Small trout brings big reward
Most anglers would cringe at the thought of a four- to six-mile walk to catch a few trout that vary in length from 6 to 12 inches. For me, it’s less about the fish and more about the quiet walk, lack of other people and some quality exercise. The small and beautifully colored trout are simply a bonus.
Chances are, you know what a real challenge it can be if you’ve ever fished a small native trout stream, and I mean really small — like jump across it kind of small. The kind of tiny stream that when you walk through it, you feel as if you’ve just walked across a field of tall grass and collected the morning dew on your sneakers. Wet, but not soaked.
Anyway, as you may know, it presents a challenge just to wiggle your way into a position just to get a cast off in the direction you’ve chosen. This is even more true when you’re fishing with a lure that requires motion to attract fish, as opposed to sinking a line that has a hook full of live bait. Not knocking bait fisherman, but coming from someone who’s done both, this is the honest truth.
It also requires a clothing selection that could include camo, but dark clothing choices will do just as well, so as not to spook the fish as you slide your way past and up to the edge of the incredibly clear and low water. If you choose something too conspicuous, you may catch some fish, but you’ve already found yourself with one strike against you before you even hit the water.
I previously wrote an article about summer trout fishing on East Licking Creek (crick to the locals) and was self-inspired to head back toward Mifflintown to do some summer trout fishing. About a 30-minute drive from my parents house, I soon pulled into a small shoulder area of the dirt road, a familiar site for me from my childhood. I quickly gathered my things and headed up stream toward the area I wanted to fish and began my hike. I planned to fish about two to three miles of this stream, but a looming thunderstorm cut my trip short about two hours into it.
With most trips like this, the further from the beaten path you go, the more you are rewarded with tight lines and success. A single fish here and there for the first little while of the trip, soon turn into two or three per section and so on. A few decent sized fish were then followed by a string of smaller natives (wild trout) that are as beautiful a fish as you will catch in these areas.
As I eased my way up stream about a mile-and-a-half into my trip, I began receiving strikes on nearly ever cast I made. As I tossed my lure through a small, deep riffle in the water, my line became tight with a small trout. When I reeled it on, much to my surprise it was a beautiful wild brown trout about nine or 10 inches in length. Knowing that these type of trout never saw the inside of a hatchery and are naturally present in a stream like this makes each catch like this one that much more special.
It’s no doubt that this style of fishing is most definitely an acquired taste. A lot of effort is viewed as a little reward for some, and for others it’s seen as well worth the time. Give it a shot — the trout are waiting.
Straight cast and tight lines, my friends.
John Knouse writes about the outdoors for The Sentinel.