Monthly Archives: September 2011

13 posts

Orvis News: Bringing Back the Salters

Salter - Sea Run Brook Trout

The salters? Yes, the saltaahs! An update from Orvis News about efforts to restore sea going brook trout (aka. “salters” that’s right) on Red Brook, a 4.5 mile spring creek that feeds into Buttermilk Bay on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The Sea Run Brook Trout Coalition as well as Trout Unlimited are leading this effort. These sea run native brookies are hanging on thanks to these organizations.

Good stuff.

Menhaden – Take Action Now

Fish Boat - Menhaden

Menhaden Defenders has a campaign to stop the over-harvesting of this important species of fish. How important? The most important fish in the sea — remember that book? Stocks of menhaden have declined alarmingly in the past 25 years. They are harvested for uses such as Omega-3 oil supplements and oil based paint. Atlantic menhaden also happen to be a primary forage fish for a number of species of game fish such as stripers (or rockfish for you Mid-Atlantic residents) and bluefish.

Go here to take action to stop overfishing of menhaden. You can use the text they offer or paste the slightly corrected version below into their online form:


Dear ASMFC Commissioner,

I am deeply concerned that the Atlantic menhaden stock is at an all time low that that the latest stock assessment found that overfishing is occurring. Atlantic menhaden are vital to the Mid-Atlantic marine ecosystem, and this fishery should be managed with the utmost care.  Therefore, I respectfully request that you:

1) Establish the first ever coast-wide cap on the menhaden fishery for the 2012 season.  This quota should be based on an target of 30% of the Maximum Spawning Potential—i.e. 30% of the mature fish in an “unfished” stock must be left in the water—with a corresponding overfishing threshold of 15% MSP
2) Require appropriate monitoring and enforcement measures to avoid fishing over that cap
3) Move quickly to manage the species on an ecosystems basis, accounting for the critical forage role that menhaden play.

Thank you for considering my views.


Derek Watkins: Mapping Generic Terms for Streams in the United States

US Stream Names

Ever wonder why your favorite streams are named “run” and “branch” but your friends in other parts of the country talk about their “brooks”, “sloughs” and “forks”? Here is a cool map and blog post about the U.S. distribution of how these things commonly called streams are named.

This a very well done graphic.

Here in Virginia, runs and branches are common. In New England brooks are widespread, and where I grew up (New Jersey) that’s what we tended to call small streams, too.

Derek references a couple related blogs, including one that shows terms for UK streams (including terms heretofore unbeknownst to me such as “burn” and “afon”) as well as an exhibit of maps with smaller sets of data for common stream names on flickr, which makes comparing some of these terms a little easier.

All of these blogs illustrate really cool ways to use publicly available data sets — these all use data from the US Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database.

Brook Trout Fishing Report – North Fork Thornton River, Shenandoah National Park Virginia

North Fork Thornton River - SummerWell, it’s been a month since I fished here and it’s the first time I’ve tried it during the summer. When I got there I did not expect to find a mostly dry boulder strewn spillway with some scattered puddles of stream. How can fish survive a summer in something like that? But survive they do. I ran across a couple walking their dog and they said it looks that way every summer. I know I’ve caught some nice brook trout in this river on two occasions (both springtime) so they are in there somewhere. And I managed to find a few.

I parked on the side of the road at the bottom of the stream and hiked into the park. It’s tricky figuring out how to walk in without trespassing. Hikers are definitely not encouraged with all the no parking and towing warnings, and you have to walk by a couple houses right at the park entrance but it’s all legal. I always make an effort to be quiet and move quickly past residences in these spots, which is not uncommon throughout the lower reaches of Shenandoah National Park. If I were living there that’s what I would appreciate, so I try to operate that way and be unobtrusive and as invisible as possible.

Anyway, I fished only in one pool:

North Fork Thornton River Pool

Here is what I caught… One minnow with red eyes:


One small rainbow One Rosyside Dace:

Rosyside Dace

One very small brook trout:

Small Brook Trout

Murray’s Fly Shop: Snake Bite Kit

Snake Bite Kit

Though I’ve never had the occasion to use it (and hope I never will), I carry a Sawyer Extractor snake bite kit in my backpack whenever I’m hiking around fishing for brook trout. I am told this works to extract some quantity of venom depending on where the bite is on your body. For example, on your hands or feet it is supposed to work better than if the bite is on your calf.

