A Willimantic River Fallfish.
The Willy is one of many rivers and streams in Eastern CT that has abundant populations of Fallfish and on this particular river, some are large as trout.
The Willy has become my run to river when I need to get out and fish something really quick because it is so close to me. It has degraded over the years for trout but the TMA section still holds some year-round trout. I’ve even run across a few holdovers in normally stocked sections, especially this year since much of our summer was very friendly for trout with cooler temps and regular precipitation. However, it is marginal and most of it becomes a warm water fishery during the summer months and into the fall. That being said, you can still have a lot of fun catching bass, perch, and sun fish.
BUT….besides trout, its the Fallfish that keeps me coming back. It is a native species so I’m ok with catching 50 of them on an outing and they hit flies like trout but with a little less weariness. I wouldn’t say they are a pushover either, I have seen them turn away from a dragging fly just as quick as a trout. But, they seem less picky in terms of fly selection and will strike flies readily if properly presented. They are in my opinion the perfect species to hone your skills on or teach a new fly-fisher how to play and land a fish. When I want to teach my eight year old son how to fly-fish, I bring him with me and have him catch a ton of Fallfish- he’s catching and having fun while still learning rod control, line control, etc… And for me, I often nymph them ‘old school’ to really zero in on seeing and feeling ‘ the take ‘.
So whenever you feel like your skills are getting a bit rusty but can’t get to a trout river like the Housy or Farmington, fish that Eastern CT river or stream right next door to you and go have some fun with a fish that doesn’t get enough credit or recognition.