I continue to be amazed by the number of people who have nothing better to do on a weekday than fly fish on the Farmington River. Of course, I’m not a part of the solution. But never mind. Just a wee excursion today from 11:30am-2pm, and not all of it was fishing. Hit two spots on the lower river in 90 minutes, which at 800cfs and change was a little high for my liking. (Didn’t get a water temp.) Spot A was a blank, and I wasn’t surprised given the water height. Spot B was a surprising blank, what with a few bugs (midges, grey stones, small un-IDed mayfly) coming off and the water beginning to warm. I spent the last hour exploring a new area, trying to assess its fishiness, and then buying some clear midge rib at UpCountry.
I shall endeavor to get out more and produce a more useful report.
Today’s point fly and midge dropper at lower left.
The best time to go fishing is when you can, and if the tides line up, so be it, north wind and rising barometer be damned. Just a quick sortie to three different spots on the same river. The first two were blanks. At the third, there was mischief afoot. On the dangle at the end of the swing, some quivering taps. A few minutes later, more of the same. Dinks? I thought so. But ten minutes later, when I connected, the fish felt decidedly undinkish. Okay, so a 20″ striper ain’t exactly one to put in the brag book. But when you only need one, and it’s your first of the year, it becomes the perfect fish.
Last night’s fly was a three-feather flatwing/bucktail hybrid of the Herr Blue, about 8″ long.
Out to the Farmington today to take some scenics for my upcoming feature in Eastern Fly Fishing. As you might have imagined, the warm weather brought out anglers in force; it seemed like every major pool or run had a rod probing its depths. Didn’t see any fish hooked. Wished I was fishing. But I had decided to visit a small stream after my photography work was done.
Not surprisingly, much of it was unfishable. Part of this brook flows through a hollow, and the sun had yet to work its melting magic.
I did find some relatively open water. Not a touch for me today; again, no surprise, probably due to snow melt which tends to drop that water temp. Here’s a helpful small stream hint: sometimes I purposefully cast my line or leader over a rock to hang up the fly in the current. The waking fly is particularly attractive to kamikaze wild trout. I try to make sure the fly is holding over a likely lie. In this case, I was fishing a dry/dropper — this is a great tactic for a submerged soft hackle. You can see the leader going over the left third of the rock; the fly is at 10 o’clock.
This seemed like it would be the best day in the foreseeable future to a) shoot some photos for my upcoming Farmington River feature in Eastern Fly Fishing, and b) sneak in a few casts before Arctic winter sets in. So. It was cold. Ice-in-the-eyelets cold, from 11:30am-2:30pm. Water was a low (the new normal!) 680cfs in the permanent TMA. Streamers was the method in the first two hero pools. Not a touch. Went to the nymphing well and did likewise. In the meantime, took many dozens of still life shots and river scenes. Ran into Farmy guide Steve Hogan (who I’ve never met — nice to meet you, Steve!) and got a rack of shots of him nymphing. Mission completed, I drove home.
It’s now 10:35pm and I’m pleased to inform my readers that I am finally warm.
No two winter fishing days are alike.
Every year is different, and where 2017 (if you’ll pardon the expression) fell short, 2018 was off-the-charts good for legal bass. Many, many stripers over 28″, with one that went a good 25 pounds and missed the magic 40″ mark by half an inch. I already mentioned Block Island in this countdown, which came back with a big striper vengeance. What’s my secret? Put in your time. Follow the tides. Floating lines. And as Ray Charles so eloquently sang, “Nighttime is the right time to be with the one you love.” (You can find out more at my presentation “Targeting Big Stripers From The Shore” at the Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough, Destination Theater Room A 10am Saturday 1/19.)
Yeah, baby. Love the colors on this one. Whenever possible, I try to keep the fish in the water for the photo op. Does it get any better than keeper-size summer stripers feeding on sand eels? As it turns out…
…yes it does. I dubbed her “Long Jean Silver.” Hope she makes lots of baby bass next spring.
Some stripers should be measured not in pounds or inches, but rather: could this fish eat a small dog?
The Streak is officially in jeopardy. “I can’t remember a worse December,” sang Dean Martin, and he could certainly have been talking about the historically bad fishing I’ve experienced this month. Eight striper trips. Eight blanks. I haven’t given up on trying to catch a striper on the fly from the shore for twelve consecutive months, but the clock’s ticking and my luck needs to change.
January’s bass was had in 45 short minutes. We’re working on 30+ hours in December.
A look back at some of my favorite fly fishing moments from 2018.
I’d been licking my chops all year, waiting for the Housy smallmouth season. And why not? The fish are plentiful, the anglers scarce, the water’s pleasantly warm, and there’s something magical about the feeding frenzy that occurs during the change of light on a hot summer evening. I went to the Hous earlier in July than usual with the thought that I was going to find some new honey holes. I had to do a bit of walking — a mile hike in waders in 90% humidity will get you lathered up proper — but man, did my efforts pay off.
Little did I know that these July outings would be the crescendo. August brought rain, and more rain, and then it rained again and again and there went the summer smallmouth season. High and stained, with flows in the thousands, was the new August normal.
This night in particular remains fresh in my memory. Dozens of quality bass bull-rushed my Gurgler as late afternoon transitioned into evening. Then at dusk, I tied on a Countermeasures and tossed it into the shallows…
A handsome fish, this one. I got into more larger smallies this year than ever before.
Dusk can be a magic time. This guy was sipping on emergers in about a foot of water. Based on the titanic hit he laid on the Countermeasures, I can only guess that if he were a football player, he’d be a linebacker.