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Fishing season sneaks up on us once again

Tangled Lines

I cleaned out the Fish Closet the other day. 

This is no simple matter. The Fish Closet sits beneath a staircase, so the ceiling is sloped. The shelving is at the rear, which means it’s best to put things back there that won’t be needed any time soon. If ever.

Standing tall in front of the shelves are fly rods in tubes. Lots of them. About 70, at last count, and I have a couple new ones coming today.

As I cleaned and rearranged I was reacquainted with rods I had forgotten about, or rods that just don’t get used much.

And the rods that fit into the category “Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.”

I’m looking at you, L.L. Bean Streamlight five and a half foot, three weight. I thought this would be a decent stick for crawling around the little blue lines. It turned out to be a glorified tomato stake. 

But it was on sale!

Come on down, Temple Fork Outfitters eight foot, two weight, three piece. This rod was enormously popular when it came out back around 2003, and I succumbed to the mania. It’s graphite with a slow action, a combo you don’t see often. In theory, it is a great dry fly rod.

In practice, it is a great dry fly rod as long as there’s no wind. The light line weight just doesn’t cut through anything more substantial than a light breeze. Because the action is forgiving, I have had moderate success overlining it a bit, with a weight forward three line. But when I tried a double taper four weight the rod protested.

How’s it going, gigantic old Shakespeare bamboo rod? Here’s a tip: Just because a fly rod is made of bamboo, that doesn’t make it a) good and b) valuable.

This nine-footer, in three hefty sections, is a blunt instrument. I have fished it with a variety of lines, finally settling on a weight forward eight as the least lousy option.

But at least I didn’t pay anything for it. Someone gave it to me.

Opening Day is a mystery

Looking ahead, Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order on March 4 opening trout season on … March 4. (Normally opening day is the second Saturday in April.) 

Of course he announced it late in the afternoon, so we couldn’t all charge out to the stream or pond and start casting away, but still.

That means that streams like the Blackberry River,  Furnace Brook and Macedonia Brook are fair game, conditions permitting.

For the early going I’m thinking rigs with a combination of eggs, sucker spawn, smallish Wooly Buggers (tied with a jig hook and/or tungsten bead), Bread and Butter jig nymphs, smallish black stonefly nymphs, and so on.

I’m also thinking specks (tiny weighted nymphs) on 18 inches to three feet of light tippet, attached directly to the bend of the hook of a bass popper. You might even get something to hit the popper in the Housatonic.

I’m also thinking cold feet. Do yourself a favor and get an extra set of boots one size larger for cold weather purposes. (The extra space allows the warm air — generated by the excellent socks you also bought — to circulate.)

Normally the pre-season Tangled Lines column is a lazy rehashing of the last 10 such pieces, with an emphasis on what I call “tackle fondling.”

But in these plague times I have fondled my tackle so often I’m growing hair on my palms.

And if that doesn’t get me censored I don’t know what will.

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