The Still River, Connecticut

May 2 – Connecticut – 

French toast for 30 hungry fisherpersons for breakfast.  The efficiency of Susan and Howie assisted by Anne Marie and Rich is impressive. Delicious toast as well. The night was a cold one dipping into the 30’s.  The tent boys are telling of frozen noses while I complain of a noisy, but effective, heater in my room.

The guys mix and match and head off to various spots.  Ken and Mike had good luck with Ed in the State forest, bearing to the left instead of going to the bridge, so I tell them that is where I will start. I get there and it is crowded.  It is Saturday. A TU chapter is having an outing and the road is jammed with cars.  I keep going figuring I can at least look at the rest of the river, even if it is full.  Once past the crowd there are few cars. I have a site to myself and leave room for any of the other guys to pull in, should they come by.

It is an attractive spot with a rock fall across the length stirring up the currents and producing some pockets and runs. I work it over with my emerger and then switch to a dry, a nymph, and a streamer. Nobody seems to be home.  Downriver a spinner gets one but that is the only one. I take a break up on the bank, accommodated by a picnic table.  I watch the water for action.

I like new water.  That was a part of the appeal of this trip.  I have never been here before.  There are two rivers that form this one. The Still and the Bigelow. The junction is not far from here.  I reason that there will be another hatch around 3 – 4 this afternoon as yesterday and take the time to explore. The information provided by the trip leaders offered details on these rivers and their access points. I drive up along the Still and take a look.  I return to the access just below Route 44.

I am still using the emerger which truth be told is a version of an Isonychia spinner with a CDC wing and single hackle tied parachute.  The tails had broken off at some point yesterday, perhaps improving its relevance to the season. I see fish.  I work my way down from the bridge that has two boys on it staring at the water. In an upstream chute I flip the fly and am surprised by a nice brown who puts up reasonable resistance, given his size. He is beautifully colored with very large spots. (Later the guys talk of catching tiger brookies.  Striped in a tiger like way on the sides.  I am looking forward to seeing one. They were caught below the lodge in the campground.)  This guy is well hooked and it takes the forceps to remove the barbless hook. I want a photo but he slips from my hand and heads for cover.

The river is well rocked and wadable, but not easy.  I get on the bank to walk down and find no streamside path as you would expect.  Lots of briars and bushes to maneuver around. I periodically go to the stream to fish a stretch and then get out and walk down further.  It is an uncomfortable process, but my goal, unconsciously, has become to make it to the junction. I begin to get frustrated by the transit and remember that I did not sleep well the night before.  I am grouchy.

Here in this beautiful place, doing what I enjoy, visiting new water and I am grouchy. What is wrong with me? I sit on the bank by a serpentine stretch with new grass and skunk cabbage – sure signs of spring and a promise of the green that is to come shortly. I think about my attitude and try to get a grip. Yes, I do want to see the junction and, Yes, I do want to fish the Bigelow, but not if it is going to ruin my day.  I make some mental adjustments and move catching fish to a lower priority and assume my hiking mode.

I continued walking. There were some nice undercut banks, tree roots and boulder pockets along the way.  All very promising but unresponsive to my cursory attempts to fish them. The Charlie Brown Trailer Park was coming into view.  I knew the Bigelow was before the camp so I had to be close but I could not see the junction. This was a much longer walk than I had calculated when driving on 198.  I worked down a bit further and then climbed up the bank and crossed over to the stream.

The park’s mowed lawn reached right down to the bank with multiple trailers lining the shore. A few families around, some rock throwing kids and a few wood splitters and stackers, all waved and asked the required question: “Get any?”  One lady offered the tip that The Hole was just ahead.  Since this stretch of the river was featureless, I asked if I could cross her property to the road and she gladly gave permission. Nice folks here at Charley Brown.

I came to a wire fence, more of a demarcation than a functional restraint.  Beyond it was The Hole. Ahead I could see the 198 bridge.  I crossed and fished The Hole with a streamer as it was large and very deep; even took the time to add some weight.  A nice undercut bank has to hold some fish but they, as the others I have certainly passed by today, were not interested and I was not patient enough to figure it out. I got out by the bridge, walked back to my car for lunch, also supplied by the LIFR hosts. Fished the adjacent Still River again but just the near water.  My colorful brown did not come back.

It was late afternoon so I headed back to the Campsite and the Natchaug, fishing upstream until dinner time, walking further and hoping for a hatch.

Back at the car I sat with Mike and Rocco joined us.  He was telling of all his fish and the flies he uses to bring them up. Mike asked if he would mind showing them to us. He happily complied and Mike and I got a lesson in fishing Rocco style.  Emergers all.

After a dinner of amazing pork tenderloin on the BBQ, I headed out to fish Diana’s Pool. It was full of fisherpersons so I decided to call it a day, heading for the motel and a good book – Rob Romano’s new one – Brook Trout Blues – Birch Brook Press.

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