I had my heart set on fishing the Deerfield River on Saturday. I knew it hadn’t been replenished with trout yet, but I was looking forward to getting back into some of my favorite runs and seeing if a few holdover browns had moseyed back into them as the weather had warmed. I’m not hard to please. That’s all I needed.
Just before setting out for the Deerfield Saturday morning, I took a glance at the discharge schedule for Fife Brook Dam. To my chagrin, I saw the following message:
HIGH FLOW CONDITIONS
Sat March 27 01:00AM EDT
Flows have exceeded station discharge capabilities and spill gates are now in use. The flow is now over 2,000 cfs. River activities are extremely dangerous at this time. Please use caution on or around the river.
That’s all I needed! Now where should I go?
I had heard that the Farmington River hasn’t been kind lately to regular guys like me who have more love-for-the-game than know-how. With all the great weather we’ve been having, you would think there would be some good options in Massachusetts by now. Every pond, lake, and mudpuddle in Massachusetts has been filled to the brim with trout, while the rivers of the state are treated by MassWildlife like a Yankees fan at Fenway Park. I’m sure they have their reasons, but for the life of me….
So, once again, I turned to the good people at Connecticut’s DEEP to aid and abet my addiction. I noticed that the Quinebaug River had been stocked along numerous stretches the previous day. I wasn’t familiar with the Quinebaug, but it was a half hour closer to Boston than the Farmington which helped its appeal tremendously. I decided to drive down to one of the furthermost stocking points from Boston and then work my way back up the river during the course of the day.
Fishing new rivers is always a crap-shoot. Sometimes you hit the jackpot, and sometimes you get cleaned out. I was expecting to find hordes of fishermen at each major bridge that crossed the river. With a little patience, I could work my way into a decent spot and have as good a shot as any at catching a few SNITs (stocked nine-inch trout). That’s all I needed.
The first place I stopped was perfect. I was surprised at how big and wide the Quinebaug River was, but from the bridge it looked wade-able and there were already four fishermen there when I arrived. By the time I got my gear on, a space had cleared out for me with two fishermen upstream and two downstream.
The area I was trying to fish looked great and I was confident in my ability to fool the mighty SNIT. But after a Woolly Bugger, egg, Squirmy, soft-hackled Hare’s Ear, and Pat’s Rubber Legs failed to bring me any action, I looked around and all my new fishing buddies were leaving the river. On his way past me, one of the guys said, “I haven’t had a bite.” Apparently, none of the others had either.
I stayed a little longer and fished in some of the places I would go to if I were a stockie, but apparently the GenX stockies don’t think the same way the Boomer stockies think. I don’t know what they are teaching them in the nurseries these days.
I went to two other apparent stocking places (bridges) on the Quinebaug River on Saturday and, strangely enough, there were no other fishermen there and no signs of any trout either.
In a way, I didn’t mind. After all, I was a guy coming in from out-of-state trying to catch some fish in Connecticut. It’s only right for the locals to have the insider information to know where the trout are stocked and have first dibs on them. If I am not savvy enough to find where they stock the trout, bully for the Nutmeggers.
At noon I found myself near a place on the Shetucket River where Doover2 had scored a few trout two weeks previously. I decided to check it out. Again, I had never fished the Shetucket and when I arrived at the spot D2 told me about, the river looked great with lots of different types of water that would hold fish. There were about eight other fishermen there who thought the same thing.
As I scouted out the area, everyone was telling me that they had seen fish but couldn’t catch them. It was apparent that the fish in that area were getting hammered by fishermen. The survivors were not going to be easily fooled.
I remembered fishing in Colorado one year in June as the snow melt runoff made the Poudre River largely unwadeable. Highway 14 ran alongside the river and the road side of the river had been fished heavily for several weeks and was yielding few fish.
One of my fishing buddies that day was an athletic guy in his late teens who saw an opportunity. He decided to try to wade across the river to fish the other side. It was a bit foolhardy. I dialed 9-1- on my cell phone just in case, but he made it. He also caught three dozen trout while the rest of us fished in vain from the other side.
The Shetucket River was too strong to wade across, and as I get older, I try not to be too foolhardy. But I couldn’t help but think that maybe there were some willing trout on the other side if I could just get to them. A short reconnaissance trip in my car and a chance encounter with a friendly landowner gave me access to the river directly across from where my eight fellow fishermen labored.
I caught six nice trout as they watched from the other side. And that’s all I needed.