Northwest Corner, Conn. -- 2020

patrick62

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Hit the Hous early this morning. Rain and a slightly chilly night didn't do much to the water temp. I got 72 on a hand-held thermometer, and that was before the sun was on the water.

So did my Popper-Mopper combo hoping to entice a smallie. No such luck. Switched to woolies and got a rainbow which thankfully wriggled off in short order to I didn't have to revive it.

I think smallie season is officially here.

Thermal refuge regs in the Trout Management Area kick off on Monday, June 15, and not a moment too soon. They remain in effect until Sept. 15. If you see a white sign that says NO FISHING it means what it says.
 

patrick62

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Un-seasonably cool weather may help the Hous. It was 49 outside this morning in bustling downtown Lakeville.

Hit a little blue line yesterday with a friend. We got to the trailhead at 7 a.m., and there were already half a dozen cars there. Not for fishing, but for hiking and camping.

This is unusual. People are reacting to being cooped up for the better part of three months. One guy, who is responsible for managing a big chunk of private land that abuts state land and offers considerable public access to trails, put it this way: A lot of people who never go into the woods are heading into the woods and they are mostly unprepared. They get lost and can't understand why their phones might not work very well.

We saw a lot of hikers, mostly day-trippers, including a couple whose idea of fun is to run -- yes, run -- a tricky, rock-strewn, up and down trail in flip flops.
In their defense, they didn't run very fast.

Everybody was good about standing aside to let others pass at a good distance, and many hikers had masks which they deployed when they spotted someone else. I had my gaiter and did the same.

It seems to me that all the "finally winter is over" goofiness that is usually spread out over several weeks is instead coming in concentrated waves.

We caught lots of brookies with a variety of techniques. My buddy was Tenkara all the way. I switched between a Dragontail zoom, the Tiny Tenkara (five footer) and the trusty CGR 6.5 foot 4 weight.

The combo that worked best for me was a Royal Wulff (14) with a green beadhead caddis emerger (size 16) on a dropper.
 

patrick62

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Housatonic is bathtub warm. Saturday late afternoon I went out to a spot upstream of the TMA where I have had some success with smallies. Caught exactly two fish -- a nice SMB who took an unweighted brown wooly as it gathered water and started to sink. Difficult to replicate that tactic. The other, much to my surprise, was a respectable rainbow, maybe 18 inches, that took a size 8 Stimulator I tried after getting no reaction from an assortment of poppers and sliders. The rainbow received the "compassionate release" treatment (meaning it wriggled off the hook), which was best for all concerned.

What that fish was doing in smallie country I do not know. I've caught rainbows and browns there in early spring and in late fall, but not now, when the morning water temp yesterday was 74 in the shade.

Sunday morning I tried in the same general area and almost got the Golden Sombrero. I was rescued only by a dinker smallie. Had precisely one good tug. I think the water is so warm even the SMB are sluggish. Best time is probably 5 a.m., a lofty goal I find myself unable to achieve.
 

patrick62

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Pretty slow around here. Little blue lines are too warm and low to fish.

Housatonic is in bass mode. Medium to low flows, relatively easy wading, but overflow crowds have forced towns and utilities to close or severely restrict activities and access outside the Trout Management Area.

I haven't bothered going to the Farmington. From what I hear it's pretty crowded on weekdays and crazy on weekends.

Took the Creek Company float tube/boat thing out for its maiden voyage on South Pond (Mt. Riga). Caught a couple of small largemouth. I need better flippers; the ones I got are designed to be worn with wading boots and frankly they are not very good. I think I will do what I do with the pontoon boat (which I will set up next week maybe) -- use regular swim fins and carry a pair of water sneakers in case the boat sinks and I have to scramble through the woods.

The tube itself is adequate. It's a good backup and at the sale price it was hard to pass up.

We could use some rain and a break from upper 80s-low 90s. Seems like we went straight from winter to summer doldrums with only 10 minutes of spring in between.
 

lookard

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I was at the Farmington river on Sunday. It was good (very sparse) in the upper sections, as long as you are away from the pools. At some pools, people were standing next to each other every 5-10 ft. The water is 50F in the upper sections and the fishing was good!
 

patrick62

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^ That's encouraging.

