Farmington River under attack — again. Save Satan’s Kingdom!

Last year it was the jolly old yo-ho-ho University of Connecticut that wanted to divert millions of gallons of water from the reservoir.

Now, it’s a planned industrial park on the banks of the Farmington in the Satan’s Kingdom area. Here’s what I know: the proposed property borders a 2000-foot stretch of the river in Satan’s Kingdom Gorge. Even though the area holds a Wild and Scenic designation, the required setback is only 100 feet.

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How can you help?

1) Go to the New Hartford Zoning Commission meeting at the New Hartford Town Hall on Wednesday, May 28, 7:00pm and tell them we don’t need no steenking industrial park.

2) Like this group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/savesatanskingdom

We kicked UConn’s butt last year. We can do the same with this threat. Grassroots activism works!

Sunrise on a misty summer morning in the gorge. Do I really need to see an industrial park peeking through the trees?

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A kilo of salmon, please

Last week, I was guiding two clients on the upper TMA of the Farmington River when the bucket brigade swooped in. Not meat farmers — at least not in the harvesting sense — but rather, sowers. Their crop: Atlantic salmon fry. Love them (food for big browns) or hate them (annoying beasts that nip at your fly ad nauseum), Atlantic Salmon have been a part of the Farmington River watershed for years.

 Never-ending ringed walls and two alien beings peering in from above. Soon you’ll be free! Each bucket holds one kilo of fry.

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A closer look at the biomass. Will they lead prosperous lives and make it out to the sound? Or will they become so many croquettes for Mr. Lunker Brown?

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I shoulda gone nymphing

A Farmington River mini-report for 3/11/14: a glorious dose of spring after a hellacious winter. Sunny, 50+ degrees, water running crystal clear and 35 degrees. The Upper TMA was packed for a weekday in early March. The trout seemed fairly cooperative; most anglers I spoke with who were nymphing got into fish, like currentseams follower John Jascot who landed this fine holdover brown:

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I had my heart set on dredging up a big ‘ole brown on a streamer, but ’twas not to be. Hard to be sad about a skunking when you’re enjoying an El Rey Del Mundo Flor de Llaneza on a sunny Tuesday.

Slight change in plans for the CFFA Expo this Saturday

I just learned that UpCountry Sportfishing had to pull out of the show; I’m still going to tie, but obviously not at their table. I had planned on focusing solely on wet flies for trout, but I’ll probably do a little saltwater, too. You can find me on Tyers Row.

Also, due to some prior commitments, I won’t be able to tie the whole time. Figure something like 9am to 1pm-ish. Hope to see some of my local followers there.

The CFFA Expo is held at Maneeley’s, 65 Rye Street, South Windsor, CT, 2/1/14.

January thaw on a small stream

I broke one of my cardinal rules today: never go into the woods if you’ve recently watched Deliverance.  There were no mountain men bent on buggery — and sadly, precious few bugs. I was hoping a near 50-degree day and some sunshine would trigger a hatch, but all I saw was one lonely grey big midge/small stonefly thingy flitting over the water. Although the creek was up due to yesterday’s rains, the water had cleared nicely by the time I threw my first cast, around 1pm.

I did the upstream dry thing, then the downstream subsurface thing. No takers on the dry. I wasn’t surprised, given the height of the water and its temperature. (I forgot my thermometer, but I experienced the sting when I had to go up to my elbow to liberate a fly from the bottom.)

A satellite image of the Chesapeake Bay’s frozen tributaries. Well, it could be.

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More fun with photography. See if you can find the duck’s head and the hawk’s head.

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My only strike of the day came on a downstream presentation with a weighted wet/streamer. A fine brown hen, long and lean, a good size for a brook this small. She was hiding in a deep pool that courses between two boulders. One touch was all I needed, and releasing her was almost as gratifying as catching her.

Your first trout of the year should be a memorable one. What a staggering array of colors on her gill plate. Also note the blemish on her nose. I couldn’t tell if it was an old wound or just a cosmetic oddity. I had not caught her before today.

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The winning fly. I like to fish small hybrid wet/streamers with tungsten heads on small streams. It’s a simple fly, easy to tie, and it uses a mix of natural and synthetic materials: A copper tungsten head, some weighted wire on the hook shank, black Krystal Flash tail, black Ice Dub body, palmered then hackled with grizzly hen. This fly is unnamed. (For you detail-oriented folks, that’s not ice. It’s a big chunk of stream side quartz.)

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December Dinks

The most difficult part of striper fishing in December isn’t the cold. It’s finding the fish. Once you do, you can pretty much get out the tally sheets.

So I headed south to see who might be out and about. Save for a multitude of sea birds and one other fly angler, I had the beach all to myself. This being a powerful moon tide, there was no shortage of sexy rips and seams to cast into. I was two-handing it with a floating line, a six-foot section of T-11, and a three-foot leader of 20-pound mono. A four-inch long September Night seemed like a fine choice of a fly, although I spent considerable time debating the merits of throwing a sparse bucktail like the Magog Smelt.

I fell into the meditative rhythm of cast, mend, mend, swing, slow retrieve. I was ready for the pull of a hungry fish.

The answer was no.  All I was catching was sea lettuce and marsh grass. The other angler across the way was likewise blanking. Then he got into a small striper. And another. I kept waiting for the hits that never came. Since I had a limited time slot — I was slagging off work — I reeled in and headed for another spot. The distance and brisk pace I kept made me sorry I had put on that extra layer of fleece.

New venue, same results. There comes a point in every skunking where you make peace with the fact that you’re not going to catch anything. So I reminded myself that while most of the world was working, I was fishing. The sun was out. I had the pleasure of a peppery, earthy Churchill. But, I asked, could I please get just one fish? I raised the question out loud, because I find that when you’re alone, that works a lot better than just thinking it. How else to explain the strident bap! at the end of the next swing?

These stripers didn’t know there weren’t any mullet around. Not to worry, for the September Night worked quite nicely on this December afternoon.

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And that was the start of the Bass-o-Matic. All small fish, but each of them fresh from the ocean,  flawless and gleaming bright.

With great discipline, I peeled myself away from the frenzy five minutes before my hard stop. So much to do. So little time.

At least now I could cross “catch December stripers” off my list.

Farmington River 1, UConn 0

Those of us who love the Farmington River spoke out — and our voices were heard. UConn will be using the CT Water Company, rather than the MDC, to fulfill their future water needs.

The following is a quote from last Tuesday’s Hartford Courant:  “The selection eliminates a controversial $51 million plan by the Metropolitan District Commission to build a 20-mile pipeline from East Hartford that would have drawn water from the Barkhamsted and Nepaug reservoirs. Opponents assailed the plan, saying it would draw down the watershed of the Farmington River, a popular recreation spot.”

Yeah, baby. That’s us. Opponents. Assailants. Righteous defenders of natural resources. Thanks to everyone who spoke up, signed the petition, wrote letters, and sent emails.

Grassroots activism is so underrated.

Winner.

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And, winner.

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