Monday, August 1, 2011

Fishing with Trout Unlimited

This weekend I spent two days at the Trout Unlimited Northeast Regional conference. The purpose of the conference was to bring together leaders in the northeast U.S. (as well as a few mid-Atlantic states) to discuss some of the pressing matters of TU. I won't bore you with the details but it had all the various operational and organizational development stuff that you'd normally do in one of these types of events.

What was different was the vibe. Apparently this meeting used to be a small group of guys locked in a room in Massachusetts. This year the organizer, Jeff Yates, envisioned something larger and more inclusive. Over sixty men and woman from across the region participated in three days of events. I don't know if this is a direct result of the new leadership at national or just a changing of the guard locally but I liked the discussion and the energy of the days and look forward to some results.

James and Kit nymphing a run.
While TU is a coldwater conservation organization most members do it cause they love to fish. So the conference included the compulsory fishing expedition to and barbecue on the Farmington River. I wasn't able to fish on Friday when the formal guided fishing occurred so I was intent on getting out on Sunday afternoon. Two members from the chapter, Kit and James, were equally interested in getting on the water so we drove to the TMA together.

Kit and James hadn't fished the stretch of water I had in mind before and I was eager to put them on fish. We first stopped at a run that produces pretty regularly and everyone got tugs on the line with a few to the net. We then walked upstream a bit to another spot that I wanted to fish. It fishes better from the far side and there was no one on the run so I decided we should work our way across and then fish the pool from the far side. Mistake.

More high sticking.
Before I knew it three guys came downstream and set-up in the place that I wanted to fish. The first guy swung a streamer through the pool working quickly and not disturbing things too much. Good. The next two were chucking worms and caught three or four fish in short order. Crap. That pool would be spooked for hours.

Lesson: If the water you want to fish is free, fish it. #@$%!

The plan was to work our way back downstream nymphing so that we hit a pool that usually has rising fish just before dark and hopefully managed a few more to the net. The nymphing was slow to begin with but picked up a bit. I had a couple on and two Brookies to the net. This was a first for me. I can't remember having caught two Brookies on the Farmy.

The first came in a thin piece of water taking an Olive WD40. I thought this water too thin and sunlit to hold a nice fish but this was one of the largest Brookies I had caught on the Farmy.

The second came a short while later and was sitting beside a large boulder and took a large Isonychia nymph with vigor. The nice thing about the Iso is that it's a pretty active nymph so your drifts don't have to be perfect.

Another shot of the first Brookie
It was time to move downstream so Kit and I wandered down to find James. He had a sweet spot at the tail of the riffle. A couple of other guys were upstream of him but strangely none were downstream in what I consider the sweet spot of the pool Not making the same mistake twice we set-up with emergers and started targeting the sporadic rises.

The rises were those frustrating holes in the water where the fish just sucked the fly down as if by magic. I managed a nice Brown after the first couple of casts and then proceeded to miss a whole bunch. So within about twenty minutes the water was well spooked and I decided to stand and give it a rest.

Rabbit's Foot Emerger
Glancing downstream I saw a bunch of rising fish in a long glide. Leaving fish to find fish is a cardinal sin of fishing but there were MANY rising fish. It was too much to resist. Kit was smart and stayed behind but James and I bushwhacked down to a section where the fish were all over the place. And except for the bait fish that James caught none would come to hand.

Faced with an hour of trying to dial in selective, cruising trout who seemed intent on frustrating us, James and I decided to head back up to the pool and rejoin Kit.

Kit had managed a couple of hits while we were gone and soon we began to see a few more flies with a few Sulphurs mixed in. I managed another Brown on the Rabbit's Foot Emerger and missed a few more. James had tied on a Para Sulphur so I matched that decision and managed my last of the evening.

A Sipping Brown
It was great to be out fishing with Kit and James. We've spent a bunch of time working on TU projects together but have never fished together. While the fishing wasn't all it could be it was enough and the company was good along the way. I hope we can get back out again to explore a new piece of water that James mentioned.

And a final note on TU.

If you're a member, great. If you're not, or were, give it a look. I can't invite you back to an organization that's already changed. TU members across the country are working on that. It's likely that the thing that either drove you away or kept you from joining might still be there. But the organization is shifting and it needs your help to get where it needs to go.

Join TU for yourself (or a relative or a friend) for $17.50 or for your kids (or grandkids or neighborhood kids) at $12.


  1. Glad you were able to get out with some friends and catch some fish! I like the look of that emerger, might have to tie some up. Well said on TU, it's a great organization.

  2. Great looking brookies.
    I too have taken several more brookies on the Farmy then I normally do. Maybe....
    I fished it Sunday, and it fished well.

  3. Sanders: Yup, that emerger works very well. I tie them in hares ear, olive, yellow, green. Pretty much any color I might find. Also works well as a caddis pupa.

    Brk: Thx. Glad to hear you got out.

  4. Great post, Steve. As a member of TU, I should get more involved with the regional meetings and events.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thanks, Dean. I think it's most important for us all to be involved at the chapter level. That's where the heavy lifting of this organization gets done.