Northwest Corner, Conn. 2019 edition

ctshooter

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Brookies and rainbows in the Naugatuck and some of little feeder streams, mostly on dries. Still lots to learn, but having fun when I'm not cursing that one branch that seems to be able to reach out and grab a fly in mid air
 

patrick62

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Housatonic report July 1 --

Gave a lesson to a ten year old boy at the falls yesterday morning. I set him up with a CGR 7.5 foot 5/6 with a DT6 and panfish poppers. He caught two bluegills and one smallie, and tickled quite a few others. He's a good student so he got a reasonably good cast going.

Evening I went back down but the falls area was swarming with picnickers and guys with surfcasting rods and five-gallon buckets. Instead I went just downstream of the kayak gates and tried unsuccessfully to entice smallies to the surface with poppers and gurglers.

(Which always reminds me of the list of drugs in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas":

"We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers... and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.
"Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.” )

Never mind that. None of it worked, and Cahills were present. So i tied on a two-fly rig of Light Cahill wet (size 12) and Light Cahill beadhead (size 16). That did it. All but one of the dozen smallies I subsequently caught took the wet. I experimented with two wets (nope), a bread and butter to get it down further (nope) and a drop shot (nope). The moment I went back to the original configuration the hits started again. Right spot in the water column? The small nymph getting their attention, which then turns to the larger wet fly? Beats me.

I remembered to bring a thermometer and at 6:30 p.m., with the sun off the water for about an hour, the water temp was still 74. So it's bass time and we should leave the trout alone at least until the August white flies, when everything with fins is on the move and you find trout in the most unlikely places.
 

patrick62

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July 4 weekend -- Fished a little blue line with a prototype rod from a friend of mine. He's got a name in mind but I have dubbed it "The Phunk Stick."

With the heat most of the little blue lines are too warm to safely fish but this one had water temps between 58-62. Lots of cover, canopy, deep holes and most of the springs are still running.

The Phunk Stick is the brainchild of my buddy, who has gone almost completely over to the Tenkara side. It is a weird combination of the genes of a spinning rod, fly rod and Tenkara rod.

How so?

It is made from a 5 foot 8 inch spinning rod blank, with a wooden handle. It has a single guide at the tip, with a swivel attached. To the swivel I tied first a 10-foot section of running line from a discarded WF6 line. Then I nailknotted a short piece of 1X nylon to that, and added smaller tippet as needed.

I also tried a standard Tenkara line from Bushi, and #3 level fluorocarbon line.

The running line was a bit too heavy for the stream. Too long as well. The #3 fluoro was too light unless the fly was heavy. So the Tenkara line was the winner, although I did cut it down to about seven feet.

Pros: Good for short flips and water loads. The brookies were down so size 12 beadhead buggers were key, and it flipped those over no sweat.

Cons: Blank is too stiff for bow-and-arrow casting, a drawback in close quarters. And of course it doesn't collapse, negating the portability that is a feature of Tenkara.

I also tested the Phunk Stick in the Housatonic, where it handled panfish and a medium-sized (16 inch) smallmouth easily.

Meanwhile the Housatonic is so warm that you don't even notice you're wet (assuming you are wet wading). The flow is such that the perambulatory angler can get just about anywhere, which is nice because the bass are also just about anywhere.

If you go pay attention to the hatches, particularly Cahills, since smallies and panfish eat those. They will take poppers; smaller ones did better.

The popular favorite was the one fly I would use in a contest on the Housatonic -- a brown wooly bugger.

I mentioned the "fell asleep in the bathtub and now the water is just kinda warm" aspect. I was thus amazed to catch a brown trout about half a mile below the Falls Village power station last night.

Clearly a recent stocker with a very poor sense of direction.
 

patrick62

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The Housatonic is low at 212 cfs at Falls Village. It is warm -- yesterday at high noon I got 82 degrees in the riffles below the power station.

The Lab -- the area at the lowest end of the falls where I like to teach newbies and test out things -- has quite a bit of water right now. That's because the power company is not diverting any water at the moment, or not much. So the no man's land between the dam and Great Falls and the Amesville bridge is moving along at a pretty good clip, which dissipates once past the power station where the river bed widens considerably.

