Steelsmallheadmouth Report

Gordo and I tried to go steelheading this spring. Really, we did. We got deluged out in April, so we re-booked for May…and got deluged out again. After running at a nominal 500cfs, Brookfield jacked the Salmon River flow up to 1.2K 48 hours before our date, effectively creating a steelhead superhighway to the lake. And just for good measure, they bumped it up to 1.7K while we slept, giving us an off-color 2.2K below Pineville. Mother Nature felt left out, so she decided to make it rain.

(Insert heavy sigh here)

So we took our lumps like men and went to plan C: try for smallmouth and pike on the lower end of the Little Salmon River. I’d never fished it, and we were so close to the lake you could see it clearly from our take out point. The pike were a no-show, but some slabby smallies saved the trip for us.

What’s a steelhead run to Pulaski without a little snow? So what if it’s freakin’ May…

MaySnow

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Gordo got the first fish of the day, smallie that could have been measured in pounds rather than inches (19 if you’re keeping score). The kid’s a trouper, never complains even if it’s cold and wet and utterly miserable (and the steelhead trip has been ruined…again). If this is our lemonade, we’ll take it with a smile. And a shout out to Row Jimmy, our steadfast guide who’s always positive and is a man with a plan.

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Dad didn’t do too poorly, either. The takes were more like stoppages than savage tugs — think, “Oops, I’ve snagged bottom.” Then the bottom pulls back. I missed one strike before I realized what it was. Once advised, I carried on with great success.

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Small Stream B Comes Through; Big Stripers Continue Their No-Show

I wrote about my first springtime small stream outing last week. It was at a brook that has been on a bit of a slide in terms of numbers, and this disappointing trend continued. Small Stream B, however, continues to go great guns. I fished it for 75 minutes, first time this spring, and I pricked dozens. Fished a bushy dry on top and a size 14 Stewart’s Black Spider dropper for most of the trip, and the char went nuts for the dry despite the elevated water levels. Did a little micro streamer action, too, which is always fun. Bravo, Mother Nature!

Most of the action came topside, but this lovely gem fell victim to Stewart’s Black Spider.

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If you’re looking for a new way to have some fun on a small stream, try a micro Zoo Cougar. I usually tie these on size 2-6 streamer hooks, but I believe this is a 14. Chuck it or drift it (the deer hair head keeps it on the surface) down the pool, then make some drunken, frantic strips back. The fly will wake and dive and drive the brookies absolutely out of their minds. Color is probably insignificant.

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Now to the stripers. You’ve heard me say that every year is different, and with 2018 and 2019 goes the proof. Whereas last year was off-the-charts good for big bass, this year is not-so-much. I spent some time late last night greased line swinging a proven run that was dead as Julius Caesar. (Sigh.) Well, persistence will hopefully pay off.

“Mouth of the Housatonic River” from Eastern Fly Fishing

Gadzooks! Ten years since I wrote this? How amusing to sift through the archives and find stuff that came out of your brain when nobody knew your name. “Mouth of the Housatonic River” is a quick-read primer on the spring striper bite. There are a few almost-funny jokes, and much of the information is still pertinent. The article first appeared in the July/August 2009 issue of Eastern Fly Fishing. You can read it by clicking on the link below:

MouthHousEFF

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Striper report: So that’s why no one was here

An empty parking lot is can mean several things, among them: it’s a ridiculous time of day (it wasn’t). No one is hip to the spot (everyone is). There are no fish there (ding-ding-ding). So I celebrated my 18th wedding anniversary with an EP Carillo corona gorda and tried to enjoy some blissful solitude. Even a constant, soaking rain couldn’t wreck my casting practice. And so it goes.

Why I like RLS Easterly colors (grey dun, silver, peacock, fluorescent yellow) during an easterly blow. Even in dingy water, this soft-hackled flatwing really pops.

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Thanks Russell Library and nymphing tip of the day

Many thanks to the Russell Library for hosting me last night. We had a small but enthusiastic crowd for “The Little Things,” and if you were part of the group, thanks for coming out. Here’s a segment from the chapter on nymphing — three little things to help you catch more fish the next time you’re out on the water.

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Small stream report: (heavy sigh)

Though it may be far from the ocean, the life cycle of a woodland brook is filled with waves and troughs. Sadly, the stream I fished yesterday is in a bit of a trough.

Everything should have been in the favor of multiple dozens of pricked fish: ample water since last summer, a moderate winter, canopy coming in, and a cloudy day. I think I stuck a piddly half dozen. Fished a dry/dropper system and some micro streamers, so I had the water column pretty well covered. Many of the runs and pockets where I could always count on a player or two (or more) were curiously devoid of fish. I did my “Anyone Home?” stomp (where I tramp carelessly through the water in hopes of spooking fish so I can determine their presence) in several runs and rousted…nothing.

OK, so it was cold and there was very little hatch activity. Nonetheless, it was a disappointing outing, and this former gem has been trending downward for over a decade now. Glutton for punishment that I am, I’ll revisit it later this month.

Sea of green. I’ve decided that the smell of skunk around your house is annoying. But in the woods, it is welcome and proper and lets you know that everything is as it should be.

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“The Little Things” and fly tying demo Wednesday May, 1 Russell Library, Middletown

I’ll be presenting one of my most popular fly fishing programs, “The Little Things,” at the Russell Library in Middletown, CT, Wednesday May 1 from 6pm-8pm. I’ll kick things off with a short fly tying demo, then we’ll go straight into the program, and finish with Q&A. This presentation is all about seemingly insignificant things that can make a huge difference in your fishing success. Everyone is welcome — hope to see you there! Here’s a link to the Russell Library website.

Want to catch more fish? Want to catch bigger fish? This is a good place to start.

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