Saturday, May 15, 2021

A Rise In The Flats

 Over time, the feeling that it is necessary to catch as many brook trout as possible, and the biggest brook trout possible, has waned for me. I used to be fiendishly obsessed with the species, and still am, but it takes less to satisfy me these days. A few fish to hand is enough, and though I still look for the largest in any given stream I don't put nearly as much time into that pursuit as I once did.

Have I fallen out of love with brook trout? No, quite the contrary. I've just grown up a bit in my fishing. I know how sensitive native brook trout are, and I feel that mitigating my intrusions on them is not a bad thing.  I've tried to do the same thing for striped bass and other at-risk native fish as well, limiting my catch and altering my methodologies and photo taking and posting habits. 

Now, when I walk a brook trout stream, I am far more inclined to seek out a visibly actively feeding fish rather than prospecting every viable pocket. It means I catch fewer fish, which is fine with me. But the experience I get is as rich and fulfilling as that of hunting down a giant brown slurping mayfly spinners. 

One cool April evening I was walking "The Family Secret." It was windy, and indeed chilly compared to the days prior. The insect activity was lackluster but not absent. There was a smattering of paraleps, some small black caddis, and two different stonefly species. I saw no rise activity until I reached a certain pool I've often had decent luck in. I stood and watched for a while, but saw no rises or flashes. Then, in the shallow and swift tailout, a brook trout rose. It wasn't a small fish, but it had dropped back into just 5 inches of swift but smooth flowing water. It was doing almost exactly what a large brown trout does during a hatch or spinner fall. I tied on a black CDC stone, and waited a bit. The fish didn't come up again, so I made my best guess as to where it was sitting. The first four casts drew no response, so I let the fifth drift further down. The fly disappeared in a swirl and I gently raised the rod. He was on. The fight was spectacular, highlighted by a handful of acrobatic leaps. 

I continued fishing, but the only other fish I found actively feeding in the waning light was a small fallfish. No more brook trout came to hand that day, but that made the one I did catch stand out even more. 


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, May 13, 2021

Stalking Monster Carp from a Kayak

Small green leaves were just making their first appearance of the year when I decided to load up the kayak and make a short drive  to look for pre-spawn bowfin. With cloud cover and sprinkling rain interrupted by brief bouts of bright, hot, muggy, sunshine, the conditions weren’t ideal for sight fishing, which is exactly what I intended to do. I wouldn’t see a bowfin all afternoon. Instead, I stumbled upon a fantastic carp bite. Having never fished this particular location before weed growth filled in most of the flats, I was never getting clear shots at the many large carp that were always present. This time, though, the flats were clear of vegetation but not of carp.

I got the first shot fairly shortly into the trip, but the fish did not stay pinned. The take wasn’t obvious, and my hook set was sluggish and much too- well- uncertain. When the fly and fish parted ways, it wasn’t a surprise. I made a loop of that cove, hoping to see a bowfin in the shallows, but only got shots at a few more carp. When I got back around to where I’d had the first encounter a few new fish had moved in. I was making a careful approach towards one decent fish when I happened to turn. I saw a far bigger carp tail up in shallower water. I made a bee-line towards that one. I got in position, quietly set down my paddle, and made the cast. I was still drifting towards the fish, and when it made a decisive jolt forward and ate I knew I had more slack than I could easily manage. I vastly overcompensated the hook set. The rod broke 3 feet down from the tip, but my steel had found purchase and the reel sang as the fish ran hard.I knew it was a really big one, the fight would have been a nail-biter anyway. 

Having the tip of the rod broken off and all the way down at the leader made it downright terrifying. I’ve caught a lot of big fish in sub-par situations though, and I beat this one eventually. I maneuvered to the bank and managed to get the fish close. When I tailed it, got my hands under it, and lifted it out of the water, I laughed maniacally. 


This was undoubtedly the largest carp I’d caught in years at an estimated 28lbs. Catching fish of that caliber isn’t at all unheard of; in some fisheries it is quite common. But no matter where, a carp that size on the fly is an exceptional trophy. I was elated, but also ready to get another shot. Unfortunately I’d have to use my 12 wt, which had been rigged for pike, but I was glad I’d brought it. Another fish did eventually give me an excellent shot. This time I didn’t mess up the presentation or the hook set and another big carp, albeit a much skinnier one, came to hand on the brown woolly bugger. 

