Walking the bank of a mountain stream in search of native brook trout is a fine way to calm the nerves — your nerves, that is. Those brookies are as jumpy as any fish on the face of the planet, they aren’t about to chillax, and if they see you before you see them you can forget about hooking up. Hopefully, however, these tips will help the next time you’re banking on brook trout.

brook trout underwater
When brook trout are the target, you'd better go into stealth mode.
  1. Walk softly. Your footfalls can create vibrations strong enough to put the trout on high alert. Also avoid stepping on branches that may crack, kicking loose rocks, or doing anything that can send tremors through the ground and into the water.
  2. Stay low when you’re close to the water. Yes, they can see you, and the higher a profile you provide them with the more likely it is to happen.
  3. Approach pools from downstream. The fish will be facing into the current, so if you approach from upstream there’s a higher likelihood of being spotted.
  4. When approaching from downstream is impossible, get well above the pool (40 or 50 feet) and send back an offering you can drift in the current, like a dry fly.
  5. If you do spook a brookie — and you will — mark the spot, continue fishing, and let at least half an hour pass. Then re-approach the spot with a little more caution and care this time. Most spooked fish will return “home” after 10 or 15 minutes and you can get a second shot.