Spring Fishing on Tributaries for Wild Trout

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Small fish are just as cool as big fish. Photos By: Louis Cahill

Several of our blog followers on numerous occasions have asked Louis and I if we ever catch small trout?

Jokingly, they mention, “All we see are trophy size fish in most of the pictures on the blog”. I assure you all, we catch plenty of small fish, and Louis and I both appreciate and photograph them on the water with the same gratitude and respect. It’s just fair to say, that a large portion of anglers out there are constantly striving to catch a trophy class fish. We tend to use our big fish photos as motivation and assurance that persistence pays off. However, it’s important to note, in most cases, there’s no distinction in our fishing technique. We pretty much fish the same way for all sizes of trout. We approach the fishing spots the same, we make the same casts and presentations, and we fish the same fly patterns. It really just boils down to whether or not it’s a numbers day or a big fish day, and we’re generally happy with either. Location does play a factor though for size of trout, but remember, a trophy fish should be defined by the water it inhabits. A 14-inch trout on a small creek has just as much right to hold the trophy status as a 20-inch fish on a big river.

Right now we’re well into the Spring fishing season. Water temperatures are warming, multiple species of bugs are hatching, and trout are really happy and aggressive with their rising metabolisms. There’s really no better time of year to fish one of your favorite small stream tributaries with dry flies for wild trout. Pack plenty of attractor patterns, but also make sure your covered with imitations for mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies. This time of year, there’s a good chance you could see appearances from all three family’s on the stream, and sometimes it can be very important you have a the right fly pattern, if the trout key-in on a specific bug and begin selectively feeding. You usually won’t have to pack lots of nymphs or emergers because most of the time wild trout will satisfied to take your solo adult patterns floating on the surface. They can however, increase your catch numbers by trailing one of them off the back of your dry fly. So plan your high elevation trout trip. I can assure you Louis and I will be following right behind you.

One final tip, bring a GPS handheld along with you if you have one. It can be easy to get turned around high up in the mountains if you lose track of the trail or take a wrong fork in the stream. It’s saved Louis and I multiple times having one along with us. Mark your vehicle as a waypoint before you head out, and have the GPS unit set to live-track mode. This way you’ll always be confident where you are on the stream and how to get back swiftly in the event someone gets injured or bad weather approaches.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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10 thoughts on “Spring Fishing on Tributaries for Wild Trout

  1. New criteria for a trophy trout.

    It has to be able to lay crosswise in the palm of your hand and not hang over on either side.

  2. Awesome photos! Love the trophy parameters- in a lot of our high skinny mountain streams a 16 inch fish is something to admire and reflect on for ages!

  3. wow – i’m glad i happened on this blog and this article. i set myself a goal of fishing 4K peaks in the white mtns NH this summer. built a T&T 3wt in feb. and bought a Tenkara to pack in to high streams. i leave sunday to try to realize my goal and your blog reinforces me. my first outing with the T&T restates your premise – 13″ brookie on a hornberg. i love the hornberg cause toy fish it both ways – dry down thru the pool – strip the streamer back up – BANG….

  4. Some of the best fishing I’ve ever done was for small fish. Black Tail Deer Creek in Yellowstone is a stream you can stand on both sides at once in some places. However, it holds a nice population of some of the most beautiful brook trout you will ever see. Many of these run 4 – 8 inches but they are super aggressive and will take almost any pattern dappled on the water.

  5. Great!
    Sorry for my english (I’m à french fly fisherman). For me, it’s not the size of the trout which brings pleasure. Perhaps difficulty to fish it, the beauty of the river and the place. Obviously, beauty of the fish. Wich pleasure when you fish, by each cast a 2 feet trout?
    G. From Normandy

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