Tangled Lines tackles the hard questions
Andrew Corrigan shows how to keep a low profile on a brook trout stream. 
Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan

Tangled Lines tackles the hard questions

Let us open the Tangled Lines mail bag and see what’s on offer.

It’s been so cold and rainy that instead of fishing I am watching documentaries about secret societies. I even joined an order of guys who call themselves Templars. Am I going crazy?  Linus J. Scrimshaw, Perth Amboy, N.J.

Be of good cheer, Linus. Or at least as cheerful as a guy named Linus can be. Yes, the Housatonic has been too high to wade lately. And yes, that was the case for much of 2022. But bear in mind that the state put 18,000 trout in the upper Housatonic Trout Management Area (between Cornwall Bridge and the Salisbury/Falls Village line) last year, and another 9,000 recently, and none of these fish have experienced the standard Housatonic summer doldrums of high water temperatures and low flows. At some point the flow is going to come down, and there will be a LOT of active trout going after the same food, and flies. So tell your fellow Templars about this at the next meeting, and maybe they’ll lighten up. P.S. Never mind the drain in the floor of the secret chamber.

I really like the idea of fishing little blue lines for wild brookies, but every time I try I spend all of my time getting hung up in the trees.  Plus I can’t find the streams you talk about. What should I do? Melvin Potzrebie, East Quahog, N.Y.

Melvin, part of your problem is you are treating the small stream the same way you approach a river. Think in terms of visiting neighborhoods. Start with a nice-looking plunge pool. Fish it hard and fast, and if nothing happens, move on.

In close quarters, get out of the habit of rearing back with a full backcast. Instead approach the stream from the sides, rarely getting out into the water at all. Keep the rod in front of you, and learn to execute sidearm, backhand and snap casts. And keep a low profile. Wild brook trout are almost suicidally eager to take flies, and equally skittish when they get a glimpse of an angler.

You don’t necessarily need a short rod for this, although anything over 8 feet is going to be a pain. You do need a rod with a little heft to it — a 4 or 5 weight that can turn over a weighted fly and still land softly enough to fish a dry without a fuss.

As far as finding the streams, get a De Lorme atlas for your state and pore over it. See those little blue lines? That’s why we call this kind of fishing “blue-lining.”

Exploring the streams is hit-or-miss, emphasis on the latter. But when you find one, and catch a couple of wild beauties, while noting the absence of beer cans and styrofoam bait cups, you will be happy. And don’t tell anyone.

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