I think it had been about 5 weeks since I'd been fishing. Regretfully, I've been dealing with anemia that has left me so tired that even wading is a chore. I simply didn't have the energy to fish. I'm hopeful that we are about to a solution to the anemia issue, and I'll be back to normal energy levels soon.
A friend was heading to far northeastern VT for an entire day on the upper Connecticut yesterday, and I managed to rally for a day of fishing with him.
I had last fished the upper Connecticut on a float trip in 1997, which is an absurd amount of time to not fish such a great river. That float trip in 1997 was perhaps my best fishing day ever in Vermont, and the biggest brown trout that I've ever caught in VT was caught on a bead head muddler minnow that day. I also managed the rare rainbow/brown/brookie combo that day, something that's hard to do in VT on a single river.
So, why so long between trips? To be honest, getting to the northeast corner of VT is a challenge. There are no direct roads, or even close to direct roads. I can honestly get to Fenway Park faster from my house than I can get to the northeast corner of VT.
I got up at 4:15, on the road at 4:30, and and my partner was a bit late for our 5:30 meeting time, but we were on the water before 9:00. My partner was fishing woolly buggers - olive - and mostly stripping them. He was into fish quickly. I was fishing a 3 fly rig of a muddler minnow, prince nymph and pheasant tail. I let my partner have one section and I headed upstream. I worked down through a long riffle, fighting to get a nice dead drift with my nymphs. But, that turned out not to matter too much. The fish either weren't deep or they were really looking up, because my strikes all came near the end of the cast, as the flies finished their final swing and started moving to the surface. I managed to hook 5 and land 4 fish in an hour or so. They were all beautiful wild trout, basically underneath a bridge, with very easy car access to this spot. The water was a bit chilly (overcast day) at 62F, wading waist deep, but many of the locals were wet wading.
I headed back to where my partner was fishing and he was still getting into some fish. He wanted to adjust my rig a bit. He didn't like my float indicator and replaced it with a Thingamabobber strike indicator. I have to say that these are probably my least favorite strike indicators, and I didn't keep it on very long. But, after removing it, I tried a different tactic. I started fishing my nymphs by stripping them. And, in half an hour, I had at least 10 strikes and landed 4 more fish.
And then, the fishing kind of died down. My partner caught one fish where I'd been to start, but it was slow. We explored some other water a few miles upstream, but never found anything promising that offered safe wading. This really looks like a great stretch of water to float, simply to learn the best fishing spots. A trip on a boat with a GPS unit to set waypoints would be invaluable.
So, we returned to where we'd fished in the morning. Things were pretty slow. I hiked about half a mile upstream to some nice looking water. It had been cloudy all day, and suddenly the sun popped out for a bit. In the small pool that I was about to fish, a sudden hatch of BWOs appeared. A few fish started coming to the surface. And, for 15 minutes or so, every cast I made resulted in a strike. I only got 2 of these fish to the net, and missed a bunch more, but it was amazing. Then, the cloud cover came back, the BWOs disappeared, and the fish stopped biting. It was like I was fishing in barren water, but I knew that water was full of fish. They just weren't biting any more.
Overall, we got about 20 wild rainbows to the net. Nothing was really big. My 2 biggest fish were the last 2, and both went just over 12". I think Paul got a 14" fish. But, in a area with easy access and lots of pressure from locals who keep every fish they catch, I was amazed at the number of fish in this water. This river is simply full of fish. I know there are some browns and brookies in there too, but we didn't catch any.
I just wish it was closer to home, but I need to make the effort to fish there more often.