK TROUT
Hook : Daiichi 2340, TMC 300, Mustad L87-3665A.. sizes #6 thru #10
Thread : Black 6/0 , Ultra 140 or Danville Flymaster
Tail : Green Bucktail, with a shorter section of Red Floss on top.
Rib : Oval Silver Tinsel, sized to hook
Body : Cream either Dubbed (i prefer Hareline Dubbing "Cream") or Uni Yarn, Cream.
keep the body somewhat thin.
Throat : Orange hackle Fibers, tyed snug to the body and half the body length.
Wing : from bottom to top : White Bucktail, Orange Bucktail, Green Bucktail, Badger hair.
each section is a small amount,
slightly extend the length of each section from the previous.
I often substitute Brown Bucktail dyed Tan for the Badger.
Cheeks : Jungle Cock
Head : nicely tapered towards the hook eye, coated with a nice Gloss head cement ,
I use Hard As Hull.
The rig I prefer for fishing the Little Brook Trout in the Alpine Lakes is as follows : a 4 or 5 wt. 9 ft Rod. the line is a type 2 or 3 Full sink, preferably a Uniform sink. leaders are of Flourocarbon and test at 8 Lbs. and a maximum length of 4 feet.
The larger Brook Trout are not as active in the daytime as the dinks are, so we need to go to where they rest and hold up in the daytime. This would be the deeper sections of the lakes , along the talus slopes.. in and amoungst the boulders and slabs that have fallen down into the lake. the shadows and small nooks amoungst the boulders and slabs are where the bigger Brooks will hold up.
It is a simple matter of positioning yourself to blast a cast out into the Lake and then carefully keeping a straight line contact with the fly as the sinking lines drags it down into the depths- this is accomplished by simply keeping the tip of rod down in the water. keep the line in your line hand as it sinks. any twitch or hesitation should be met with a hard strip strike, many times the Brooks will rise up towards the Streamer as it is sinking down towards them.
Once the sinking line has reached the bottom, you can retrieve the fly in a series of short fast strips, or a slower retrieve. try one method first and if it isn't working, Change your game.. figure on sacrificing some flies to boulders and slabs,and also to the larger Brook Trout that will ambush your streamer and barrel right back into their rocky nook.. it's part of the fun and price one pays to land the largest Brookie of their trip..
Besides alpine lakes, the Little Brook Trout will work in any roadside lake that has had Brook Trout introduced into them ; Rock Creek Lake, above Toms' Place; Twin Lakes, in Mammoth Lakes are two of a number of roadside lakes that the Little Brook Trout will produce in...
Well You most likely will not catch high numbers of Trout on the "L.B.T." , You will most certainly hook some of your Largest Trout on it.....