Monday, July 2, 2012

I heart dams

Moon rise over fog.
August has come early to the Northeast as it has to most of the country. With air temps nearing the century mark even the coldest small streams are running warmer than normal and it's time to give those trout a rest.

Fortunately, here in Connecticut we have a fantastic tailwater fishery on the upper Farmington River. It runs cold through much of the summer and is stocked with so many trout that one simply has to dip a thumb in the water and they'll latch on; a quick flip puts them in your creel.

I know I've ranted in the past about the evils of dams but when I did so, I was talking about your dams, not my dams. My dams are necessary and need to stay just where they are.

Sunday evening I got to the water late; 5:30ish though it might have been later. I had forgotten how much the cold water cools the valley. Air temps were in the mid-80s at home but were in the mid-70s here. A low blanket of fog shrouded the river. Other anglers upstream and down appeared and disappeared as the fog follow its whim.

As expected the trout were rising. There was a smattering of bugs in the air. Most were pale Sulphur-like mayflies with a handful of grey ones tossed in and the requisite careening caddis now and then.

A half dozen anglers were in view upstream and down and I didn't see any bent rods. Plenty of rises. Lots of casting. Little catching.

The next angler downstream from me
The trouble with these sporadic hatches is dialing them in and I didn't start getting hits until I added a small BH prince as a dropper on a pale yellow Sparkle Dun.

I hooked a bunch and landed two before things quieted down for a bit.

As the evening progressed more anglers appeared and wandered up and down looking for a spot to slide in. I was pleased that good manners ruled and no one appeared to crowd in where they weren't wanted.

The Sulphur hatches can be very good angling but they're brief. They start just at dark and last till the light is gone. You really only need to be on the water for an hour or so but you arrive early to secure a piece of the river.

With the lull in activity I switched to an ant pattern and managed a few strikes and two Browns to the net. None of the fish were large but the water temperatures were perfect for trout and they fought in a manner that belied their twelve inch length.

When the sun was well down and the sky was that deep pre-black blue and the valley was only lit by the moon, the tempo of splashy rises increased. I hastily changed from my nearly invisible black ant to a large Sparkle Dun and went to work.

Green Tatoo
The fishing was easy. Find a rise. Cast well. Hook a fish.

Again, I was not able to land as many as I hooked. It may have been my technique though I also suspect that by this time in the season the fish are very quick to discern a fake from the real thing and release as quickly as they strike.

At least that's what I told myself.

Like most days on the water the therapeutic qualities were great. Each splashy take and tug was an unguent to the past week's frustrations. It was one of those weeks when several things played out exactly opposite of how I expected them to. It's been a long time since life threw me so many fast balls and I've swung at dead air; frustrating beyond belief.

But once the emotion was gone I realized that in context this past week's disappointments were trivial. And when a Brown Trout comes to hand you can't recall what it was that brought you here in the first place. You're simply here with moving water, casting to rings, hoping that in this moment or the next something will happen to make you smile or curse and begin again, casting and hoping for the next eventful moment.

Trout Water


  1. ... when a Brown Trout comes to hand you can't recall what it was that brought you here in the first place...

    Such a simple statement, but it thoroughly explains why we do this. Thanks for that, Steve.

  2. A fine report. Your thoughts hit it.
    We are fortunate for such a fishery.

    1. Your trip report inspired me to get back there. I hadn't fished the river since last summer.

    2. I have been fishing a section the last few week that has rewarded me with many wild trout, both browns and brookies. Although its not a small stream I fish it like one.

  3. Sounds like you found just what you needed my friend. Great report. Dams are the lifeblood down here, and they make for some great fishing at times. The wild streams are to be avoided right now. With heat index numbers in the 109 degree range, tailwaters close to the dam are really the only game in town.

    1. It's sort of ironic that this thing that has killed off so many native fish populations, most notably Atlantic Salmon in our neck of the woods, is such a boon to trout. But I will make lemonade out of the lemons.

  4. Glad you made it over to the Farmy. I feel spoiled yet fortunate to be so close to such a great river. Hopefully you'll make it back sooner than later.

    1. Already plotting my return. I wonder if Ann will give me "the look" if I suggest tonight.....

    2. LOL...I know that look...thinking about Monday night myself.