November on Connetquot

November 1, 2021

I walk quietly and slowly up the path to the upper river scaring fish. 

My plan is to go to beat #30 and fish along the way to visible feeders – and so I did. Around 25 I began to question the need to go all the way to 30 as the knees were talking to me as was the energy but went anyway as Jeff Benkie (pictured above) had mentioned reports of good fish with attitudes there. 

I hit a fish at most every beat and then moved on.  I didn’t always get them in the net, in fact I left flies in the jaws of at least 3 whoopers who were power houses that knew how to find a weed bed, root or branch to dislodge me. Wow.  To fool a fish into taking a dry fly who is that stream-savvy gave my confidence a boost.

I started with the CDC winged BWO emerger and when it left with a bruiser I had on, I went to whatever other patterns I had that were similar.  I have a bunch of BWOs on straight hooks in different sizes from RiverBay Outfitters.  I love them as I can see their prominent high floating wing. At the end of the drift I don’t retrieve them but rather tug them upstream, sometimes quickly and sometimes with slow finger twist wraps. While fully sunk I release the coils of line in a controlled way and allow it to drift back down again.  The CDC brings it back up to the surface imitating an actual emerger I suppose.  I catch a few on its “pop” to the surface but even more interesting, when I strip it in quickly (quicker than any bug would swim upstream) I often get monstrous follows, some that take. So I am not skittish about skittering and tugging and stripping it back up in an unnatural way and the fish don’t seem to be skittish about it either.

This was a discovered technique based on skittering caddis on the West Branch that Chuck had taught Jerry and I.  Years ago I gave it a try on the upper Connetquot which is difficult to cast on.  Dragging it back kept it in the zone without worrying about putting it in a tree although I was concerned about spooking fish. It worked so I tried it again – and ever since. Don’t be afraid to color outside the lines and if it works, do it again.

Another tip is to always be stealthy.  When I fish this technique I cast downstream and feed it line so I am no where near the zone I am fishing.  I also use long leaders (12+) with 5x tippet as the fish you find can be huge.

At #26 a tree has fallen and blocked the path.  I look at it as a sign – but what kind of sign? Does this mean I should turn back? Or is it a test to see how much I want to go forward?  I gingerly maneuver the dead fall and caught a nice one on #26 above it.  Sign confirmed! #28 – #30 have a lot of fish and a lot of weed along with the usual casting challenges.  Once hooked you have to drag your fish through the thick goo.  It can be done but is messy. I took a fish on 30 and move to 29.  Evoked a rise or two before losing a fly in the tree and was at #28 when Jeff arrived. 

No fish on #28 today although I did work all the spots as the casting is more open.  I even worked under the bridge with some long downstream floats, but no one was interested. Jeff and I chatted.  Everyone else has left and he is leaving as well.  Nice of him to come all this way to let me know.  I was in the process of working my way back anyway.

He asked if I fished #27 and I told him that I uncharacteristically passed it over to take a rest before heading to #28 – #30.  (I took a lunch break on the bench instead as this is the first place you can sit comfortably since #20 and the Rainbow Bridge seating.)  He went to the upper platform and had a fish on in short order.

Did I mention the water?  It was very high.  Here is the lower platform on #27 with water coming over the upstream edge.

Beat 27 in high water

I walked down to #25 where I think Jeff caught up to me and where my skittering paid off as I pull in to move on.  Nice rainbow but not the monster who lives there and knows how to de-hook in the roots.

23 offered a few rises and one hit and then #21 skunked me.  I was looking forward to the sight of Rainbow Bridge and the car just beyond it. It is a good walk and the exercise is needed but does add to the challenge.

What an extraordinarily beautiful fall day with leaves in color but not too many in the river. Cooperative fish and a fly that was working well.  I thank the Man and then pack it in, texting Sue that I was on my way.

I am so grateful for this river, the groups that give us special access when the park is closed, and for the friends and fish that go with it.  You will never meet a man more fortunate than I.

Here is a tip for your holiday shopping but order early as these are printed on demand and can take a bit of time. 

Just a reminder that this website will be retired in December 2021 so take a look around while you can.