Saturday, December 31, 2016

Plus Two

So needless to say that big beautiful brownie I caught yesterday upped my intrigue with that watershed, so when Mark texted me yesterday to say that the stream we were planning to fish did not look too productive, things started coming together in my mind... I pondered and looked over my map resources and formulated the plan for the last day of fishing in 2016.

So in the morning Mark and I got on the first stream, the same one I had fished yesterday, no idea what to expect. I must say, we did not have much of any action. There are some fish in that stream but the clouds and changing conditions probably had them laying low. But that is a GORGEOUS stream!

After the lack of fish in the first stream I guessed the only trout there were browns. Brookies tend to show themselves even when they aren't really hungry, so we went looking for a brook trout stream. In my mind it was a bit of a long shot, but you have to try.

The second stream had almost no access, but we parked at a small business and sneaked down along the bridge. I flicked my Ugly just into the opening of the tunnel and watched a fish come out and grab it. BROOKIE! In mere seconds I had a very interesting looking brook trout at hand. The spot color and distribution along with the super dark background made it a unique looking fish... as is often the case the photo does not do it justice, in person it struck me as just looking different.

After driving around for a bit and trying to figure out another access point we eventually decided to check out the third stream. A short walk along some old railroad grade and we were there. Along the way we passed an older gentleman walking in the other direction. He asked us if we were going to fish "in the brook". We said yes, he said "My son fishes there a lot, good luck". Mark and I looked at each other, I think we both new what that meant. There had to be something there to fish for. When we got there what we found was an absolutely minuscule brook. And yet, in a plunge bellow a culvert, a six inch brook trout chased my "Crazy Shrimp" to my feet before seeing me and hurrying off.

So that's it. The last trip, the last day on the water, the last fish of 2016. And two more streams can now be added to my ever expanding wild trout stream list. A good day on the water with a good friend. Tomorrow starts a new year, and with some of CT's best small stream anglers coming together on a very special stream, it promises to be a good start to 2017. Happy New Year everyone. See you on the flip side. 

-Rowan Lytle

Friday, December 30, 2016

Two Streams Not Fished... Until Today

Fishing new water and determining what is there is one of my favorite thing about small stream fishing. There is a word document that I have been building for 4 years now, though it started as a notebook, that has 53 wild trout streams in it from CT alone. Today I added one more.

I fished two streams that I have been looking at for years but never got around to fishing, partly because I thought their location was much too close to lots of industrial activity. Today I finally said to hell with it, why not.... The bigger stream kept some water this summer and gets stocked with trout in the spring and the smaller one interested me the first time I saw it through a fisherman's eyes about six years ago.

I started with the bigger stream as I had no idea whether the small one even had year round flow. This river reminds me a lot of streams in North Western PA. The sedimentary substrate and shallow riffled sections just feel familiar. It seems almost like a stream where steelhead should live. However, I suspect the large number of dams on this stream and its tributaries has damaged its fish populations. I couldn't even find any fallfish. Maybe this is one to fish in the spring... it looks like epic streamer water!

Given the lack of fish there I did not have high hopes for its little brother. I worked my way up the a short section by a dog park knowing I had very little time left. I found a nice deep plunge pool bellow a culvert:

I knew that if I was going to catch a fish anywhere in this stream it would be in this pool I worked it over for about five minutes with my olive UV frenchie before it got chomped. Upon setting the hook I could see a substantial creature at the end of my line. I immediately expected it to be a holdover trout that came up from the bigger stream. When I landed it I realized it was something much more impressive, a fairly large wild brown from a very small stream. 

I was pretty blown away by that fish. I had to leave shortly after that but I am going to return tomorrow with Mark Alpert to see what else we can find there. I'd like to find some brook trout, as it looks like the kind of place that should hold at least a few natives. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Unicorn of CT Wild Trout

There are plenty of wild brown trout and brook trout in CT. In a few streams there are healthy populations of wild rainbows, and every now and then they can be caught in other streams. I've bumped into a handful on the Farmington and the first year I fished my home river there seemed to be an unusual number of three to five inch bows, enough that I would catch as many as three of them on some days. Wild bows are certainly a rarity, but the real unicorn of the CT wild trout family is the tiger trout. The only other trout that could possibly be in CT that would be rarer would be a laker.

