July 30, 2020 – Connetquot River State Park
(Map above is from “Trout Fishing on Long Island’s Spring Creeks” and is available at LITU.)
Tim told me he was going either Wednesday or Thursday for the 4 – 8 session. We are in the 5th day of a heat wave with temperatures over 90. I wished him luck and scheduled a morning time on Thursday. Morning temperature was about 76 but it was heating up fast.
I was thinking of wet wading,
…trading my “breathable” Simms waders for light cotton quick dry pants. Then I was thinking I might just wear crocks and fish the upper sections where you don’t go in the river. I figured it would be less comfortable on dry land in this heat and opted for the waders as I tend to get cold these days and 4 hours wet wading in a cool spring creek can be a bit much, even with all this heat and humidity.
My next decision is what beat to fish.
When I called yesterday there was only one other person registered so I didn’t have much concern about getting there early so I could have first choice. I was thinking I might take 14 as the flow from the artesian wells enters there and the water is that much colder than the already cool river.
When I arrived at 7:35 for the 8 am session, I was number 6 in line and there was a fisher behind me. I guess a lot of guys are more spontaneous these days with their fishing. 14 was taken and I didn’t want to walk down to 10 or 9 which were still open. I took 16 noting that 15 hadn’t been taken, and was hoping 16A would be empty as well, giving me a good piece of water to work.
I have been bringing two of my 4 weight rods lately, the 9 foot GLoomis Stream Dancer and the 6.5 Neuner. I used the GLoomis last week and wasn’t happy with how the fly was turning over on close-in flips. I reasoned it was the weight forward line on my Battenkill. I could put the Hardy on the 9 footer and perhaps solve the problem, since it is loaded with double taper, although it’s pretty old. When I got to the parking lot I decided to take the Neuner even though I find the shorter rod is harder on my shoulder and landing fish on long leaders with short rods can be difficult. It’s such a beautifully made rod and performs in this small river so well, I will deal with any discomfort.
Dry, of course, although a nymph would be wiser. Iris Caddis. Small.
As I walk in, 16A is taken by a fellow who is set up with cooler and chair. He is intent on his fishing so I pass quietly. 16 is always a pleasing place to be. I watch for a while before doing anything. I check the water temperature. The thermometer reads 64 degrees. Cool enough so the fish will not be stressed as they are released.
I work the upper beat first
…and then come down, changing flies a few times, Adams, Olive – all small. No rises to my fly or otherwise. I also didn’t scare any fish from my path. Quiet. I work 16 thoroughly and then again, taking my time. At the bottom, I work the water on the 15 side of the sluice. A rise gets me excited.
There are usually a few under the tree there.
I try all my tricks and come up dry. I sit for a while and do it again. I can hear the guys on 14 and they are having some luck. Moving to the pier on 15, which is empty, I work the deep hole with a Green Woolly Bugger. I turn a few fish but no hits. I am now being lazy, sitting while jigging the bugger around and flipping it here and there. Sloppy.
After properly chastising myself
…I go back up to 16 and put the bugger in the dark water which, so far, has shown no promise. Then a tug and release. Weed? Maybe. Rest it a bit and then back, letting it get deep and – Bang. Fish on. Seems modest but once engaged she starts to put up a fight. Back and forth, side to side, I move toward the shallows and lift with side pressure. In a bit the fish starts to yield and then fills the net, maybe 14-15 inches and meaty, a Brookie in good color.
I think about a photo due to the shape she is in but the feisty fish is not spent and getting the hook out was tough, so I put her in the flow and shortly she kicked away. Made my day.
I put the bugger back in but knew I shouldn’t.
Changed to a Joe Stack just because and went down to the lower sluice, fishing it with a long line and 6x tippet. A fish hits it on the first drift but I miss the set. That damn fly is amazing. Even with no hits on all the little dries I tried, this big palooka always seems to get one.
Guys are coming out now,
…one by one, walking the path. Some say hello and ask how my day was. Others just mosey by. A young fellow asked and I told him I had one. He said his buddy down on 14 had about 20. I smiled. Then the guy from 10 came by. Had a slow day with one hit but tells me the fish are stacked up in the water on 14 where the little creek comes in.
When I got to the car I text Tim to let him know he might want to try to get 14 this afternoon.
I had to push myself to come today.
Not just the heat, but the funk. My dear friend Manny passed on Monday after a 5 year struggle with Alzheimer’s. It progressed from when we last fished together on the Delaware in 2015. I saw him last about 9 months ago, his wife delicately postponing our offers to come over since then. I am still not ready to write about our friendship and maybe never will. It was a close and special one that lives in my heart and mind.
Rest well Manny.