What a weird world we’re living in. No one could have imagined the changes that would be taking place in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic. I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I have the option to travel safely to a quiet stream and listen to the carefree sound of birds and moving water. When I look at the fish, waterfowl, and all the other wildlife I see, the world hasn’t changed for them. Life goes on.
Although not the best place to find solitude, I decided to fish the Farmington River in Barkhamsted, Connecticut. I actually made my first trip to this river back in May of 2016, which was one of my first blog posts. One of the reasons I started this blog is with the hope that I could look back over past trips and review my learnings. I didn’t post what fly caught the rainbow in that 2016 entry, but I do remember it being a Red Zebra Midge.
If you’ve ever been to the Farmington, you know this stream can get crowded with anglers, especially in the spring. It was no different on April 18th, but I was excited to get on the water like everyone else. It seemed like every corner I turned had anglers standing 15 feet apart. I’ve always preferred a lot of space when fishing, and that feeling has escalated during COVID-19.
I walked down a path for several minutes before I settled on where I wanted to fish. A fast riffle section that settled into a deeper riffle. No one in sight. I cast a two nymph rig into the riffles and tightlined through it. I tied on a beadhead caddis nymph and a black stonefly with excess soft hackle. I love the way soft hackle looks in the water, and I think it’s a great match for the way these bugs actually look when tumbling through water.
It wasn’t long into my drifts when my line came to an abrupt halt. I set the hook and this trout took off into the fast water. I use 5x tippet at the Farmington because I feel it strikes a nice balance between being subtle and managing the weight of a larger fish. It was a quick fight and this particular trout took the top fly, which was a caddis imitation.
Enjoying the solitude of this spot, I continued fishing for another 20 minutes. I caught a couple more fish in this run when I starting noticing what looked to be March Browns coming down on the water. The fish didn’t seem to be taking notice of them, which seemed like a shame to me. The March Browns were getting swept into a pocket next to the riffle and would have been an easy meal for the trout. I’ll always prefer fishing dry flies, so I kept one eye on my line and one eye on what was happening with the March Browns. If I started seeing a rise or two, there was no question about it, I would be switching to a dry fly.
After about 30 minutes, I saw a rise. And then another. Right in the middle of the run and another on the edge in the slower water. I tied on a size 14 dark brown elk hair dry fly with a grey tinsel ribbed nymph dropper about 10″ below. I cast right into the spot where I saw the rises and on the first cast, a fish rose to grab my fly from the surface. This fish definitely did not want to get caught, so I had to keep constant pressure to keep it from taking off downstream. When I finally got it to my net, I was happy to see a very healthy fish. I quickly released it and was ready to try again.
I continued to catch trout on both the dry and the dropper as the sun started to fall in the sky. At a certain point, the rises stopped, and I decided to give the trout a break. I headed home thankful for the day, and for the opportunity to spend my time in the outdoors.