How to become an instant expert, or: Fun with truck trout

The Salmon River in Colchester holds a special place in my heart. It’s where my dad taught me to fish for trout. It’s the first place I ever fly fished. And, it’s just about the prettiest little big river around. I used to fish it all the time; the general plan was to hit the Salmon early season, then switch to the Farmington by late spring. Gradually, the pull of the Farmington and its bigger, wild trout took over, to the point where before yesterday, I couldn’t remember the last time I fished the Salmon for trout.

The day I chose to make my triumphant return was chilly, breezy, with a mix of sun and clouds. The water was crystal clear, and running about 300cfs, which I consider to be the perfect height for that river. There was a decent caddis hatch, about a size 14-16, and some 14-16 BWOs. And, to my delight, there were piles of fish to be caught. I fished from 12:15pm-3:30pm, all within the Fly Fishing Only section. While catching trout after freshly stocked trout holds a limited interest to me, I decided I’d just go with the flow and enjoy the moments. And so I did.

I had originally planned to nymph, but then decided to try the tight line long leader micro streamer thing. I wasn’t connecting, but I figured there were trout near the bottom of the run, so I tried a little cast-and-strip, et voila! Casting that long leader with a heavy fly is a bear, but it can be done once you figure out how to wrangle the setup. I ended up catching many fish at another mark on the tight-line hop-and-drop presentation, as well as the strip. Rats! I forgot I only had 5x tippet on the rig, and a broodstock beastie surgically removed the fly. Here’s a chunky low-teens brown that gave me a fine battle for a truck fish.
Some pretty nice haloing for a non-wild char. I’d say my action was 50% browns, 30% rainbows, and the rest brookies. (The high percentage of brook trout surprised me.) I supposed a hat trick is worthy of mention, but you know, I was only a dace or a sucker or even a smallmouth away from the salami. Once I got tired of bailing fish on streamers, I decided to rig for wet fly. Unfortunately, surface activity was sporadic and limited, so no tugs were forthcoming. However, Hendrickson time is coming. Thanks to everyone who took the time to say hello. It’s great to be able to put faces and voices to screen names.

Of small streams, stripers, and stockers

I’m getting my money’s worth from the jolly old yo-ho-ho State of Connecticut this week. Monday I went small streaming. Tuesday was our semi-annual grandfather-father-son Salmon River outing followed by a little late night striper (non) action. Here’s how it went down.

Monday’s flow in the brook was medium-high, perfect for this time of year. I didn’t get a water temp, but it was enough to make the locals highly active. I saw charcoal gray stoneflies (size 16, and a few size 12), caddis (16), and Quill Something-or-Other spinners (10-12). No char were observed feeding on the surface, but they drilled the dry (size 16 Improved Sofa Pillow) as well as the nymph (Frenchie variant size 18) and the micro-streamer (ICU Sculpin size 14). This parr-marked beauty took the dry.

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You can’t see the kype on this buck, but at 7-8 inches he surely is an old fish on this stream. He swung and missed at the dry, then crushed the dropper. I took two fish in the last pool I fished on the ICU Sculpin. The fly had barely slipped beneath the surface before each fish struck.

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Tuesday was one of the ten best weather days of the year: 75 degree air filled with blazing, brilliant sunshine. The Salmon was running clear and at a perfect height, and there were a lot of other anglers out taking advantage of the conditions. Here, the man who taught me how to fish reminds my sons that knots are not worthy of their trust.

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Gordo was fishing a Hi-Liter streamer with a couple BB shot on the leader when I saw his rod tip dip. I asked him if it was a rock or a fish. “Fish, I think,” he said. I told him that it’s a fish until proven otherwise. Next cast, bang! Hello, Mr. Recently Stocked Rainbow.

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I think if I were going teach a weekend-long class in nymphing, I might start by having everyone bounce worms along the bottom. I hadn’t caught a trout on a worm in decades, but I got back to my roots when my dad took a break and handed off his rod to me. Here’s my prize sulking on the bottom after release.

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All things must pass, including good fishing. So I finished off my piscatorial binge last night with a proper striper skunking. Lines were greased and flatwings were swung, but commotion near the ocean ’twas not to be. It must’ve been around this wee hour or so when I climbed into bed. Tired and happy is a most excellent way to fall asleep.

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Safe at home

The more I have become a Farmington River whore, the more I have shamefully neglected my natal trout waters, the Salmon River. I went back today to get reacquainted, swing some wets and enjoy the sunshine.

When you work for yourself and are able set your own hours, it’s easy to forget there are probably many others like you. How else to explain the mob of anglers that blanketed the river? By sidestepping around those married to a position, I was still able to wade and fish most of a 500-yard stretch. Significant bug activity, although it was all airborne by the time I arrived at 1pm. Saw only one rise, and he unequivocally rejected my offerings. There were midges (seems there are always midges at the Salmon) and actively humping caddis, a few stray Hendricksons, and a smaller un-IDed mayfly I like to call Quill Somethings.

Everyone I spoke to reported slow going. It started off that way for me, but in the two hours I fished I managed to find plenty of trout willing to jump on the wet fly. Standard-issue stocker browns, a couple in the low teens. I fished a team of a Squirrel and Ginger on top, a soft-hackle BHPT in the middle, and a BH Hendrickson on point. Today’s vote was decidedly in favor of the PT. Water was a perfect 290 cfs, about 52 degrees,and  staggeringly clear.

Two hours and one El Titan de Bronze panatela later, I had to say goodbye. Thanks to those who shared pools, conversation, and positive energy. See you soon, old friend.

Forgot the good camera today. Not bad, though, for an old iPhone. The Salmon has settled nicely after last week’s rain, but there is still a generous amount of groundwater flowing into her. The plants are certainly happy.

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