Monday, December 9, 2013

Far from the herd

I was not trampled on Black Friday.* Nor was I at risk of being trampled. As is my habit, I was far from the shopping malls and casting on a river with my buddy Jon.

With the advent of the internet, my time in stores is thankfully limited. If I can't get something online, I can at least pay for it and pick it up at the store thus sparing myself aisle wandering and endless waits in checkout queues. If I can't do it that way, it generally doesn't get done. This, of course, frees me to wander a river somewhere while the masses struggle to find a parking spot at the mall.

Our post-Thanksgiving ritual is a tenuous thing. More often than not some weather spirit descends to muck it up. Our first year was perfect. The weather gods made it cold and clear. The water levels sufficed for nymphing the Housatonic with a variety of successful flies.

The second year things were entirely fishable save for a howling wind. I have a picture in my mind where Jon, Don and I are standing in the current, backs facing upstream into the gale, with our fly lines flagging in the wind, waiting for the gusts to subside so that we could make a quick cast. That day was grueling. I don't even recall if we caught fish.

For the past few years, we've had trouble with rain. The Housatonic, our traditional lair, fishes well at around 800 cfs and we've found to be well above 1,500 or even 2,000. Of course, some of our Plan Bs have worked out okay but getting back to the ritual was something that I was eager to do. Rain a couple of days before Thanksgiving sealed the fate of the Housatonic.

After a spate of cancelled affairs, Jon and I decided to fish the Farmington. Neither of us has fished it much this year and thus we don't know its moods and habits but it would be a day afield and that was better than practically any alternative.**

Small flies, midges down to #20, seemed the thing though we learned later that Caddis were up an about in the morning so perhaps something larger would have been better. We fished our midges and found it hopeless.

I switched to swinging a purple Wooley Bugger after a hour or so of watching a lifeless indicator. I did forget to cut my leader back to something stouter than 5x. A trout reminded me of this when she struck and stole the rig.

Snake Brown
Upstream with Jonny, I rerigged with a sinktip and a new fly. I worked a run and on the first cast managed the only fish of the day - a twelve inch, snake-thin Brown.

With a couple of slow hours of fishing and a nip in the air we adjourned to the banks for some french press & fruitcake. The remains of yesterday's meal jammed between two slices of bread rounded out the feast.

The Jetboil has revolutionized the stream side coffee. Once the realm of lukewarm swill poured from Thermoses, the Jetboil will whip up fine, fresh black gold in a jiffy. When coupled with Thanksgiving leftovers and a bit of Fruitcake, it makes one feel almost civilized. I suppose at some level this is the antithesis of that which we seek but we all draw lines somewhere. Some fish beads, some don't. Some drink crap coffee. I don't.

Further upstream we fished the fishiest hole on the river with no result. It got to the point where the fruitlessness of it all drove us to shopping - at the fly shop down the street. There we learned not only about the hatch that we had missed, the aforementioned Caddis, but also about the morning specials that were no longer available to those who were tardy.

I hope the visit to a place of commerce doesn't wipe out what little mojo we have for Black Friday fishing. I'm already looking forward to next year's trip. But between now and then there's a whole lot of good fishing, especially as the weather warms. Until then, I'll be bundled up, happy to be on the water praying for a tug.

A little bit of civilization

* Don't even get me started on shopping on Thanksgiving day proper. Madness. Let workers have a friggin' day off.
** Though a few come to mind.


  1. Nice outing. I agree that the shopping scene stinks.
    The fruit cake is looking good. You must save a piece for me.

    1. It's Jonny's lovely spouse who provides the miracle that is fruit cake. Yummy stuff.