Not to say you can't catch lots of smallmouth bass. You can. But I would try wading the stretches of the TMA that are hard to get to on foot at higher flows -- being mindful of the trout refuge areas, of course.

One overlooked fly for smallies is the wet fly. Especially bigger ones, size 10 or so. Leadwing Coachman, Light Cahill, any soft hackle, or those Tenkara flies. Try tying one two feet behind your popper.

I caught -- briefly -- what promised to be the biggest smallie of the year at the Lab while testing out a very short (5'11") Tenkara rod. It jumped a couple of times and then scooted into some heavy and very irregular water. The rod was pointing straight at it and everything was as strained as could be. Think hanging on to a dog on a leash when said dog has spotted a squirrel. I thought, here's where this $17.50 experiment ends but no, the knot on the popper broke, leaving rod and self intact but bemused. A minor and qualified triumph.

Little blue lines are too low and too warm. Time to hit the lake for largemouth.




The Lab Sunday night



Smallie -- not the big one,obviously -- caught with dainty little Tenkara rod. If I break the rod I can always use it as a tomato stake.



Dead catfish at power station, boat launch side. Yet another species in this weird river.



Young guy I know decided to take advantage of the unusual flow and piloted this mini kayak thing through the Lab



The Lab last night.
 

patrick62

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Nothing much has changed on the Housatonic. Cooler today and some rain in the forecast.

I've only been deliberately targeting smallmouth for about 10 years now and I think I've made it to the "intermediate" level.

When all else fails I use a brown wooly bugger.

Some fish from last few days



 

skunkedalot

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beautys!
wont be long now- white flies are coming. I predict a great season.
did you get those beauts by the falls pools.
BTW- Steve Colton has some interesting bass pics and patterns for the hous.
 

patrick62

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after a nice solid, sustained and gentle rain the Hous is up to almost 900 cfs and still rising, which is good all around except for fishing the next couple of days. By the weekend it should be down to a manageable level.

Meanwhile I will take a look at a little blue line or two, because with the rain came significantly lower air temps.
 

skunkedalot

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i hope that this is not a repeat of the last season whereby the river is not wadable during the hatch.
should be seeing the bugs in the next 7 to 10 days.
 

patrick62

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This happens far too often. The falls are not a swimming hole. Even the kayakers steer clear.

The Connecticut State Police reported at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 31, that they have recovered the body of a 22-year-old Brooklyn man who had drowned in the Housatonic River near the Great Falls.
The police had been called to Housatonic River Road in the Amesville section of Salisbury at about 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30. A swimmer had been reported lost in the river and it was suspected that he had drowned. Fire and EMS volunteers from area towns also came out to help in the search for the missing man, as did members of the Connecticut State Police dive team.
"The initial search of the area yielded negative results," the police said.
"Members of the State Police dive team returned to the scene Wednesday morning," according to the report released on July 31. "They were able to locate the body of Pablo Guante of Brooklyn, N.Y."
The Medical Examiner’s Office has been asked to conduct an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.
Area residents and, especially, visitors to the Northwest Corner are reminded that the Great Falls and the falls in Kent are extremely powerful, even if they look benign from the shore. There have been several drowning deaths, mostly of out-of-town residents, in recent years. Swimmers and bathers should note that even water that seems placid often has a very strong undertow; the falls themselves have an extremely strong pull. The rocks are slippery and treacherous all around the area. And there are complicated eddies around the rocks and the underwater holes that surround them. Anyone seeking relief from the heat should instead visit one of the area lakes; guest fees are charged at most of the public beaches but there are ways to access some of the lakes from different spots along their shores. It is always safest, however, to swim at public beaches with lifeguards on duty.
 

patrick62

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The white fly hatch is in full swing on the Housatonic.

This enjoyable and maddening event means getting to a nice silty spot at around 7 p.m. and then waiting an hour or so for the first big fat white bugs to come off. It's a burrowing bug, so in theory you want a silty spot for the full effect. You have to get there early because anglers who normally ignore the Housatonic during smallmouth season suddenly appear in herds.

