On Wednesday, Veterans’ Day, my fly fishing buddy Doover2 had the day off and explored the Salmon River in southeastern Connecticut near Colchester. Inexplicably, he was able to catch over two dozen trout without my help.
He reported there weren’t many people fishing on the Salmon, even on a holiday. I couldn’t wait to go with him on Saturday. It should be a banner day of fishing. After all, how much could the hot-fishing change in just three days? I see you shaking your head.
Prior to the intel I received from Doover2, I didn’t even know there was a Salmon River in Connecticut. Because of the drought, almost all of my fishing since March has been on the Deerfield or Farmington. I was ready for a change of river. The good people who stock trout in Connecticut thought that November would be a good time to add some new fish to their rivers, and they will get no argument from me.
I got excited thinking that maybe no one would notice that the river had been stocked, and Doover2 and I would have the river to ourselves on Saturday. See “Fat Chance” in the dictionary.
When Doover2 and I drove our separate cars onto the road that parallels the river at 7:30 am Saturday morning, there were already six to eight cars in the pull-off by the Comstock Covered Bridge. Apparently, the Salmon River is not an unknown river except to myself. Every pull-off was filled with vehicles.
Fortunately for D2 and me, a spin-cast guy was just leaving when we pulled up to a spot where D2 had had success on Wednesday. D2 and I moved into a beautiful section of river where he had caught a half dozen trout three days before.
After about 20 minutes without a bite, we looked at each other from 30 yards away and shrugged our shoulders in the universal sign for “what happened?”
The answer was obvious, and deep down inside we knew it. But when it comes to fishing, it’s easy to be blind to anything that may damper expectations.
On Wednesday, it had been 70 degrees; Saturday morning, it was 34 degrees. On Wednesday, the previous five days had been sunny and bright; on Saturday, the previous two days had been rainy and cold. On Wednesday, the trout were getting over the shock of being newly stocked and were getting an appetite; on Saturday the trout had sore lips from having them pierced by D2 and many others.
D2 suggested we go downstream around the bend in the river and fish the pocket water and riffles there. It looked very inviting.
I found a slow spot in the faster water and as I drifted a Higa’s SOS through it, the sighter paused ever-so-slightly and I set the hook on a 14” brook trout. It was all colored up, and was one of those trout that looked so amazing that it made you feel happy to be alive.
I also managed to catch two rainbows out of that stretch while Doover2 also brought two to the net. We decided to try out other areas, but in hindsight, I wish we had stayed in that area all day.
We fruitlessly fished a shallow stretch of rocky riffles for a half hour before patiently perusing the roiling river for more welcoming water.
The next spot looked fairly deep as we came down the elevated path from where we parked the cars, but when we got closer, most of the river seemed to be knee deep or less. I picked a spot to enter the river, and somehow failed to notice another fisherman slightly downstream of where I intended to fish. I apologized for my intrusion and asked if he was moving upstream or down. He was moving upstream and, between puffs on his cigar, he volunteered that an egg pattern in the fast water had yielded at least 15 trout.
That was helpful news indeed, but it left me in a quandary. Since he was there first, I didn’t want to jump upstream in front of him. But on the other hand, I didn’t really want to go downstream and fish behind someone who had been very successful, using the same fly pattern he was using. He probably caught many of the fish that were actively feeding. I think I’d rather fish behind someone who had not been catching fish than fishing behind someone who has been. That’d be a good thought to ponder on a fishing eve when I can’t sleep.
I went about 100 yards downstream of him and managed to catch what appeared to be a stream-bred brown trout with parr marks on a soft hackle Hare’s Earr. After that, I decided to go a long way downstream and hopefully get beyond where Mr. Cigar had fished.
I was fishing with a small, white egg on a size 18 hook with a small tungsten bead. Below that I dropped a size 14 Guide’s Choice Hare’s Ear. After a while of not catching anything, the bane of my existence as a fly fisherman began to surface: fly insecurity. I began to wonder what was wrong with my egg.
If Cigar Guy had caught 15 on his egg, why hadn’t I caught any on mine? Was mine too big or too small, was it the wrong color, was it not round enough, was the bead a mistake? There’s a reason why my avatar on Instagram is “Wrong Fly.” I can’t get it through my thick skull that it’s the guy more than the fly. I tell you, I am a basket case.
Eventually, I found a couple of places where the shallow water dropped into Jacuzzi-sized pools and brought two rainbows in on, lo and behold, the egg pattern. Saved me $200 on a shrink.
In the course of moving up and down the river, I lost track of Doover2. When we reconnected at the cars, he had had no luck in that stretch. We left the Salmon River at noon and began the two hour trip back to the Boston area.
For me, six trout on a cold day was not bad, but I still wish I’d been there on Wednesday. Maybe I should change my avatar to “Wrong Day.”
I liked the Salmon River. It was easy to wade, there wasn’t much development near the river so its natural beauty was highlighted, and there were sections that were “Fly Fishing Only.”
However, it is not a best-kept-secret-fishing-location. From my limited exposure, my guess is that the quality of the fishing correlates with the frequency of the stocking. I’m glad to have another November option.