Thursday, April 15, 2021

Giant Spring Crappie

 One of my favorite species to target is black crappie. I particularly like catching really big black crappie, larger than 14 inches. Spring and Fall are definitely the best times to try to get those slabs, and for my money Spring is the more likely of the two to produce true giants. On bigger water where I have shore access and know big crappies are present, I focus on the northern end- especially wherever muddy bottom is present -and I fish the hour after sunset. Big, egg laden female crappies and smaller males concentrate themselves in these areas prior to spawning and feed most heavily late in the day. 


I've put a fair bit of time into giant crappies this spring. I wouldn't say I've been wildly successful, but I've certainly caught quite a few good fish. Most evenings only produced a few crappies but when each of them is well over a foot long, well, that's not too shabby. 




The trickiest thing about catching big crappies on the fly after finding a place that has them is detecting strikes. Sometimes they slam flies aggressively, but more often than not the take isn't that obvious. Usually I perform something like a Leisenring Lift when crappie fishing, because the sag of the line allows me to see when a fish has interrupted my fly. When I can't see the line the same presentation still works because the rod tip is moving continuously. When a fish takes I usually feel sudden light tension, set the hook low to the side and usually the game is one. Of course these are crappie, so the game usually doesn't last that long. I had a couple giant crappie this spring perform uncharacteristically hard fights. One jumped like a smallmouth, another performed a blistering run in shallow water. Clearly they can't all be said to come in like a wet sock. 


With about dozen big crappies to hand close to home, I soon started to get curious about some other areas. Big panfish fever had set in. I want big everything. Bluegills, pumpkinseeds, redbreast sunfish, perch, rock bass, golden shiners... this spring m focus has been and will continue to be focusing on getting trophy specimens of each species I target. 

Until next time, 

Fish for the love of fish.
Fish for the love of places fish live.
Fish for you.
And stay safe and healthy.


Thank you to my Patrons; Erin, David, John, Elizabeth, Brandon, Christopher, Shawn, Mike, Sara, Leo, C, Franky, Geof, Luke, and Noah for making Connecticut Fly Angler possible. If you want to support this blog, look for the Patreon link at the top of the right side-bar in web version. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Salter Brook Trout: What Is, What Was, And What Still Could Be. Pt. 4

 VICTORY… for now.

Many of you have probably already heard that Wareham’s voters shot down the NOTOS rezoning proposal by a wide margin. This is certainty a tremendous victory, and a very visible example of what good advocacy can accomplish. As a treat, I’d like to share a little bit of what has potentially been saved by this vote. 

One late winter evening, after exploring some water in southeastern Massachusetts that I wasn’t familiar with, I gave up and went where I knew I’d have a shot at a salter. Red Brook’s sinuous path through the salt marsh glowed like goldenrod in the evening sun. I had decided not to fish above the tide line at all. I was sure I could catch fish upriver but I wanted to know that, if I did catch a fish, it would be a bona-fide salter: a brook trout caught in brackish, tidal water. With a classic brook trout streamer on the end of my tippet, I gently made my way through the marsh. Salt marshes are delicate wherever they exist, and this one was even more special than the average southern New England marsh. I cast my Edson Tiger in each bend, cut, and eddy, waiting for a grab I suspected may never come. Then, all so suddenly, it did. A brook trout peeled away from the sod bank and went airborne on the take. 

After a spirited battle I had at hand a work of art. Painted with the same colors as the sun that was gracing the evening sky, but with a noticeable chrome cast when viewed at the right angle. This was exactly the fish I was looking for, which is a rare occurrence. More often than not I don’t quite find what I’m after. 


Red Brook was not done with me though. I was running out of river, very literally, when a fish of even more impressive stature made an appearance. I was almost in Buttermilk Bay, the furthest down the brook I’d ever encountered a brook trout. He ate on two consecutive casts and looked every bit of 14 inches. Both takes were miniature versions of what it looks like when a white shark blows up on a seal cut-out being towed behind a boat. I did not connect, but was left in complete shock just as I’d been when a fish of similar stature performed just such a routine the first time I ever fished this stream. 



I left feeling rejuvenated, with a sense of hope I didn’t have when I’d stepped out of the car. But even though it looks like Red Brook will be safe, for at least a while, it and the Quashnet are stars in a very dark sky. Salters in the Northeast still face more challenges than they can rightfully be expected to survive. This saga is not over yet- far from it. 

Until next time, 

Fish for the love of fish.
Fish for the love of places fish live.
Fish for you.
And stay safe and healthy.


Thank you to my Patrons; Erin, David, John, Elizabeth, Brandon, Christopher, Shawn, Mike, Sara, Leo, C, Franky, Geof, Luke, and Noah for making Connecticut Fly Angler possible. If you want to support this blog, look for the Patreon link at the top of the right side-bar in web version. 

