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Mill Creek offers native brook, brown trout

5/19/2005
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    PERKINSVILLE, N.Y. — DEC Region 8 fisheries biologists say Mill Creek has more pounds of trout per acre that any other stream or river in New York State.

    This is a big claim for a water that is totally supported by natural reproduction and seldom more than 20 feet wide. It's also open all year to fishing and has a limit of five trout per day, but only two over 12 inches in length.

    I have to admit that brook trout are my favorite fish. They're brightly colored, precocious little devils. It matters little whether they're 6 inches or 10, the fight is always the same.

    They never give in or hold quietly to allow you to lift them from the water, and even removing a barbless hook is a challenge of eye-hand coordination that often results in the little critter squirming from your grasp at least once or twice before the hook can be extracted.

    Unlike brown trout, I've never had a brook trout hold in the lee of the current made by my boots.

    They're immediately off to the deepest recesses of the stream at warp speeds that defy your polarized lenses and snap your neck in an effort to watch their escape.

    The old saw about pound-for-pound fight going to the smallmouth bass is well established, but I say that angler never fished for brook trout.

    Catching brookies

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to catch brook trout, and perhaps that is what I love about them. Generally they'll take a dry fly at will.

    If they don't come to the surface you can drag the same fly under and often entice a trout.

    You can fish them downstream or you can kid yourself into being the purist and fish for them in the classic manner, casting upstream to the ring of the rise.

    More often than not you want to drop your fly, bait or lure right in the center of the ring.

    The brook trout has found a feeding lane and will come back to the holding area time after time, even if washed out of position by the current during the chase.

    I certainly believe in catch-and-release, and Lee Wulff's philosophy that a game fish is too valuable to be caught only once. But taking a fish or two can also nourish the soul as well as the stomach.

    Put a few in a frying pan coated with butter and the pink meat is a delicate flavor second only to lobster.

    They're delightful for breakfast or even better for lunch at streamside with a dash of white wine to wash it down, and a wedge of sharp cheddar cheese for dessert.

    Find the fish

    You'll generally find Mill Creek brookies upstream from Perkinsville; downstream from the railroad-split town is brown trout territory.

    In my experience, browns are a little more finicky and more often are looking for an exact size or small fly from what is hatching. They also will run a little larger in this habitat.

    A hungry brook trout, on the other hand, would nose a mouse, even if it had no chance of getting in its mouth.

    You might say their eyes are bigger than their stomachs, or in this case their mouths.

    Browns are also more apt to hug the bank and sulk in the undercuts to wait and watch, and perhaps not come out until dark to feed.

    Tackle

    As for tackle, because Mill Creek is small, a fly rod of 7 feet for a 3 or 4-weight floating line with a 9-foot leader and 5- or 6X tippet is ideal. And so will be an ultralight spinning outfit with 4-pound-test line. S

    Small spinners such as Blue Fox or Mepps with the single hook are ideal, but you might like to fish the traditional Finger Lakes spawning rainbow rig. That's a fly rod and reel, but the reel is loaded with monofilament line.

    The terminal tackle is a red salmon egg hook in size 8 or 10, with a small split shot or two 8 to 10 inches above the hook.

    The advantage of this system for fishing a red worm, goldenrod grub or what have you is that you have the length to poke your offering through the brush for an exact placement. Of course, with this method of fishing you're generally using only a short length of line so you need to use your best stalking skills, and in all cases wearing neutral colored or camouflage clothing is an advantage.

    Access

    Access to much of the water is off the old railroad bed or spur. As with most cases, the further you go from the roads, the better the fishing.

    There are a number of entry points off crossing roads or rail bridges in the area of Perkinsville.

    Michigan Road crosses the stream in the eastern sections and there is an angler's trail off Route 21, north of Patchinville.

    The public fishing rights are on private property, and so every courtesy should be extended, and be especially careful that whatever you carry in, you carry out. Better yet, carry out more than you take in.

    Mill Creek does not get significant fishing pressure. It's out of the way and small enough that it is often overlooked in favor of its more famous neighbor, the Cohocton River.

    Get there

    Getting there is easy enough, but you may have trouble finding the towns of Perkinsville and Patchinville on your map.

    There is also a DEC map available which will totally lead you astray with Perkinsville being called Patchinville, Route 21 labeled Route 15 and other errors. You're looking for the northwest corner of Steuben County.

    The US Geological Survey map covering Mill Creek is the Dansville Quadrangle.

    From Route I-86 (Old Route 17) take I-390 north and exit at Wayland. Go north on Route 21 and then west on Michigan Road.

    From the north you can connect with I-390 off I-90 at Rochester. You can also take Routes 15 or 15A to 15 to Route 21 south of Wayland.


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