River is full of water – and fish

November 10, 2021 – Connetquot

The weatherman said there was going to be a warm spell followed by cold and rain so I grabbed the opportunity to go to the park. 

I called Chuck to see if he wanted to come.  We talked of fishing the lower beats, which I had planned to do anyway since I haven’t done so in a while.  He called this morning to say he couldn’t make it.  I reconsidered myself.  Getting lazier by the year. “Plenty to do around here” my alter-self says but I push on. You never know if that other voice is telling you what to do for a reason, that if you do otherwise something bad might happen.  You never know which to choose so I usually go with the original thought and hope for the best.

I bring my waders but hope to walk the bank.  This is happening more and more.  Putting them on is a pain, the water is cold (56 today) and walking in them is less than comfortable. When I pull up to the gate there are only 4 other fishers this afternoon.  I walk over to the dam to check the lower river and the wind blows my hat off.  The tide is coming in which will make the water below even deeper and colder. I tell the gal I will fish upriver, beat 27.  You have to pick one beat, but I will probably give each a cast as I walk up since no one else is going there.  She has to make a call and then another.  There has been an oil truck accident on Vets Highway near the river and DEC is deploying protective devices to keep it out of the water.  No fishing upriver today. 

“I’ll take beat 9.”  Either one gets me away from the crowd, which is my preference.

The waders go on and the shorter rod unsheathed.  Had I fished down river I would have used the 9’ which is better when casting long distances in a wind, at least for me. I have new line which I am still getting used to, but for some reason it is not performing as I would expect.  I blame myself and try to pay attention to my casting.

I nod to others as I pass them, keeping to myself.  When I cross the river at #13 the cold of the water shocks my legs.  I have long Johns on but no fleece pants.  That was a mistake, even if the air is warming. The river is very high, even higher than the last time.  The path is a continuous puddle with a few breaks of just mud.  The springs are running more than usual and the rock diverters are under water. At #11 there is a torrent of running water where a quiet eddy usually lies.

I walk down to #10 which is empty and think about getting in.  There are tons of fish.  All over.  The Idle Hour Flyfishers are hosting the USMA Cadets tomorrow, Veterans Day, and the stocking is for them.  I prefer fish that play hide and seek. 

At #9 I start across from the platform casting under the trees where they are in the summer.  An Iris Caddis on, it gets no attention.  I work the area well and continue down toward the sluice. Nothing.  I mean there are fish.  I am walking through them, just none coming up. One does rise and I target him but it is a one and done, at least for now. 

Again my casting is not going well.  The line seems somehow unbalanced.  I walk back up to sit, warm up and try another fly, a Joe Stack.  I look at the line to see if I may have missed a guide or wrapped it around the rod.  I find what could be the problem: a guide is missing just above the stripping guide putting a slump in the line. While sitting there I see sculpins and darters on the bottom.  Several sizes indicating reproduction is occurring.  I recall when I first came here the bottom was covered with them.  Good to see them again. Do I switch to a streamer?  No. Too much weed and I don’t want to haul in new stockies all day.  Better to stay with the dry.

I work the trees again and then below, picking up my first reaction, missed! Below I have a fish on and after a bit I get the first one as well. I love this fly. After 6 or so I go back up and change to a Renegade in a small size to match some midge-like flies coming off. It works well as long as I am patient and the sun glare doesn’t hide it. Take another break in shallow water to warm up. I recall fishing for steelhead with John, Peter, Sol and Jeff in freezing conditions for 10 hours and not being this cold.  Getting old sucks.

I put the Joe Stack back on and move below the sluice to work those holes.  At first no reaction.  Maybe the fly has gotten gooey.  I put on a fresh one. (I have plenty since Joe Odierna keeps me well supplied.) A long drift, and then leave it in a back wash which led to another miss.  I work the far side and the middle picking up 2 or 3 – all full color Brookies.  Back to the near side and two more, the last one, a large rainbow which lacks the beauty of the fall Brookies but is impressive in length.

I am chilled.  I have been for a while.  I need to get out and warm up – or maybe call it a day.  I look at my watch and can’t believe it is only 2 pm. I sit with my back to the sun until the chill leaves me which takes a while.  I think about fishing the beat again but decide I have had enough. 

I start back and pass the fellow who had #11 on beat 10.  I tell him he can fish 9 if he wants as I am leaving.  He asks how I did.  I give a general reply indicating I got some.  He says he only has had 2 yet sees so many and doesn’t know what to do, having changed flies so many times. He has a Woolly Bugger on. What more can a guy do? He pressed me for the actual number of fish and when I said about 10 he asked what I was using.  I showed him the Joe Stack.  “I have something like that” and began going through his tackle bag on the bank, opening fly boxes and showing them to me. I offer him a fly off my patch which he declines as he continues to look. Good for him.  I wish him luck and move on.

When at the crossing I take a few casts, still awkward but I can see the fly and work it here and there. Once I get it deep in the hole, near the old tree that used to arch across,  a nice Rainbow takes the dry and fortunately gets herself off after a few minutes of battle.  Auto release works for me lately. I am done. 

This may be my last trip to the river for 2021.  I have had a full year and need to take some time to regenerate the yearning again.

As I walk by #16 I notice the little trickle of a spring above the tree is running strong.  They did do some clean up on it and the high water also helps, but I have never seen it so full.

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