Edited by Cheyenne Terrien

Monday, April 12, 2021

Big Smallmouth, Walleye, and the Importance of Chartreuse & Yellow

 With late winter/early spring rain comes my first real shot at large walleye on the fly in my area. This is one of my favorite times of year, when getting big fish on the fly becomes a regular occurrence again. I've gotten more and more into targeting trophy specimens of each fish species I regularly fish for, and consistently getting large walleye on the fly is one of my proudest achievements. With the weather perfect for it on March 26th, I set out just after sunset confident something exciting would happen. But before I could catch a walleye, a big swirl in very shallow water drew my attention. I had on a woolly bugger with a yellow tail, chartreuse body, and white hackle, a fly that I could not lie without. I dropped it where the swirl had been and quickly felt a grab. It didn't feel like a walleye, and was soon airborne to prove that it most definitely was not... I don't think walleye actually jump, but smallmouth bass sure do. My first smallmouth of the year was a pretty damn good one. 


Though the yellow & chartreuse Woolly Bugger is primarily my choice for big walleye and crappie, it has produced many big smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and some bullheads and carp as well while night fishing. It loses some of its charm in daylight, which isn't all that surprising. But for whatever reason between the time the sun sets and before it comes back up again, there are few flies for freshwater "warmwater" species that will draw quite as much attention. 

On to the task at hand: get the first walleye of the season. 

It didn't take that long. The fish was right along the contour I'd expected, ate just like a walleye should, and gave the slow, head-shaky fight most walleye perform. It was a typical one for this spot but a nice walleye for the fly rod. I rarely see big fly tackle walleyes, most seem to be around 18". My average is 23". Much of my success can be chalked up to living right near a spot where large walleye routinely move into very shallow water. 


That was the first, but a couple weeks later it is still my only walleye so far this season. This season is off to a slow start. Smallmouth and the huge early season crappies though? Very different story; stay tuned. 

Until next time, 

Fish for the love of fish.
Fish for the love of places fish live.
Fish for you.
And stay safe and healthy.


Thank you to my Patrons; Erin, David, John, Elizabeth, Brandon, Christopher, Shawn, Mike, Sara, Leo, C, Franky, Geof, Luke, and Noah for making Connecticut Fly Angler possible. If you want to support this blog, look for the Patreon link at the top of the right side-bar in web version. 

Edited by Cheyenne Terrien

Saturday, April 10, 2021

High And Dirty Multispecies Nymphing

 One day this March, I bounced spot to spot on my way home from Rhode Island. I was mostly hitting new streams and looking for wild trout, but I was having a pretty tough day. I got some stocked trout at one spot, and a couple brookies in one stream I'd fished once before, but it was a struggle to get anything substantial. Then it started raining and I headed to what would be my final stop of the day. It was an upriver portion of a stream I fish a lot, but a part of it I'd never once made a cast in. Before Neil Hagstrom retired from DEEP he had recommended it to me, saying it had a good number of wild browns. 

The day had started out cloudy but by the time I got to this stream it was raining and had been for a little while. The water was severely discolored; I was going to try anyway. I tied on a heavy size 10 Ausable Ugly and began to fish. For a while, I was unsuccessful. Then I thought I had a grab but wasn't quite sure. It definitely felt like one. A few runs down I caught a fish, a wild brown. That bolstered my confidence massively. I suddenly felt this might become a productive evening. 


That fish was right along a seam where the main current of the stream met some chocolate milk colored water coming out of a drain. This is classic brown trout behavior during this sort of storm runoff. Mud lines are a key focus to a lot of my rainy day river fishing, regardless of species. Brown trout in particular though gravitate to them. As I continued downriver and the muddy water from the pipe mixed with the ever muddier water of the stream (it was still raining), it began to look un-fishable. But I don't shy away from stained water as easily as some anglers might. I was fully ready to keep fishing knowing I could well get some high caliber fish in conditions like this. 



It took a little while to get another, but that ended up being a decent fallfish. I then proceeded to catch 8 more fallfish and a brown out of the same seam before continuing downstream. I got a couple more fallfish downriver but didn't find another spot at all that productive so I hit it again on the way back up and got two more fallfish and a large white sucker. 






Those fish alone made it a pretty good bite. That whole pile of fish was stacked up towards the tailout of a very nice, defined bend run. They were in a slack behind a log. It was a classic setup. But to sweeten the pot even more, when I got back to the first spot I'd fished when I had arrived, I got a very hot 14 inch brown there. This fish was gorgeous and spent an awful lot of the fight airborne. 


This was the perfect example of a day that could have ended up being very unproductive, but wasn't entirely because it started to rain. I got soaked, smelled musty for the rest of the evening, and definitely wished I had put all of my electronics in a plastic bag, but it seemed like a pretty good use of my time. I never ignore nasty weather. 

Until next time, 

Fish for the love of fish.
Fish for the love of places fish live.
Fish for you.
And stay safe and healthy.


Thank you to my Patrons; Erin, David, John, Elizabeth, Brandon, Christopher, Shawn, Mike, Sara, Leo, C, Franky, Geof, Luke, and Noah for making Connecticut Fly Angler possible. If you want to support this blog, look for the Patreon link at the top of the right side-bar in web version. 

