So when I received an invitation recently to fish such waters, I immediately accepted.
I didn't even take the time to rationalize this decision, it's pure hypocrisy. But the fish are rumored to be big and dumb so that's gotta account for something, doesn't it?
This club is ancient by U.S. standards having been founded in the late 19th century. It's name would not be recognizable to the lay person and nary a peep about it can be found in Google. There's no website. There are no fishing reports ("The fishing today was the same as yesterday, excellent!). The roster of members (I expect wealthy types) cannot be found anywhere. All very discreet in a gentrified sort of way. And the fishing....
I fished the Connetquot
The club is on a small river. It's about ten feet wide at most points and is classic riffle-run-pool structure though I assume some of the natural structure has been "augmented" or at least maintained. The property is well posted and while you can't float this tiny river I'm reasonably certain that wading it from upstream or downstream would technically be legal. However, their gamekeeper would sick the law upon you and you'd need a good lawyer and a pile of cash to win your day in court.
The club has dozens of beats of Browns, Rainbows and Tigers fed every other day with a hearty diet of pellets. There were six other anglers on a mile of water; a busy day according to the game keeper.
The fishing was very good though my host apologized for it being so poor. In the space of three hours of fishing I hooked at least two dozen fish landing half. The small ones taped out at fourteen inches and the large end being eighteen plus with two hogs broken off. Great fun on a four weight rod.
What's ironic about this stream being managed as Disney is it's also rumored to be a good wild trout stream. Plenty of cold water. Plenty of bugs. But for some, that's not enough which I guess is the point.
I am conflicted by fishing this river.On the one hand this club's limited membership appears to be better stewards of the river than most landowners, especially homeowners. There are great riparian buffers. Access to the river is limited to certain locations to maintain stream banks. The area remains well forested providing good cover from the sun's warming rays. Heck, the quality of the river downstream is likely enhanced by this organization's stewardship.
But is it right?
Should I care?
I'd have to go look up the land records to confirm my suspicions that the club holds no title to the river despite their postings. But let's say for a moment they don't and some court case prevailed upon them to open their waters to anyone who wades in. So now the entire business model of the club collapses and they sell of to a developer so a crop of new homes can appear along the banks with bright green grass mowed straight down to the river bank.
Would we really have won anything?
Tricky stuff, but I'm moving on. It was nice to visit Disney, but I'm returning to my home waters. There's still this trout that lives three trees up from the dead one and I haven't caught him yet.