Some days certainly don’t turn out the way I’d expect and this was very much one of them. There’s a lot to be said for versatility. There are probably times... excuse me, there are definitely times where my lack of single species focus and my interest in targeting as many different fish as possible has prevented me from being as successful as I could have been. That said, it has made me adequately adept at a lot of styles of presentation and knowledgeable of many different fish species. It saves me on days like this, when the species I set out to fish for are just not around or not willing. I’d set out looking for bowfin and instead had my best carp day in years. 

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

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Convergence '21: Starting Off Strong

 I didn't really target stripers this winter. I didn't feel I could justify my want to catch some in the face of clear evidence that mortality is drastically higher under winter conditions, and the obvious decline of the stock. As usual I also started consistently hitting herring runs a bit late. There had already been alewives in the creeks for more than two weeks when I made my first trip. I didn't bother checking the tides or anything, I just went. Upon arrival, I could see the swirls of spawning alewives in the shallows illuminated by the lights from nearby houses. The ospreys and bald eagles had already settled in for the night, but a few great blue herons stood vigil along the banks. I was using my kayak to get around, and the cold dark water dripped off my paddles as I paused to tie on a large Sedotti Slammer variation. It was time.

Upon reaching my destination, I dismounted from the kayak to fish from the sod. Making repetitive casts, I waited for a grab. My patience has been my strongest attribute in the pursuit of big spring striped bass. I will stand for hours in the cold, the rain, and the wind, waiting through hundreds if not thousands of casts for that one sensation: the thump of a striped bass swallowing my fly. This isn't a pursuit for those who like sleep, or those who desire steady and consistent action. Catching big striped bass on the fly is very very hard to do in today's fishery. This is my pursuit though. I've come to adore it. There's little I'd rather do than listen to spawning herring for hours while waiting for that thump.

This time the thump came early. I don't think I've ever gotten a striper on the first trip of the year, but an hour into my 2021 bass season I was strip setting as hard as I could and a good bass was angrily trying to shake the herring that it must no longer have thought was the real thing. I was fishing a my new 12 weight and this was the first time the rod would be put to a real test. The fish put on a good show with a few short but screaming runs and some violent thrashing at the surface. I was very pleased when she rolled in the shallows and I was able to get my hand in her mouth. The first striper of the season was an excessively heavy 35 incher, maybe 18 or 19 pounds. Her gut was packed full of alewives. As I slapped her tail and watched her tear off, leaving me dripping wet from tail splash, I hoped that she'd leave the river soon and continue on her travels. Perhaps she'll spawn somewhere along the way. Maybe she already has.


So my first bass of the year was a good one... I spent 3 more hours out there that night without another take, but that's alright. I didn't need one. The overall theme of the season had already been set. Persistence and a well thought-out approach would prove fruitful this spring. The convergence of herring and predators had just begun. There are many more stories to tell, and I will tell them all in time. 

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. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

Vibrant Sunfish & Bass on a 1 Weight Fly Rod

 Geoff Klane of Brackish Flies had been trying to get a rod built for me for a long while now. I was looking for something very specific and very uncommon: a 1 wt fiberglass rod. Eventually the right blank came along and Geoff was able to build me a very special rod that I could still afford. What resulted is unquestionably the most beautiful stick in my arsenal. He did a phenomenal job on it. I went out to the Cape to pick it up from him and got to spend a little bit of time casting for sea run brook trout with it. I moved a couple but didn’t connect. It wasn’t until a few days later that I’d really get to put the new rod to use. I visited a small park pond with some particularly pretty pumpkinseeds. 

Bluegill x pumpkinseed hybrid.


Pumpkinseeds are the predominant stillwater native sunfish in the Northeast, and a very underappreciated species. Everyone waxes poetic about the beauty of brook trout, but in my opinion pumpkinseeds give them a run for their money for looks. With a white and red edged dark “ear”, shades of aquamarine, orange, red, and green across their face and flanks, and fabulously ornate fins, pumpkinseeds are a spectacular animal to look at. They are often very aggressive, and I had no problem finding them in this little pond between the bluegills. More than a dozen strikingly colorful fish put a bend in the new rod. 


I also found a non-native species, largemouth bass, in the early stages of spawning. The small males were especially willing and put up an exceptional fight on the light fiberglass rod. A couple actually peeled drag. Some of them were quite lovely too- there's definitely something appealing about the shades of green and live on their sides. There are certainly some large ones in this pond, but pressured as it is they are very difficult to fool. Maybe I’ll return soon to try catching one of those old fish. For the time being the colorful and willing pumpkinseeds were very satisfying. They were exactly the sort of thing I wanted a glass 1 wt fly rod for. 




