5 Habits of Highly Effective Brook Trout Anglers

Be a Brookie Boss

Hefty Brook Trout taken from a remote lake
When it comes to emails and questions we get about our patterns, posts and fish we chase, we get a lot of interest generated by our obsession with Brook Trout. So with that in mind, I figured it was time to throw out some of the things you can pay attention to in order to get into these awesome fish. There are, of course, a lot of other factors, but these are some good starting points.

1. Research. Because most people are fairly respectful of the discretion that surrounds some of the better Brookie waters, you can't expect to just start asking around and get the skinny on these types of  lakes and streams. If you expect to get some information, you'll need to start digging. I usually start with stocking reports and Google Earth -- both publicly available and neither of them are moochy "Hey guys, give me some info on secret locations" questions posed on the interwebs. Books, some internet sites or even photo sharing sites can also be of help once you have a good starting point or places to go on. I even found some great information in an old outdated wildlife resources pamphlet I happened to stumble across. And don't assume that because you don't find a lot of information on a lake or stream that it's not going to pan out. Often, the least known locations will have the best opportunities. I once followed a hunch to fish a lake that I knew had Brookies but that did not turn up on any reliable sources I could verify. Those are the ones that will have the potential for huge payoffs.

2. Be willing to invest in the trip. Like most of their trout cousins, Brookies especially like cool
The ATV's come in handy
clean water which is more often found in higher elevation lakes and streams.  That also means, thankfully, there are not as many paved roads that lead to prime Brookie habitat. Whether it's a hike, an ATV ride or a bumpy 4WD truck trip, you need to be prepared to sometimes put in the time to get to where you're going. On the bright side, you'll see a lot fewer people and you'll often have the entire place to yourself. Don't let the difficulty of travel push you to an easier-access location. The best fishing will likely be at the end of a gnarly trail.

3. Know where they hide. In my experience, more than other trout (or char) species, Brookies are notorious for hanging out in and under structure. Whether it's fallen trees, weed patches, overhanging rocks or just shadows here and there, you'll most often find Brookies where they aren't as easily seen by predators. One of my favorite techniques, when fishing a lake with a rocky shoreline is to throw the fly as close as I can to the shore right next to overhanging or submerged rocks. I've seen really nice fish come rocketing out of nowhere to smash the fly. Not only that, but if you know a body of water has Brook trout, and you can find a cooler stream inlet or spring, you can probably be guaranteed to find fish in those locations. Combine the two -- structure and cooler water -- and you've just scored a touchdown.

4. Be "vewy vewy" quiet. You've probably all seen how fast Brook trout will scatter for safer confines when you spook them. So it's obviously important to keep a low profile and use stealth when approaching any holding lies. But what people often don't realize is that you can spook a fish without sending it swimming for cover. I've seen many times where a pod of fish maintains the same position, but will keep a zipped lip due to the heightened level of jitters caused by my presence. So stay low, stay quiet and you'll be better off.

Chimera army ready for some brookies
5. Fly Selection Matters. I'm not sure what it is, but I frequently hear the same thing about Brookies and other high mountain fish: "Oh, they'll take anything!". While that may be the case on some days under certain conditions, I've found that it doesn't usually hold true. Like most other trout, Brookies will most normally key in on their typical food sources. And while they'll be opportunistic in taking bigger flies like articulated streamers and mice patterns, I've really done the best with patterns that imitate a good variety of their day-to-day food source. And my favorite Brookie pattern, the Chimera, imitates a few different bugs at once.

So these are a few of the things we've found that help find these colorful and challenging fish. Now, get out and find a few!

A fall brook trout