Monday, October 14, 2013

Naugatuck Report - October 14, 2013 - Buck Bug Fever

Some of the local scenery

I did a lot of walking today. At times, it felt like I did more walking than fishing. I'm not complaining, mind you. I like the exercise. Plus, I'm the one who stresses the importance of mobility. Sometimes all that walking brings results. Such was the case today.

I started by walking to some water I've never before fished. It was in a pretty urban setting. I'm not the least bit bothered by urban angling. One of the best days of fishing in my entire life was spent catching baby tarpon behind a police station in St. Maarten. This spot proved to be nothing more than a walk, however. The highlight was the graffiti dragon pictured above. It reminded me of my old Powell & Peralta Steve Caballero model skateboards. 

I moved to a pool that was good to me early this season. There were four other anglers in the pool. No one hooked anything while I was there and I moved on pretty quickly, walking to the next spot. 

I was alone for half of my short time at this popular pool. I hooked and landed a small salmon within a few minutes (#10 M1 Killer). I fished out the pool, changed flies and headed back to the top. I tied on a #6 Titanic and went to work on the surface. By then, another fly fisherman had shown up. We both noticed a large bulge form behind my waking dry fly. The fish was not interested in coming back up for the Titanic, so I switched to a #6 Mickey Finn. 

It only took a half dozen casts or so before I was tight to another demon. He jumped once at the beginning of the fight, but he was more of a runner than a leaper. He ran all over the pool. He ran back at me several times and I scrambled to strip line fast enough to keep tight to him. After a couple exchanges, he turned up the heat and took off. He took me into my backing. I can only recall one or two other CT salmon taking me into the backing prior to this fish. Long story short...I finally tired him out and landed him. He was in the 7-8 pound range and in good condition. Most of this years salmon are too small to tail, but this one wasn't. It felt nice to catch a fish that could easily be tailed once again! 

After moving on, I struck out at the next couple spots. At the advice of a friend, I decided to fish some water I haven't seen in a year or two. I used my 9' 7wt. Sage all day today. I have been using it most of the time in our current low water situation. I actually consider the two handed rod to be less easy to use in most of the spots I've fished lately. In higher water, the opposite is true. Even in dead low water, the next couple of pools I fished are better with a two handed rod (switch or spey), but I was too lazy to unpack it. I really should have. 

This little fella spent more time in the air than in the water

In the end, it was fine, if only a little inconvenient. I landed a small salmon on a #10 M1 Killer. At first, I thought I had hooked a really spirited holdover rainbow trout. This little one jumped at least 10 times. What he lacked in size he made up for in spirit. I did the math and figured out that was the 20th CT salmon I've hooked so far this season. 

After landing him and fishing out the pool with the M1, I went back to the top with a #6 Buck Bug, blue/brown hackle with a green & red butt and a white tail (see below). For years I have unsuccessfully fished Buck Bugs in the Naugatuck River. It has always baffled me how a fly that works so well in Canada performs so poorly here. I have a ton of them tied for Canadian salmon fishing and I always have a few on me for fishing at home. While all of this was running through my mind, suddenly a salmon grabbed the bug! He was only on for 20 seconds before he jumped and spit the fly back at me. I could almost hear him say, "No thank you, sir. We don't like Buck Bugs here!"

The Smurf-type Buck Bug that finally hooked a Naugy salmon

I had to take another pass through the pool, but this time with a fly in which I have a lot more Naugy faith, the #6 Mickey Finn. It did its job...salmon #5 of the day hooked and landed. It was small, though not as small as the first from this pool. Like the other, it fought quite hard for its size. 

Time to move again...another long walk. The next pool is one that can be a real pain to wade. I really wished I had brought the switch rod. Daylight was running out on me and I had to fish much more quickly than I would have like to. No worries, the #6 Mickey Finn worked its magic for the third time of the day, another salmon hooked and landed. I raced the clock and tried one more pool before heading home, but it was a bust. The final tally was six hooked and five landed. It was another red letter day on the Naugatuck! 

Some things to consider:

*Remember to always enter a pool ABOVE any anglers who are already fishing there! I know I repost this all the time, but please review this post regarding salmon fishing etiquette and pool rotation. 

*Another thing I've mentioned here...there's a common misconception that this fishery doesn't really heat up until winter. That is total hogwash. Yes, there are more fish in the river in December than in October, but give me an October fish any day. These fish are at their best while within their optimal water temperature range. In my opinion, you can't beat water that is between 55ºF and 65ºF. They fight harder, jump more often and are more willing to chase a fly long distances, near or even on the surface, when it's warmer.

We're still waiting for more fish (and rain), but I am confident fishing over however many there are at any given time. You don't need a river overflowing with salmon to do well. It helps, but if you know where to look and when, you'll do just fine. I'm not looking for a pile of fish, I'm looking for good taking water in whatever set of conditions I have in front of me that day. Find the right water, present the fly well and, most days, you'll find the fish. Somedays you won't, but eventually you will be able to find than a lot more often than not. 

*Please contact me if you're interested in booking a guided tutorial session on the river. I'm not looking for people who want me to do the work for them. I want to coach anglers who are hungry to learn. If you think like a trout fisherman, you might catch a few. If you learn to think like a salmon fisherman, you'll catch a whole lot more. There is a difference. Let's work together to help shorten the learning curve.

How do my expectations differ from a typical guide? I am not interested in building a clientele of repeat customers, per se. I want to show others how to be successful on their own. My hope is that these sessions help to build more of a local interest in Atlantic salmon fishing and conservation. As crazy as it sounds, I want to make the Naugatuck River a gateway to salmon rivers in Canada and beyond. Learn how to do it here before you spend your money there!

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