August 3, 2021 – Connetquot
TGF – Theodore Gordon Flyfishers – had their last outing in the summer of 2019. Then Covid hit. Today was the first of the “almost post-Covid” period, at least we hope so. 30 members showed up to fish the Park for the day.
Julian organized it, Avran communicated it and Chuck assisted with check in and lunch which was from the Snapper Inn. I registered for the morning shift. I considered fishing the lower river, even taking a rowboat but momentum prevailed carrying me to the hatchery parking lot where I wadered up.
I see guys I have met before but can’t remember names. That is a problem lately. Connecticut Jay is next to me in his Jeep and Hal is over by Bud getting suited up. I meet Jim and Bill and Kitty. It is a cordial group for the most part although a few prefer the quiet that I usually opt for.
A good number of members head upstream (Beats 21 to 30) which is good to see. It is beautiful up there. A bunch of us went down and spread out between 16 and 8. I suppose some are down on the lower river as well. Lots to choose from.
I rig up the Neuner 7 foot 5 wt. with a Dace to start the day although I change the fly before casting it when I get to 16A and find it empty. The Dace will come in handy later. A Joe Stack is called for and a fish quickly responds in the upstream reach. I put it in the swirl of the pool and get hit again. After that it doesn’t draw any attention so I let it sink and fool with it subsurface. After a bit I put on a #16 Black Ant with a little bright orange on it as they are impossible to see. Bang.
Luke comes by. He just joined TGF and it is good to see him. He carries two rods and I show him my Ant technique as a nice Brookie accommodates the demonstration. He gets in the swing of it and soon has his second fish of the day, the first having been down by the Mill on Beat #2. I leave him to the pool and work lower 16/upper 15 with good results and continue down to 14.
The fish are holding in the cool water of the wells, it is August after all. I watch but don’t fish. One is idling below me with a bright green Mop Fly sticking out of his lip like a kid at a rock concert with a lip piercing. Just a reminder to use as strong a tippet as will accommodate the situation to alleviate this kind of fish jewelry.
I try the Ant at lower 14, switch to a Beetle and can’t interest those fish that are showing themselves beyond the big tree. I pop it into a dark corner on the far bank and a nice Rainbow responds. I turn and work the far side back upstream but no one was home, preferring the cool flow on the near side.
Bud is just finishing up at 13 as I cross to fish upper 12. Working long casts with longer drifts to the near bank, under the trees and over the vegetation proves unproductive. Surprising. Kitty is on middle 12 and we chat as I pass heading for 11 but it is occupied as is 10. 9 is really where I wanted to go anyway but when I get there the weeds have dominated the stream and the water under the trees, always a favorite place to put a Beetle.
I do my best and get short drifts and lots of weed. I give it a rest, move upstream and start again from a different angle. The drifts are longer but still no takers. The good news is that no one is around. I have this beautiful stretch of river to myself and can relax into meticulously working the few open spots, with low expectations.
Take a water break and I check my watch – 11:00. We have lunch planned for 12 and it’s a long walk out. I think about working the sluice but want to continue with surface flies. Nymphs and streamers make more sense in that water. I cross over the barrier and set up above the lower sweep of current and the holes I have found fish in before.
The setting is extraordinary. With the greener green of mid-summer clogging the water one could get discouraged but when you just look at it for what it is, a feast of greens above and below the surface in multiple shades and shapes, you know the Garden of Eden could not have looked any more serene. It is beautiful and quiet.
I flip the Beetle and then the Ant into the current fan and let it drift, then sweep across. Once it slows I give it more line allowing it to move further down under the low lying trees and near the bank-side bushes. There is a rise, but not to my fly. They are here. At least someone is.
As happens when still and quiet the fish start to show themselves. Some are moving about, picking up a meal. The Ant is getting attention and I miss 3 or 4 takes. They are light sips and fishing down to them requires some slack making the hook set a challenge. It doesn’t seem to put them down.
I let it drift back again but keep it on a tighter line knowing it will probably drag. At the end of the drift I intentionally drag it a foot or two and let it drift back rather than recasting under these trees. The second time I do this a wake follows it. You know, like Jaws. Wow! (One time this happened and before I had a chance to get too excited about it a Merganser blasted out of the pool, not this time.) An Ant can’t naturally move like that but who am I to argue with what I just saw. I repeat and get a few more follows. Then it gets quiet.
I pull in, grease the fly and rest. There are closer fish. Not the magnitude of the wake-maker but still active fish. I work for them and come up with two, well above the real target. I freshen the fly and again let it drift far on a loose line, then tighten up and drag back a bit. The wake appears again. Next time I do this he is more determined and follows it hard, then I stop and so does he. I strip and he lunges…no hook up. Damn.
I rest again. While contemplating my next move which may include switching back to the Black Nose Dace, he – or his older brother – slams something just beyond where his last play was. Whacked it good making a ruckus on the surface, like maybe he was chasing a frog or a mouse. Bigger fish than I envisioned.
It is 11:40. Time to head back? Nope, it’s time for the Dace. Ignoring my own advice I use the light tippet and on the first strip the fly is attacked and the run is so violent the knot breaks. I am left with the shorter but stronger primary leader. I tie on another Dace without tippet and work the far reach where he slams it and puts up enough of a fight to make me think about my shoulder for the first time today. He covers the water well looking for a snag to free him but I manage to hold his head, steering him in a safer direction. It’s a Brookie. Not particularly long but fat and, more impressively, fully colored. He has prominent teeth that could shred a leader, given the chance. Beautiful. In the net it’s a quick release and a time check. One more cast.
I want the one that created the ruckus, Jaws. I send it down there to no reaction. After a bit I move it under the trees and another slam. And run. Not Jaws but a nice fish. Rainbow this time with strong colors and girth. He fills the net and saunters off in no particular hurry before zipping back to his hole.
I think about Jaws but leave him for another day.
At the parking lot I see Bud who went upstream after we met on 13. He had a good sized rainbow up there. Jay comes by to return my long handled net. They had a good day as well. Off to the club house for lunch and to hear how the others did. I hope I remember all the names (Sorry Joe).
Good food and friends, lively chatter and lots of fish stories. A great day in an amazing place. Take a look at the TGF website and think about joining our conservation efforts as well as our outings.