Farmington River Report 8/4/17: “To play him long is to play him wrong.”

The quote is from Stu Apte. Before we get to its relevance, a quick Farmy report.

I fished the Farmington from 8:15am to noon, dedicated to the nymphing cause. The action was spotty. I started on the lower river, and the first run produced two trout. Spot B was a blank. Up to the permanent TMA. Same deal: the first spot was a two fish pool, the second run a blank.

But why I remember most about the outing was the gross overplaying of a trout I witnessed within the permanent TMA.

I was wading into position when the angler across from me, who was nymphing, hooked the fish. My first notion that this was going to not go well was when I realized that several minutes had passed and he still hadn’t landed the fish. So I set my watch and began timing. Nine minutes later — that’s an accurate time — and the fish had still not been landed! The longer you play a fish, the more things can happen — and most of them are bad. This manifested during minute ten of the timing when the fish popped free. The end result was two very frustrated anglers — and very likely, a dead trout.

Clearly, this gentleman was ill-equipped to battle a large trout. (I saw it at one point, and it appeared to be a brown in the 20-inch class. Big, but certainly manageable and landable.) So, enough criticism. What would I have done differently?

  1. Don’t let him breathe. (The fish, not the angler. Though I was tempted.) This guy spent extended periods with his rod tip high in the air and the trout lounging in the current. All a Mexican standoff does is give the trout a steady supply of oxygenated water. I repeat, don’t let him breathe. If the fish wants to run, let him. When he stops, crank that reel.
  2. Find a better LZ. This guy chose to play the fish in the hot water where it was originally hooked. He completely ignored the plentiful frog water below him, which was a much better place to attempt to net the fish.
  3. Fight the fish with the butt and the reel. The angler had his rod way too high the entire time. Get the fish off balance by arcing the rod in a plane from side to side. That can help move a stubborn fish.
  4. Use a tippet you trust. I never nymph with anything less than 5x. That’s strong enough to handle anything I’m likely to hook.

Finally, keep cool. Fish can’t think. You can.