Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fall Wild Browns on a Pristine Small Stream, Connecticut.

Its getting towards the end of October, which means that most rivers and pretty much all the streams in New York State are closed to fishing until April. This time of year I tend to spend my time fishing small streams in Connecticut for wild trout instead.

I fished a real gem of a wild-brown trout stream, on an old tip from another small-stream angler who has many more years in this game than I do. The permissions seemed confusing but I was able to confirm legal access and found the stream largely untouched. !?!?

I was afraid the water might be really low, but it was just a little low - running crystal clear & cold, and generally just looking the way I wanted it to. The fish would be small, but that doesn't bother me one bit.

The fall scene was in its full glory, mushrooms and all.

Nature makes beautiful patterns with the leaves as the water bends around each turn.

 Many perfect plunge pools made for ideal fishing and great casting practice.

 The trout were all beautiful, some darker than others.

This pool was my favorite, deep and mysterious. I picked it apart, starting with the closest water, and pulled 4 fish from it before losing the trophy in the depths from these barbless hooks.

Was that a Salmon Parr right there??

Some of the browns were older and darker, and it seemed as though there were a couple of different strains together in this stream.

They were podded up in pools like this, and I didn't bother to photograph each fish. It gets tedious, and after all, while I'm committed to documenting as much as I can, sometimes I just want to get lost in the motions of catch & release, over and over...

My fly was starting to come apart from some toothy wild trout. But it seemed, as it often does, that the more ragged it became, the faster the fish went after it.

My Nissin ZX two way 290 zoom rod offered the correct length and plenty of control, which you need for holding vigorous wild trout that fight hard in skinny, fast water. However, it is a bit stiff in the tip when compared to the rods that I like best.

This stream offered sections of calm in between plunging pools and short runs and riffles. It was too easy to spook the fish in the calm water, but a dry fly floated near the edge of the leaves will coax a trout on most days. 

Some larger rocks provided great hiding spots for weary trout at low water moments.  

I usually fish my own nymphs, like this one, below. You might call it a bead head "flymph." Sinks fast, can be manipulated or dead drifted with ease, and seems impossible for the fish to resist.

Finally I got into some brookies higher up.

The drive home offered some of the usual New England farmhouse scenery and rolling backcountry hills that call my name so frequently. 

These red or pink trees might be my favorite, and they seem to grow all around the state.  

I arrived back in Brooklyn and found a package waiting for me. I was extremely pleased that it was my new knife. Its a hand made knife and I've always wanted to have something nice to carry instead of the old CRKT knife I've had in my bag for years.

This knife is made by Fiddleback Forge (Andy Roy.) He makes a number of beautiful designs, and this is his version of a Bird & Trout knife, the "Ladyfinger."

Tapered full-tang A2 steel, curly-oak handle with lime liners, and signed by the artist on the spine of the blade. I love it. And I'm looking forward to taking it out with me on my adventures.

Meanwhile I'm plotting another visit to this stream to see if I can't get higher up and into the gorge that I know lies above... maybe, if luck is on my side, I'll find some of those wild trophy fish looking to gorge on a few last meals before winter's cold grip takes hold?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Northeast American Genryu #2 - Fall Brookies in the Hudson Headwaters at the base of Mt Marcy

Well, Fall is here. The best time of the year. And the busiest for me. But one last hoorah in the mountains was needed before snowfall. In typical "peak enjoyers" fashion, it started with a show the night before. Mark Burgess is a fucking rock star. The Chameleons Vox show kicked ass, and I knew the weekend would be a win.

We spent a night in Albany in between and it was a good call, because it rained buckets all day on Friday and then the temps dove into the high 30's. Yikes. 6AM the stars and moon were still bright as we hit the road.

In the morning it was still lingering in the low 40's and we moved fast to keep warm.

After a period of some drought, the water was rather high and running fast. Fishing would prove to be difficult after a fresh wash-out.

But fishing was only a part of the adventure this weekend, as we were set to peak Mt Skylight, promising excellent views of Marcy and the surrounding High Peaks.

