Trout fishing for stripers

Ben wanted to learn the mystical art of the floating line and traditional trout and salmon presentations for striped bass. So we braved the bluster and squalls of Jose and went exploring. We saw bunker in two of the tree locations we covered, but sadly no striped marauders. Ben did a great job with all the information I threw at him, and he’s going to be a dangerous striped bass catching machine.

Sometimes the cast is only a few feet. Ben covers a rip line where marsh grass meets flowing water.

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While I’ve gotten many requests for lessons like this, I have in the past resisted due to logistical (I don’t take people out at night) and practical (the day striper bite can be tough) considerations. Now that the seal has been broken, if this is something you’re excited about, we can try to make it happen. You’ll have to be agreeable to a shorter session (2 hours or so), the schedule of the tides (I can’t do anything to change them) and that the on-the-water lessons may not involve catching (see “day striper bite” above). Please don’t try to set something up though the comments section; rather, call or email me.

Bringing fly to fish. You too can learn the meditative art of the greased line swing. Here’s Ben throwing an upstream mend, keeping the fly broadside to the fish at the speed of the current.

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2017 Farmington River Broodstock Report

The collection for the next generation of Farmington River Survivor Strain broodstock was completed on Monday. The river is now back to a normal medium height (about 240cfs in the permanent TMA). Here are some details on the collection, conducted within the permanent TMA, from Fisheries Biologist extraordinaire Neal Hagstrom:

“We captured approximately 90 brown trout that we took to the Burlington Hatchery for broodstock. The largest was a 22+inch wild male. The state facebook page has some streaming video of the fish workups (visit the CT DEEP Facebook page and scroll down to September 11 — neat stuff!). We also took 15 other smaller or injured trout for general background health checks of diseases, something we do every year.”

Some of the broodstock are Survivor Strain from this year (left red elastomer) and last year (left yellow). About half of the older fish showed no signs of spawning and were returned to the river. The DEEP looks for genetic elasticity in their broodstock combinations, so there is a broad range of sizes, Survivor Strain and wild, and of course  both sexes in the sampling.

Neal commented that while there were plenty of fine specimens, there weren’t a lot of trophy trout. This dovetails with my experience this year: an abundance of high teens browns but not a lot of true brutes. He said the fish should be returned to the river in early December, “and no, we did not take everything. There are still plenty there.”

Thanks, Neal, and thanks to the DEEP for this amazing fishery and breeding program.

We grow ’em bigger than your net. A true 20″ Survivor Strain brown (clipped adipose) taken this summer. It’s hard to photograph a fish this big by yourself, but it’s surely a most wonderful dilemma.

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Farmington River broodstock collection update

Last night’s rain’s added too much water to the system (over 130cfs from the Still) so the broodstock collection has been rescheduled for Monday, September 11. I do not know if they will increase the dam outflow (currently 50cfs) this weekend, so check before you head out.

The collection takes place within the Permanent TMA. Yes, you can still fish, but anglers are asked to give the DEEP crews a wide berth. Quite frankly, I’d skip fishing until the water gets back to a more sporting level, but if you must go, why not volunteer to help out on the collection crew? It’s a great way to give back to the fishery, plus you get to see where the big boys and girls hang out…

If you’re interested in learning more about the Survivor Strain Program, here’s a short piece I wrote a few years ago for The Drake.  Survivor: Farmington

The trusty DEEP sampling crew in action.

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Shocking news from the Farmington

If you’re a regular reader, you should no longer be falling for that scandalous teaser headline. We’re talking about the DEEP’s annual electroshocking/sampling/broodstock collection that eventually produces those wonderful wild and Survivor Strain browns.

You may have noticed the Riverton USGS gauge dropping like a stone:

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Here’s the word from DEEP Fisheries Biologist Neal Hagstrom:

“The hope is to get the broodstock collected tomorrow if the river is low enough.  If not we will try again on Monday.  They are changing out a gate at Rainbow Dam and need the reservoir down to do the work. They are looking at refiling the reservoir on Wed late/Thursday.  The river should return to normal flows then.  Of course, hurricanes  can change everything…”

 

Farmington River Report 8/29/17: Slow and getting low

I guided Ed today, and we were faced with a river that hasn’t been this low in months. Fear not, there’s still plenty of water (190 cfs in the permanent TMA) and plenty of trout, although the latter were a bit bashful today.

We worked on Ed’s nymphing and wet fly presentations which were pretty darn good already, a testament to the slowness of the day. Spot A was below the PTMA — there were a few bugs coming off, but the only trout we played with was a camera-shy rainbow that came on a nymph.

Ed presenting his wet fly wares.

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Off to Spot B within the PTMA. Same story — a few bugs coming off and a few random slasher/risers, but nothing consistent. We covered that pool subsurface top (wets) and bottom (nymphing, both indicator and short-line) to no avail, until the 11th hour.

Keep on keeping on, Ed, and the rewards will be measured in pounds, not inches.

Last cast, we managed this vividly-colored 16″ wild brown with paddle fins and dramatic spotting. Taken on a 2x short size 14 Frenchie variant. A good way to end a slow day.

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Banging around the Cape in the dark

At dinner at the Chatham Squire Friday night, Gordo asked me, “Are you going fishing tonight, dad?” My stock reply for such questions is: “Have we met?”

I spent 90 minutes fishing a mark on Pleasant Bay toward the bottom of the tide. Not a breath of wind. The current was good and my drifts were true, but it was one of those nights where the bass were elsewhere. I cycled through some basic patterns, and the only bump came on a black deer hair head fly about 5″ long. I did see a shooting star, and that helped take my mind off the fact that I was standing in the water in the dark near white shark central. I did note silversides on the wade out.

Saturday I headed to Steve’s Secret Spot (I’ve seen one other angler there in 10 years). It’s a nondescript mid-Cape creek mouth that is either on or off. Tonight it was infested with silversides and a few striped brigands. But unfortunately, it’s an outgoing tide spot only, a fact drilled home to me while I waited almost an hour for the tide to go from slack to incoming to find that the silversides were still there but the bass had skedaddled. I had had only a half hour of outgoing, and could manage only one bump.

So I hightailed it back to Friday’s spot and gave myself 15 minutes to catch a bass. Midnight, second-to-last-cast, bump on the swing, then bang on the dangle. Our Blessed Lady of the Ray’s Fly Flatwing comes through again.

Four-oh. A perfect fish at a perfect time on a perfect fly. 

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Housy smallmouth mini-report (late)

I fished the Housy the other night from 6pm-8:30pm. Virgin waters for me, below the TMA: some pocket water that dumped into a long boulders-on-the-bottom run, shoulder deep in the middle ringed with frog water. Action: underwhelming. Hatches: underwhelming (mostly tan and black caddis). So it goes, but I did catch fish and I had the place all to myself.

I took the usual assortment of late afternoon dinks. Pre-hatch swung wets produced very little interest (not surprising given the weak evening rise) and all the action came on the Black Magic top dropper. The smallmouth bite window was torturously brief: 8:00pm-8:15pm, then shutdown. I had switched over to a grey and chartreuse Gurgler, and my best fish of the evening came on that fly. Toward dark I did get the largest bluegill I’ve ever landed, but that’s really not why I was there.

Nearly a foot long, this dude whacked the Gurgler upon landing, then hunted it down about ten feet across a current seam. Almost put a burn in my rod hand forearm.

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