How to Start Chasing Wild Brook Trout This Summer

Summertime is hands down the best time of year to throw on a pair of wet wading boots and head up the nearest wild Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) stream with a box of dry flies, some tippet and floatant. Brookies are hyper-aggressive and will smack just about any fly you lay down in front of them. That, paired with their sheer beauty, makes them one of our favorite trout to pursue on the fly, so we thought we would share a few tips to help you find, and get tight on some of these ferocious fish.

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Find the Brookies

Native Brook Trout range is shown in orange. Stocked Brook Trout range is shown in red. Image from: US Geological Survey.

As you can see from the map above, Brook Trout are native to the Eastern US but have been introduced all across the nation. Especially in the East, it’s not difficult to identify wild brook trout streams. Most states have databases with lists of creeks holding wild brookies, and asking fly shops about their local waters is always a good idea. But for a rule of thumb, most feeder tributaries of wild trout streams are the best places to start. Spend some time doing research, reaching out to local resources, and poring over Google Maps and your stream list will grow!

Put In the Mileage

Brook trout can live in some very urban areas if they have to, but really they love their privacy which means you’re going to have to put in the miles to get to them. Some of the best brookies waters I have ever found are deep in state land, up dirt roads and trails. But the milage is always worth it, the less fishing pressure a brook trout population receives, the less wary they are of anglers and the more haphazard they act!

Try to Avoid Fishing Behind Someone

Not only is it poor fishing etiquette on small creeks, but its also for your own advantage. In our experience, after an angler has been wading up a stretch of a brookie creek, it’s usually far harder to fool those fish, because they have already been fished over, and most of the hungry fish are sitting on the bottom with sore mouths. Typically when I head out, I have a few brookie streams on deck, in case I get to a creek that someone is already fishing. Trust me you will have a far better day fishing virgin water than playing cleanup behind another angler. If you’re fishing with a buddy, I recommend playing leapfrog up the creek, each fishing different holes along the way.

Bring Lots of Dry Flies

Now don’t get me wrong, brookies will smack just about any dry fly you drift over their heads during the summer, but you’re going to want to bring along a solid supply of dry flies to replace the ones that trout tear up or you lose in trees on the banks. Having a small fly box filled with a handful of different patterns will get you through the day. Don’t forget your floatant because your flies will get wet and start to sink after a few brookies to the net!

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Focus on Pools, But Don’t Forget the Riffles

While you will probably find the highest concentration of summertime brookies in deeper plunge pools and pockets, don’t forget about the riffles and flat sections. Brookies will spread out in their hunt for food and targeting them in the riffles and flats can be incredibly fun and challenging with a dry-dropper rig!

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