April 19, 2021 – Connetquot
We could go in waders or fish from the bank as we did last time. He agrees to the bank. We covered #20 through #23 last time so target #27 as a place to start today. I explain that we will walk by fish, which is hard to do, but if we don’t we will never make it to #27. It’s a hike on a warm day with some clouds expected later. From Bunces Bridge we look up and down river. Fish are sliding back and forth just upstream of the bridge, then there is a rise so we head over to #28.
We are sharing a rod as this is a Long Island Flyrodders outing and member only fishing. Starting with a Dace I toss and he fishes. We give it some time while two hikers stop on the bridge and gawk. With no hits #29 is next, just out of sight of the bridge and its audience. Something about an audience spoils the experience for me. But that’s just me I guess.
#29 is alive with fish. Joe Hutter told me when we met in the parking lot that a small caddis was bringing them up downstream. He had a big smile on his face, enjoying sharing his morning with me. I tie on a #16 Tan Elk Wing Caddis and demonstrate a cast in this confined area. Handing the rod to Jas, he twitches and drifts and jerks the fly like a pro. Fish on. Nice rainbow with some spunk. His first trout on a dry fly.
The platform here is narrow and has water between it and the bank. One step back and you’re in for a fall. Photo taking is too complicated if we are going to release the fish in good shape. He says to just let her go. I put the line out again but then show him how to just flip it back up after a drift. He gets it and a fish too. I think we had 4 on up there. (Thanks for the tip Joe!)
Moving to #30 the same techniques didn’t produce; he had one take, but was slow on the trigger. Periodic risers were above and below us. On the way to #27 we stop for a break on the bench by the bridle trail.
With a fresh caddis on, we dap in the swirling debris just off the dock and a big girl took a look but then moved on. Looking for lips, I explain to him. Next we test the outflow and the eddy under the trees just below us. After a while I take a turn and put the fly on the other side. It moves into the current and at the end of the drift sinks.
Bang! A rocket ship blasted up out of the water at least a foot or so. Then again and again. Next he headed to the log on the other side so I put on the brakes. Luckily he turned. Another jump and then another, 6 in all before he came to our side and headed under the dock. Jas put the net down and he slid in. A wonderful fish.
That much energy and spunk only comes from time in the river. At 14-16 inches he was not a monster but had more spirit than most and spirit counts more than size.
The lower platform is next and we repeat the routine, me casting and him fishing for a few and then he took over and cast very well. I coached him to delay his forward stroke a bit and the result was a cast anyone would be proud of. This is only his second time with a fly rod in his hand!
We teased one and more teased us, rising next to our offering without taking. Hey, it’s fishing not catching, right? It is getting near time to head out so we work our way to #26 where each of us gets hung up in the trees. At 25 we run into Kenny “the Hat” Arstack, a good friend I have not seen in a year. He looks great having dedicated himself to getting in shape during our pandemic incarceration. As we pass by he calls out – fish on!
We try a few more but time and tired seems to rule. Another great day on the river. I tell him next time we should separate so he can start getting a feel for it without me looming over his shoulder. “I’ll check the calendar” he replies.