Saturday morning I was up early before the sun. It was still cold and the temperature had not broken the freezing mark as indicated by the still frozen bird bath in the backyard. I had a couple of early hours to myself so I stayed close to home and visited a local trout management area to work on honing my nymphing technique. Earlier rains had spread the fish out a bit and I was able to find a mix of rainbows, browns, and brookies away from the usual stocking points.
The first fish of the day was a bit of a surprise. The take was solid and the pull strong as the fish stayed deep. For a moment I thought I had found a good sized breeder brown but the first roll indicated otherwise and I soon realized I had found a big sucker. I have to say that it was the first sucker I had caught in this particular stream and later in the morning I tied into another! Apparently they were on the prowl for nymphs early and took a liking to the ones I was drifting.
While Saturday’s outing was brief and cold; Sunday afternoon was pleasant contrast. The afternoon was warm, the first day that I have fished comfortably in a long sleeve shirt and no jacket. Sunday would be a day to chase wild trout. Fishing over stocked fish can hone your skills to a point but I much prefer wild fish and the out-of-the-way places where they can be found.
This particular stream is one of the larger wild trout streams I fish, though still small by most people’s definition. It is protected by gauntlet of briers and thorns that leaves most people to question the sanity of venturing into the fray. It’s places like this that I grew up fishing in PA as a boy so they have a nostalgic connection for me even if it means a few scratches.
While the air was warm, the water was still cold so a bright nymph was fished most of the afternoon. I experimented with the odd dry fly but it was largely ignored except for one fall fish. It was so nice to see wild trout again in the usual holding spots and the stream enjoying a healthy flow after a long dry spell last summer. On my way downstream I spooked a trout lying in the middle of a long riffle and mentally made note of the spot for the trip back. After releasing a couple healthy brook trout and a few more brief hookups, I headed back to the car.
Slowly easing into the riffle that had held a trout earlier in the day, I sent the nymph on its the way. About midway down the riffle the line went tight and I could tell I was into a good sized fish. I had mixed feelings when the first flashes of pink were visible. It was a very large rainbow for this small stream, a closer look revealed the tell-tale signs of a recently stocked fish. The frayed dorsal fin was bent and the odd hump in the back indicated that this fish had been recently swimming in a raceway somewhere. I really don’t know why the state of CT stocks fish in close proximity to a stream known to hold wild browns and brook trout. I’ve seen rainbows migrate a long distance up into brook trout dominated headwaters in the Adirondacks and the result is rarely neutral on the brook trout population. Hopefully, this was an odd occurrence and had it not been illegal to take fish from this area for good reason, I would have preferred to introduced the rainbow to my family’s dinner table.
It was a pleasant, if not slightly bloody afternoon full of bird song and the forest floor erupting with the first harbingers of spring, the early shoots of sunk cabbage. I can’t think of a better way to spend Sunday then pondering the glory of God in worship and then out in the laboratory of creation.