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Crazy weather, crazier anglers, and time to think big

Tangled Lines

SOMEWHERE IN NORTHWEST CONNECTICUT — “Bleak.”

That assessment of the weather came from photographer Sarah Blodgett, who was shivering in her booth at the Salisbury Artisans sale on an extremely chilly and windy Saturday morning, May 7.

For those of us who rejoice at the prospect of tippy-toeing up the little blue lines — those streams containing wild brook trout that must not be publicly identified, lest the many-headed descend on them — this alleged spring has been bleak indeed.

A couple weeks back there was a day that was almost hot. I worked up a sweat and spent a couple of happy hours annoying native brook trout.

Then the skies darkened, and a lovely Arctic breeze blew up.

Then it hailed a bit, just to rub it in.

Last week I thought winter had finally cheesed it. Again, a clement day, warm enough to break a sweat.

I spent another two hours in which the only real problem was finding a fly the brookies wouldn’t hit.

Perversely, that fly turned out to be the Hendrickson, in any configuration. That was the bug that was (allegedly) hatching.

And this is why we call it “fishing,” not “catching.”

Many of you (by which I mean “two of you”) have asked how I approach the little blue lines.

“On my hands and knees” is my stock answer.

But the question is about equipment.

Conventional wisdom holds that a short, light fly rod is the way to go, and I certainly do a lot of that. My current favorite is the absurdly inexpensive Cabelas CGR fiberglass 6 1/2 foot 4 weight, with a double tapered line.

I use a store-bought 7 1/2 foot leader tapered to 4X. I immediately chop the leader a couple of feet and tie on a large, buoyant dry fly.

Attached to the bend of the hook, with a clinch knot, is a piece of fluorocarbon tippet between a foot and two feet in length.

And at the end of that is usually a weighted nymph.

If this sounds like fishing with a bobber, that’s because it is.

But it still has more to do with feel than vision. If I wait until the dry fly/bobber stops abruptly, or is tugged underwater, then it’s almost always too late.

The way to think of the dry fly/bobber is as a drift indicator, not a strike indicator.

In other words, by watching the dry, I have a fairly good idea where the nymph is. And because I shortened the leader up, I can maintain a tight line throughout the drift.

This also means that I mistake a stick for a fish. I then yank the rod up and the two flies sail over my head and into a tree.

This is par for the course and should not be taken as an opportunity to dust off the cuss word collection.

Since I wrote this piece we have skipped spring and gone straight into summer. There are about a bazillion stocked trout in the Housatonic, and I strongly suggest having at it.

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