Monday, July 31, 2017

Catching Up

My first fish of 2017 betrayed how well this spot would wind up fishing.

     It has been a long time since my last post here. I've been busy with family, work, and fly tying. That's one excuse. Another excuse is how miserable spring fishing was for me this season. The most likely excuse is that I just haven't felt the urge to write much. In any case, I wanted to document how this season has gone so far, if for no other reason than to have a causal record on which to look back.

     I wanted to get out during the warm winter stretches, but something always ruined it. Come March, I was getting irritated and decided to ride it out until the spring runs started, when I would make up for lost time. My first trip, on April 20, to my favorite spring spot yielded one schoolie, which is better than most first trips to this place. Based on that, I figured I was in for a treat this season. 

Stripers on nymphs

     How wrong I was! This river has been fishing worse and worse every spring. Not only didn't I see a sea run trout, but didn't hear of any caught or seen, either by anglers or state sampling crews. The striper run wasn't too great either. That schoolie was the biggest striper I caught there this season. There were a ton of dinky stripers around though. After a while, I decided to get goofy and tried to catch them on nymphs and a trout rod, which wound up working great. That was only fun for an afternoon or so. The best thing to happen to me all spring was driving off with my net on the car roof, not losing it, and having it crushed by an 18 wheeler (like I did last spring on the Naugatuck). I got to Target, did my shopping, then saw it on the roof of my car. That's about as lucky as I got there this season, so I think it is time to move on and find a spot with better spring prospects. I have one in mind, but will have to wait until next spring to see how it pans out. 

The highlight of my (former) favorite spring spot

     Fishing in the salt yielded similar results for me. Lots of tiny fish. I was always in the right place, but just a little too late. Rowan L. (CT Fly Angler) had sympathy for me. While my spring river was fishing worse than ever, his was fishing better than ever. He took me out one night and the place was absolutely loaded with stripers. Finally, I was in the same place as some keeper-sized fish. I hooked two and lost them both!

     American shad fishing was OK for me, but not nearly as good as it had been for me the past two seasons. I broke one of my favorite switch rods on my first shad of the season. It was a bonehead mistake on my part. Extreme frustration was beginning to kick in, so I decided to take a couple weeks off and regroup. 

An order of orange Caribou Bombers for trophy brook trout fishing in Labrador

     I had a late wave of salmon fly orders to tie, so my break was the perfect time to catch up. I am happy to hear that the flies have been doing their jobs. I love tying. I really enjoy it. But, after a couple weeks of hardcore tying sessions (and a new chair born out of necessity...ouch), I was ready to fish again. 

A wild, small stream brown that was one of my first of the season

     I figured I needed to change gears, so I dusted off the trout gear. My first solo trout trip of the season happened much later than normal for me. I think it was sometime in June. After teaching some drum lessons, I stopped by a small stream that has been good to me in the past, but that I had not fished in a few years. I was surprised that the water was as low as it was and it made me uneasy. Getting charged by a pit bull made me even more uneasy. Luckily, he just wanted to play. Thinking the pool was spooked, I flipped my caddis downstream. To my surprise, my first trout of the season was a 12" wild brown! Unfortunately, he didn't want his picture taken. There were way more downed trees than the last time I fished here, so that made fishing a little more challenging. I wound up having a really good evening and caught many more trout than I had expected. In years past, I would pull a brookie or two from this river, but it seems like there are fewer than ever in this section of stream. Maybe they move around, or maybe it has become too warm for them. I'm not sure.

Farmington River Yellow Drake

     It was about time for my favorite evening hatches on the Farmington River, so I moved my operation over there. My first day on the Farmington was a sulfur bonanza, with several hour of consistent dry fly fishing. I stayed in one pool for about six hours. There was no incentive to move. My next trip, I decided to focus on the big bugs of summer, the Yellow Drakes. It was a successful trip, other than being warned by the police not to stay after sunset. I've fished this spot for years, mostly into the night, and this was the first time I've been warned. It was a successful trip, so I decided to push my luck...

The big Cream Variant was the winner. 

     I tied up some big flies for the Drake hatch and decided to go with a friend (who shall remain nameless in this case!). I asked him to drive in case we got caught. Since I never had a problem in the past, I thought it might have been a fluke. We fished, the hatch was pretty good, and I nailed one of the hardest fighting Farmington browns I've caught in a while. The fish was perfect and had no elastomer tags. He freaked out every time he saw the net. I suspect that trout might have been a wild fish. He absolutely nailed a sz. 10 Cream Variant, which is such a fun fly when it works. I was riding high until two police cars stopped us on the way out! Quickly, I stashed my hat and glasses under the seat. It worked, and we got off with a warning. Another friend wasn't so lucky and was actually ticketed.

     I went back once more, but set my cell phone alarm to get me out before sunset. It was a rainy day and the fish were taking olives and I managed a few browns from a very fussy pool. The drakes hatched early and I hooked (and lost) one nice trout before I had to go. As I packed up, an officer drove by to make sure I was leaving. What a drag...that spot fishes best right before sunset and into the night. It's a shame it's now regularly patrolled and off-limits. Oh well, I'm happy to have done as well as I did there in my few trips. 

Wild Farmington River rainbow trout

     A Farmington River first for me was the wild rainbow trout (pictured above). To my knowledge, it's only the second wild rainbow I've caught in Connecticut. Wouldn't it be great if there were a lot more of them...and bigger? It makes me wonder about some of the fish I have lost...

Finally...a carp! Small, but I'll take it. 

     The past couple of weeks, I have been focusing on carp fishing. Rowan L. was kind enough to show me the ropes. It took three trips and a couple of blown hook sets to land one, but I managed to land three on my third day. They were all small, but we have our sights set on something much larger...possibly the largest exclusively freshwater fish that swim in our state...But they are so difficult to hook....hopefully more on that later...

     So, that's about it. Luckily, the summer has been going much better for me than the spring. With the rain and mild summer, I'm cautiously optimistic about good fall fishing this year. I will be doing more frequent posts than I have been and will be doing some prep work for the upcoming Connecticut salmon season, so check back often.