Photographer Shawn Hayes-Costello out fishing for native brookies with guide John DeMasi, in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont.
“Spotted from the road side, a pond in the valley, it looked perfect for the Native Brook Trout that reside in the Green Mountains of Vermont. John and I watched the still water for a bit hoping to catch a glimpse of any rises breaking the surface but to no avail. The decision was made that we would make our way down the steep hillside and explore further. We chose a #18 dry Caddis and with a pair of hook retrievers the barbs where crimped down for easy removal from the fish’s mouth. After tying the flies on to our 6x tippets, we set down the hill, only to finish the last bit on our rear ends.
On the shore line, the grass was dense and tall, covering fallen trees that tripped us up and holes, just waiting for us to step right in, like well-placed booby traps. The position of the dropping sun and the thick pine forest that skirted the water provided a shady cover to stalk the edge. We noticed a stream at the far end of the still water feeding in. The next move was to make our way to the mouth of the still water and swing a few flies to see if any Brookies were willing to play.
Slowly walking and gingerly, as gingerly as we could, we climbed over the fallen trees, trying to our best to stay out of the holes, we made it to the mouth. As if on cue we saw a rise and it was aggressive! The stream was dumping whatever food for the trout that was caught in its grip, leaving a smorgasbord that the trout seemed to enjoy.
Due to the dense pines, a good long back cast was not an option but a roll cast after a short back cast seemed to do the trick. The dry fly hit the water and with a short strip I was on! Our hopes were well founded! With a few aerial acrobatics, the trout was landed. After a moment of gazing at its fire colors and stunning patterns the Brookie was released to swim another day. Smiles all around and the game was on. John and I hooked a few more trout from that pool until they had caught onto us. Creeping further up into the stream we caught a few more of Kelley Stand’s Native Brook Trout.
The walk out was a bit easier, we knew where the hazards were now, but did seem to find that one hole in the ground again. Climbing back up that steep hill was a tough one in felt soles and trying our best not to snap our rods, we made it to the top once again. Looking back down on the pond in the valley we realized that if we just stood here waiting for a rise in the still water we would have never seen that stream. Possibly, if we didn’t see any active feeding, we would’ve moved on without a second thought. This goes to show that with a little determination to get out and explore Kelley Stand’s nooks and crannies in its beautiful wilderness, you could potentially have the whole stream and still water fishing all to yourself. I’d recommend that you bring a friend with you for safety and to enjoy the experience together.”