With residency applications finally sent out and fall setting in I had my sights on a Saturday of small stream fly fishing. Friend and fellow 4th year Brandon Dickinson had planned on joining but had to attend to his newborn baby girl so I went it alone. I arrived at the parking lot just after sunrise and started up the trail as another car pulled in. The water was low and I figured I would hike as far as I felt like and then fish back to the car. I ended up hiking way too far, always thinking that around the next bend would be a nice stretch of consecutive pools. I walked all the way up to the gate about 3 miles from the parking lot.
After hiking back a ways I settled on a deep pool with several fishable runs; with no activity on the surface I tied on a bead head hare’s ear. I quickly brought up a nice 4-5” brook, then another smaller brook. Both had beautiful fall spawning color. Hiking further down I found several more pools (with long walks in between) and tried my hare’s ear without luck. I saw numerous spawning beds along the way, a reminder to be extra careful treading on the gravel beds female Brooks use to protect their eggs during October and November. The trail up Moorman’s has two sections where the path rises much higher above the stream; these sections have poor access but held some of the best pools given the conditions.
On my way back to the car I stumbled upon a pool filled with one to two dozen brook trout, some of impressive size. These fish didn’t appear to be feeding and I tried every wet and dry option in my flybox. Whether this scene was a result of decreasing water levels corralling these fish together from neighboring runs or pools or was a behavior unique to spawning season I do not know. I had seen fish behave this way before on the Jackson river, pooling together in large numbers during cold temps and without any indication of feeding. The scenery made for a nice day despite the low water, but I couldn’t help but think about those big brookies I left behind.