Month: March 2018

Where Do You Draw The Line ?

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Where do you draw the line between development and progress and protection of a fragile resource or ecosystem ? Where do you draw the line on publicizing a fishery and showing wonderful trout specimens from it ? For me, it is when the potential for the degradation of a trout stream outweighs what potential extra fishing pressure may ensue. Normally I would never post a picture like this one and name where it was caught but, in this case I must.

This brown was caught and released in Roaring Brook, a tributary of  the Willimantic, in Willington, Connecticut. I tell you this and show you this because the next hurdle for Love’s Travel Stop is coming.

I was made aware of this next step by Kathy Demers yesterday of the Willington Conservation Commission. She informed me of the following which is summarized as below via her :

Love’s Travel Stop proposed to the Town of Willington to construct a Travel/Truck Stop and Restaurant off of exit 71 on Rt 84 on Polster Rd, in Willington. The property is 40 acres and contains portions of Roaring Brook, two wetlands that drain directly into it and several other wetlands that act as vernal pools.

Roaring Brook is a Class 3 WTMA and is habitat for brook trout as well as brown trout- both stocked and naturally reproducing.

Love’s did receive approval from Willington’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission ( IWWC ) in 2012. It also received approval from Willington’s Planning and Zoning Commission ( PZC ) in 2013 but with some conditions to in order to minimize risks to Roaring Brook and the wetlands.

At that time, their plans were not complete for a septic system and are now applying  to CT DEEP for a permit to install and operate a subsurface waste water absorption system. This would be a commercial size that would handle 6,000 to 9,000 gallons per day.

I’m not going to go into great detail here but the leaching field system is located approximately 120 feet from what is named Wetland ” H ”  which functions as a tributary to Roaring Brook. In 2013, the cold waters of this particular wetland was documented by Brian Murphy, a DEEP fisheries staff ,  to contain native brook trout fry !

What is particularly alarming from what I understand is that the site disturbance and clearing needed to construct and maintain the leaching field would come within 20 feet of Wetland ” H  ” and from that edge of  ” H “, it is less than 300 feet to where it runs into Roaring Brook.

Now, I’m not very savvy at embedding links but if you Google or look on DEEP’s website, you should find Brian’s 2013 report as well as DEEP’s Public Hearing Process and Schedule. Please take the time to look them up. In the meantime, Kathy provided me some important dates- which I will be attending !

1.) There is a public site walk on Monday April 23rd beginning at 10:00 am. It is about 0.2 miles from 3 Polster Rd in Willington ( left side ).

2.) There is a public hearing on Tuesday April 24th at the Willington Public Library at 6:00 pm. HOWEVER, the community room opens up at 5:30 pm for the public to view exhibits and talk with DEEP and Love’s Travel Stop representatives.

3.) The public can also send letters directly to DEEP’s Hearing Officer with their comments, concerns, and questions.  The deadline for that is May 4th.

Here is one link I am able to embed:

http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?A=2586&Q=601134

Roaring Brook is an established fishery and worth protecting. I hope you will read this and share and I hope to see some of you at one of these meetings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enough is Enough

 

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Spring is almost here but you wouldn’t know that by looking out my backyard or yours for that matter.  March’s saying, ” In like a lion ” is definitely true this year. Hopefully it goes ” Out like a lamb.” At least we have plenty of snowpack. A friend of mine who has an excellent blog, Rowan Lytle of Connecticut Fly Angler, recently wrote about all the benefits of having snowpack melt for spring time. I would tend to agree. It melts more slowly and allows for seepage into our underground supplies, fills sink holes, and overall contributes to the water table in all the right ways, which is extremely important for Eastern Connecticut.

Just prior to our second and third nor’easter in 2 weeks, I was able to get some quality fish. Some were wild browns and one was a beefy holdover bow- a real testament to trout management areas, catch and release, and stricter fishing regulations on what type of tackle can be used.

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Although I caught this guy nymphing a streamer, the rest were caught using wet flies that imitate the early stone fly.

I love using wets for this particular insect, more so than dries because I feel it is both effective and enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, I love skating a dry version of it, too, and seeing trout bust the surface for them. But in order to cover water and really work some ground, I think a cast of  wets works the best. Since these stones are active and lively, a pair of wets actively worked over fish just makes a lot of sense and a ton of fun. too !

I sometimes will have a weighted nymph as my point fly and then tie in two other wet flies as my droppers . I will often put an attractor as my top fly. If conditions are right, I can see the attractor as my top dropper and judge what the rest are doing ( Connecticut allows for three flies maximum ).  However, most of the time I just use two wets as a cast and work them over any likely fish holding water.

