It's easy to pass by without a second glance, but Stetson Brook, located only about a mile north of Bates campus on college street is stocked with around 1,000 brookies each spring. I've enjoyed this stellar spring fishery since I started going here, however, I've been continually skunked upon returning in the fall. I had heard anecdotal evidence about wild and multi-year fish in this stream, but things just didn't seem to add up. This fall I decided to give it one last go.
By the good graces of the Geo-department, I'm writing my thesis on the environmental implications of trout stocking in stetson, so I'd been taking streamwater samples and temperature all summer throughout the stream. Looking at the data, things looked ugly. Water temps got well above the fatality range for brook trout this summer, and high rains washed boatloads of pollutants off of fields and suburban lawns. Couple that with a spring full of fisherman tossing crawlers and taking home dozens of fish a day, and I chalked the chances of pan-summer survival at slim to none. However, in the name of science, I decided to take out the trusty fly rod to see what other species I could dredge up.
Making my way upstream, I landed a motley assortment of suckers, pumpkinseed, pickerel, and creek chub. By the time I reached the last fishy looking pool, the sun was just about set, and it had started raining. It was the biggest hole yet, a 50 yard long rocky riffle dumping into a long, deep pool. I tied on a double dropper rig; pheasant tail - Copper John and roll casted into the tail of the riffle. On the second cast, I set the hook into the fattest damn creek chub I've ever seen. As much as I hate em, you gotta hand it to these fish for being so goddamn aggressive. Still, it seemed like there might be something else in this pool.
I worked the hole for another 20 minutes without even a bump. I was about to head in for the day when my cellphone rang. I managed a sloppy roll cast with my right hand as I fished the cell phone out of my waders with the left. I answered the phone:
'Hey man, catch any trout yet?'
About to respond, i noticed a tug on the strike indicator and dropped the phone back into my waders. Felt like a trout, but there was no way. I saw a rosy flash as the fish dashed back into the current. Looked like a trout. Brought the fish to hand.
12.5" multi-year brookie where science says she sure as hell shouldn't be.
Guess I have some revisions in my thesis to do.