I used to play out this ritual nearly every Spring and that was to visit a favorite unstocked stream or two and fish for the real McCoy: Native Brook Trout. These were certainly natives because there wasn't a road within at least a mile of any one of these brooks for a hatchery truck to use and local "bucket biologists" didn't exist there. And it was always in the Spring because you would always have enough cool water to fish through. These trips were always fun and I always managed to fool a few of those guys using small, gaudy wet flies. This went on for years.
Then came the Swift and my brookie hunting days changed dramatically. This river exploded with brookies starting around 2010 and it hasn't let up. Where my "thin blue lines" might get me into the double digits if conditions were good the Swift can offer up dozens especially in the Cady Lane area AND there is some size to them. A backwoods brook may offer up an eight incher on occasion but that's becoming a daily occurrence on the Swift with fish over 12 inches now the norm!
We are lucky to have the Swift and lucky to know that the brookies are thriving in this MAN MADE environment and that is the key. Without that cold water release it would of never happened. That makes the-out-of-the-way wooded rills and secluded beaver ponds just that much more special. Would I like to catch an eight inch stream born brookie from the Swift or from my very secret spot? The answer is both BUT the secret spot wins first prize.
Spring is the time that we have the great opportunity to fish our wide selection of freestone rivers and when we fish freestones we will be fishing with larger flies. First, the insects in freestones are larger than those found in tailwaters and secondly the bait fish population is more varied giving us more opportunities to land trout.
I gave up carrying traditional streamer flies and went over to very small marabou streamer patterns tied on short shank scud hooks after seeing the schools of emerald shiners on the EB and the unknown small minnows on the Millers. The short shanked hook allows the material to move around and if kept two inches or less in length will not result in short strikes.
Layer your marabou from light (white) on the bottom layer to darker layers as you move up. Throw in a strip of mylar and your done.