If you love and value wild fish — especially native fish — you have a responsibility to preserve and protect the resource. Yes, fishing is a blood sport. Yes, no matter how careful we are, some of what we catch may perish. But there are ways to dramatically minimize loss. And there are certainly ways to ensure the next angler has the opportunity to enjoy the stream as much as you.
So, I’m declaring this “Wild Trout/Small Stream Week” on currentseams.com. As you know, small stream fishing is an experience that is sacred to me. My goal this week is to educate and inform as much as possible. And this wonderful essay by a Pennsylvania angler named “Fly Tier Mike” is a good place to start. In The Responsibilites of Chasing Wild Trout, Mike outlines four best practices for those who fish for wild trout on small streams: Proper wading techniques (staying off of redds); proper fish handling; minimizing damage while taking photos/videos; and the pitfalls of social media that can lead to over-pressuring a stream.
Anyone who fishes for wild trout should read it, if only as a refresher. Thanks for your consideration.
Having not gone fishing for weeks, I sought the cure for my ills in a small stream outing this past Wednesday. I was going to visit an old favorite, but instead I decided check out a new section of stream that I’d never fished before. So, armed with my camera and pack and rod and cigar, I had at it. While the fishing was great, the catching was non-existent. So thought you might be interested in how I approached some of the water.
Let’s start here. Why was the fishing so poor? It could have been any or all of these: a cold front approaching; far cooler temperatures than the previous week; trout not yet spread out in the system; complete lack of hatch activity or visible feeding; low, clear, spooky water; or just nobody home. (Sometimes when I ‘m fishing new water for the first time, I’ll stand up and make dramatic movements in an attempt to spook fish I might have missed. In two hours, I rousted only one 3″ char.)
Many thanks to my old friends at the Narragansett TU Chapter for hosting me last night. It’s so wonderful to see everyone again, and I thank TU225 for their continued support. The topic was fishing the Farmington River’s West Branch (the official title is: The West Branch — Southern New England’s Blue Ribbon Trout Stream). It’s an overview of the river that covers everything from popular pools to hatches to gear to when and how. If you’re looking to fill a presentation slot for your club this spring, I still have open dates. Here’s a link to my current presentation menu.
Speaking of the Farmington River, here’s an info sheet — one page, one side — that gives you some good, basic information on the Goodwin (AKA Hogback Dam) and Colebrook Dams. It doesn’t explain the dispute between the MDC and the ACE — or why the MDC is holding the river hostage — but at least you can understand why the water releases have been the way they have been. (What a shock! It’s all about money.) Many thanks to Farmington River Watershed Association for sharing!
In case you don’t know, here’s a micro-brief recap: since last summer, the MDC has, for whatever reason, been releasing only the minimum amount of cfs required by law from the Hogback dam. This has resulted in, at times, unnecessary ultra-low flows, transforming the Farmington River from a lush aquatic playground into a pathetic rock garden, and certainly damaging fish and wildlife populations. To my knowledge, no one knows what the MDC’s end game is.
Right now, a group of state senators is crafting legislation that seeks greater transparency from the MDC, albeit in the form of such things as an ethics code and approval on water rates. This doesn’t really help anglers; however, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters and the Rivers Alliance of Connecticut are also involved. I plan to reach out to those groups and to the biartisan state senator group to voice my concerns. I’ll let you know what, if anything, I find out.
I do know there is going to be a specific forum in the future for concerned parties to express their concerns about the unconscionable way the MDC is treating the river. When I get data’s on that public comment event, you can be sure I’ll post more about it here.
Today is potpourri post day. To start, other paying work has been getting in the way of posting here — and it’s been getting in the way of fishing. That’s just fundamentally wrong, man. Remedies are being planned and schemed as you read this.
So let’s start with fishing. The Farmington River flows are just about perfect at about 300cfs in the PTMA. Two sections of the river were stocked this week, so there’s a whole crew of newbies in the system. My spies tell me that the more experienced anglers are getting into some nice wild and holdover fish, mostly with nymphs. This can be a tough time of year to fish, but with all this warm weather it could be a better than average March.
The book project continues to chug along. I’m talking to a publisher, and am working on some sample chapters for their review. You can be sure I’ll give you updates as they happen.
While my show season is over, I’m still out and about presenting. My next gig is next Wednesday at TU225 in Rhode Island. The topic is the Farmington River.
I’ve also got an upcoming article for Surfcasters Journal on fishing two-handed rods in the salt.
I hope all is well with you, and that you’re getting a chance to fish.
Class was in session last night on the historic Yale University campus. Only instead of pencils and books, there were vises and hooks. And pizza. What would a little Monday night fly tying be without pizza? Anyway, I did two tying sessions with the members of the Yale Fishing Club. We started each one with an abbreviated version of my seminar, “Wet Flies 101.” And then, we hit the vises and tied a simple soft hackle in the traditional North Country Spider format. Some of the members had only rudimentary tying skills, but we made it a no-fail, no-worry zone, and I think everyone had a swell time. I know the instructor did!
I get “When are you going to write a book?” all the time. Trust me, it’s something I’ve asked myself just about every week for the last however many years. It’s not a question to be taken lightly, given the commitment, time suck, and high standards I’d be setting for the finished product. But I’m pleased to say that I am officially getting started.
While I’m not ready to go into specifics, I can tell you that I have decided on a subject. It will be freshwater oriented, and it will be a fly pattern book. Right now I’m in the research and development phase. After that, an outline, a few sample chapters, and the details of publishing. I’m going to do my best to devote a substantial amount of my time for the rest of this month to the project, so that may mean only a couple posts per week on currentseams.
It’s all very exciting, and of course I’ll give you updates with milestones as they happen. Thank you everyone for your continued readership and support!
I know from procrastination. I’m a professional writer. I’ve been procrastinating since my days at Roosevelt Junior High. I advanced my grasp of the art form in college. And perfected it as an adult.
But I’ve got nothing on the ASMFC’s Striped Bass Management Board.
My best attempt at situation distillation is this: the Board was meeting on the issue of allowing the transfer of commercial quotas between states. They put the issue out for public comment last year. Of the thousands of conscientious stakeholders who responded, a whopping 98% voted in favor of NOT allowing transfers. So the board decided to…(Don’t bother with a drum roll. You probably know where this is going.) …kick the can down the road. Do further studies on the impact of commercial transfers, then come back to the issue in May. Not necessarily awful. But they didn’t even mention the option that the vast majority of stakeholders favored. It’s as if we didn’t exist. Tone deaf, bad form, and so characteristic of a badly broken committtee.
At this point it would be easy for all of us to throw up our hands in frustration and quit. I exhort you to not do it. In fact, this should only steel our resolve. Some day, and that day is coming, we are going to win. And so will the stripers.
The best little fly fishing show in New England made its triumphant return last Saturday, and I was proud to be a part of it. Long held at Maneely’s in South Windsor, the CFFA shifted the Expo this year to Nomads. What the new venue lacks in coziness is made up for in space and a large casting area. It was gratifying to see so many familiar faces — even if I am terrible at remembering everyone’s name (a never-ending source of embarrassment for me). Thanks to everyone for your patience!
What a fantastic Fly Fishing Show in Edison! I was there for two whirlwind days, stretching the space-time continuum and pushing the fun barrier to its limits. Many, many thanks to everyone who came to a seminar, took a class, watched me tie, or simply stopped to say hello. My apologies if I had to rush off mid-conversation — my schedule was literally back-to-back on both days. If I didn’t get to answer a question or talk fly fishing, you know where to find me.