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. 

Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Ugly Takes One: Post-Frontal Wild Brown Trout

 We needed rain here in CT, and suddenly we got a whole bunch of it this past week. Having not done all that much trout fishing lately I decided it was time to take a drive and look for some sizable wild brown trout in small water. The rain had certainly given the flow a nice big boost, which was fantastic. The stream I was on tends to fish very poorly in most other conditions. With bright fresh foliage providing shade and the flow and turbidity perfect, my hopes were high. This seemed like idea streamer fishing conditions. 

Two hours later, I was wading upstream dejected, irritated, and completely vexed. I'd had a couple half-assed flashes- fish that never even touched the fly -but that was it. I switched to a two nymph rig for a while and that did nothing either. Then I put on the Ausable Ugly and wham: on the first cast a 17-18 inch wild brown trout took and went airborne. The fish had eaten the Ugly high-sticked, as I often fish it in high and murky water conditions. The fish put up a hell of a battle with a few more leaps and some serious digging. Usually I get some of my best trout fights at this time of year. The fish are well fed and the water temperature is ideal. 

Thinking that was the start of a hot tighlining bite, I proceeded to carefully work every likely high-water spot. I missed one more fish, but that was it. The fish I had caught was a stunner but it kind of mirrored the rest of my local wild trout fishing this spring: tedious and frustrating, and lacking in both numbers and size. A few friends and I have compared notes, and things seem pretty dismal. A lot of once thriving wild brown trout streams in Connecticut are just trashed now. Angler pressure increases due to covid, as well as multiple consecutive bad water years are definitely huge factors. 


It has been very frustrating to watch the deterioration of many of the fisheries I've spent hours on over the years. It's even sadder to see that the anglers that are actually vigilant enough to notice these problems are in the minority. I really wish that more fisherman would engage constructively in their sport. If that doesn't happen, so much of what we love will continue to be lost. Spots will close, fish populations will crash, regulations will become more strict... this is all already happening. Be a good steward. Pick up trash, don't publicize spots, and treat the fish and their habitats with respect and cautiousness. Please. 

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. 


Thursday, May 6, 2021

Early Season Walleye

 Catching large walleye on the fly is a low-grade obsession of mine. Though I don’t find myself nearly as compelled to spend hours on the water looking for a 30 inch walleye as I do seeking large striped bass, it is something I’ve put a lot of time and thought into. Over the last five years I’ve caught a half dozen walleye eclipsing 27 inches, one of them at 28 ½ inches. Those are impressive walleyes, especially on the fly, but I won’t really be satisfied until I break the 30 inch mark. Eventually, I’d really like to break the fly tackle world record as well.

Spring 2021 has, so far, been lackluster both in terms of number and size. The conditions that lead to really strong bites haven’t presented themselves much, and on a handful of occasions when it seemed like the conditions were really good there still just wasn’t a bite. On a few nights, fish were stupid shallow and extremely finicky. I found myself experimenting in different conditions with new flies. Perhaps the rising star was the Edson Tiger. I needed something lighter and with a slimmer profile when the fish were setting up in 6 or 7 inches of water on a rock bar, and that fly came in clutch on a handful of occasions. 

Of course, the old standby chartreuse and yellow Woolly Bugger took its fair share of nice walleye as well. There were certainly nights though when I knew there were fish in front of me but it was failing to draw interest. It would seem that I ought to try some new color variations. Olive and black tend to be lackluster, and I’m not quite sure why. The biggest walleye I caught this spring did take the chartreuse and yellow, but a downsized version.

Erratic weather conditions complicate the process of looking for big fish drastically. Old data, meticulously collected over the years, seems irrelevant some seasons.The fish fly off the cuff, the water temperatures rise and fall without stimulating the expected behavior, and good pressure and moon phase windows don’t provide the expected results- but all I can really do is keep going, keep fishing hard, and keep recording the data. The quest for trophy walleye continues.


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

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Rhode Island Mirror Carp on the Fly

 I've wanted to catch a mirror carp for years. Mirror carp are a genetic variation of common carp, believed to have first been cultured to make them easier to clean and ea. They are now mostly bred for aesthetic purposes. They're characterized by irregular scaling. The array of possible patterns- ranging from fully scaled to linear to nearly scale-less flanks -is quite impressive. Leather carp, not considered mirror carp, lack scales entirely. Though the genes that result in the scale abnormality are recessive, they manage to linger in populations where large numbers of mirrors were introduced for a long time. I've only ever seen a handful of mirror carp in Connecticut, even though a friend caught one out of the very lake I live right down the road from. My friend Mark got a mirror this spring, and I really started to get obsessed with the idea of getting one. 

