I doubt that many of you will be traveling to and fishing the Smokies to fish this month although I
hope you do. The first part of February are probably the coldest times of the year and you will
have to pick out the better days to expect much success fishing the freestone streams. By the
end of February, everyone will be doing their best to force the bugs to hatch and the trout to
respond even though they will probably have to wait a few more days to see any surface action.
That considered, I thought I would write about some fishing trips we have made to various other
destinations. Don't expect these articles to win any awards, just tell you about
Fly Fishing The Batten Kill, Vermont
Charles Orvis, founder of Orvis, was born in Manchester, Vermont near the Batten
Kill in 1836. The Batten Kill runs right through the tourist town of Manchester. We
fished the stream in town near the southern end of it. The fish there are mostly
brook trout. There is supposed to be some browns also. We first went to a location
that the local Orvis shop guys recommended. We visited the local Orivis store when
we first arrived in town about eight years ago . I discussed the fishing with the shop
guys and ended up purchasing several Trico flies including duns, emergers,
nymphs and spinners of the Trico. I don't remember the hook size now, but I do
remember thinking and telling them they looked very large. They assured me they
were what everyone there used.
We had not fished but a few minutes at a bridge access before we encountered a
problem with a local. I was standing near the edge of the bridge watching a huge
cloud of Tricos over the water when a lady stopped in her Mercedes and informed
me that I was on private property. I asked if the street was private. She said no but
the property I was standing on was. I said, do you mean there is no right-of-way.
She said, very hatefully, I said this is private property that you are fishing. I ask if
she was a fly fisher. She replied no, she certainly wasn't, and again ask me to
leave. She also informed me she would call the cops if I didn't. I informed her to go
ahead and call them if she wanted too, that I was standing on public property
unless the City of Manchester, county or state, whoever owned the road, didn't
have right-of-ways. I made a point to go down, get into the stream and fish near the
bridge for at least an hour. The cops never came. I never told her the Orvis guys
sent me there either. I didn't want to cause a local town fight.
I netted some of the Trico spinners and also found some duns. I made macro
photos of them. They all were about one-third the size of the flies I had bought. I
even made shots of the real ones adjacent to the flies. The video clearly showed
the huge difference. I never got a take from the little trout that occasionally would
rise to the spinners using the flies.
A gentleman came by on a bicycle and started talking to us. The video camera got
his attention. Turned out he was visiting his family that lived on the stream a few
miles from there where it turns toward New York State. He invited us to fish on their
property. We followed him on his bicycle and almost fell so far behind in the traffic
that we lost him. We thanked him and fished his family's property which was a dairy
farm. The river there was entirely different. The part in town was slow moving water,
mostly pools with silted bottoms. The stream on the farm was much better looking
faster moving run, riffle and pool type water.
In two days of fishing, we caught a total of three trout. Two brook trout and one
brown trout about 8 inches long. It was during mid September, the water was low
and the trees were already getting some color in the leaves. We enjoyed fishing the
stream. We tried several other areas from downtown to the New York state line
where it becomes too warm for trout. In fact, most of the water was bordering being
too warm and was probably another factor in our very low catch.
I would not call this a destination trout stream although you may want to visit Orvis
there and the fly fishing museum. It is a very neat town. If you are going to fish
during the summer or fall, I suggest you carry some Trico flies in the right hook