Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hit it right on the head

This spring we have been very fortunate to have moderate temps and plenty of rain so the rivers here in North East Connecticut are in great shape. I had a few hours yesterday morning to get away before a few dad chores, a birthday party and a graduation celebration. So I was up before 5 am and in the fish mobile headed for the Willimantic River TMA by 5:30. I decided after reading a few old posts in my journals I would park at the rest area and work from that bank. In the last few years I have found that my journals, which I have kept since the mid-80’s have become invaluable with the information they hold. When I started them it was more to remember the fish numbers and kinds, now I look back for river, weather and hatch conditions.

 I got to the rest area about 10 minutes later, put on my waders and put my rod together. I did not rig up as I wanted to see how the river looked like before I tied on a leader and flies. When I got to the river it was running fairly high for this time of year and just a bit stained. I decided I was going to do some Czech nymphing so I tied on one of my custom tied leaders, it is 13’ long tapered from 25 pound test amnesia in either fluorescent red or green down to 6X, to my 10 foot 4 weight rod. Today I used the green butt section because it shows up better in the low light. I tied on a size 14 caddis pupa in tan with the point fly being a size 10 Czech nymph with a tungsten bead head; it is a mix of golden brown SLF and tan antron.  Looking at the flow I decided to drop in midway thru the pool and fish from there to the tail out. I made a few drift but did not feel the bottom so I tied a small dropper off the bend of my point fly and put a small split shot to add just the needed weight to get it down. Third cast I felt a bump and tightened up to feel a head shake. After a good fight I landed my first fish of the morning a solid rainbow of about 13” a few casts later a bit farther down the current seam, I hooked it’s identical twin. Over the next hour I hooked another 4 fish losing two and landing two.  One was a rainbow the other was a thick brown about 14” that put on a real nice fight up on the surface with a couple of big runs. All of these fish came on the Czech nymph.

I decided to head down stream to try another run that hold fish well in this type of flow. I am not usually prone to walking away from fish that are feeding but it was a quiet morning and I had not seen another fly fisherman in the hour or so I was there. I moved down to the spot I wanted to try just as the fog started to burn off and it started to get brighter. I could start to see there was a bunch of fish feeding in the lower end of this run. I move into a good spot to fish to these active feeders, I  made  about 50 cast and did not even get so much as bump. I decided to try a bit different approach when I saw a few small tan caddis hatching. I took off the Czech nymph and the dropper and replaced them with a veiled caddis and a soft hackle. I cast this pair upstream at about 45 degrees so they sink and then dead drift them high sticking once they reached my position I lowered the rod tip and let them swing thru the lower section of the run. First cast a felt a good bump, next cast I was fast into another nice rainbow. A few casts later the flies stopped mid-way thru the dead drift I tightened up figuring to feel the bottom but instead I felt a strong head shake, I set the hook and the fish went crazy. After a real good fight with what I thought was a fish of about 17 or 18 inches I landed a beautiful 13” tiger trout. This was the second in a week to come from this part of the river. I had a guide client catch one last Saturday about a ¼ mile upstream from where I was fishing. I let him go and sat on the back retying my flies as the teeth on that bugger had frayed the 6x a bit too much. I made a few more casts and got one more cookie cutter rainbow.

I looked at my watch and decided to go back to my first spot and see what was happening before heading home.  I left the same two flies on and dropped into the same spot I started in, first cast I hooked and lost a fish in the tail out. I stripped a bit of line off my reel to give myself some slack to play with and recast. Bam I was into another good fish this one turned out to be a bit larger rainbow about 16” and solid muscle from back to belly. Over the next half hour I hooked 5 more fish landing only two of them , I was a bit slow on the hook set today. All in all not a bad day 16 fished hooked with 10 landed and only a brook trout away from slam. These are the kinds of days that I remember the clearest, conditions were good and fish cooperative. I could use a few more of these as they have been far and few between the last 5 years. The rest of the day was filled with family fun and celebration. Funny thing was my nephew who just started fly fishing knew even before I told him I had a good morning by the smile on my face.



  1. Steve,
    Sometimes when I work the head of a pool I feel like the flies get swept down river too fast, is this why you didn't work the head of the pool?? After you took off the Czech nymph were you still ticking bottom? Great post! Thanks

  2. That a boy Steve. Way to get out and get into them. See you at the shop soon.