 The colors of fall were everywhere, it was almost overwhelming, from the smallest of lichen to the tallest of trees.

We hiked along the river and into the forest.

Some new bridges made crossings easy.

We got to our favorite site before anyone else and set up camp. We had this spot to ourselves for the entire weekend.

The rest of the group headed up to bag Colden, which I had already done. Obviously I stayed behind to fish. I had a lot to prove to myself... I really wanted to find a fish up here. 

The streams in these mountains are absolutely textbook-perfect Tenkara water. I have been itching to fish here since my last trip in when I had no rod and the water was low.

I fished many ideal spots but got no hits until I got here.

And then I knew it as soon as I felt a fish tug on the fly. I was discouraged in failing to set the hook, but on cast #2 the fish was on.

And a beautiful fish it was. A long, skinny, 8 inch Brookie from the Hudson River's headwaters at the base of Mt Marcy. 

For me, this fish was a trophy. Not in size, but in accomplishment. It kind of re-defines how I see the High Peaks in the Adirondacks. One day, could this once again be a fantastic fishing destination? Only time and clean air will tell.

I fished more prime pools but got no other hits and landed no other fish.

It was a beautiful evening and I took some photos while I waited for the guys to come back from the peak.

After dinner we did some stargazing and I tried my hand at another night photo. One great day down and two more to go!

The next day we set out for Skylight. It would be a long day of hiking. 

We spent most of the day hiking along various streams, most of which made up the headwaters of the Hudson River. 

As usual in the Adirondacks, the trail was mostly mud.

There were amazing waterfalls everywhere.

The forest was dense but there was lots of light penetrating the trees and barely a cloud to be seen.

Lichen and Moss coated much of the forest floor and made for a colorful backdrop.

As we approached the split in the trails between Marcy and Skylight...

...we reached Lake Tear of the Clouds. I haven't been here in a long time and it was a wonderful sight to see.

The path around the lake was scenic and dense, with lots of high-stepping over large boulders.

We split off to Skylight and the trail became a stream, as often happens up here.

When you see this, you know you're close...

Above tree line the ground is delicate.

Signs warn hikers to stay on the trail. Of course there are the usual morons who can't read or don't care, and we watched one family trample the delicate arctic alpine zone to take a photo in a specific place. Oye.

From the summit of Skylight, we had views of Marcy and other peaks along the great range.

Looking east you can see into Vermont.

And southwest you can see far across New York State.

On the way down the other guys decided they wanted to bag Grey Peak. I was pretty beat and really wanted to try fishing up high to see what might bite, so I headed down the trail towards some spots I had made note of earlier in the day.

I found the spots I wanted to fish, but got no bites whatsoever. I didn't know if I should make any real conclusions, the washed out conditions from the storm two days ago certainly changed things. But were there any fish here that would have been easier to catch the previous week? 

I figured there was no sense in waiting around for the guys and I headed down on my own, planning to meet them for dinner at the campsite. On the way down I got a great picture of this section of trail that collapsed during a recent flood. Wow.

I also had some fun taking night shots of the water using my headlamp. 

These places look so eerie at night lit up this way, it was beautiful.

Back at the site, we consumed a ridiculous amount of food and crashed early. We had a long hike the next day and a long drive back to the city.

The hike back was pleasant, mostly down hill, and we made quick time.

Leaves were starting to fall and the ground was littered with yellow and red.

Back at the car, I suited up for some more fishing and hit the river. I introduced one of my friends to Tenkara, and we fished a section together. It was fun, but neither of us had a single hit. This was disappointing, to say the least. I was happy that I had caught at least one up higher, but seeing all this picture-perfect cold and clean water and getting not even a hit was just confusing, to say the least.

But my spirits were high. The weekend had been more than a success by all standards.

We explored the ruins around the lot, checked out the old mill, and hit the road for our drive home. It was almost bittersweet, knowing we wouldn't be back until after the snow fell, but we were satisfied having pulled off this near-perfect weekend in the mountains.