|The binoculars are for "seeing trout."|
Last season, my son and I had a successful trip to the Hammonasset River, targeting trout rising to Quill Gordons. The little guy caught his first trout, a brookie, as well as a rainbow trout. He was bummed that we lost a brown trout and were unable to check it off his list.
This season, I vowed that he would get his brown trout. The water was much higher this year, so the little guy had to fish from the bank. Another big difference from last year was that the trout would not rise this time. I suspect the high, cold water had something to do with it. No worries, we had nymphs and wet flies that did the trick. He lost the first fish hooked, an acrobatic rainbow, but I assured him there were more opportunities. A few minutes later, he had his first brown trout in the net and checked off his list!
He was at least as proud of himself as I was of him. He asked what the next kind of trout he will catch next. Short of flying him out west to chase cutthroats, the only thing I could come up with was tiger trout. I warned him that they are few and far between, but it was no use. A new quest has emerged. Time to distract him with sunfish!
|The elusive brown trout|
It had been far too long since the last time I fished with my friend Mark (Fishing Small Streams). Mark and I used to fish the Hendrickson hatch on the Farmington at least once a season, but I have been distracted by migratory fish the past two springs. I knew it was time to revisit our old haunts before Mark moves.
Before the hatch started, I caught my first trout of the season on a #2 Grey Ghost. I was using a 6 wt. switch rod, so it wasn't much of a battle. I soon caught another, which didn't put much of a bend in the rod. Then I lost a third, which did put a bend in the 11' Sage Z-Axis. It put a big bend in the rod before it thrashed on the surface, threw the fly, and swam back to the depths. Oh well, there was more action to come...
The hatch materialized, but the fish weren't too keen to rise. I picked off one on a wet fly after changing pools. I didn't see many rises. The rises I saw were isolated. I went back to the streamer while we waited for a potential spinner fall.
I wasn't too optimistic about a good spinner fall considering how windy it was. But, low and behold, we saw a ton of spinners over the water. The popular pool we chose was too crowded for my comfort, so I moved to the next pool upstream. It's a small pool, and two anglers were already in it, but I was able to sneak in at the tail.
It wound up being a good choice. It was quite a spinner fall...the most prolonged spinner fall I've fished in quite a long time. The trout were plentiful but small. I even caught some while fishing from the bank. Finally, I hooked a better fish, but lost him as he raced towards the tail of the pool. No worries, the action was far from over.
There was a decent trout rising in the very fast water at the extreme edge of the tail, just above the rapids. I drifted a spinner over it a few times before it ate. I got the fish close to me but, once it saw me, it bolted. I had been catching all small fish and hauling them in, so my feisty fish senses were a little dull when I hooked this one. This trout was absolutely not going to give up easily and it escaped into the fast water below. It was time to put on my running shoes. I kept tight on the trout for a good distance downstream. I thought I could land it in one of the pockets, but no dice. The fish didn't stop running until it crossed into the next pool downstream.
|Not particularly large, but full of piss and vinegar!|
I was able to land the fiery fish in the soft water of the new pool. It was well hooked and thrashed wildly while I tried to remove my spinner from its mouth. I thought the fight was over, but this trout didn't get the memo. It wasn't a particularly large trout, maybe 17"-18" at best, but fought like a demon. I was happy I didn't break my ankle. Whatever I hooked next probably wouldn't have been that exciting, so I decided to call it a night!
|Shad fight tough, but are a delicate fish. Whenever possible, I now release shad without touching them.|
Data! Data doesn't lie. I knew I could have a good day of shad fishing if the water fell below a certain level on the gauge after Mother's Day. I've been trying to fish closer to home more often and only wanted to make one trip this year, as long as it was a good enough trip. It wasn't the most spectacular day of American shad fishing I've ever had, but it was good enough to scratch the itch for the season. There were some fairly large fish in the mix too, so that was a bonus. Actually, I hooked a few real tough ones.
It pays to keep track of data throughout a few seasons. It can make trips successful when time is limited, as it has been for me the past year or so. I had no specific local intel on this spot, but I've fished it enough to know when it should produce. It produced as expected. It was fun. I'll go back next year, after Mother's Day, when the water is below a certain level...