Edited by Cheyenne Terrien

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Salter Brook Trout: What Is, What Was, And What Still Could Be. Pt. 3

Economics

I don’t like this part, honestly. I don’t like this part because I think it loses sight of the main reason this re-zoning and development shouldn’t happen. Unfortunately, the economic side is what would most likely change the average Wareham resident’s mind about NOTOS’ rezoning proposal. As it turns out, there are a number of reasons why it would be economically smart to develop the land as it is presently zoned for single-family homes, rather than rezoning it for something that would demand much more water use and create more polluted runnoff.

First of all, any sort of large hospitality, recreation and entertainment district as NOTOS is proposing would cause increased traffic to an area currently not prepared for it. This would almost certainly demand costly infrastructural changes and improvements. One of the Wareham town board members expressed hope that the current presidential administration would be supportive of infrastructure grants, but hedging on this seems like too much of a risk.

The economic viability of developing the land as currently zoned was examined in a report by FXM Associates, and this report is what has been used as the primary determination of the economic viability of re-zoning and development. It determined substantial losses if the land were developed for single-family housing. This was re-examined in a report by Dr. Frederic Jennings, and the findings differed hugely. The FXM Associates evaluation seems to have been very flawed. 

Directly from the report by Dr. Jennings: 

“First, the number of new homes is overstated; 90 homes cannot be placed on a 275-acre parcel zoned for 3-acre lots and still leave room for roads and other facilities. Second, taking the average value of existing homes as a benchmark for the taxable value of new homes understates their tax revenue impacts. Third, the FXM analysis also exaggerated people per household to overstate their cost effects. Fourth, the scaling up of average cost per student to determine the cost impact of new enrollments is only valid were there no fixed costs in education! Fifth, excess capacity (from falling enrollments in Wareham’s schools) has inflated the average cost per student (due to significant fixed costs and COVID-19), which has further biased these cost effects upward. Sixth, the FXM measure of non-school costs, by scaling average residential use costs for municipal services upward, suffers from the same mistake of assuming no fixed costs in the provision of town services, so biases these costs upward as well.” 

Frederic B. Jennings Jr., Econologics, Ph.D 

Final Economic Analysis of

The Wareham Re-Zoning Plan

Proposed By The NOTOS Group

30 March 2021

Page 3

I certainly am not an expert in anything economic, but it looks to me like there are issues with this re-zoning outside of its ecological impacts. 

My opinion, though, is that I shouldn’t have to leverage these economic values to get my point across. No matter how this land in Wareham gets developed, it will have negative impacts on sensitive ecosystems. That should be enough, but alas it is not. The general public thinks of themselves first- and they aren’t completely wrong to do so. People are desperate. They were desperate before this pandemic and they are certainly more desperate now. This makes it far too easy for people with a little bit of power and money to leverage the public away from their own intentions.  All too often this ends up hurting both people and the natural world. Short term gain dominates the political and economic atmosphere in this country now. The economic viability of the sort of development NOTOS is proposing is questionable at best and could very likely end up being costly for Wareham. This sort of thing just hurts the working class and frankly everyone that isn’t obscenely wealthy. 

Wareham has a pretty simple choice. Save a beautiful, unique, and rare piece of land, or take a risk on something data suggests won’t benefit the town in the way NOTOS is selling it. With just one day on the clock, I hope they make the right decision. 


Comment from Dr. Fred Jennings: A lot of my work over the past 40 years has involved exploring the economic implications of the important difference between short-term myopic thinking and long-term broader perspectives. The reason that I got interested in ecological economics is because ecological issues are mostly based on very long-term and enduring consequences, while economic concerns are mostly short-term in character, involving immediate profit incentives, current impacts, and short-term effects. As Lord John Maynard Keynes famously said: “In the long run, we are dead.” And economists – even when they deal with long-term effects (usually in the context of capital accumulation and investment opportunities) – routinely discount future returns so they don’t count their full weight in the future once collapsed back down into “present value” terms. Some ecological economists have advocated a zero discount rate for this reason, though the implication of doing that is that if a natural resource has ANY durably positive value at all, then its non-discounted present value will be infinite, which also does not make a lot of sense unless you are arguing that Nature is sacred and so we shouldn’t disturb it at all (which I wouldn’t totally dismiss as an unreasonable argument, actually). But my point is a less dramatic one: that we should use very low discount rates for ecological services, while economists tend to use much higher discount rates for future returns and/or ecological impacts. So economists’ planning horizons and foresight tend to be much shorter and narrower than the ecologists’ planning horizons need to be. Your point, therefore, is a good one with which I wholly agree: the NOTOS Group proposal is focused on immediate financial benefits at the expense of very long-term ecological losses (that probably far outweigh those quick gains, if counted)…

Until next time, 

Fish for the love of fish.
Fish for the love of places fish live.
Fish for you.
And stay safe and healthy.


Thank you to my Patrons; Erin, David, John, Elizabeth, Brandon, Christopher, Shawn, Mike, Sara, Leo, C, Franky, Geof, Luke, and Noah for making Connecticut Fly Angler possible. If you want to support this blog, look for the Patreon link at the top of the right side-bar in web version. 

Edited by Dr. Frederic B. Jennings and Cheyenne Terrien