Luckily, perhaps best mirror carp fishery in the Northeast is just miles from my partner's house. I made some half-hearted winter attempts and found very little life, but I knew that come spring I'd get shots if I was persistent. What I wasn't ready for at all was the shear abundance of mirror carp in this population.


One evening, while Cheyenne was out with friends, I headed to the river. It was my first trip in hospitable weather and my hopes were high. The first fish I saw was a common, cruising at a fast pace in the middle of the canal I was walking- not a viable target. For the next three hours I ended up seeing a few dozen carp, mostly tailing, many out of reach on the opposite side. Shockingly I never ended up seeing another that was definitely a common, every fish I got a good look at was a mirror. I never really got a shot but I didn't end up taking a skunk. I saw a decent chain pickerel cruising up the center of the canal just a few inches below the surface. I cast my mop fly a few feet in front of it, started stripping, and that guy came right over and crushed it.

The next morning I had a bit of free time again and went back out. This time I got a couple shots in the canal, but again came up empty. I walked along, looking in ever viable spot, and finally found a school of large fish, all very clearly mirrors, sunning behind a deadfall. These fish are usually extremely hard to convince to eat. I made the best of it though, making the gentlest possible presentation in front of the largest of the group. That animal didn't quite spook but definitely reacted negatively. The smaller one next to it whipped around and sucked in the fly. What proceeded was the most hair raising carp battle I've ever experienced. That fish was in and out of deadfalls constantly for the next 15 minutes. I was using 6 pound tippet and a 5wt. Nothing about my setup was geared towards keeping a 20 pound fish out of cover, and I didn't. Somehow, though, every time the fish made its way into the mess I managed to get it back out. When I got my hands on it, I knew a genuine miracle had just transpired. My leader was completely un-chaffed. That just seemed physically impossible, I'd felt my line rubbing on logs and branches numerous times. I really don't know how it worked out. 


With my first mirror out of the way, I'm excited to explore more of this fishery. I've long seen photos of big Rhode Island mirror carp caught on bait, I think its about time someone started showing them flies. 

  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.

Monday, May 3, 2021

A Quest For Golden Shiners

 The humble golden shiner has long been one of my favorite local native fish, in large part because there isn't another species around here that looks anything like it. They're almost panfish like in shape and sometimes size, unlike any other shiner species in the vicinity. The best fish I know to compare them with are European roach and rudd, which are very similar in shape and color. There was a short time during which I was catching a small amount of rudd in a local pond. I'm not sure how they were introduced, but their size and extremely vibrant red fins gave them away. Over time they actually seemed to hybridize out of existence with the golden shiners in that pond, and now I rarely catch anything there that isn't, visually at least, golden shiner through and through. I also rarely catch big golden shiners at all anymore and this spring I sought to change that. It has proven to be far more difficult than I'd anticipated. 

Part of the difficulty of catching big golden shiners is their inability to get big in most waters. Golden shiners are an easy prey target, with no spiny fins and no particularly good evasion strategies. Instead, they are prolific breeders, and in most ponds there are lots of very small ones. Their tiny mouths make gaining size rapidly a challenge, so it takes a special place to grow them big. Dense weeds are a common factor in bodies of water with big golden shiners, but this just makes it more difficult to actually catch them. The popularity of the species as a bait fish, especially for northern pike, also makes big ones harder to come by. Wherever big golden shiners are found, someone is probably keeping a bunch to use under a float or tip-up. Last but not least, I have yet to find a fly that catches golden shiner but wards off the thousands of small bluegills that are usually occupying the same areas. Such a thing almost certainly doesn't exist.

By the time I began targeting these big goldens this spring, the pond I was most interested in had closed to fishing. I had one other small body of water I had confidence in, but decided to try some other ponds in the vicinity as well. One of them is a spot I'm very familiar with but had never caught a golden shiner at. One day, while targeting crappie and big bluegill there, I got lucky and nabbed two decent goldens. 


That was probably a bit of a fluke. I tried there a few more times but failed to get another shiner. The pond I already knew about though was giving me the hardest possible time. Its bluegills were proving to be exceptionally annoying. Catching more than 150 of them each trip was beginning to feel like the definition of insanity. I'd caught a nice golden on my first visit this year, before I had decided to specifically look for them. I couldn't understand why I wasn't able to get any more. Finally, just when I was at wit's end, I got what I was after. 