The other reason I don't venture to the Farmington: It's just far enough from me that I am reluctant to go in case I take a spill or the car craps out or something that would necessitate getting help. Nobody has blown the all-clear on COVID-19, and I've been staying within 15 miles or so of my home, and within Connecticut. So if the car conks out I can get a tow from my garage, or even walk home if necessary.

This self-imposed restriction means I am limited to the Housatonic and tribs, and a private lake. It's been a little limiting but I can handle it.

On my two Catskill trips thus far I have arrived with more than enough gas to drive around the Esopus and make it back, and with everything I need so I don't have to go to the grocery store over there.

We have seen very heavy pressure on all types of outdoor recreation here. It's gotten so bad that not just state parks but the First Light power company have closed or severely restricted their recreational access. And a lot of these people are traveling considerable distances, from metro New York mostly. I don't blame them for wanting to get out of Dodge but a lot of them don't wear masks, don't maintain distance, and have no idea what they are doing in the woods or on the water. Which means they get jammed up and our mostly volunteer first responders have to go get them.

And they leave a lot of garbage.
 

lookard

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It has been crazy on the Esopus, especially around Woodland valley junction and Phoenicia. The campground right in town is packed. But the river is big enough that I can find places to avoid people - I just walk very far away.
 

patrick62

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After a brief respite in Phoenicia, N.Y. duty called and I returned to NW Connecticut yesterday to pick up the threads of the ongoing river safety story I've been covering.

At Amesville (the Salisbury side of the Housatonic, across the river from the power plant at Falls Village) the sawhorses and caution tape kept all but one family out of the now-closed picnic area and boat launch on Dugway Road, and a state trooper was preparing to do something about them.

Cars still lined Housatonic River Road above the overlook and boat takeout above the dam, despite "no parking" and "area closed" signs.

Some background: In the COVID-19 age, people who rarely if ever venture into the wilds are doing so in droves, and I can't say I blame them. After three or four months even the excitement of binge-watching "Home Boyz from Outer Space" begins to fade.

But many of these people are ill-equipped for anything more challenging than a stroll along a well-maintained trail in a popular park. So they get lost on Mt Riga, or jammed up in the Great Falls, and somebody has to go get them.

Bulls Bridge got so out of control that the town of Kent, working with the state cops, the National Park Service, and the Appalachian Trail people, closed the place completely.

Which meant they just migrated upstream. The Fourth of July weekend at the Great Falls was a zoo, and emergency trucks could not get through on Sunday, July 5, to rescue a boy who got stranded on a rock after being swept away by the current. They got him eventually but the sheer volume of illegally parked cars made it a lot harder.

Never mind the garbage left behind.

The First Light power company agreed to close the areas but their idea of doing so consisted of some traffic cones and caution tape, which were simply moved out of the way the following weekend.

Yesterday at 1:30 p.m. there were 13 cars parked on Housatonic River Road north of the closed and locked gate to the dam area. People wheeling coolers and not wearing masks were milling around.

I talked to the two staties, who were lurking over on the Falls Village side, and they immediately set off to do something about it. But on my return visit around 4:30 there were 19 cars at the same spot.

So there is some work to be done still.

Meanwhile, here was the scene at the Cellar Hole around 3 p.m.



There were 19 cars crammed in there. At least 50 people. Somebody was playing loud music. Most people were fooling around on the rocks but some were in the water. I didn't see any spincasters but there were some at the top of the fly only area just before I got to Cellar.

I didn't see anyone taking any sort of COVID-related precautions. And if there had been an emergency the only way to respond would be to leave the trucks and ambulance on Route 7, effectively blocking the major north/south road during a hot sunny Saturday.

It was Wild but not very Scenic.

Oddly enough there were hardly any cars at the park. The campground was operating but not at capacity (by design I think) and the few people I saw were fly-fishing except for one couple who were clearly there to cool off. They weren't bothering anybody.

So it's an odd situation, complicated by multiple and overlapping jurisdictions. Is the situation at Cellar Hole the responsibility of the town of Sharon, the state police, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection or the National Park Service?

