Salters 101

Sorry I didn’t post yesterday. I was pretty busy, and didn’t have enough time to type up a new post. I make a real effort to post everyday, so I guess I’ll extend Brookie Week an extra day!

Now I try to focus a lot on fly fishing in Northeast MA, but today I wanted to focus on a few streams and fish from down in Southeast MA.

In Massachusetts, we are very lucky to have a small population of sea-run brook trout. These “salters” migrate back and forth between the ocean and the river, and are only found in a very small selection of streams. They once inhabited a large number of brooks, but now that number has greatly diminished. But there are still enough brooks left to provide some great fishing, and if you live in MA, or anywhere else close by, you need to fish for these wonderful trout at some point in your life.

A big part of having success fishing for salters, is understanding how the differ from freshwater brookies. From what I have seen, sea run brook trout almost exclusively prey on baitfish. Because of this, small marabou streamers and bucktail streamers are very effective. And although almost no bugs hatch on these brooks, I have still had luck fishing bombers and other big attractor dries. 
Red Brook
Probably the most notable place to fish for salters is Red Brook. I’m not sure exactly where the name comes from, but it may be related to the redish color of the rocks covering the bottom of the stream. I’ve been fortunate enough to fish this stream for years, and have had plenty of success in almost all of my trips.
Now I want to focus on one brook, and help give some tips on how to catch a sea run brookie. I know a lot of people who have never caught one, and honestly, if you live in New England, you need to try fishing for them at least once. Since I have more experience on Red Brook than any of the other brooks that hold them, I’m going to focus on it.
First off, it’s good to know that Red Brook is located in the Lyman Reserve, in Plymouth County. It may seem obvious, but when I was planning my first trip to this body of water, I had quite a struggle finding it. It flows from White Island Pond to Buttermilk Bay, and there is decent access throughout most of the river. I usually go slightly upstream of the bay, and fish in some of the larger pools.

For anyone who has never targeted these salters, make sure your fly box is stocked with streamers. My top fly there is a small white marabou streamer, followed closely by the classic Mickey Finn. Nymphs have never really worked for me, so I just leave mine at home and bring an Altoids tin stuffed with my top streamers.

So as far as locating fish, I usually sight fish. The water is pretty clear, and with a good pair of polarized glasses, you can usually spot them. But if there is a deep pool, or spot behind a tree where you can’t see, throw your streamer in there and see if one bites! Its also worth noting, that in the bay you can catch many saltwater species as well. I’v caught many bluefish and stripers, as well as other small fish in this area.

Finally, as one last note, I want to stress the importance of taking care of these trout. Their population has decreased dramatically, along with their habitat. While Red Brook does have strict catch and release regulations, it is still important to be careful when fighting, unhooking, and releasing these trout. Remember, it’s up to us to keep these trout in good shape!

For other good info on sea run brookies and Red Brook, check out these sources…

Small Stream Reflections
The Trustees of Reservations
Sea-Run Brookie


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2 thoughts on “Salters 101

  1. Great post. Personally, I have never actually fished for a salter, but I am still new to fly fishing and plan on fishing a bunch of srbt streams next spring. You have quite a few up in your area as well. They can be found in just about every coastal state in the northeast. The SRBTC is a great group of guys working to protect salters, and I have gotten to know some of them, and they work hard to help protect these precious charr.

  2. Thanks RI brook trout,

    It's definitely worth fishing for them, and the spring is a good time. And I agree with you about the SRBTC- the do a lot for the preservation of this species.


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