I spend most of my time fishing for big native Brook Trout in northwestern Maine. When fishing in Maine for big natives, there are a handful, or maybe even only a couple of rivers that will typically produce the size and class of fish that I’m after. While I will not list these few rivers, they are by no means a secret. A quick google search will probably reveal the rivers where I spend my time. Beyond that, spending a few days on these rivers during prime fishing time: April-June and then again in mid to late September and watching the other anglers will generally give you an idea of the prime holding water. There are plenty of other fly fisherman in Maine and even New England who share my passion for these fish, so even though we like to think we know secrets about these waters and fish that most others do not, these fish receive a fair amount of pressure daily from anglers stripping feathers and drowning nymphs in their faces. Inevitably, these fish become educated to the game and can become picky with what they will eat and when they will eat. Here are a few tips or tactics that I use that might help others have increased success on their favorite waters.
1. Tie Your Own Flies
Even though places like LL Beans and Cabelas or any one of the hundreds of on-line places to order flies have increased their catalogs which can offer more diversity, I think tying my own allows me to customize my patterns to what works. Many see tying as an art, and it can be if you want it to be. Otherwise it, can just be a hobby that helps you connect a little deeper to your passion of fly fishing. You don’t need to invest in a $500 vise and spend thousands on rare feathers. There are good, fairly cheap vises and thousands of great synthetic materials. Make it what you want it to be. Who knows, maybe it will become something you enjoy and allows you to catch more fish.
2. Change Up The Times You Fish
I like to fish in the dark – sometimes I plan my trips to start when the sun goes down and end when the sun comes up. This might be tough for some as it tends to deprive us of sleep, but the results are fantastic. If sleep deprivation is not your thing, maybe just plan to stay for the first hour or two after sunset or arrive an hour earlier than you normally do. The fish are programmed also, and I think they relax when anglers typically leave the water and feed more carelessly. That said, you will normally have the best spots all to yourself.
3. Pay Attention To Your Surroundings
Flip over rocks to see what bugs are in the water and what size they are. If you see a fellow angler having success, pay attention to how she or he is fishing. Not just the fly they are using, but how they read the water, how fast they are stripping the streamer, or the length of tippet from indicator to fly…any number of details can help. I don’t keep a fishing journal but I try to understand what decisions led to each hook-up. What was it about the cast or presentation of the fly? Sometime there is no rhyme or reason, but often there is a pattern as to what creates success.
Words + Photos By: Tim Ervin