April 2019 – Opening Week

A busy week!  

Here on Long Island there are places we can fish all year long but tradition and the NYS DEC open all trout fishing on April 1st.  That is when the stocked ponds and rivers can be crowded with hopeful and hearty anglers. A happy time for all. 

Monday, April 1, 2019 – Project Healing Waters


This organization offers both veteran and active military an opportunity to learn how to fly fish and all that goes with it from tying flies, arranging time on the water, providing gear and river helpers to get them started. That is where I come in – as a river helper.

Jimmy Gilmartin introduces me to Jeff

…a retired career Marine who has always enjoyed fishing but is new to trout and Long Island. At the river I point out a few characteristics of the hole we are on. The fish are visible and waiting for us to entice them. It is relatively cold and early in the day which means they are likely to be a little sluggish for a while. 

We tie on a Green Woolly Bugger

…with some weight to it as this is Beat 16a on the Connetquot, where the whirlpool presents swirling deep water that can be tricky. I set my rod up with a nymph rig and put it aside as I watch, and coach.

He is a bright and attentive partner

…who is looking to learn and actually listens to what I say. He has a few bites but over strikes them, like the guys in the BASS tournaments.  I explain that trout are different and all that is required is a tightening of the line to hook one.  He modifies his next strike but still a bit aggressive.  I say “think of it as the difference between pulling a trigger and squeezing a trigger.” The Marine got it after that. A nice Rainbow on the nymph.

We move by Ed and Tom

…who are on lower 16 but are heading for 15.  I ask to show Jeff the hole before they set up.  Tom took the time to point out how the fish are lying just downstream of the main event.  A weighted Black Woolly Bugger did the trick this time with Jeff landing his first Connetquot Brookie.  We give the hole back to Ed and move down to 14 and 13, pointing out a few spots to try in the future. I mention that the highest percentage drift is the first one, so try to make it count. 

At the crossing I show him the top of 12

…which many people pass by in a rush to get to all those fish in the troth by the platform. I explain how they hang in the weeds and by the bank but catching them requires some stealth as well as figuring out how to get your fly through those weeds and into the bank side openings.  I do it with an unweighted streamer or a dry fly, my preference.

The Joe-Stack tied by Joe Odierna

 I take the nymph off my leader

…and put on a Joe-Stack.  From a bit of a distance I fling the fly into the spot, let it drift, and drift some more and then – I hear Mike, who is just around the bend from us. He is shouting “You got him, you got him!”

I didn’t.

I let the fly go on as he did come up for it but then refused – or maybe I didn’t strike soon enough.  Either way it demonstrated the principle of first drifts. Both Mike and Jeff thought it cool and as Jeff sets up for a midstream fish, Mike ties on a dry.  I tell Jeff I am heading downstream and to come down if he wants but that he is doing just fine on his own. He hangs with Mike. Good choice!

I went down and had my lunch

…on one of the little bridges over a spring coming into the river.  At Beat 9 I work the dry, here and there, with no results although a big boy comes up three times for something.  After a while I put on a streamer which he takes on the top but I miss him. I work upstream to Dave and Dan on 10 and then 11.  Dave tells me to try something chartreuse as the color worked for Dan. Lots of fish but not all that interested.

As I am leaving I put the Joe-Stack back on

…at 16a and take a nice Rainbow in mid current.  Watching Jeff, a new fly fisher with a fish on, is the highlight of my day but this is a nice way cap to it off.

Jeff on the top of 12

I love this place.


Tuesday, April 2 – The LIFR has Bob Romano as the featured speaker 

I know Bob from when he first came to an LITU meeting some years ago.  Since then we met as I was hawking books at the Somerset (now Edison) Fly Fishing Show each January.  He has since become a part of the show’s Anglers Bookstore, assisting Ben in keeping the tables stocked and orderly and directing buyers to their book of choice. He is a nice guy. His talk is on a subject he knows well – the Rangeley Lakes region of Maine. His books are novels and the characters fish all the spots he talks about in the presentation. At the end he offers his books with a premium of a free pamphlet on the area and its camps to each buyer. He is well received.


Friday, April 5 – Esopus

It is April in the Catskills and it is opening week for trout fishing.  I call Joe and he is heading upstate to try his luck and fulfill the tradition.  The Esopus is his target. Day one – snow.  Day two – melting snow. The water is high and cold at 40 degrees.  There are some small black Stoneflies around but no fish to be seen. Thanks for the report Joe!

Early Esopus

Saturday, April 6 – Friends of Connetquot Lecture Series

Janet Soley called me some time ago and asked if I would be interested in presenting on Fly Fishing the Connetquot.  I told her I would love to.  The only requirement is for there to be a projector and someone who knows how to operate it. Her husband Mark filled the bill.

We had a “sold out” event

…with 50 registered and others turned away. The presentation was built on the one Joe and I did at the LIFFExpo a few weeks ago.  I feature Connetquot in as many of the photos/videos as I can and include a photo tour of each beat. The talk is to be followed by a hike to the Hatch House for a tour.

It is a beautiful day

…and I am thinking we may have a lot of no shows with this spring weather suddenly upon us, but the place is full. Janet along with Steve Mendelson did a great job of organizing and promoting. Doc Steinberger is there to say hello. Ginny Fields, the President of Friends of Connetquot, gives the introduction and we are off!  Gals and guys, kids and scouts, gadabouts and geezers, all interested in fly fishing and this Park. I am pleased with how it went and am told, amazingly, the kids were attentive. I even sold a few books

A good crowd is assembling for the hatchery hike

…as I slip out. It’s great to be able to give back to this terrific sport of ours. If you use the Park, join Friends of Connetquot.  It’s membership fee is modest and offers you a meaningful connection to this magnificent place.

Thanks to FOC and Janet for giving me the opportunity to be a part of their Lecture Series.


Sunday, April 7 – Northport

The boating season is upon us – almost

Time to put the mooring ball in and stake my claim to the 50’ circumference that the Grady requires.  Every year there are neighbors who, in an attempt to avoid rowing too far, dump their moorings within that circumference and every year I fret as I walk Otto, watching the boats bobbing in the wind and tide, or worse, luffing in a calm sea, no energy to keep them aligned. I try not to worry about it but then I do. Some days it makes me want to give up boating altogether rather than deal with the antics of careless moor-ers.

The procedure for removing the winter stick

…and putting the ball on is a well-practiced one and goes well.  There are years it doesn’t, but this is not one of them.  So Step One is complete and now I need to head to the marina and see when KG Marine can get the boat in. Have to be ready for that spring run of Stripers!


So that was the opening week – more to come!