Goldens don't really fight, even a big one isn't that big, and I have no use for them as bait. I just find them fascinating and beautiful for some reason. I understand why European anglers enjoy targeting big roach and rudd. Catching a large, wild specimen of any fish species is a challenge worth pursuing. It requires a far deeper understanding of a fish's ecology and behavior than does simply going out and catching just any fish.

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 29, 2021

Another Night Carp

 Two years ago, while targeting walleye, a big common took me completely by surprise and ate my chartreuse and yellow Woolly Bugger. The conditions were ideal for giant walleye that night and the fish didn’t fight that hard, for a common carp. It really had me thinking I’d just hooked the next IGFA fly tackle world record walleye. Instead of spending the rest of the night trying to get a 15 pound walleye on a certified scale so I could submit it, I instead was wondering how the f*** the 20 pound carp I caught managed to find my streamer in dark, murky water at night. Carp clearly aren’t only scent-based feeders, and I suspect they aren’t sight-based either. I think that fish felt the fly. I know very well how they react to anything hitting the surface of the water. In fact, the right sort of “ploop” can trigger a pretty aggressive response from some feeding carp. Of course, it sends others packing. 


To reinforce my theory, almost the exact same thing happened this year. The prior experience told me that I’d hooked a carp this time, but the take was so aggressive I second guessed it a few times. In fact, this fish slammed the fly mere seconds after it hit the water. But it was indeed a common, not a huge walleye. Why they seem to fight so much less impressively at night I still have not figured out, but the immediacy of that left no doubt… like a “lateral line take” (Dave and Amelia Jensen talk about this in the context of trout a lot), that carp didn’t see the fly enter the water, nor did it smell it as there was nothing to smell, but it reacted to the “plop” and sought out the source. 




Though I doubt this can be applied to blind casting at carp at night- I think trying to make this happen would be just about impossible -in low light condition where you can see the fish well but they might have a difficult time visually detecting a fly, perhaps a very quiet presentation would be less likely to produce than one that has the fly entering the water with a little splash or plop. Worth thinking about, I think, if you are serious about targeting carp with a fly rod. 



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

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Farmington River Cleanup & A Gift From a Friend

 Last weekend I took part in the Farmington River cleanup organized in large part by the Farmington River Anglers Association. It was a fantastic event with a big turnout and some serious effort put in by all involved, and something I hope to see continue for years to come! Rich Strolis and others ran the event very smoothly and an impressive amount of trash was removed from the river. I took part as a team member from Native Fish Coalition along with board members Michael Day, Josh Parsons and John Wadsworth. We felt pretty good about our four bags of garbage and a few larger items, but some teams brought out such impressive treasures as a recliner, baby doll, bubble gum machine, and entire rear axle! 




Sometimes I have a pretty strong dislike for the "fishing community" in general, and all the in-fighting, controversy, and what not that takes place. But sometimes there are indeed good things that come out of it. 

Speaking of, one of my favorite people recently sent me a wonderful gift out of the blue. Since Covid has prevented me from seeing a lot of my friends, this lovely painting and wet fly from Alan Petrucci (Small Stream Reflections) was a wonderful surprise. 


Though Alan and I haven't gotten to fish together in a long while, I'm sure we'll end up on the same brook trout stream at the same time soon. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Goldfish On The Fly

 Goldfish are a notable and often problematic invasive species found throughout the world. They are native to East Asia, were selectively bred to create the vibrantly colored ornamental variations seen today, and spread around the world for hundreds of years. They are one of the most popular aquarium fish and one of the most widespread domesticated fish. In the wild, goldfish can cause significant problems where they are not native. They reproduce rapidly and despite often being orange and poorly suited to remaining hidden, they quickly overpopulate. Though goldfish are certainly not apex predators, their presence usually disrupts whatever ecosystem they are released in. 

I’ve encountered goldfish sporadically throughout the years in CT waters, but never any big enough to catch on the fly. Then, one day this spring, while looking for water snakes with my friend Bruce, we spotted a school of goldfish in a small public pond. I’ve since returned three times- once on my own and twice with Noah -specifically to fish for those goldfish. On the first visit I didn’t get any goldfish but I was able to determine what species were in the pond. Three that I saw were native fish: golden shiners, brown bullhead, and pumpkinseed sunfish. Two more, other than the goldfish, were invasive species: common carp and mosquitofish (whether they were eastern or western I am not sure, but western is more likely as westerns are the only of the two species so far confirmed in CT). There was only one common carp in the pond, an 18 pound or so fish likely introduced intentionally with the hopes it would do something to control weed growth. 


