Sunday, April 22, 2018

Observation

One of pleasures of fly fishing in general and small stream fishing in particular is watching and observing all that surrounds. I continue to be fascinated with the natural world and how it is constantly changing and yet there are patterns and cycles that are repeated. Here in New England we are blessed with 4 distinct seasons that each have a unique beauty and I love to watch one transition into another.

Some streams I will fish only in a particular season while others I will fish throughout the year.  The streams I return to often are like a well worn pieces of clothing, familiar and comfortable.  You get to know by experience what will be blooming and where the fish will be holding under various conditions.  But that familiarity does not wear old.  With each visit there is something new to observe, something unique to discover, if you are alert to little details such as how changes in the landscape indicate changes in the stream.  Because nature runs in cycles, what is blooming on the forest floor will often be connected in some way to what insects are active and where trout will be holding as ground temperature is indicative of water temperature.

My last visit to this particular stream was on a cold day in February when snow still covered the ground.  While the early morning had a chill in the air, the spring-ward track of the sun was evident and there was a sense of new life that was about to enter.  Heavy rains earlier in the week had filled the banks with water and the evidence of flooding was easily seen.  Buds were just starting to appear on the trees but the woods are still are clothed in the brown and grey of early spring with the exception of a few coltsfoot blooming on the southerly facing banks of the stream.

The chilly early morning air and the heavier spring-like flow suggested the fish would be out of the main current and would probably not notice a dry fly floating on the surface so I rigged up a dry dropper rig with an easily seen royal wulff and a bead head pheasant tail with a couple turns of partridge trailed behind the dry.

Hiking along the stream with the early morning sun reflecting off the moving water brought a bright pleasant warmth inside.  After a winter that seemed to hold on long past it's time, a welcome change was in the air.


I experimented with various dries and nymphs but my initial choice turned out to be the best combination and I enjoy a marvelous morning afield, leaving reassured that the brook trout have survived another winter and hopeful for even brighter days ahead.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

An opening

This yea's crew
What amazing weather we had this year for the opening of trout season in CT.   For those of us who love fishing smaller water for native trout, the opening day is day to get together with old friends to fish the small streams we love once again.  Even though this spring has seemed like an endless February, the day dawned bright and warm and Alan and I enjoyed a fine morning.  There were trout lilies everywhere just starting to pushing up through the leaf litter of last fall.


Trout Lilly
We had arranged to meet Pete and Matt at around 10:30 a little further downstream so we moved on and enjoyed some coffee and muffins while we waited for them to arrive.  They arrived soon afterward and we chatted for a while and sipped more coffee before heading off to fish.


Alan was the first to raise a brook trout on the Hornberg he was fishing.  After trying to coax it back to the fly he headed downstream and Pete and Matt headed up a small tributary that has treated us well in years past.  I decided to send the dropper/dropper I was fishing through the run where Alan had raised a trout and connected with my first brook trout of the morning which took the pheasant tail dropper I was trailing behind a royal wulff.

I decided to head a bit upstream and found a nice deep run to drift the dry dropper through.  On the second or third pass I spotted the flank of a decent fish that must have turned on the pheasant tail.  I replaced the dry dropper with a pink squirmy worm with a tungsten bead, thinking that a big meal might get some interest and sure enough the first drift produced the solid pull of a hefty brook trout that put up quite a fight in tight quarters.

This one was a handful!
After discussing potential options to see Pete land a wild brook trout, we moved to another stream.  Pete and I tried a couple spots before we headed back to the car and said goodbye.  I looked around a bit for Alan but decided to leave a note and headed upstream to find some more brook trout.

The warmth of the afternoon was getting the brook trout active and rising fish were starting to show themselves.  I continued to fish the dry dropper but later in the afternoon the fish were turning on the royal wulff more frequently.  The recent late spring snowstorms had left a lot of limbs down in the woods and the small stream was quite choked with limbs and debris.  I had to pass on many good looking spots simply because I just couldn't get a fly into them.  The bright sun made a stealthy approach challenging and I saw more than a few dark shadows rocketing for cover but a few more gorgeous wild brook trout were brought to hand and released.  What a great way to spend a spring day with good friends doing what we love together.  


the first wildflowers of this spring (marsh marigold)


Monday, April 9, 2018

Snowdrops and rainbows

Snowdrops - The first flowers of Spring!
Yesterday afternoon was my first opportunity this spring to fish the Farmington River in Northwestern CT.  It was so nice to feel the warmth of the sun on my face after what has seemed like an endless February even if it was a blustery spring day.  This past weekend probably drew a fair number of anglers out of hibernation and with limited areas open to fishing prior to the season opening, I figured it would be challenging to find fish that were still receptive to a well presented fly.

