October 5, 2018 – Connetquot –
It is the Annual Friends of Connetquot Outing, a fundraiser; a day on the river with a lunch donated by the Snapper Inn (Butternut Squash Soup being the featured event with a homemade cake by Rita for dessert).
When Ed Kelleher and Joe Mikulas sent the invitation, I sent it to Fly Rodders, Art Flick and LITU guys hoping to get some more participation. The Idle Hour Flyfishers make up the majority of the attendees and it would be nice to show some support for this treasure of ours, as well as grow the camaraderie between the groups.
Mike Russell, the new LITU president, agreed to come. No one else is available (there are a few upstate fishing trips this weekend). Chuck usually comes as well but he is upstate with Aki on the Beaverkill.
Pulled in at 7:45
I met Mike as he was checking in with Ed. Joe was suiting up nearby, just back from salmon fishing on the Douglaston Run, a fresh King to his credit. Good to see everyone. Bob, Carmine, Steve and Ray are there, 20 of us in all.
Last year I fished the lower river doing very well both below and above the Mill, catching nice fish without getting my boots wet. I mention it to Joe and he tells me they put some fish in down here recently, plus there are always some hold overs, and sometimes a sea run. Not sure what to do, I follow the others up to the hatchery.
I have been here a lot lately
Caught some nice fish. I am thinking of heading upstream, into the 20’s where there are fewer fish and no fishers. I show Mike a spot where I usually can entice a hit but no one was home, not today, at least not now. He decides to fish below the hatchery so I wish him luck and head up.
This section was dug as a canal to bring cool water to the river, bypassing the two ponds that parallel it, which is why its so straight and uniform. When they cut down the infected pines a few years ago they allowed the trees to fall in the stream, causing damage to the banks and cluttering the waters.
They cleaned most of it up but thankfully left some large woody debris to build the habitat. It is starting to pay off. Fishing a dry terrestrial upstream, I scared a fish on almost every beat from 21 to 26. Some were large.
I marked the spots for my return
At Bunces I tested the waters from both platforms with a variety of flies resulting in one hit and one giant follower. Difficult to fish here with the overhanging trees. I wrap a nymph and indicator around a branch in front of me.
In working to remove it, I break the 5x. Later I was able to free them by wrapping the line around the indicator, guided by the tip, and breaking the small branch. It falls to the water. Flipping a streamer, I catch the branch.
With that I head back down the trail
Of the spots scouted earlier three were accessible enough to drift a fly down to. Many spots are difficult to reach as you can’t step in the stream. I used to think this was cruel to us poor fishers but now I see it as playing the Black course at Bethpage. It is also what keeps the crowds downstream.
Chances are I only have one shot at each area, given how easily they spooked on the way up. I stop and consider what fly to use. Even though I have been successful with terrestrials lately, for some reason choose a small Mickey Finn. I love the fly, the colors and the name.
I stay as far up from my target as possible
Partially camouflaged by a tree, I quietly flip the fly into the current, feeding it line. Another advantage of the Mickey Finn is that I can see it, therefore can gauge how much more line to give it and position it right where I want. The downside is it has no weight and I need to use slack line to get it down.
There is a tree, or what is left of one, in the water on my side and on the bank of the other. The fish is in the corner. Tap, tap, tap. I giggle it, let it drop back, pull it in, tap, tap, tap. Back again and he is on! Unfortunately the slack line made the hook-up light and the set non-existent. He is off. Wow. Great experience. You should try it some time. But remember – one shot and be quiet!
Lunch was delicious.
Last year I was late to arrive, distracted by the good fishing. I came to the door of the club house with my dry hip boots on. Gil was there to greet me, his arms crossed. I said hello as always and went to enter. He stopped me and explained that there have not been waders worn in this club house for 100 years and we are not going to start now; I went to the car and changed. I miss seeing him in his wellingtons and crushed hat. RIP Gil.
Mike fished 16 to 13 in the morning. Joe asked if I was going to fish the Main Pond, as we discussed. I decided to go with Mike instead. I am glad I did.
We walked to 15 and fished the deep hole
I shared some tips and a fly, not that I am never skunked here as I am, but maybe they would increase his odds. I moved downstream and hear his groan as one broke off. I get no reaction to my offering and go down to 11. He says he will follow later.
Fly tying tip:
In an earlier post, I told you about Don Russell’s YouTube on what he calls the Maggot Fly. The day before I watched it I saw a caterpillar squiggling in the Nissequogue River. I tied up a variation of Don’s. Just some Chenille yarn tied on a small hook with light dun hackle in the middle. Nothing fancy. I tied 6 using different finishes on the ends of the yarn: On one I knotted the strands, on another I dipped them in head cement, others I just left them to unwind and do what they may. Don used a flame to singe them. The color is off white although I think white would work as well.
Yes, it looks like a Usual
When asked what I am using I say terrestrials, beetle and caterpillar. They look at me a little askance as they tie on a nymph. That’s okay. I am not here to do what others do, or to fish the highest percentage fly. I am here to cast and watch the fly float, hoping for that slurp.
Its like target shooting
Can I get it over there, under that branch? Can I catch that current without a drag?
(“Fly fishing is a process to be enjoyed, not a goal to be achieved” Bud Bynack ‘splained in the last TGF newsletter and I agree with him).
The process and the place is the reward. The fish just makes it better.
I work my way down to 9, connecting with aggressive risers. I call to Mike and invite him to join me giving him one of the flies; the one with the head cement on the tips. They are all working. He puts it under the trees as a rising fish smashes something almost next to his leg. He has one on shortly and then some more. Nice fish:
We finished the day at 16
Mike is fishing the bottom and I’m floating a Joe Stack in the foam which marks the center of the whirlpool. Mike has one on and then another who flashed his fly and hooked herself on the cheek.
He can see the fish and tries to coach me on their location as I can’t see much in the afternoon glare. I decide to stay in the foam and we watch 4 or 5 rises to the fly, a tail here, a back showing there. Lips! “One more” I say and then its time to go. The Joe Stack does its job, as it always seems to do – fish on.
A great day
One I will remember for a while. Thanks Mike for supporting Friends of Connetquot. See you next year?