Stocked Brook Trout – Strip it, Skate it, Swing it

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Imparting motion on my flies triggered this nice male brook trout into biting. Photo: Louis Cahill

I’m very fortunate to have a great trout stream near by that operates a delayed harvest program (catch and release fishing by artificial flies only) that starts in the fall every year, and runs into the early summer.

I love visiting this trout stream because the DNR stocks big male and female brook trout, some of which, can push well over twenty inches. To consistently catch these beautiful brookies, I usually have to experiment with different types of flies and presentation methods to find out what’s the best option for the day’s fishing. Sometimes all I need is a simple drag free drift with a dry fly or nymph to catch them. Other times, the brook trout will completely ignore my dead drifted flies and I’m forced to impart extra action and movement on my flies to trigger bites. When I can’t get stocked brook trout to rise to my dry fly or take my nymphs dead drifted, I’ll then try fishing tactics like stripping a streamer, skating a dry fly or swinging a tandem nymph rig. For some reason, the added action and movement, often will trigger reaction strikes from stocked brook trout that have lock jaw. Moving your fly upstream, and causing it to make a wake, be it a dry fly or wet fly is another technique that can work wonders. Everyday can be different, so it’s important that you figure out what kind of presentation and type of fly the brook trout want to help you find success. Now that I’ve gone over how movement can trigger bites with the stocked brook trout, let’s talk about each in a little more detail.

Technique #1 – Try stripping streamers where the brookies are located

I’ll never forget a day on the water with my good friend Joel Dickey several years ago, where he landed two brook trout well over 22 inches with a streamer. They were the biggest stocked brook trout I had ever laid my eyes on in the Southeast, and the only thing that proved effective for catching them that day, was retrieving a streamer across their noses erratically. Try fishing brightly colored streamers that incorporate flash for stocked brook trout. Multi-colored streamer patterns with yellow, orange and blue have served me well over the years. Take an attractor approach when tying or purchasing your streamers, you don’t need to fish natural looking streamers that resemble the local sculpins, crayfish or baitfish.  These can work also, but I’ve found streamers that are colored loudly get the most attention. Your streamers don’t need to be very big either. A two to three-inch streamer is all you need to get the job done. Just keep in mind that the brook trout will not always be fooled by your streamers. I provided this technique first, because right after brook trout are stocked, they usually are suckers for streamers. After being caught with them a few times though, they start to wise up, and will chase but not always eat streamers. Try streamers where you can locate brook trout or know it’s good water for brook trout (usually slow moving runs or tails of pools), and if you don’t have any luck, be ready to try other types of flies and techniques.

Technique #2 – Try skating a big attractor dry fly

Skating big dry flies across the surface of the water can be highly effective for stocked brook trout. I like to fish large dry flies that float well and have enough bulk that they’ll create a nice V-wake when I’m skating and twitching them. A bright foam body with rubber legs, stacked deer hair and a palmered grizzly hackle feather works well. If you don’t tie flies, a rubber legged PMX in yellow, purple, red or bright green has served me well over the years. If the brook trout refuse to take your dry fly dead drifted, try positioning yourself slightly upstream of the fish, and begin swinging and skating the dry fly in front of them. To take it a step further, you can also try swimming your dry fly upstream by making a few short, quick strips after the swing to trigger a bite. This often is the ticket for a brook trout that will follow your dry fly but doesn’t want to commit and eat your fly. Who says stripping dry flies upstream is agains the book, ha? I promise you it will work on stocked brook trout if you give it a try.

Technique #3 – Try Swinging your nymphs

A long steady swing with nymphs is similar to skating a dry fly on top, but with a wet fly, all the movement happens below the surface. When I’m fishing water that’s fast enough to swing my flies at the end of my drifts, I always do so. The swinging motion of your nymphs can not only help you catch the fish that you can see, but it also can get the attention of other brook trout downstream that will often swim upstream and take your flies. Just like with your dry fly, try making short quick strips after you’ve finished swinging your nymphs to entice the following fish to eat your fly.

It’s important for me to point out that unless I’ve been fishing the stocked brook trout water regularly and know the fish are preferring movement, that I’ll always first utilize a drag-free dead drift. It allows me to cover the water a little more precise and thorough. When that doesn’t work, I’ll then focus on using the three techniques I’ve highlighted in this post. I hope this helps you anglers out there that have the opportunity to fish stocked brook trout streams in your area. Lastly, although I prescribe using these tactics for the stocked brook trout, they can also be just as effective at catching stocked rainbow and brown trout.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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4 thoughts on “Stocked Brook Trout – Strip it, Skate it, Swing it

  1. I hear you man! I’m here in Asheville and we have the same situation. I was out catching a few big boys last Friday. My buddy got one and thought it was a brown because he didn’t realize Brookies could grow like that. I guess they thrive in the hatchery conditions.

    Still lookin for the 20 incher!

    • Clark,

      Thanks man, I was out there today caught some of them. Movement worked with streamers and a slow swing with nymphs. However dead drifted dries and nymphs worked too. Not a very technical day, they work hungry.

      P.S You will get that twenty-incher. Make a point to Fish slow and take the time to look in the pools and scan for the big boy.


  2. Thought I’d need a trip to Minipi to catch a brookie like that? Being I began fishing for brookies in the northeast as a kid and never really caught one more than 16 inches or so, it’s been on my bucket list to catch a trophy. I could spend years looking in hundreds of pools and never see a brookie that size here in GA. Not sure if that insprires me…..or depresses me. Until then, I’ll save that 7k for my Minipi trip.

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