Location: Port Washington, WI (fish areas around grafton and plymouth)
Tiny Creek Brookies
I tried fishing at a tiny creek for brookies, about 2 feet wide and maybe 2 feet deep in some areas, and there's a lot of tall grass around it. I only had 1 look, but no bites. The problems I was having was the fish were really spooky when I would approach, I could only approach from the side areas because of DNR workers in the creek, and when I did get a good approach, they'd see my fly line and get out of there. Are brook trout usually that spooky? Should I make upstream casts with a longer tippet? Any help is helpful. this is a little tough, but I'm determined
Try fishing early morning (think at or before sunrise) and evenings after the sun is down. That will take care of them seeing the fly line overhead unless your line is bright day glow color. If you are using day glow lines for any spooky trout you may do yourself a favor to either buy a gray or olive line or dye the line you have to olive or gray.
I will not get into the discussion of what fly line is harder for a fish to see here. However, while they all are quite visible when on the surface as viewed by a fish from below, the brightly colored lines are inarguably more visible while casting and especially in sunlight conditions.
As for how to better approach and present your fly, only patience will help you there. Careful observation will show you where the fish are at and from there only a well planned and slow approach will work. Once in position for a 'short & accurate' cast wait a while to be sure you have not been spotted. Many times a fish may see you move to a casting position and once you start waving a rod they are gone.
Practice the 'Bow & Arrow' cast. Pretty simple and in some conditions one of the only ways to make a cast.
If you don't have a 6'6" rod in 3 - 4 - or 5 weight, consider getting one.
Some guys will tell you a 9' rod is great for small streams and tight conditions but I would not fish that way unless I only owned 1 rod. They don't make 6' rods for fishing the Madison River in Montana, but one will work great on the head waters of Grayling Creek there
There are a few things off the top of my head, I spent many a season fishing places like you describe and I use my 6'6" rods here in AK. every year still.
Seriously consider tying up your own leaders, like 12' or so and 6X or 7X long tippets. Don't worry about how it will lay out on a 20' cast, just be sure you can cast just the leader with little more than a wrist flick - sort of like roll casting with the tippet coiled up in you line hand.
On the other hand, I know where there are 2 brooks that I have pulled a lot of brookies out of by drowning worms, and those fish will not take a fly. They swim right up to it, withing centimeters and just look at it.
Unlike my friend Random User 'above', I never liked a long leader for tight work and tied one based on a formula given to C.W. 'Bill' O'Connor by George Harvey long ago and passed to me by Bill. I don't remember it perfectly but the below lengths are close.
20" of .019
16" of .017
14" of .013
14" of .010
16" of .008
If you are knotting your own leaders this gives you roughly a 6'6" leader that will turn well with standard flies used on small brooks. For dying a fly line see this thread; Dying a Fly Line;
A bright yellow line will make a good olive when dyes of brown & green are blended. The yellow will go to brown pretty well also. White lines will be the easiest but all lines can be muted for the purpose of better camouflaging them.
It's all about stealth and making yourself invisible with that kind of fishing. Use a shorter rod with a dark matte finish and dark matte hardware -- not glossy paint or colorful accent wraps or shiny metal bling. Same for the reel and any pin-on accessories like forceps or clippers. Wear earth tones or camo, not bright colors. No jaunty red bandanas or St. Louis baseball caps. Your line should be a color found in nature. Hide behind bushes and trees wherever possible. Never stand up if you can stay on your hands and knees -- even when approaching the stream. Keep false casting to the absolute minimum. No sudden movements.
If you do put them down, stay invisible and wait. They will get over their jitters in 10-30 minutes and you can try agian.
I fished a brook trout creek very similar to this recently. It's what my 6'6" 3 wt bamboo rod was made for. Be patient, and use the tall grass to hide behind. If they're leader shy you may need to make downstream casts. Try quartering downstream against the opposite bank. If that doesn't work, experiment with different presentations. Also, keep in mind that it could've been your fly that they were turning their noses too and not your fly line. Good luck! I hope to see some brook trout pics soon.
Just putting your toe in a pool will sometimes put brookies on alert.
Try avoid touching a pool with anything but your fly and leader. For small brookie pocket water I use a silk thread furled leader. A well made leader will cast just like a fly line so there's no need to have any line out past the rod tip when a good, short cast is needed.
The hint on stealthy clothes and trinkets is spot-on.
Where I live bugs are scarce so the brookies are opportunistic. They will fly out of the bottom of a 7' deep pool to attack a bushy fly. That is one of the coolest sights to witness in all of fly fishing.
Talk about brook trout being opportunistic at time, it might have been on this site where I just saw a picture of a brookie with a crease fly in its jaw!
Usually in places like that, the banks are undercut , or at least, the soil will transmit vibration very well. Walk softly. Stay low. I prefer long leaders, because I tie leaders that cast without the line being out of the guides; just keep the flyline from going over your intended target. Think one false cast and a perfect short cast. In some places you can stand back from the bank and dap the fly. If your above a bend or the tail of a small pool that's hard to approach, stay very low and let line downstream and give them a dead drift with no cast involved. Just remember to look first before you cast. You'll send them scurrying upstream alerting all the fish above with a bad approach to the bank. I've found brookies are not very picky, but they are wary in tiny places. I've fished places like you described from Nova Scotia to the Sierra.
Never gets old.
There are certain blue lines in my state where the brook trout can be caught fairly easily with bushy flies in the quieter pools of water. Then again.....their is one small stream that parallels a popular hiking trail off the blue ridge parkway.........beautiful water......large pools full of brookies......and some of the hardest trout to fool!!! Maybe it's the human traffic and the state of constant alertness that make those trout so much harder to catch...Stay low , walk softly, cast well ahead of yourself if possible, with a long leader and fine tippet, and keep the fly line off the water....good luck and good fishing. The challenge in itself will make you a better fisherman!!
Its funny, allot of people believe Brookies to be pushovers, sometimes they are, but in low clear water a six inch Brookie can really put you to the test. Just take your time and have patience, sit down and watch things for a minute, if they are on top look for a feeding rhythm, give them a chance between casts. I know when I'm Trico fishing if there is one little bit of drag on that fly your done, 18" or 6" it does not matter, learn from the experience, enjoy it.