On the second trip, Noah and I were more strategized. We brought bread to chum in the goldfish. The golden shiners and bullheads got to it first, and we got a couple bullheads each. It took a long time for any goldfish to come around. Eventually some did. I had on a size 16 Walt’s Worm under an indicator, but interesting fish would lose interest in the fly as soon as it sank to depth and suspended. They seemed far more interested in a moving fly. This was interesting to me because I’d seen the same behavior from lake chubsucker, a North American native fish. Lake and creek chubsucker both share a nearly identical niche with goldfish and are visually, anatomically and ecologically similar; a clear example of convergent evolution. 

Eventually, I managed to get one of the two goldfish that were spending time in our baited area to take my little nymph, and after no fight at all I had lifer #178 at hand. It was certainly a pretty fish, ornately colored and lustrous. This fish was also completely unnatural: no undomesticated, uncultured, native goldfish would look anything like this, nor would such a fish be swimming in a pond in Connecticut were it not for human intervention. For some reason I really liked that little fish and felt compelled to catch more. When Noah wasn’t able to get his lifer on the first attempt, it was a good excuse for me to return for more. 

Lifelist fish #178, goldfish, Carassius auratus. Rank: Species.

On attempt two, we brought corn as well as bread. Our justification for that was how disinterested in the floating bits of bread the goldfish were and how hard it was for Noah to keep bread on the hook. Bread still helped draw in the hungry masses, and we had some goldfish come into the swim much sooner than we had the previous trip. This time I focused on golden shiners before the goldfish showed interest. I’ve become increasingly more obsessed with that species lately, as well. Unfortunately this pond seems not to hold any large ones. 


Noah got the first goldfish- a lovely wild-type. That was exactly the color expression I wanted to catch, as it would be a nice contrast with the cultured ornamental version I’d already caught. I ended up getting three goldfish on the fly: a bright orange one, another with orange and black patterning, and an almost wild looking but still fairly colorful individual. They were actually surprisingly willing to eat and even chase a nymph. If it stopped moving, they lost interest. This is of course what we’d already observed on the trip before, but it was nice to know that behavior wasn’t a fluke. 



Eventually I broke down, put on a piece of corn and caught a true wild-type. I’m not sure if these goldfish had simply been present and reproducing long enough for the more natural color genetics to arise or if some wild type individuals had been put in the pond originally. There wasn’t a notable variety of sizes, so I can’t be sure these fish are actually reproducing in that pond. 

Catching those goldfish coincided with a general urge to catch colorful cyprinids. I’ve got this strange, previously non-existent compulsion to fish for ornamental fish. Next on the list, something I’d been after for years: mirror carp. Another genetic variation cultivated for ornamental purposes. 

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 24, 2021

Convergence '21: I Brake For Amphibians

 Spring is here in New England, and so continues my love letter series to my favorite time of year.

 Before chances of stripers eating river herring had begun, I was out in the dark looking for the first amphibian convergences of the year. Warm, rainy nights in late winter and early spring call amphibians back up to the surface from their winter slumber. The same conditions get me excited as well: I don my safety vest, put new batteries in my flashlight, and hop in the car to go see the remarkable migration. 


Spotted salamanders are the most well-known, and possibly the most charismatic of the amphibians that make the great migration to vernal pools each spring. They are beautiful big salamanders and certainly deserve the attention. Every time I see the tell-tale shape of an adult spotted salamander in my headlights, head lifted high, I get a very specific feeling. After a long winter without seeing wild reptiles and amphibians, relief is certainly a part of the equation. 


Other salamanders are on the move as well, including four-toed salamanders, two lined salamanders, red backed salamanders, blue spotted salamanders, marbled salamanders, and a few more species. Though not so well-known these species are just as important.

Four-toed salamander

Wood frogs


On the best night this year, I saw in excess of 100 spotted salamanders crossing the road as well as hundreds of other individuals of various species. It was a truly spectacular show to kick off spring. 

Spring peeper

Four-toed salamander

Marbled salamander

I was out on a dozen nights this spring and will definitely be out on a few more. I moved many amphibians out of the road and hopefully made a bit of a difference in the roadkill statistics. Please, if you can avoid it, don't drive on warm rainy nights. Roads have segmented most amphibian populations and mortality while crossing roads is a huge factor in the declines of salamanders, frogs, toads, turtles, and snakes throughout the country. Please brake for these animals!

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.