Written by: Jared Zissu
Although I have been struggling to catch trout on the Battenkill, my small-stream game has been improving. One thing that keeps me so motivated, focused, and seriously addicted to the sport of fly fishing is the challenges that it offers. It is a sport where you never stop learning. Every single time you go fishing you learn something new. You may not realize you are learning anything, but you are getting a little bit better.
Here are a few things I have learned so far fishing small mountain streams in Vermont:
- The farther you travel from the main roads the better the fishing will be. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s honestly true. Today, I traveled an extra 10 minutes into the woods, and on my first cast, WHAM!
- Be very careful when approaching any pool. The more times I fish these small streams, the quieter my footsteps become. Sneaking up on a pool and hiding behind big rocks will increase your chances dramatically.
- Make the first cast count. About 80 percent of the time, you will get the fish’s attention on the first cast. Make sure it’s a good one.
- Fish more than just the big pools. The first few times I fished small streams, I focused all my attention on the biggest pools, doubled-hauling my 2 weight rod and trying to make that 40-foot hero cast. This will end up doing more harm than good, and you will usually spook most of the pool with your fly line.
- Keep your fly line out of the water. Especially when you’re fishing small pockets and pools, if you can high-stick and just keep your leader in the run, it gives the fly a much more natural drift.
- Be patient. Sometimes, giving that fly a few extra seconds to drift into the back end of a pool will trigger a response. Even if the cast isn’t great, let the fly sit for a few extra seconds. If a fish goes for the fly, you will usually have a second shot at it, so hit it again then move on.
- Don’t be afraid to fish two flies. If you find yourself fishing a deep pool, don’t be afraid to throw on a small nymph as a dropper. I like to use something with a little weight that has a shiny bead head. Usually will drop it one to three feet off a bigger dry, such as a Stimulator. You can also tie on a second dry, such as an ant imitation.
- Pinch your barbs! You don’t need to be using barbs on these poor little fish. Not only will you be able to set the hook more efficiently, but you can retrieve your fly easier.
- Bring bug spray and a pair of polarized shades. Unfortunately, bugs love to live in areas where there are fish. (Or maybe that’s the other way around.) Anyway, don’t let the bugs ruin an afternoon of fishing, so be prepared. The polarized sunglasses are crucial for following your fly on the water. I recommend amber lenses, for low-light conditions.
- Leave the hook in for a photo. If you do want to get a photo of your fish, your best bet for getting a good snap will be by keeping the hook in the fishes mouth. Not only can you keep the fish in the water while you prepare your camera, but if it flops out of your hand you will have a second chance to get the shot.
Jared Zissu is a former Orvis Social Media intern. He’s also the mind behind Flylords on Instagram.