Monday, monthly LIFR day at the Park.
Thanks to Ted Bany who runs this outing we get to select a session and enjoy a relaxing time on the river wandering among the beats as we choose. Armond was there and we talked of the upper river and how he enjoyed being challenged by the skittish fish with limited access. I agree. More like a natural environment, the need to hone your skills if you want to catch a fish, or even see one.
My plan was to do just that.
I even brought my long handled net. With the weather cool and thunder coming, I chose to wader up. In hind sight I should have just wet wade and didn’t need the rain jacket I stuffed in the back of my waders either. A bunch of guys were leaving. I saw Bill Smith at the gate when I was coming it. Others were there already on the river (or not yet off) but I did see Paul and Julie McCain. They were there for the 4 to 8 like me. Good to see them.
We chatted a bit,
…my face mask in place as it should be for Covid, but it is even more important since I have been undergoing a treatment of early skin cancer on my lips and need to keep them free of dirt and sunlight. Suited up, I headed for the path upstream (forgetting the long handled net in the car) and took the time to test the waters on the lower handicapped (or senior) beats. I may qualify on both counts these days.
My plan was to walk the trail
…along Beats 24 – 28, and maybe even 30, hoping this later-in-the-day session would provide some advantage to the fisher rather than the fish. Trees have fallen throughout the Park and two are lying across the river above and below the Rainbow Bridge. The gate to the upper river was closed, marked with caution tape. So much for my plan. I went up the other side but didn’t get too far when I ran into one jumbled blow down. I chose not to do the bushwhacking crawl in my waders that would have put me on the river. Now I really wish I had wet waded.
I had luck
…on each of the handicapped stations so they must have stocked here even though for years they were saying that they wouldn’t. It seems like the right thing to do, stocking this stretch, especially since it’s a handicapped access. I hope it continues since this also provides fish for the upper beats as they migrate. This area is over looked by most able bodied fishers but it has some advantages for all. It is close to the parking, an easy walk, no need for waders and often empty of fishers. This more than makes up for the negatives (no wading, low overhanging trees, straight and fairly featureless water, seldom stocked.)
I meant to tie up some of Charlie Craven’s Mole Flies
…that John Fischer mentioned the other night. I did one and ran out of time. I perused my storage boxes in the basement and came across my western box with a good supply of Hoppers, Beetles and Stimulators in various sizes and colors. I picked a small Stimulator with orange highlights. I only took one, along with a few other likely patterns, but something told me the Stimulator would be the fly tonight.
I had the 9 foot GLoomis 4 wt. so I could dip and dap, flip and mend in this narrow section; bottle of water, a rain jacket, a spritz of bug spray and off I went.
The pool below the bridge is always fun.
It has an eddy on each side so you can float your fly upstream and under the bridge. The flow is fast through the center and there are enough weeds and holes to provide cover but not annoyance.
I flipped the Stimulator in
…and had a hit, then another; two more before a reasonable fish took it into her mouth. Impressive. It is always an ego boost when you have picked the right fly. I subsequently hooked, played, and released at least 5 before looking above the bridge.
More trees down and not as much luck. I had lost the Stimulator to the last large rainbow so was fooling around with a Sulfur Emerger. Bang. Shooting fish in a barrel? Not quite. I abandoned the pool and worked downstream where I had some luck on a Usual before heading below the hatchery to see if I could find the others.
16A was empty and unproductive
…although the usual gigantic rainbow was lying at my feet. I skipped 16 and fished the sluice on 15 landing one small guy on the Joe Stack. I was putting on the Black Nosed Dace when Paul and Julie came by. Paul asked about my shoulder and I explained it just will never be as it was. It is weak and after a few hours casting it hurts. Just one more fact of life to deal with.
The McCain’s had some luck below
…including one on 14 where the fish gather in the cool in-flow from the wells. A summer refuge in this marginally cool water of August. I told of the action at the bridge and they worked their way up. I fooled with 16 and 16A a while before joining them.
I fished below them and picked up a fish on each beat and two on 17 with a Beetle and a Usual. It is difficult to land fish here from the bank or platforms. I had bought a long handled net for this reason but left it in the car. I figured out that kneeling on the low end of the ramp let me use my small net and then worked my way back up toward the McCain’s.
Paul called out that they had a bunch of fish on the Stimulator. He invited me to join them in the main pool but I hesitated. How often do they get to fish together? I wanted to let them be. They caught more fish. So did I. Nice evening at Connetquot. He called to me again and I went up.
I asked Paul about his trip to Montana which is coming up.
5 days of guided fishing out of Missoula! Not too late to give him a call if you want to go – www.riverbayoutfitters.com. If you have not yet been to Montana this is a great way to be introduced and for a very reasonable price.
I told him I am sticking close to home these days and hadn’t even gotten up to the Catskills yet, besides, I’ve already fished just about everywhere I ever wanted to. It’s a nice stage of life when stocked fish on the Connetquot can wake up memories of other fish in more exotic places.
I left early as I was tired of releasing fish and the thunder was supposed to arrive by 8.
Life is good!