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Swinging Streamers in Swelling Streams

April 9, 2009

-Good afternoon ladies and gents
Just got back from a good ol’ streamer swinging session on Birch Stream in Alton, and I must say that this has been the nicest day of Spring thus far. It turns out my opening day spot was nowhere near where I wanted to be fishing. Maine Guide Kevin Tracewski set me straight and gave me some directions via a hand drawn map from memory, and it led me to a bridge about 9 miles upstream on Birch Brook. While this spot looked more like trout territory, the water was incredibly high to expect much. (I know, again with the excuses)

Bridge Over Birch Stream, Alton Maine

Bridge Over Birch Stream, Alton Maine

The Stream did show some potential for wading after the water recedes, which makes me really excited. It seems to twist and turn through the landscape with many large boulders and corner holes that should be full of trout come early May. There would be no such excitement of that scale though as I pulled up to the bridge today. I could see what looked like the entrance to a parking area next to the bridge, but the flooding made it look more like a road to the depths. It was obvious the stream was at least twice the size of it’s normal running width, and the water was almost over the concrete supports of the bridge. I would be limited mostly to casting from the bridge, although the road to nowhere also provided an area large enough for me to throw some roll casts into the current.

Flooding on Birch Stream

Flooding on Birch Stream

I started my casting in the middle of the bridge throwing streamers into the current and letting the river float them back towards me. I’ve grown pretty skilled at using the current to my advantage from fishing off the Soldier Pond Bridge, and knew that If I could drift my Grey Ghost along the more calm shoreline I might have a chance at stirring up some hiding trout. I continued the process for about 15 minutes, changing direction and the speed of my retrieval. Not ready to give up on my Grey Ghost quiet yet, I shortened up and made a back cast across the road and over to the other side of the bridge. From here I started stripping my line and and let my streamer drift back and forth in the current. When I got to my backing I reeled in a few times and just let the current do the rest. When this turned up nothing I knew it was probably a good idea to switch it up and try something new. After a wood special, a few custom Ghost patterns in green and black, and a Joe Smelt I knew that the water was probably higher than I had prepared for.

Feeling only slightly disappointed that I was yet again getting skunked, I put on a small Black Ghost and started testing the range of my 10 foot Double L. This produced what could only be describe as a small strike just ahead of a large boulder close to shore (at least I’m hoping). I made a few dozen more casts around this area and came up with nothing, leading me to believe that my streamer either hit an air pocket or bounced off the rock itself. Story of my life!

Swingin Streamers with the Double L

Swingin Streamers with the Double L

Still, almost nothing could ruin the afternoon for me. At almost 60 degrees with crystal blue skies, simply casting in the comfortable weather was greatly appreciated and enjoyed. I’m slowly learning to accept the reality that as Fly Fisherman used to fishing in the rivers and ponds of Northern Maine, I’m about as spoiled as they come. Making an adjustment to fishing in waters that are dominated primarily by bass is a completely new element for me, and one that I’m greatly struggling with. I’ve grown up cursing bass and other warm water species my entire life, and starting to welcome them is going to be a struggle. Still, I’m not one to simply settle for a slow season of fishing, and I plan on working my @$$ off to make this season as productive as possible, despite location working against me in most cases. On the drive back from the stream I stopped by the Old Town Trading Post and purchased a brand new Delorme Atlas of Maine. I’m doing my homework, and no spot is safe anywhere in Maine.

Learning Photoshop-Birch Brook

See you on the river, pond, or any other spot your not expecting to find me.
-Ben

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