Friday, December 2, 2016

Brookies After the Rain

Anticipating some good fishing after the rain, Kirk and I met up on one of my favorite streams. Within minutes of my arrival it went from acceptable to completely blown out. It was hours after the last bit of rain had stopped and pretty much every river in the state had slowly dropping flows, so we found that to be quite strange. We decided to fish some smaller brook trout streams in the vicinity.

The first stream gave up some wild brook trout, tough of the yearling variety. I caught a few on dry flies, making December month 22 in a row.

Since I had only brought my 10ft nymph rod anticipating some large wild browns on a larger stream, Kirk as kind enough to lend me a little cabelas glass rod. I enjoyed it very much, it had such a slow action that Kirk described as "very gooshy". That's pretty accurate, but you'd have to know glass rods to get that.

After catching a few of those little guys we moved across the valley to another productive small stream. It was kind enough to give us one fish each. What I like most about this stream, however, it its wonderful cascades and plunge pools.

The third and final stream of the day has some even more awesome cascades. It also has some of the prettiest brook trout I've caught. How the bigger fish in all these streams fared the summer and fall has yet to be seen, as I have not caught any large ones out of them is some time.

Despite the day being far from what we had hoped, it was nice to get out on what may be one of the last truly warm days of the year to catch some wonderful wild fish.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Conditions Could Not Have Been More Perfect...

This morning the stage as set for the final showdown. The wind died down. The pressure was slowly dropping. Some light fog rolled in. The pond's water temperature and the air temperature were both up from the previous week. It was actually warm enough for shorts! I put the kayak in before 8:00 and was fishing almost immediately. I was completely ready to catch some big largemouth bass.

It was going to be good. Fish were active. On a number of occasions I watched bass and pickerel busting on bait tight to shore. I was getting pickerel follows right away. I caught some perch. Things just seemed right. These are the kind of days when it can be expected that any cast could produce a hawg largemouth.

But the universe had other plans for me. I did not catch one bass, not one pickerel, not even a decent crappie. I had to walk away shaking my head. What is with these fish? Same conditions, same time of year last year I was getting the predator slam in this pond with relative ease (bass, pick, 'eye). There is no reason why I shouldn't have caught some big fish today.

I actually gave that pond the finger. That's the first time I've ever actually been angry at a body of water. It's just that I know how generous this place can be, and for a good part of this fall it has been giving me the finger! One walleye and two pickerel in a month... that isn't right.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

And Another One Bites the Dust

Dams... if you are a fish, they are either your worst enemy or your best friend. The reality is, most small mill dams in the Northeast do much much more harm than good, so it is with great pleasure that I announce that the Jeremy River mill dam is now a thing of the past. Gone for good, replaced with a rocky gorge and some very fishy pocket water!

What the benefits of this dam's absence will be is not yet clear. It opens up salmon spawning habitat, but it is clear that their disappearance from this part of the world is not due to issues in the streams. Eels will have an easier time getting into spots upstream. I'm sure the absence of a big flat stalled pond in this river will improve summertime temps and oxygen levels. Who knows? It will be interesting to see, that much is clear.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Six Trips in the Making

There's this one stream I've fished a few times each year for the last few years. I don't know what its beef with me is, but it seems to have one. Usually, if there are brookies in a stream, even if they aren't prevalent, I don't have much trouble catching them in one or two trips. This one clearly had brookies, it was just particularly fickle. It took me five trips just to hook one, and on my sixth visit I finally caught one.

How is there not a brookie under the leaning tree?

All three of those pools should have at least one brook trout. 

So. Much. Fishy. Water. SO MUCH! 

Now there just has to be one here. And it turns out there was. A 10-11 inch spawned out female. She was sitting right on the edge of the foamy eddy, in three inches of water. She ate my olive frenchie four times before I finally got her.

She certainly is an amazing old fish, super dark and well covered with yellow spots. Her mouth and back were nearly black. Her tail was HUGE. Yes, those five failed attempts were worth it.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Well Then...

There a some days that make me hate fishing. Today was one of them. I got to the river after a long ride, realized immediately that I had left my phone at home, and within and hour broke off half of a leader that I could not rebuilds. One small perch does not a sea run brown trip make...

So that does it for me and sea run browns for a little while. Tomorrow will be a brookie day. I'm getting tired of waders anyway.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Black Friday Sea Run Brown Hunt

It's always a grind trying to catch a sea run brown on a fly. Ron Merly, a CT expert on sea trout, almost never uses a fly rod for them because they are incredibly skittish as far as line hitting the water, shadows being cast, and wading go... after all they have a lot more at stake than their stream resident brethren... it isn't often that gator blue fish and breeder stripers go far enough up the creeks to pose a risk to the resident trout! That is why I am still very pissed that I didn't get a photo of the only sea run brown trout I've caught, and why I am determined to put in the work required to get another one. Hopefully it ends up being bigger.

