None of my three brothers ever acquired the fishing bug quite like I did, yet they all have dabbled with it at one time or another. My younger brother Garrett's interest in fishing has been growing steadily over the last few years. His progression started like mine, innocently enough with spin fishing for trout in a couple of local streams. He eventually made the leap to saltwater a couple years ago, experiencing the tug of his first striped bass just a few miles from home. Curiosity about fly fishing and the want for more technical trout water finally got the best of him this spring. Finally, a few weekends ago, a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone presented itself and we took advantage.
On an overcast morning in early May, Garrett and I drove north for his first taste of Connecticut's Farmington River. During the hour-plus ride up Route 8, we covered the basics of fly fishing and hatched a game plan. Since my last few family member-guided trips have ended with the smell of skunk, pressure was on to come through with this one. But unlike the other outings, timing was on our side with a manageable flow and copious amount of trout and bugs in the river.
Having heard about this place and its big fish for years, his first reaction was awesome as we crossed the steel bridge stretching over the famed Church Pool. The Farmington was big water compared to the Wepawaug back home! As usual for a late-spring weekend, the river had a good number of anglers lining its popular pools. But like it was meant to be, a classic nymphing run with special significance was wide open for us.
|Aaron teaching Garrett the finer points of indicator nymphing|
Garrett had as much as a half hour fly fishing lesson in the backyard before our trip, yet he took to it like white on rice. We focused on a couple different nymphing techniques and it wasn't long before he was making quality drifts along fishy-looking current seams. After a couple of fly changes, his line suddenly went tight as it swung downstream. The trout quickly came unbuttoned, but at least we found something they liked. His next good drift stopped dead in its tracks and a feisty rainbow trout took to the air. I then realized that we hadn't covered fighting fish by this point and we both got a laugh as he winched it. Both his fighting skills and trout size would improve dramatically throughout the day, though I was already one proud dude.
|Teacher and young grasshopper with an acrobatic rainbow trout (photo credit: Aaron Swanson)|
The student pricked a few more rainbows and a larger brown trout before Aaron showed up. It was great to have another teacher there for different approach and perspective, but also to snap some photographs that we'll get to look back on for years to come. The highlight of every one's day was when Garrett hooked and landed an 18-inch brown trout, which wasn't a recent ward of the state either! The pitch in my voice changed a few notes when I saw the fish for the first time. I can't recall just how many years it was before my first trout over that magic number, but it would take more than one hand to count.
|Garrett with his very nice 18-inch brown trout!|
It was one of those rare days when everything went right for us. The kid got pretty spoiled actually, bringing about 10 trout to the net and dropping several others. The teachers had just as much fun watching the student get in a groove and bang out one after another for a while. Thankfully he's heard me bitch about getting skunked my share of times to realize fishless trips are part of the game. I'm looking forward to bringing him along again soon, as well as other family and friends too because that what it's all about - sharing the passion with the people you care about!
Oh ya, I caught a few too...
(Photo credit: Aaron Swanson)
(Photo credit: Aaron Swanson)