Saturday, May 28, 2011


Atlantic menhaden have once again made their way into Long Island Sound and are finding themselves pinned in harbors and tidal rivers by striped bass and bluefish that are getting fatter by the night. This happens every year in late May and I find it hard to fish with anything else when bunker are here in impressive numbers. Snagging the prized baitfish and chunking a fresh head piece is one of the most effective methods for big bass and blues out there. Our last few trips have produced stripers in the low 20-pound class and feisty yellow-eyed demons up to 12-pounds. During a recent wave of action, we had a triple hook-up of bluefish over the 10-pound mark. Their initial drag-peeling runs and shallow water acrobatics made for some wild times, yet their razor-sharp teeth haven taken a toll on our tackle!  Hopefully the bunker schools stick around for a while and some larger stripers join the party!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Buckle Up

Every angler has their priorities and right now my priority is striped bass from the surf. Big bait and ensuing stripers are showing up in full force across the region. The next month or two should offer some of the best surfcasting of the year. Thankfully I got my fill of trout fishing in this spring because I may not be stream-side for a while. Here are some recent captures of Marone saxatilis from our local Connecticut waters. Buckle up for a long season!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rainy Day Gold

Say what you will about them, but not many fish pull harder than the mighty common carp. In addition to being exceptional fighters, they are not heavily pressured like other fish such as trout or striped bass. Carp also call almost any body of water around here home and can reach crazy proportions. I tried my luck at a new spot yesterday and batted .1000 on the lone run-off. There are endless amounts of baits that can be used for this type of fishing, yet good old canned corn did the trick for my first carp of 2011. It wasn't a very large fish, but it pulled a bit drag and sure was pretty. I hope to put some larger ones on the bank soon.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hot & Heavy

The famed hendrickson hatch is in full swing on my favorite river as I type this. Much of the allure about these aquatic insects is the surface action surrounding their emergence and subsequent spinnerfall. When the duns pop off the water in mid afternoon, sometimes you can be hard pressed to find an empty run for miles. On pleasant evenings, and occasionally mornings, crowds can be equally as bad for those seeking to cash in on spent spinners dropping down to the river.  On many May mornings, however, when hendrickson nymphs are their most active, you can sometimes find yourself alone in the heads of pools and really hammer trout that are keyed in on these crawlers. 

A healthy brown taken on a hendrickson imitation (Photo credit: Todd Kuhrt).
After a few outings where we had to really work for our fish, it was a nice change of pace to have hot and heavy action.  On two consecutive mornings, anything resembling a hendrickson nymph stood no chance in the water.  When your first three drifts of the morning come tight to fish, you know it’s on.  Don’t get me wrong, a few thousand fresh trout stocked by CT DEEP certainly made things easier, but it felt good to weed out some holdovers from the fray.  I was mostly fishing a two-fly rig, with pheasant tails nymphs as both my offerings.  In one fast run though, I had to switch to a heavier anchor fly and chose the farthest looking thing from a hednrickson nymph, a pink Vladi worm.  The pheasant tail dropper was responsible for over a dozen stockers and the Vladi took the only quality fish – it was a big food item and one that stood out from the rest. 

Photo credit: Aaron Swanson

Photo credit: Aaron Swanson

As good as the mornings were, I experienced two mediocre afternoon hatches and no real spinnerfalls. I later found out that I missed a good evening spinnerfall, but I was spent myself from a full day in the sun and skedaddled early. The afternoon hatches were short lived, but each day quality trout were looking up for quick stints. I was all alone in a pool on day one and stuck a large female brown trout on a hendrickson emerger pattern. She had my old school Fenwick 5-weight bitched and put up a fight that I wish others got to witness.  I attempted to capture a self portrait with the brown before releasing her and could only laugh when I played back the photo afterwards - bummer!  The dun  hatch on day two was also rather uneventful, save for a 5-minute stretch where two nice trout were rising sporadically.  I plucked one of them on the same emerger pattern from the day before and had another great tussle on the dry fly rod.  It turned out to be a Survivor stocked last spring that was caught several river-miles downstream from where it was put in.  The morning nymph action, afternoon dun hatches and evening spinnerfalls will still go on for a couple more weeks on the Farmington River, each day or two progressing slightly upstream.  Between work and life, I may get one more crack at them before the 2011 hendrickson hatch is all said and done.  It's been fun so far!

Note the orange elastomer tag above this Survivor's left eye (Photo credit: Aaron Swanson).

Monday, May 2, 2011

Here We Go

May is one of my favorite months for fishing in Connecticut.  What's not to love?  Overrated or not, the hendrickson hatch gets the attention of some of the best trout in our rivers, migratory striped bass from the Hudson and Chesapeake return to Long Island Sound, and post-spawn carp put on the feedbag.

May 2011 started on a high note for me.  AaronS and I spent the better part of Sunday on the West Branch Farmington River.  The flow was 550 CFS and dropping slowly. We were nymphing by 8:15 AM and I broke off a heavy trout on my third drift.  Aaron jumped in, pricked something and came back with a scale during his first couple drifts. Then it slowed down...big time.  Knowing the caliber of trout in this run, we worked it hard for a while without another tap while nypmhing under yarn. The switch to Euro nymphing was made and I hooked a nice fish on midge larvae pattern as the dropper fly. The 20-inch brown was the highlight of a surprisingly tough day on the water considering the calendar. It was a left-yellow Survivor that is celebrating its third year in the Farmington this week.  Closer to hatch-thirty, we moved downstream to water where we (I) thought we had a better chance of seeing rising fish.  Aaron knew it wasn't going to "happen" where we were going.  The nymphing was tough pre and post hatch and there were few fish looking up despite the copious amount of bugs pouring off the water.  Like always, it's tough to have a bad time while fishing, especially on that river.  Anyday now, all hell is going to break loose and I hope I'm there to witness it. 

Photo credit: Aaron Swanson

This healthy 20-inch brown was passing a semi-digested fishfly larvae during the photo shoot.
Photo credit: Aaron Swanson

Trout crack a.k.a. hendrickson dun