When I first started fly fishing, I discovered a small native brookie stream about 35-40 minutes from my house. I heard about this stream from the local fly shop owner. He shared his knowledge with me and explained to me actually where to go. I was so happy and surprised that he would have done that. I was always taught to keep those "secret" fishing spots all to yourself and to never ever share least of all with another fisherman.
Anyways, I started going to this stream. At first I didn't catch many fish. The stream is very small, maybe eight feet across at its widest point, and very shallow with a "deep" hole being one of say 1-2 feet deep. What this stream does have though is a naturally reproducing brookie population. Most fish are between say 5 and 7 inches with a "lunker" being 9-10 inches. I started fishing with Humpies and Wulffs of all shapes and sizes. I quickly learned a few things about the stream. First, trees and ground cover can be murder on flies. I have no idea just how many flies I lost those first 2 or 3 dozen outings. This type of fly fishing required pin point fly presentation with a keen eye kept on one's surroundings and back cast. Second, the brookies are incredibly skittish fish. A mere cough, sigh or break of a tree branch and they were gone from the pool. Lord help you if you slipped on a rock and splashed some water round. Third, when caught the brookies put up a good fight and are one hell of a beautiful fish.
I was soon hooked on brookie fishing and spent most of my fly fishing time pursuing them. I got pretty good at catching them. Looking at my fly fishing log I went from catching 3 or 4 of them to catching 17-20 pf them. Those were good times. That was 15 years ago. Fast forward to the present. Yesterday a friend of mine and I hit the brookie stream. This was the first time I have been there this year. The temps around here were mid 50's yesterday but all week they were in the mid 60's. I violated the whole "secret" fishing spot thing and took a friend of mine with me. He is the one I have been helping to learn how to fly fish and tie this past year.
We spent about 2 hours trying to catch the brookies. I managed to land two and I lost 5 or so. My friend wasn't so lucky. He hooked one fish twice and lost it both times and hooked another fish four times and lost it each time. In the end, I hope he had a good time. There is something special about this stream. Over time and as his skills improve, I hope he comes to love it as I do. I will say though that watching him reminded me a lot of me when I first started.
I also noticed that my skills in this type of fly fishing have deteriorated over time. I had some trouble casting and hooked a few trees myself. I also managed to spook quite a few fish before I even got near them. The last five or so years I have fished for smallies and panfish almost exclusively. Occasionally I would hit a trout stream for something different. Catching those brookies stirred something in me and I can't wait to go again. As always, it's not about how many fish we catch but more about the journey both getting there and during the trip.