Yesterday Ben B. (Atlantic Salmon Flies) and I fished the Shetucket to get a jump on the broodstock salmon season. It is to Ben, who fishes and guides the Naugatuck, what he called enemy territory. It's where I got my first broodstock salmon last year and Ben had fished it before but neither of us were very familiar. We spent a bit of time searching what seemed to be dead water, at least as far as salmon go. Ben found a quite a few stocked trout with his Cascade Shrimp, which was pretty funny.
When we did find an area that had some fish it wasn't really the most pleasant water to fish. Slow moving, featureless water. The kind of water that's only fun to fish with a dry or hitched wet. Ben moved the first salmon with a bumblebee bomber. It seemed like it was being very agressive and I am really surprised he didn't manage to take it, it moved a very long way for the fly more than once. You'd think that freshly stocked salmon would behave like a stocked trout, but that just isn't the case. These are still salmon. They still aren't eating and there is still no easy way to understand their behavior. They are still Atlantic salmon.
While Ben was playing the chess match with the fish he moved I spotted one right in front of me. It was not interested at all in my Sugarman Shrimp, so I backed off just a little bit and changed to an Edson Tiger variation with silver tinsel and peacock for the body. I let it sink upstream from the fish then brought it over its head. A totally different fish came over and gently grabbed the fly! It was on, but I knew it wasn't hooked well so I wasn't all that surprised when it came off after a short battle. The next fish I moved ate more aggressively and stayed stuck.
I had a few grabs after that in the same slow frog water, but we were kind of sick of that spot so we went to search for some other spots. Unfortunately there are only a few places that get stocked and we are still too early in the season for the fish to have moved around much, so we weren't successful at finding fish around Slat Rock State Park.
We ended up back where we started. I fished one good run, alternating between a Hornburg and a pink and purple soft hackle streamer, and I caught one fish on each. The Hornberg fish was a female salmon. She moved a good 10 ft for the fly and took well, easily the best show of any salmon I've moved so far. The second fish was a rainbow....
Those two salmon I had caught were nice and all, but I was looking for one willing to show off. I wanted some fireworks. I wanted a leaper. The fourth fish I hooked and the third I landed gave up the goods, 6 great jumps in shallow water. That's really what I like about these fish. For the most part, they are still Atlantic salmon. You need to catch more of them to find that one that wants to really show off and it's just a shadow of the wild sea run Atlantics of yesteryear, but when there's a little silver monster leaping at the end of your line you can't help but smile.
Ben was being stubborn, he really wanted one on a dry. That's probably the only reason I out-fished him on this trip, I'm still just learning when it comes to salmon. After all my only broodstock last year took a sucker spawn fly while I was nymphing for fallfish. We'll see, maybe I'll be back out there soon. They are fun fish.