It is rewarding when you see the flash of a fish, or feel them hit the dropper, or see the ” curve ” of your line ” take up ” and then feel the weight and fight of a fish. Also, it is a great way to explore water you are not familiar with and find where fish are. I don’t hunt but a friend of mine equates blindly fishing wets to hunting rabbits….you are covering ground and all of a sudden…bam !

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A variety of flies can mimic these guys. I like to have them in sizes 16, 14, 12.  I will tie them in a variety of ways and colors. Currently they are a blackish, reddish, gray body with black to dun’ish colored legs and mottled wing, depending on where you are in the state and which river you are fishing. Anything that is dark in color with a traditional feather or quill wing will probably suffice since the trout will be looking up and keying in on active, moving flies. Here are some of the flies I recently tied and will use as soon as I can get out again.

Notice that they have a turkey or duck quill wing to them and/or are heavily hackled ? That is so they provide extra motion and movement. Admittedly, I am not the greatest tier so some of my proportions are off a bit…. fish zoned in on the active stones aren’t nearly as picky with proportions, especially when you are actively moving them- they don’t have the time to scrutinize them. In addition, the higher and faster water of spring ( definitely this year ) flows means that you can often get away with slightly larger sizes of flies and heavier hackled ones, too.

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One final thought: Nymphing wets can be deadly at times as well.  My buddy Joe will put shot on and nymph a pair of wets facing upstream and as they drift below him, he will let the current uplift them and then start to work them actively up through the water column with a hand and twist retrieve and/or bounce of the rod tip.

Good luck out there. Hopefully we won’t get a fourth nor’easter next week. Three in two weeks is unprecedented and  is ENOUGH !

 

 

 

 

 

History Repeats/Spring Marches On

History does in fact repeat itself and spring marches on each year whether we feel it or not. Last year, practically to the week , I wrote a blog about how it started to feel like spring, show signs of spring, and the joy of catching some early spring, stocked fish on my favorite Eastern Connecticut streams. Then, a snow storm hit that dumped measurable and plowable amounts of snow. Well, look what’s happening again, except this time I was fishing for some wild trout.

It hardly seemed like a nor’easter is at our doorstep today. The sun was out, it was seasonably warm, and one of the first signs of spring was in the air, the smell of skunk cabbage. It is one of the first of the flora to show itself. Although spring doesn’t arrive until the 20th, it is spring in meteorological terms.

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Whenever I smell and see these guys, I know things are improving.

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And when I see these guys, too.

Since the state has not stocked any local TMA’s yet, I went for some wild fish.

I carefully worked a pair of wets in and around wood, undercut banks, logjams, and deeper runs and caught enough fish to be happy and content for a few days.

This particular stream doesn’t give up many fish but it does hold a decent population but, you have to work for them.

It runs cold most of the time/year and it is crystal clear so you have to be able to cast for distance in some tighter places, around cover, and be comfortable with losing some flies now and again.  Because it was in the low 40’s for most of the day  with water temps to match, I really had to hold my cast of flies in a particular seam for what seemed like an eternity  before a few of the browns decided to strike.  One  didn’t though and it struck one of my  flies readily. The only problem was he was well hidden under an undercut bank, under some brush debris that was pinned in by a downed tree.

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You can see why it chose that place to live. Luckily I was fishing my ADG Titanium Rod and was able to play it under the undercut/ brush by sticking my rod tip under it and then coaxing it out and into the blow down and then work my rod in and around the tree limbs with both hands until I was downstream  of everything and could really affect a quick land and release. The ADG’s tip is sensitive enough to feel the trout on even when your snared in debris, and it is durable and tough enough to handle jamming it into stuff like I described without breaking in an instant. It has pre-pegged titanium wire wrapped within the graphite. I have a bunch of these rods and only broke one tip since 2003.

Another reason why I was able to land that fish is because I don’t bother with fine tippets most of the time. One of the bad trends in fly fishing and is partly due to the Euro nymphing guys is that everyone thinks that they need super long and fine diameters to fish….bullshit ! If you tie your leaders right and use the right kinds of cast like a slack leader cast with dry-fly fishing or a tuck cast with nymphing, than you do not ever need to go super fine. In fact, I almost never go below 3X/4X with nymphing  and 4X/5X with dry flies unless the eye of the hook is so tiny that I need 6X.  I’ve fished the Farmington like this, out West, and on some of Pennsylvania’s most pressured waters and have been successful. Give the fish a fighting chance and muscle them in and release then fast !

