Season Opener

March 31, 2021 – Connetquot River State Park

April 1st is the official opening of trout season but it is supposed to be cold and rainy tomorrow so I went today.  I took the morning session and purposely got to the gate after most of the others had arrived so I could pick a site that had some room to roam, hopefully upstream.  I am bringing my son here for the first time next week and want to scout the fishing – plus I need to get out!

I was number 8 and 2 or 3 more came after me.  When I got to the window I was happy to see two upper beats, 27 and 30, were taken. Maybe word is getting out, perhaps from my presentations,  that people should fish all the beats. I took 24, not that it is any better or worse than the others but 21, through 26 are empty so I should be able to roam a bit. It is about 8:15 by the time I head to the river.

The water is moving, there seems to be more volume and speed.  The path has been cleared a bit and numbers have been repainted on the fishing piers in a dayglow orange.  They have been working up here.  Some, but not all, of the streamside brush has been trimmed, and a few log and rock perches constructed to access the water. The Park also removed some woody debris which has changed the nature of the water, making it more canal like again. I hope they don’t groom it too much.

I walk slowly up the river looking for fish and see very few but it is early.  I start at 24, as I should, with a Black Nosed Dace and eventually get a follow downstream of the platform but no connection.  I move to 25 and then 26, working the Dace. I put on a small but heavy Green Woolly Bugger and it is awkward to work at a distance.  It hangs up a few times and draws no attention.

It is near 10 am and suddenly there are a few rises, soft ones but from substantial fish.  (The first was under a bush and I thought it may be a muskrat.) Taking something just under the surface.  It is over cast and rain is expected. I switch to a Blue Winged Olive in a 16. CDC wing so I don’t grease it.

Added a few more feet of 6x and flipped it into the flow although with the pruning they have done, I can actually cast at some spots. It drifts down.  I work the near water first: center, left and right. The fly eventually is riding in the film, maybe an inch or two below. At the end of the drift I twitch.  Actually I twitch it a few times before the end. I inch it back to me with a Bergman finger twist, let it sweep from side to side, give it some short pulls.  Fish on!

A bright rainbow in the 15 inch range, I shake her off to avoiding netting. I work further down and have another of the same class. Good, strong fish with bright color. I move down to 25 and try the same.  25 was a great spot last season as it had cover and in-stream wood. Always seemed to hold more than one fish, which was unusual up here.  Now it is a straight run and nobody seems to be home.  No rises, no hits.

At 24 I am into them again using the same techniques but these don’t shake off as easily.  Once in the net, two are bright but the third is that mottled silver of a recent plant. I walk back to 25 to see if it woke up.  Nada.

The shoulder is starting to ache a bit so I move down to 23 and then 22, not fishing very hard.

Two other points – I am using new prescription sunglasses and the polarization is not as good as my old ones.  Lots of cloudy-bright glare.  The other is my rod:  I chose the Fran Betters 7 footer and it is just a great rod.  I am throwing and sometimes drifting a 12 foot leader on this short rod and it behaves beautifully.

Walking out I try a cast or two at 18 but I am finished and am in the car texting Sue that I am on my way before noon. As I go to leave I see three guys walking through the gate to the upper river.  Word is getting out. Mission accomplished?

The Old Canal at Connetquot