As August progresses, brook trout begin to transform into their full spawning colors. Male brook trout display the most vivid red bellies, dark backs, and brilliant spots. They also develop a kype (pointed and curved lower jaw) much like salmon. During this period I find streamers that incorporate orange and red, as well as some gold flash, trigger aggressive takes from brook trout.
A little secret about brook trout fishing: When you first cast into a pool or run, expect the best fish in the pool to strike first. You will likely have good action in that piece of water for several casts. Often after you’ve hooked two or three fish the activity seems to wane. Don’t move on just yet. Try switching streamer patterns to a totally different color scheme. You’ll likely catch one or two more trout.
Changing colors can often be a game saver for all species of fish. I’ve had days where I just couldn’t seem to get a hook up – assuming that the fish were just not active. Then in a moment of clarity I switched fly patterns and next thing you know I was netting a nice fish.
On a recent trip to Makokibatan Lodge on the Albany River, I was again reminded of the importance of changing colors. Two gentlemen from Alabama were my guests and they were learning how to fly fish. They had hooked several nice brook trout. Then the action seemed to take a plunge. But another two boats with guests that were very experienced fly anglers seemed to be doing much better. I assumed that their experience was the reason for their continued success.
Back at the lodge I chatted with these fellows at supper time and discovered that they were having great success on any streamer pattern that was black. This seemed counterintuitive to me as the Albany is the color of black coffee. But when I thought about it more I realized that a lot of the food sources in the river -leeches, baitfish, stonefly nymphs and sculpins – were primarily black in color.
So two lessons here: Never make assumptions, and always think outside the box when it comes to colors. This methodology applies not only to fly fishing but spin fishing as well.
Hope you enjoy the rest of this great summer.
Scott Earl Smith