Thursday, October 17, 2013

Naugatuck Report - October 17, 2013 - The Rare Trip That Actually Follows the Script

Salmon #21 landed so far this season
Today's plan exceeded my expectations

As a jazz musician, one of the best attributes one can have is the ability to be a blank slate while playing music. Premeditation not only kills spontaneity, but often fails to live up to expectations when things inevitably don't go as planned. Often times I ask myself, "Why fishing should be any different?" It's not different, but I often find myself visualizing the ideal day of fishing before a trip. It's foolish and I know it, but it's something to look forward to. In an entire season, I would say I get one day that actually goes according to the image I conjure up in my mind. Until very recently, this fishing season has been one of horrible timing for me. I struck out mightily with searun brown trout early this year, I couldn't cement plans to go to Canada for Atlantic salmon and my landlocked salmon plans fell through. Today was different though. Today went exactly as planned. Actually, it went even better than my idealized image of it.

My mother is in town from North Carolina, mainly to spend time with her new grandson. I told her about our successful fishing trip last month and she said, "Let's take him fishing while I'm in town!" Hey, that's okay with me! She could watch him and walk him in his stroller and maybe I'd get an hour or two in, perhaps even a salmon to hand. 

I sat at the vise last night to tie a couple of flies for an order. When I finished, I decided to tie a couple small Sugerman Shrimps for fishing today. It's my all time favorite Atlantic salmon fly but, for some reason, has not done as good a job for me at home as it has done abroad. I knew I'd be fishing a slow moving pool in low water and I just knew a small Sugerman would be the way to go. I tied a #8 and a #10. 

I knew exactly where I was going to fish and I knew I'd start with the #10. While I was tying, I convinced myself that I would hook and land a salmon within my first ten minutes of fishing. It would be my 20th salmon landed on the Naugatuck season so far and I knew it would be a fighter. 

All of this happened almost exactly as I pictured it, but with a few twists. In my haste to get down to the river, I didn't set my drag tightly enough. The salmon was hooked within the first five minutes and he took off like a bat out of hell, running and jumping like a maniac. Instantly, my reel overran and I had a birds nest of fly line to deal with. Oh no! I was able to strip in enough line to stay relatively tight to the fish while I stripped off almost the entire line and freed the tangle. I scurried to reel up the slack line, meanwhile playing the fish from my stripping hand. 

Just after I managed to get all of the line reeled up, the fish bolted around a big rock. Argh! I thought my plan was going to end right there. Though it took some time and a lot of pressure on the fish, I managed to pry him out from the other side of the rock. Then he went back. Then I popped him out again. I was able to bring him close and he made a move for a nearby rock. This pool is sort of a minefield, especially in this dead low water. I managed to get him close enough to net in my new Brodin Trout Bum (San Juan model)

Boy, was I relieved! #20 landed for the season and a great first fish for a new net, about 7 pounds. The #10 Sugerman was nestled perfectly in the scissors of his jaw, so it's no wonder why he stayed on the line throughout the turmoil. I mangled my Sugerman with hemostats, but it didn't really matter as the hook was partially straightened from the fight. It was a very close call. The day could have ended there and I would have been satisfied. 

I went back up to check on grandma and junior and they were fine. They enjoyed watching the scrap with the salmon. We took a little walk and headed back to the pool about 20 minutes later. My mom said, "The baby is doing fine, go catch another!" Yeah, easy for you to say, mom...

Well, that's pretty much what happened. I started at the top of the pool and was tight to salmon #21 within a few minutes. This time, the fish took a #10 Almost, a small, virtually all black wet fly (pictured in this post). It's about as drab as Atlantic salmon flies come, but it was just the right fly at the time. This fish was smaller, but also managed to run me around a rock. Ugh, not again...fortunately, this fish was in water shallow enough for me to cross to the center of the river and chase after it. Alls well that ends well with a nice 4 pounder in the new net.

My ghillie taking a well deserved play break

I fished a little while longer while junior napped, but the pool was pretty much spent. When he woke up, I changed out of my waders and fed him a bottle. We took him to a grassy area and he had a blast playing with Elmo, a new book, grandma's cell phone and an empty plastic water bottle. The day couldn't have gone any smoother and I left very satisfied.

And two salmon landed to boot...not bad for no more than 30-40 minutes of actual fishing time!


Note: The river is still a trickle, which forces us to use low water tactics for best results. I got 63ºF when I checked it yesterday around noon, which is pretty ideal. We might not have water, but the temperature of the water that is there is pretty good.  Try relatively small (#8-#12), unweighted flies fished on a floating line. If there's not enough current to swing, retrieve the line in a slow, steady draw. Try to keep the fly moving at the same rate of speed throughout the retrieve. Most of my recent catches have been on #10 hairwing wet flies and 6lb. test Maxima Chameleon, mono leader around 11' long (I've been fishing the single handed rod almost exclusively this season). 

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