During a conversation earlier in the week with my friend Pete, he reminded me of an area where he has seen a lot of suckers in the spring.  That observation had me wondering if there might be some trout following the spawning suckers looking for eggs.  So after fishing another area near by with only a bump on a streamer to show for my effort, I decided to check the area out.

As I drifted my tandem nymph rig through the run, I spotted the flank of of fish and felt a slight tap.  I continued to work the run and got a second tap further down indicating that there might be a few fish interested in a fly.  Changiung things up (walt's worm and a cased caddis), produced the first fish of the afternoon, a strong, thick shouldered rainbow that took the cased caddis.  It was good to feel a nice bend in the rod from a strong and active fish.  I continued to work the area and found the fish of the day, a thick male hold-over rainbow.  From the color and the look of the jaw, it might have been getting ready to spawn.  The run produced another two rainbows.  Thanks to the observations of a friend, I enjoyed a couple hours out on a blustery spring afternoon.

A net full of rainbow

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Is it really April?

More snow
The calendar might have said it was April 2 but it sure didn't look like spring out my window when the sun came up.  The snow was flying and it looked like we had jumped back to February. We seem to be stuck in an endless February around here.  In spite of the snow, I decided to fish a local trout management area for a couple hours after work. By the afternoon the sun had come out but it was still cold.  This particular management area gets a lot of preseason pressure and the stockies are getting a little gun shy.  I found fewer fish with each visit, which is pretty typical.  Yesterday afternoon things were dead, a variety of flies run through the typical holding areas produced nothing but cold hands and feet.

Figuring it was futile to keep trying, I started to head back.  On the way past a stump that I had seen several stockies hiding out under, I decided to sneak in upstream and try to drift a fly under it.  I wasn't sure if I could get anything close without getting hung up in the roots but we all are hopeless optimists at heart!   As the flies swung in front of the stump a cookie-cutter rainbow nailed the tiny nymph hard.  In the final 15 minutes, I pulled 3 more rainbows out from under that stump.

I am really looking forward to opening day when the small streams open up again.  This "stockie thing" is getting old...

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Connecticut Yankee: The Fight for Roaring Brook

Please consider voicing your opposition to the proposed development of the Love's Travel stop at exit 71 of Interstate 81 in northeastern CT.  For details and the potential impact on native brook trout in the area  check out the following link  The Connecticut Yankee: The Fight for Roaring Brook:

Saturday, March 31, 2018

"He is not here, He is risen just as he said"

This Easter day we celebrate the rising of Jesus from the dead.  The words of the angel to the women who had come to embalm his body will be repeated many times in services all across the world today. "He is not here, He is risen just as he said"!  These words proclaim the fact that Jesus' sacrifice on behalf of sinners was fully accepted by God for the forgiveness of sin.  Sin and death have been forever conquered!

May God richly bless you and your family this Easter day!

"Death has been swallowed up in victory! 
Where, O death is your victory?  
Where, O death, is you sting?  
The sting of death is sin, 
and the power of sin is the law.  
But thanks be to God!  
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (I Cor 15:54-57)

Friday, March 30, 2018

A Mediation for Good Friday

This is the day Christians remember the great cost of our redemption.  It took the lashing, the beating, the mocking, and the crucifixion of the holy and sinless Son of God to fully satisfy the righteous wrath of God over our sin and to provide the only acceptable sacrifice by which that sin could be forgiven without forfeiting God's justice.

Jesus was not a victim, but willingly chose this path of pain and anguish so that a greater victory could be purchased, peace between God and man.

I cannot fathom the brutal violence and physical pain that Jesus experienced, still further beyond my comprehension is what it was like for the sinless to become the sin bearer and be abandoned by God the Father, but through this act of supreme love the enormous gulf between God and man was bridged.  What wondrous love is this! Today we remember the cost, on Easter we will celebrate the victory over our greatest enemies of sin and death.