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Tangled Lines


An old-school bucket hat protects the neck as well as the face on a sweltering day.  Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan

What the well-dressed angler is wearing

Two weeks ago, after a long, chilly, wet “spring,” it suddenly turned into summer. I dutifully folded and stored the flannels and Viyellas and big old Filson wool shirts, and dug out and hung the madras, seersucker, aloha and summery shirts.

Then the temps dropped like a tungsten head nymph tied on a jig hook. Of course.


A typical dry-dropper rig includes a high-visibility, buoyant dry fly like a Stimulator and a weighted nymph on a dropper. The dropper is attached directly to the bend of the hook on the top fly with a clinch knot. Your mileage will definitely vary. Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan​

The fisherman ‘goes deep’ on dry-droppers

The situation: The angler approaches the little blue line cautiously. The angler, disregarding the stiff joints and aching back, creeps up behind the boulder and peers at the plunge pool. The angler ties on a dry fly, and ever so carefully drops it right where the spooky wild brook trout is probably hiding. 


This Blackberry River rainbow was caught at Beckley Furnace in North Canaan in early April with a heavy squirmy red worm fly tied by Harold McMillan at Housatonic River Outfitters. The fish was returned to the water unharmed. Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan

Looking back: Specks of good news in challenging year

There was one very good thing that happened in 2020: It was the year I finally got the hang of fishing with specks.

I define “specks” as flies size 20 and smaller.

Itty bitty bugs are present on all trout waters, usually year-round. Trout eat them, and anglers using the right imitations catch the trout.

Except me.


These are a representative sample of the tiny flies (or “specks”) the author has been using successfully in the last week. They are all size 20 or 22, except for the bushy one on the right, which is a size 18. The fish won’t touch it. Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan

Specks of hope as the 2020 fly-fishing season draws to an end

As the cooler weather arrives the idea of standing around in water becomes less and less attractive. Sensible anglers call it a season. They put their gear in the closet, and leave it there until April.


Bears are coming down to the Housatonic River, as spotted by column author Patrick L. Sullivan two weeks ago. Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan

On the question of ‘stockie bashing’

It is a sad but undeniable truth that many if not most of our trout streams in the Northeastern U.S. require stocking of trout. 

That means trucks from state hatcheries occasionally appear and put large numbers of hatchery-raised trout in the rivers.


These three rods illustrate the range of fixed-line fishing options. The top is a heavy rod designed for carp fishing, and is almost 15 feet long when extended. The middle rod is very small at 5 feet when extended and barely 8 inches collapsed, making it literally pocket-sized. The bottom rod can be fished at lengths of about 8 feet, 9.5 feet  and 11 feet. Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan

In which we learn to use the Tenkara rod

A few years back I received a strange birthday present from a friend. It was some kind of fishing rod that collapsed. I took the cap off the butt and the sections started sliding out. I pushed them back in, screwed the cap back on, and stuck it in the fish closet.

A spring fishing journal

The gist of fishing right now is: There are three brook trout streams, the Blackberry and the Furnace Brook in North Canaan and the Housatonic, all within 20 miles of Lakeville (staying in-state). 

I can avoid other people quite easily on any of these bodies of water. I’ve been doing it for decades, never mind pandemics.

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