Saturday, September 21, 2013

Naugatuck River - September 21, 2013 - First Report of the Season

The big 3 season opening flies

Today was the first chance I've had to fish the Naugatuck this season. Conditions were tough! The water is very low. It's probably as low as I've ever fished it. A lot of water that is fishy at normal levels is vacant when the river gets this low. As of 3:00pm, the water temperature was 66ºF, which seems sort of high for this time of year. Low and relatively warm can be a challenge. My first two Atlantic salmon fishing trips (Miramichi River) were under similar conditions, so this scenario is not new to me.

I decided to use my Vision GT Four 9' 6 wt. single handed rod, a 12' long leader, 6# test Maxima and small flies. Shortly after arriving at one of my favorite pools, I had a fish rise to #10 Green/Red Butt Butterfly. The fish seemed to lose interest in that fly, so I switched to a diminutive Same Thing Murray, tied on a #10 Mustad 3399A. That did the trick and the salmon soon went airborne. It was a bright fish of about 4 or 5 lbs. Unfortunately, he threw the hook after a minute or so.

I switched to my "last resort fly" before leaving the pool, an H.M. Sunray. I tied this one a little smaller than normal and in a black/white color scheme. Before very long, I had landed the smallest non-parr salmon I've ever caught. Oh well, I'll take it...

The smallest fish of the day took the largest fly

I made the rounds to several other pools (stay mobile!). There was really nothing going on at most of them. I caught a smallmouth bass on the Murray. I saw a few rise in some dead slow water, but I decided to fish better looking water rather than fish for them. I made up my mind to head home early, but hit one last spot before leaving.

There were two anglers in this pool when I arrived. I sat down on a rock, put flies away and tied on a new tippet while I waited for the pool to open up. It cleared out pretty quickly, but I decided to rest the pool a little while longer and give the salmon a chance to settle down after being hammered. I opened my box and spotted a #8 Red Butt, which was larger than most of what I was throwing this afternoon. I don't know what it is about this particular fly, but I knew this very fly was a winner while I was tying it. I tied it on and went to the top of the pool.

No more than five minutes had passed when I saw a fish roll just downstream from me. Perhaps resting the pool a bit was a good idea after all. I swung the Red Butt through the lie and a salmon absolutely hammered the fly. This fish was about 5 lbs. and I landed it in a few minutes. It was a bright silver fish, very reminiscent of the fresh grilse I have caught in Canada. It even had the uncontrollable nervous quiver of a bright salmon.

2-for-3 is not a bad way to start the season, especially considering the less than favorable conditions. We need rain! Cooler temperatures would help too as we're sort of approaching the danger zone in terms of heat. The cooler temps will happen soon enough, but we should all do a rain dance to help spread out the fish (and anglers) and open up more of the river.  

UPDATE: Thankfully, heavy rains came overnight and the river is up quite a bit. It seems to have already crested and is dropping very rapidly. With falling and clearing water, I think Monday 9/23 is going to be a good day to fish. Tuesday...maybe. After that, I think we'll be back to dead low water as there is no rain in the forecast for the next week or so. Go get 'em! 

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