|Ross and Heather at the beginning.|
Regardless of the day, I stay far from the known haunts of once-a-year anglers -- you know these places by the piles of worm containers, empty Rapala boxes, and tumbleweed-sized tangles of Stren. I'm usually on some small stream that is now available to me after being closed for forty-five days.*
I took the boys out a couple of times on Opening Day. We visited a trout pond that's stocked by the state. We were there with three hundred of our closest friends. The last time we fished there two small boys fished next to us. The older boy hooked his younger brother on the inside of the mouth with a treble hook. That was the last time we went there. I decided it was safer to stay away from State run enterprises on Opening Day.
This year I arranged for a float trip on Opening Day. This would get us some distance from the masses and give us a shot at some trout on a river I enjoy fishing. Chris shared a boat with me and my friends Ross and Heather were rowed about by Tom Harrison.
The morning was a bit chilly but by mid-day the sun was out and it had warmed up nicely. We nymphed. We swung and stripped streamers. No trout. No fish of any sort. Maybe a few touches. But nothing in earnest.
|Last year's floods left lots of beaches where the vegetation was scraped off the banks.|
As we drifted through one run Dan saw what he thought was a Smallmouth bed. It's April, easily thirty days before the males should be preparing beds, so obviously he was hallucinating but when we saw another we rowed over for a look.
And saw a Smallmouth Bass.
And with a large streamer plunked onto his bed, I caught him. A small guy, likely a male, but it was good to finally have a tug on the line.
The second or third bass was the best of the day. She was up on a bed wedged in between a root ball and two downed trees. It took a few casts to get in the zone and the wind came up at just the wrong time rippling the surface but an intuitive*** strike put a nice fish on the line.
Now the task was to land it.
I learned a lot about weaving a fish line in and around obstacles. Dan was a great coach with shouts of "rod high", "rod low" and "Oh shit, that's a nice fish, dude".
No pressure, but I got it done.
|Probably the best of the day, though there were a few that were hefty.|
While the casting wasn't easy, when it all came together the bass made it worthwhile. The six weight rod made the fight even more dramatic and fortunately we were fishing 2x so we could put some pressure on the fish when we needed to urge them away from some sort of woody cover. The fish were nice; all solid. Some were three pounders, maybe more.
|A token trout|
The lower portion of the river we were fishing had been reliable trout water in the past so we were hopeful that the late afternoon would bring some trout to the net. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. I did manage a lone Rainbow late in the day but the last fish of the day was a chunky Smallmouth I took out of a riffle of all things.
I had a chance to fish an Orvis "prototype" rod. It was a 6 wt rigged for streamers. It cast well though I find sinking lines make you feel like you cast far better than you really do.
|I thought "The One" was the most hyperbolic rod name ever.|
But I think "The Second Coming" gives it a run for the money.
By the end of the day I did have a bit of that "I went trout fishing and all I caught were these lousy Smallmouth" feeling. But to complain about picking up a bunch of hard pulling Smallmouth would seem ungrateful for the fun afternoon that it was and potentially disrespectful to the fish and my hard working guide who found them.
If you haven't done it, Smallmouth on a fly is great fun. Just make sure you're fishing stout leaders and a rod with enough backbone to make it happen. A great way to spend the start of trout season.
*Yes, that is the entirety of the closed season in Connecticut. And there's tons of good water open under the Trout Management Area program. It is a blessing.
** Yes, a tired phrase, but it does describe the activity well.