I have been lucky enough to witness four wild tiger trout coming to hand, two caught by myself and two caught by other anglers. The first was six years ago, a beautiful specimen caught by my long time friend Dalton on a small Panther Martin spinner. The next to were caught by myself in 2014 in my home river. The fourth was today, caught by my friend Noah.

Noah is just getting into fly fishing and being in the "know" I was more then will to help him begin learning the ways of fly fishing for trout. We went to one of my favorite rivers and got rigged up with nymphs. I pointed him to a good run and told him how he should fish it and then began working my way downstream. Suddenly I heard Noah yelling and looked up to see his rod bent over. As I started back up he shouted down to me "its a tiger!". When I saw it I couldn't believe my eyes, it was indeed a perfect little wild tiger trout. Noah's first ever fish on the fly. After that the rest of the day was pretty anticlimactic!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Wild Browns With Company

Fishing is best when shared with some like minded friends. Today was decent weather for late December, and it promised open water and active fish. Kirk and I planned to fish a stream we hadn't been to for a while. Then I asked Jon (RI Brook Trout) if he was up for the trip and he was in. We planned on getting there around 10:35 but when I woke up this morning it was obvious that the rain was going to recede so I texted Kirk and we left my house before 9:00. That was a good decision, because the first hour of fishing was dramatically more productive than the entire rest of the day. The disappointing part of that is Jon didn't get there in time!

After spooking fish and not hooking anything I had a sneaking suspicion that I was not detecting strikes on my little fly. I decided to change to something I was sure to be able to see under the turbulent surface: a bright orange egg pattern, visible a mile away. I decided to skip a big section of water and get well ahead of Kirk without spooking the water he was going to fish. I started to fish again at the lovely pool you see above. I have a bit of a vendetta against this pool. The first time I fished this river with Kirk and Alan last winter I hooked and lost a giant brown in here not once but twice. I came back again in the spring and lost another big fish there. Today I caught a fish there... and it was quite a brute!

OK so maybe not a brute but you have to start the day somewhere. And that was a start of a very fast and furious little streak of the best wild brown trout I've had in a seriously long time. Me and my little egg pattern were on fire the for a good half hour. I caught 8 decent wild browns, some of the prettiest fish ever, and brought three to my feet without touching them. I thought the whole day was going to be fire after that!

When I got back down to Kirk he confirmed that he had gotten some action as well, and while we worked our way back down again I landed on more brown and got into a brief tussle with a brookie, the only one I hooked all day. At that point Jon texted me that he had reached the original meeting spot so we made our way over there. This was a section of particularly gnarly water that Alan likes to call 'the outback'. I had fished it before and seen the potential for it to produce some large fish. After catching a few fallfish and one really nice brown that gave me a spectacular battle on the 3wt, I expected more. 

And then for two hours it was dead quiet. We spooked fish, I saw one absolute bohemoth, but we weren't catching anything. I got super lucky right at the end of our stretch of water with one little guy on a Royal Wulff, but that was good and truly it. In retrospect it was clearly due to a quick increase in air pressure with the front passage, The fish got thrown out of rhythm and stopped their feeding.

We ended up going to another stretch, one I had previously never fished. I caught two more small browns on the egg and missed one substantial one, but it was clear that feeding as still not their highest priority and the flies we had were not loud enough to wake them up.

On our way up to the road we were passing another fisherman when he looked up and said "Connecticut Fly Angler?" Not the first time I've met a reader while on the water... the four of us chatted for a while. He was fishing a single hooked rooster tail and had already caught a few fish. We traded knowledge about some spots and about how the streams were fairing before saying goodbye and good luck. If you are reading, it was great to run into you! I don't believe I got you name? I hope you did well for the rest of your outing on that special little stream!
Thanks Jon and Kirk, it was a fun day if not a very productive one.

Monday, December 26, 2016

2016: Big, Wild, Beautiful

Wow. What a crazy year 2016 was.... I probably caught more fish these last 12 months than in any previous year. I added numerous new species to my list, met and fished with some great people, and took some downright epic trips. So here it is: four states, countless rivers and streams, many ponds, a few lakes, one ocean, four broken rods, three trashed fly lines, two shot reels, and over 270 days on the water in cold, rain, snow, lightning, and boiling heat later. Enjoy. I sure did! So take some time and let us look back on the year...

There are still a few more fishing days in 2016 and as I always like to say I may have one or two more big fish up my sleeve. Either way, tight lines and may 2017 be a great fishing year!