Today was one of those days when everything seemed perfect. No wind all day, grey sky, an excellent tide, and bait fish schools all over. I worked my butt off. Made some of the best casts I've made in my life too... when you make an 80 foot roll cast with a 12 foot leader and put a beadhead woolly bugger right next to a school or rolling spotfin shiners where there just has to be a big brown, you feel pretty darn proud of yourself. I even looked around to see if there was anyone watching. Then I remembered I had slogged down river, off trail, across a few sloughs, through deep mud and thick wet reeds. There wasn't a soul around, and I was perfectly OK with that. After all when someone is watching me I can rarely cast like I can when I'm alone. I could just be lying, but remember this: I fish just about every day and when there's too much snow to go I just cast in the parking lot cross the street from my house... if you can't cast 90 feet with an 8 wt after casting 300 days a year for four years, you need to buy a spinning rod.

I fished one back slough that looked great... lots of lay downs, plenty of currant, and tons of mummichogs darting around int the shallows. Nada... no fish seen, no fish hooked.

Now the big question; did I catch a sea run brown trout today? Nope. I got completely skunked. I could easily have given in and gone bass fishing, but that is not how you play this game. I fished 11:00 to 3:45, and covered more than a mile of river. I did see a few fish in one spot. I came around the corner to a flat bellow on of the first rapids of the river and in a spot that I call the rock garden three big trout spooked. The smallest was 17 inches, conservatively, and they were all very heavy fish. I had gotten foolish and didn't approach the spot carefully enough. The hunt continues tomorrow, this time starting where those fish were and going upstream. May luck be on my side... there is hardly another fish that requires so much luck and skill to catch.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving! Here's a Big Walleye.

OK, first and foremost, I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends. I did... and the food was wonderful as always.  

Today was cloudy, a little warmer than the day before, and very calm... just the kind of pickerel and walleye weather I'd been waiting for. Despite the perfect conditions, it took y a while to get a grab. When I saw the fish come to the surface I wasn't surprised to see what it was: a large yellow perch. This is perhaps the best time of year to catch big pond perch. 

About a half our and a few more perch later, I got the most ridiculous tangle I've ever had. It took me the rest of my remaining time to undo it. I figured I was owed a big fish for having to put up up with tangle zilla, so I decided to do a late evening trip back to the pond. I normally do not night fish this time of year, but I thought it could produce a big walleye. After an hour I was not entirely sure. I fished a chartreuse woolly bugger for most of the time, then switched to a larger fly hoping that at least a decent bass would take it. The bug of choice: Mike Schmidt's Maraceiver. I fished that fly until well after the sun had set, fan-casting a rocky ledge area and a flat of dying weeds with some deep pot holes. I was getting cold, and after 40 casts and not a touch, I was ready to give up. I made that one last cast and began retrieving the line. I worked the fly with the rod tip as I reeled, because you really never know...

And of course, as I got towards the end of my very last retrieve of the day, one that was not really meant to catch a fish, the maraceiver got absolutely crumpled.  After a frantic fight, I tailed a very fat 26 inch walleye and promptly lost my mind. Why? How? BIG FISH! I mean... jeez. I've experienced the "last cast phenomena" many times but never to this degree. I usually fish out  my last cast to make it the best possible chance for me to get a bite. This time I has just screwing around and thinking "yeah ya just never know". After more than three weeks of annoyingly cruddy warm water and saltwater fly fishing, the fish gods threw me a bone. I was jumping and hollering on the bank. the moment her tail kicked and she swam off.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Well Rounded Outing

So the first part of my blog title... "Connecticut". I wouldn't be doing my home state justice if I didn't occasionally talk history here every now and then. First, today's fishing... I went to the kettle lake to see if I could get some bass in the cold and windy bluebird conditions. I probably would have had a few to hand had I not been a goober and left my 0x spool at home. I dropped one fish that felt like a decent bass and had another big one rap my on a branch and break my tippet off. I didn't feel like trying to get picky bass to eat flies tied on a five foot 20lb leader... so I gave up and went about the other adventures on my agenda for the day.

After packing up gear and getting over the fact that today was a skunk that shouldn't have been I headed north to do some surveying. I am a contributor for the worlds largest mineralogical database, and on today's agenda was photographing one quarry and surveying another to see if doing drone photography there would be possible. I visited the closer of the two first.

There was a point in time, not even that long ago, when a type of course grained granitic rock called pegmatite was of substantial value. Quarry's, prospects, and even underground mines explored pegmatite dikes  all over central CT from Haddam to Glastonbury. Their value came from "spar" or feldspar, a mineral used widely in ceramics and glass making; muscovite mica, used in construction materials and electronics; and even gem minerals including elbaite and beryl.  One of the most famed of the CT pegmatite quarries is the Strickland Quarry. The reason for its fame is the plethora of rare minerals that were produced in its heyday. A couple days ago a fellow CT mineralologist sent me a message letting me know that the water level in the quarry was extremely low (no surprise this year) and that if I could get a drone in there, some important photos of historical value could be taken. My visit there today was just to see how that would work out. As long as the rain does not fill it back up before late December I might be able to get some very valuable photographs.