However, the effectiveness of the Sawyer Extractor is somewhat debatable, and apparently one of the kit’s proponents has backtracked in the past few years on his endorsement of the product. As with almost everything on the internet, it’s hard to know what the truth is. Nevertheless…

Whether you do or do not apply a quick suction to a venomous snake bite when you are in the backcountry, the most important thing is still to get to a hospital. The only sure way to treat such a wound is to get a shot of antivenin. A little extraction, if it actually works as advertised, may buy you a small window of time to hike out of the situation and get to a hospital.

MidCurrent: Hi-Vis Coachman for Brook Trout

Hi-Vis Coachman
Hi-Vis Coachman. Photo by Tim Bronson at

Another good attractor pattern for brook trout from Phil Monahan and MidCurrent — the Hi-Vis Coachman. Almost every brookie I catch in small mountain streams is on a Royal Wulff. Sometimes I get crazy and use a Mr. Rapidan or increasingly some bastardized version of an Adams that I tie myself. If it looks buggy and the water is moving, throw something you can see easily because the fish are going to snag it if it’s drifting cleanly and you didn’t spook them.

Orvis News: Golden Trout in Colorado

Colorado Golden Trout
Colorado Golden Trout

This is a cool story about finding golden trout in Colorado from Orvis News. It’s not the puritanical native fish expedition, since golden trout are native to California and not Colorado, but the spirit of heading into the wild to search for uncertain populations of wild fish is similar to how I regard angling for brook trout on the east coast. This guy found a lode of golden trout. Good on him.

This gets me jazzed. I am really looking forward to pre-spawn brook trout fishing in the next couple months.

I’ve Been Gone So Long

Summer is officially over, and that means the same for my long hiatus from work and this blog. You see, over the past couple months I took some time off. My travels brought me to some brook trout as well as some real big fish, and also to some incredibly tiny fish.

First, the brook trout. As usual, each summer I spend some time in the Poconos, a wooded expanse of hills and water in northeastern Pennsylvania. In only one of two trips I took to catch some brookies in the past two months I managed to catch ten fish in one afternoon on a small creek near the cabin we go to each summer. It was crazy. These fish were all in two pools that I always hit on this stream, and for some reason every one that I got to my hands slipped out. Camera shy I’m sure. Totally annoying and yet amazing fun all the same. This included what was the biggest brook trout I’ve ever had in my hands, easily over twelve inches and possibly larger. This was one of only a few times I’ve actually “battled” a brookie. On a three weight rod a lot of small fish are a minor fight but this was truly an effort. And as I grabbed my camera and brought this relative lunker into focus he thrashed right out of my hand and back into the water. Bummer. But what a fish.

The summer also included the usual fare on the lake we visit — pickerel. Almost any time of day, these guys attack almost anything. With the hot weather we had to go deep to get them, and though some days were a little slow they are always willing to assassinate a Clouser minnow or a slowly drawn lure.

Thirty inches of pike fury.

But the big trip of the summer for me was to Gananoque Lake in Ontario, Canada. A couple friends let me tag along on a trip they take every summer (one of them for the past thirty years) to catch some big bass and pike. I had never caught a pike until I hauled in this guy.


The big disappointment of this trip was being restricted to spin fishing only, except for several nice bluegills and a large crappie I caught off the dock of our cottage with my big old 9’6″ 8 wt Scott G series. When you’re on a boat with three other guys who don’t fly fish, the fly rod is not a popular idea. When I asked, the response was something like, “Sure you can fly fish. Get your own boat.” So it was the Ugly Stick with a 12″ wire leader and one super productive lure all day every day, the silver and blue Rattletrap. It was hot. Had to go deep.

Smallmouth Bass
Good smallmouth! Photo-challenged friend.

All that was great but the bass fishing on Gananoque Lake was the biggest surprise. These guys have never had huge success with smallmouth bass but three of us hooked some good sized bronze backs like the one pictured with yours truly. Certainly the biggest smallie I’ve ever landed, and by far the biggest fight of any fish I caught that week, big pike included. There is nothing — NOTHING — like catching a healthy smallmouth bass. That made the trip for me.

Other highlights of the summer included a stop on the St. Lawrence river for more pike and a trip to Round Valley Reservoir and the South Branch of the Raritan in New Jersey. My dad and I hit both of these on another very hot day in late July. Skunked we were, but I did see some nice rainbows in the reservoir and I know the South Branch has a great population of browns, rainbows and brookies. I will definitely be back there this fall and probably this winter too. Hopefully I will get to Round Valley again, too, and in a boat since the shoreline fishing is a little limiting in that place.

As for the incredibly small fish, that happened in late August on the North Fork of the Thornton River in Shenandoah National Park. I’ll come back to that. It’s impressive in its own way.

Hope you all had a great summer. Stay tuned for more…