Project Healing Waters on the Conny

March 5 – ConnetquotPHW – 35 degrees and strong winds.  The river about a foot high due to the storm.  The rock diverters are under water. Although the storm created some problems, it is giving the river a good flushing. Now let’s see what it did to the fishing.

LI Flyrodders Kenny Arstark and Tom Cooney go to Beat 14 with Dave and Dan.  Ken is instructing Dave on how best to work the hole as the others look on. I tag along with the foursome, since there are extra volunteers, and take a few photos. Dan and Tom move up and Dan demonstrates an outstanding roll cast.

They are doing everything right but the fish are not cooperating. We wonder if the heavy flow has moved them.  I wish them luck and explore further downstream. 

Dan and Tom on Beat 14
Dan and Tom on Beat 14

I am working 12 with no sightings or hits. Fred joins me. We chat a bit as I move down to 11 and then 10 flipping the bugger, letting it sink and slowly retrieving. 

At 10, I stay back to let the fly move into the deep water and sink it with a few good mends, then swing it to the edge of the submerged rocks. A monster devours the fly and immediately sticks her big head out in a half jump. Big rainbow. A short run and a few head shakes before she is off.  Fred shouts down “What did you get her on?”

I work the area for another but none came.  Downstream, switching to a BWO when my bugger ended up in a tree, I enjoy watching the drift of a dry although nothing responds. At Beat 9 I put another bugger on.

The sluice here, as well as the eddy, usually produces.  I feel a hit and then again.  Was it a weed or a fish? I pull in the fly – it has a broken hook.  I switch to Mike Postol’s Black Beauty (my name for the heavy black, rubber legged pattern he uses in deep holes) and work it again. Nobody is interested.

Moving upstream, I feel kind of exhausted.  I have to gather myself so I sit down for a bit and take a break. I realize that the exhaustion is not from exercise but the constant, somewhat anxious, anticipation of a strike. I have almost always felt this way, that is that it’s going to happen, the strike, the fish, and I tense up.  Its early season and I have to remind myself to relax. 

Upstream we chat. No one is landing fish although there have been a few hits. The fish that are usually so visible are in hiding, plus the tannin stained water makes it a bit harder to see. Further up I find Kenny with a fish in the net – first (and only) one of the day – nice brookie.

Kenny Arstark's Brookie
Kenny Arstark’s Brookie

I put the Beauty into the hole at 15 – up, back, across –  and then 16.  The crew is pulling out even though we have another hour to fish.  I leave the fly in as I am talking with Dave. The fish hit at the edge of the whirlpool. He came up and spit the hook before I could set it. I stay a bit longer and he takes it one more time. I have a lot of slack in the line to get it down and miss the hook set – again.  Time to go. 

Project Healing Waters meets at the VA in Northport each week on Tuesday mornings and has a fishing outing once a month (or more).  If you are a Long Island based vet and would like to join contact Jimmy Gilmartin at 

If you would like to get involved with working with Project Healing Waters contact Bill Smith at the LI Flyrodders.

For more information on Project Healing Waters nationwide click here.


For more information on Trout Fishing Long Island’s Spring Creeks click here.


Don’t miss the 3rd Annual Long Island Fly Fishing Expo – Saturday March 17, 9 am to 5 pm. Click here.