If everything goes right, by 8:30 you will be in the middle of a bug blizzard. Simply heave your white wulff/cream spinner combo in the middle of the chaos and hang on.

Traditionally, your rig will get hopelessly tangled after an epic fight with an eight inch smallie, and you get to experience the traditional fun of tying new flies on in the dark, by headlamp, which of course attracts more bugs.

It is also traditional to get a mouthful of them. The unofficial motto of the white fly hatch is "Ptooey."

Finally, around 9 p.m., it is too dark to see anything. But do not let that dissuade you.

I hit it the other night with forum member skunkedalot, who did not live up to his name.

Last night it rained and I had a family obligation, but I will be out again tonight.

You want lots of white wulffs, big ones -- size 10 is good. Cream spinners. Millers. Usuals. Light Cahills in a pinch. I've caught them on a Haystack, even.

Prior to kickoff try swinging Light Cahill wets and/or nymphs. Or any other white wet fly or nymph you have handy. I am going to incorporate a white Tenkara soft-hackle tonight.

You might well catch a trout or two in the process. The water is about as warm as its gets -- pushing 80 at times. So get those trout back in the water ASAP.

But mostly it is a smallmouth situation. The dinkers will drive you crazy. If this happens move a few yards, and try the shallower water. This sounds odd but quite often the double-digit bass will camp out in the skinny water, where they just have to open their mouths. Very efficient.

Friday night I caught about a dozen, two in double digits. No doubles. Ten of them took the spinner.

The hatch usually lasts 7 to ten days.
 

skunkedalot

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And I might add that Patrick62 really knows his stuff and is a pleasure to share an evening on a river pool.
Tight Lines Patrick.
 

patrick62

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Mostly bass fishing right now, although I did take a detour to a brook trout stream that stays cold, especially when the evening temps get down to 50.

Smallies are from the Hous a couple weeks back. I fished the white flies a couple times but I've been concentrating on lake fishing.





 

patrick62

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Status remains pretty much quo, although we did get a nice big blast of rain yesterday. Add isonychia to your smb arsenal for the Hous. That can be as simple as trailing a Leadwing Coachman on your popper or streamer.

I took a water temp reading on the Riga brook yesterday -- 68, so no go.

Getting a little bored with the lake floating, so mixing it up with lighter rods and/or Tenkara. Of course once it gets cold I'll be thinking how nice it would be to be floating around.
 

patrick62

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Here is the plan for Labor Day

Today -- work, clear decks for weekend. Topics: Congresswoman spoke at high school; art teacher helps a school for blind children in Ethiopia; new zoning regs to encourage multi-family and affordable housing; vintage car parade.
Tomorrow morning -- more work but not as bad as it could be because I am doing so much today. Except I am looking at the forum. Stupid internet.
Tomorrow afternoon -- take 10 year old boy fishing. He had a lesson at Orvis the other day with his grandfather. Going for bass and panfish in warmwater lake. Using leaky rowboat. Note to self -- remember to bring something for bailing. Since I am going to make him wear a life jacket I will do so too, so he doesn't feel dorky.
Saturday -- if weather continues apace, might be a day to chase brookies. If not I will float as possible for bass.
Sunday -- Same plan as Saturday, except for end-of-summer party right about when bass will be hitting surface. Show up late at party, in wet fishing clothes.
Monday -- Everybody else will be packing up and hitting the road, but since I live five miles away, I plan to loaf and fish and possibly try to get slippery mildew off deck, as I almost did a split at about 4:30 this morning. Stupid mildew.
 

skunkedalot

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an imposing agenda my friend, but let us remember that despite the media's claim and the retail world telling us that summer is over- summer does not end until sept 22 this year so we can continue to wear our summer attire and best of all, bass continue to eat our flies and poppers for a long while yet.
 

patrick62

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Got most of it done, including the most important part, welcoming this young man into the fold. He did better with the Tenkara rod than the fly rod. Second time a 10 year old I've coached has found the fixed line easier.

First he caught a bluegill on a yellow mop on a dropper under a popper with fly rod. Then a smallie on popper/Tenkara. Third one was a largemouth on popper/Tenkara and I let him do everything on the release.



 
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