Meanwhile the river is low and warm and if you are in the mood to catch smallmouth this is the time.
 
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lookard

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That is really unfortunate. The Housatonic river is so beautiful. I went to the Farmington again last Sunday and it was pretty good. Lots of floaters getting in at the pools in the lower sections - American Legion, etc. But if you go further up, you find less floaters and more solitude!

I had a great day out. I'm gonna make a trip to the Housatonic for some smallmouth.
 

patrick62

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Just come during the week and you'll be okay. Weekends, not so much.

Although it's low enough you can get just about anywhere, so you can avoid places like Cellar Hole
 

patrick62

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Saturday, July 25, I drove from the falls downstream to the state park near Cornwall Bridge and the junction of routes 4 and 7.

There were far fewer cars around the falls, although subsequent Facebook posts claimed that people were parking in the miniscule downtown area of Falls Village and humping their coolers and surfcasting rods the quarter mile down to the river. That surprised me, as the one common denominator among the diverse crowds along the river is that they are clearly used to a sedentary way of life. Couch to refrigerator and back is their usual idea of a hike.

There was a smattering of anglers at the obvious places downstream, and the Cellar Hole, site of considerable partying the last couple of weekends, had just a handful of cars. People were swimming and picnicking and fishing with spinning rods, all violations. It would be hard to actually swim in the Housatonic right now anyway, the average depth being about two feet, but there were some wallowers. If they made this distinction I think they’d probably beat the ticket in court.

If there was anyone to give them a ticket. Connecticut State Police sent me a bulletin (in an electronic format so cumbersome as to be almost unusable) to the effect that troopers and EnCon officers (aka fish cops) would be spread out far and wide along the Hous this weekend. I didn’t see any, but the relatively sparse crowds could be the result of enforcement action earlier in the day.

As to actual fishing, I am saving myself for the white flies, which should be in the next couple of weeks. Next week I will be shifting the base of operations to Mt Riga, and a warmwater lake, for the month of August.
 

patrick62

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It was back to Crazyville Sunday. It's too tedious to recount. Suffice it to say that anyone looking to chase smallies on the Hous should be prepared to walk.
 

patrick62

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The white flies started this week. Met up with forum member skunkedalot at the campground and we fished a silty spot upstream. The smallies started taking white things on the surface around 7 p.m., and action was sporadic until the switch was flipped at 8:25 p.m. and the blizzard was on. I got a couple in the 12-14 inch range; skunkedalot failed to live up to his nickname and was hauling them in right and left, including a slab that sure looked big as I peered through the darkness.
 

patrick62

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We did it again last night, same spot. A Tequilley streamer fished before 7:30 p.m. brought a nice slab to the net, and then it was on to the white stuff.

Lots of dinkers though.

Hatch was not nearly as thick as the night before.

At about 8:50 my rig got tangled up. I cut it off and went with a single white Wulff, which was promptly yanked off by what I am going to believe was a four-foot smallie (but was probably a 12 incher). At that point I declared victory and got out.
 

skunkedalot

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Hous report- 9/31- after 2 evening of fishing with patrick 62 (he is better than really good at the game). if we gave a fishing person a ranking, patrick is major league and a fine person to share water with as a bonus. I am strictly double a but we keep at it Lol.
Friday morn- hit a stretch downstream of TMA at Hous. many many smallies to 17 inches . stacked up like cord wood in deep holes. these fish feed to their heart's content on what could be a million crayfish. they are just everywhere.
Friday eve- white fly hatch. in order to avoid dinkers chewing up flies, didnt wet the line until 8:15 when first bugs appeared. hatched cranked at near dark. managed 5 or 6 decent smallies but no slabs over 12. The Hous is such a wonderful river. The old saying goes- There is no tonic like the Housatonic. Do not miss this hatch.
 

lookard

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I went on Saturday to try target smallies on the river for the first time. I was using my 200gr commando head and a floating tip. Trying to learn the single spey and snap T cast. Casting it with the 9ft 5 wt is awesome. You get distance with such ease. But the down side is I get a bump whenever I want to strip in the commando head. But I can live with it. Caught a few smallies. It was great! I've only ever targeted smallies in Central park. These river smallies are truly another level!
 
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