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Enough with the rant and back to the story. This was the scene last year. Winter storm Elsa is supposed to give us 5-10 inches in my area. That looks to be about right.

History does repeat itself….

 

 

 

” They Still Can Be Caught “

Last month myself and my friend Rowan journeyed to Pennsylvania for a number of reasons. First, I had to visit Joe and his family and attend a benefit dinner by the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum where Joe was the guest of honor. Also in attendance was George Daniel and Greg Hoover. George, who is one of Joe’s students and one of the world’s best fly fisherman, gave a very touching speech about Joe.  Greg, who is one of our nation’s most famous and well-respected entomologists, gave a presentation on the ” Little Blue Wing Olive “. It turned out to be an excellent event. Rowan had never met Joe and I felt he would greatly appreciate meeting a living legend and one of his fly fishing idols. Unfortunately, due to a few other circumstances, Rowan was not able to spend any time with Joe on the stream… perhaps another day though !

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Another reason Rowan and I went to PA is to fish Spring Creek and possibly some other famous Limestoner’s of Central PA. Again, Rowan had never fished in Central PA and I felt that he would have a blast fishing some of the most famous and historic waters of Pennsylvania and of our nation. As it turned out, we were only able to fish at Benner Springs and Fisherman’s Paradise with the ” Paradise ” being our best hope for fish since Spring Creek and everywhere else was at flood stage.

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The ” Paradise ”  is a fly fishing only section with no wading allowed that has challenged even the greatest fly fisherman in history both past and present and is considered hallowed ground by many.

Well, we were gonna get a testing on our trip because Spring Creek on average runs around 99-100 c.f.s. and that weekend it was consistently in the upper 300’s, near 400 c.f.s- essentially flood stage ! And Sunday morning, our last day, we saw it rise even higher !

So, despite horrid conditions and dismal weather projections, we still had to fish NO MATTER WHAT  ( it did help that we didn’t have to wade because that would have been suicidal ) !

I have been with Joe when conditions were like this and even though the river is flooded, he has said before ” they still can be caught “, hence the title of this blog. And I’ve witnessed him doing it, too !

Here are some ideas to think about and consider when you try to fish water like this:  fish close, very close; fish velocity changes; fish edges between clearer water and muddier water; fish deep and fish SLOW most of the time; and fish around structure.

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Look at how close, low and slow Rowan is fishing. Also, by fishing tight to the bank, he is fishing water that is a bit clearer, calmer,  and slower with lots of velocity change.

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This one he picked up literally on the bank in and among some debris that was pushed into a little crevice and created some break in the water and shelter. Several of our fish were caught sight fishing ON THE LAWN of the grounds if you could believe that.

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The suckers are just about to start their spawning process in Central PA and I caught this one nymphing slow and deep with a ” junk ” fly, a Chartreuse Mop Fly. Yes I felt bad doing it but with flooding waters you need to use big flies, bright flies,  flies that move, provide motion and have a bit of flash in them.

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I also caught a few wild browns in the same kind of water and near the suckers. The water was slow and deep and slightly less ” brown ” than the main flow which was a torrent. They also took the mop fly because they could see it and perhaps some suckers were laying eggs, who knows ?

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By getting into the right position, using a tuck cast, using the right leader, and using the correct amount of weight, I was able to stay on the bottom long enough to pick up fish.

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But, a good portion of our fish came from fishing a Filet Mignon for the trout.

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Sculpins ! Even with these guys, we had to use a lot of weight, fish them deep, and fish them right on the edges of the bank and/or SUPER tight to any kind of structure that could have given a trout some relief from the current.

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Remember when I said we were fishing the lawn of the grounds ? Well, I wasn’t kidding ! We were sight fishing for the smaller browns with cress bugs. They would root and tail like a bone fish or carp in the grass for cress bugs pushed into the grass by the water. Rowan had captured some very cool pictures and a short video of it. Check his blog out on Connecticut Fly Angler. His blogs are worth reading by the way.

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By being observant and figuring out where trout might be in a flood, you can often find what you are looking for. Again, this is a spot where the grounds keepers will be mowing soon….hahaha.

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This creek is just loaded with wild browns around 9-10 inches with sizes much larger, too ! We really didn’t get into a hogs but Rowan caught a beautiful brown around 15-16 inches and missed one in a back channel that was much larger. All in all our numbers were very good considering what we were up against and left Rowan jonzing for another trip before we had even departed for home…I think he’s hooked on PA !

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This is what makes Central PA so special. Limestone…oh how I wish you were here in Connecticut !

Until May…..