Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Morning At The Res

The water was like glass for the first few hours of daylight today. Seeforellen brown trout were pushing small schools of land-locked alewives to the surface and birds were working over them. Most of the action was on the eastern side of the Reservoir. Per water company regulations, we were stuck on the western shore admiring the unfolding events. Not even a bite today, but that is nothing new for fishermen here. If we only came for the catching, we would have stopped coming many years ago. This man-made oasis, in heavily developed south western Connecticut, is a place like no other. The raw beauty here is also accompanied by the small chance of landing a trophy trout or walleye. My fishing partner this morning joked about how, like the almighty steelhead, fish in the Saugatuck Resrvoir are fish of a thousand casts. It sure does seem that way, but it makes the ones you bring to the net all that more rewarding.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are

Over the weekend a good friend and I returned to a part of the state where we spent many days fishing during college. It's an area crisscrossed by wild trout streams and large tracts of protected land. Neither of us had been up there in years. One of our goals was to fool some wild trout by employing tactics we had learned since our last visit. With our blaze orange hats, a lunch-filled backpack and two fly rods each, we set off into the woods. 

It was a perfect late autumn day with air temps in the mid-50's and a water temperature of 46. The stream flow was a little lower than ideal, but still very fishable. A seine net sample in the first pool revealed a healthy array of trout food to imitate. As always we both had high hopes starting off, but neither of us would have guessed how hard we would have to work to see a few wild fish. 

Memories of great battles, won and lost, came roaring back with every bend of the stream. We swore that every pool that we stopped at held trophy fish, though none dumb enough to fall for our imitations. The native brook and wild brown trout found here are wary creatures--there is not as much traffic here compared to other small streams in Connecticut. And the thick brush and overhanging limbs sure make a proper presentation a challenging task.

We enjoyed a spread of cheese and crackers at a spot once dubbed Champagne Pool. The a fallen tree once stretched bank to bank here causing the bubbling white water that gave its name. The lay down was now gone, but the new set up consisted of a beautiful shelf perfect for nymphing. When this run didn't cough up a fish, we realized we were in for a long day. It wasn't for the lack of trying either--we busted out all the tricks in the book and a few dozen different fly patterns.  

A few hours into the trip, I finally broke the skunk with a yearling brown trout that fell to a yellow prince nymph, perhaps mistaking it for the golden stoneflies we encountered while sampling. It wasn't in the size-class we were after, but it felt good knowing there were still fish to be found!  We ate lunch at the same pool and soon began the long walk back to the car, stopping at a few old favorite pools along the way. 

Upon reaching the final stop of the day, Aaron made a last ditch effort using a fly that had brought so many fine trout to the net here in the past; a black Woolly Bugger. In a very fitting way to end a great day, he fooled a marvelous native brookie on the old classic pattern. It was awesome reconnecting with a special place after so many years had gone by. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Solo Mission

The Who was blaring in my Jeep as I rolled up to the stream today. There wasn't another vehicle was in sight either; a pleasant contrast from Sunday’s outing. The morning had a fishy feel to it too; overcast with the sun trying to poke through. The water was gin clear again and had a nice flow to it.

I started off tossing a tandem nymph rig above with a little split to get it down. A small pheasant tail fooled two young wild brown trout and a pink scud fly landed another. It was great to see the stream producing healthy yearlings, but their parents were my true target. The wildlife this trip was great--on my walk to a favorite pool I jumped a deer, heard the screech of a hawk, and then had about five deer almost jump me. Upon reaching the long, slow pool, I immediately saw multiple trout rolling on nymphs. For this sight-fishing opportunity in skinny water, I removed the strike indicator and simplified my rig to a lone pheasant tail on light leader material. After the first few drifts went ignored, I placed a money shot right in the zone of the biggest target. Watching this trout inhale my nymph and then take me around the pool made my week. It got hairy there for a second when it brought me under a root system, but I steered the old brown out of trouble and snapped a quick photo before the release. I had to chuckle when I noticed that the fish bent my hook pretty good in the melee. I got lucky that time. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Old Guard

You can almost hear the surf and smell the air in this photo. John Lambert, my grandfather, a WWII vet, and a Purple Heart recipient twice over, grew up with salt in his veins. Thankfully he passed his passion for surf fishing on to his son, my uncle Derrick, who in turn passed it on to me. 

The photograph above shows my grandfather cleaning his conventional reel along the pounding surf of Block Island. Images like this one from the 'glory days' of surfcasting really strike a chord for many anglers, myself included. It was a different time back then; before the moratorium of the 80's, before mass closures of public access and before $20 wooden plugs. Surf fishing was phenomenal at legendary spots like Block Island's Southwest Point and Cape Cod's Race Point. I'm glad he got to experience a taste of those times. 

Wild Sunday

My buddy Derrick and I took advantage of a beautiful autumn afternoon and visited a local wild trout stream. Many other anglers had the same idea, as I've never seen it so crowded before. The water here is most always running clear, but it seemed especially so on this day. We stuck to 6x tippet and long leaders for the extra spooky trout. A seine net sample revealed a healthy amount of cress bugs and the imitation I tied on eventually brought a young-of-the-year brown to the hand. Many of our favorite pools had been whipped into submission before our arrival, but it was still great to sit along a stream in mid-November in a long-sleeve T-shirt.