Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dry-Dropper Success

I took a mental health day Friday and visited the Farmington River. The smell of skunk still lingered from my recent forays in saltwater, so I put the pressure on  myself to land some fish. I struggled a bit in the morning and couldn't move any trout while nymphing. Caddis flies were becoming more active after lunch, so I changed locations and methods then settled into a nice groove.

There were a handful of trout taking caddis on top, yet I had a sneaking suspicion they were gorging on them while emerging to the surface. So I tied on an elk hair X-caddis as my dry fly and dropped a small weighted caddis pupa about 18-inches off the hook shank. This rig was the ticket putting six trout in my net in under an hour. It was the most success I've had to date fishing the dry/dropper method. What I enjoyed most were the hook sets--even the slightest unnatural twitch of my dry fly meant a trout was eating the dropper underneath. And every time I set tight, the hook was perfectly placed in the center of the trout's top lip. What the best of the bunch lacked in size, she made up in quality--a very clean looking brown trout sporting a full adipose fin. It was a peaceful and productive few hours and the confidence gained in the dry/dropper method will prove valuable in similar situations in the future. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quality Time

It's always special sharing your favorite places and things with the people you care about. On this day, I was lucky to have the company of my father along the Farmington River. \ He donned chest-waders for the first time and wore binoculars around his neck. We ate a stream-side lunch in a remote location and he pointed out several warblers, orioles and Kingfishers. He went exploring while I fished, but came trampling through the brush when I screamed "fish on!" The healthy rainbow trout took to the air four times before finding the net and my father snapped a fine photo prior to releasing it. It's days like this one that I'll look back on and smile. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gone In 60 Seconds

Friends and I have have compiled some pretty cool video footage from our trout fishing trips this spring. Now we just need to make the time to stitch all the clips together. Here's a cool clip from Opening Day weekend last month--Aaron captured the moment well. This pool was stacked with dozens of cookie cutter rainbow trout fresh off the stocking truck, which kept us entertained for a while.   

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Keepers On The Fly

Over the last month or so, impressive numbers of river herring have made there way into many waterways along the Connecticut coast. According to weekly Connecticut DEP anadromous fish reports, some streams and rivers this spring are hosting the most herring since modern record keeping, which should also bode well for hungry striped bass hot on their tail.

I have been fortunate to tangle with some small striped bass this year, but nothing of any size yet.  Last night I got my chance when a friend and I did a bar-hop of fishing spots. We scouted many new and old haunts, but one thing was consistent at each stop--thick amounts of big juicy herring. Boils and surface crashes could be seen and heard in the distance. While retrieving our nine-inch flies, we even noticed herring trying to mate with the artificial offerings. 

Just before midnight, during the low outgoing tide, three solid stripers smashed our herring imitation one after another. Aided by the swift river current, the feisty fish put up some good battles on the fly rod and were all released in good health It turned out to be a hell of an outing and tonight we'll go back for more.   

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Hatch

No other insect hatch creates as much excitement along northeastern trout streams than the Hendrickson hatch.  Each spring, from mid-to-late April through early-to-mid May, these bugs gain the attention of trout and fly fishers alike.  Imitating each stage of the insect's life this time of year can put quality trout in your net.  This hatch usually brings the circus to town, but if you play your cards right, you can hit pay dirt and score the best fish of your season during this time span.  Saving sick days to sneak out during the work week is highly recommended if you want any degree of solitude, as weekends on the river can look like the shopping mall on Black Friday.  A friend and I did exactly that last Friday and connected with a few decent fish.

We arrived early in anticipation of a morning spinnerfall and the river would not disappoint.  The amount of spent Hendrickson spinners on the water was impressive, but for whatever the reason, not many trout keyed in on the easy meal and risers were few and far between.  We had two good targets; Derrick landed his, a beautiful, holdover rainbow trout.  Shortly after, I connected with a larger brown trout, only to have my 6x tippet broken off after a brief struggle - you win some, you lose some.

We eventually moved upstream to get some nymphing in before hatch time.  American pheasant tail variations in size #14 served as a dead-ringer for the Hendrickson nymphs found in our seine net.  We were throwing tandem nymph rigs with weighted Hendrickson nymphs as our anchor fly and unweighted Hendrickson patterns as the dropper.  Not much tungsten was needed as the river was quite low.  Once bugs began emerging, a soft-hackle Hendrickson was the fly of choice, which produced some violent strikes on the downstream swing.  A few holdover brown trout and one mutant rainbow were brought to the hand before we got into position at hatch-thirty.  

The Hendrickson duns came off like clock work, but the good fish still were keyed in on the emerging insects, not the sailboats floating downstream.  The hatch was not extremely thick, but we can't say we didn't have our chances.  We both botched good browns, but kept at it and landed a few nice specimens too, including this long, holdover female.

After the dun emergence tapered off, we made the decision to stick around for a chance at an evening spinnerfall.  Another friend joined us after work and we stopped at our local Orvis to kill time, and then to the liquor store to pick up some provisions.  A healthy spinnerfall did occur, and this time many more trout were cooperating.  Derrick caught and released the best fish of the night on a Rusty Spinner; a 2008 (left-yellow) Survivor brown.  When it became too dark to see our patterns on the water, we packed it in and had a night-cap of Bud heavies at the truck.  It was a good way to end a great day.  Until next time, tight lines...