Monday, October 1, 2012

Speyside Miniature in the Connecticut Highlands

When you drive north on Route 7, there's a point - probably just before the village of Kent - when you realize you're actually driving through a substantial floodplain. The hills either side take on the look of something approaching mountains and you haven't seen a strip mall in 10 miles. You're in the North-West CT "Highlands", and the ridge to your left is the Appalachian Trail as it clips Connecticut.  And yes, it feels a bit like you're in a small version of Speyside, and you'll just have to take my word for this.

When I posted this on Facebook, one of my friends from Scotland said "I thought you'd taken this in Scotland",
but I had not.
It helps with homesickness to live in a place that feels familiar. And the fishing is familiar, especially on the Housatonic River, which is head and shoulders my favorite river in the area. The picture speaks for itself, but it also has the feel of a wild Scottish river. It's big, natural, difficult to wade, and there aren't many folk about. Of course, were it in Scotland, it's interesting to think that the Housie might contain large, silver Salmonids, cost $300 per day to fish and be bookable months in advance, instead of containing the numerous stocked trout (rainbow and brown) that Zakur and I had ready access to, and caught in profusion, yesterday. And not forgetting the lower reaches, where this large trout stream is a larger tidal river that does contain wild anadromes; it's just that they wear pinstripes.

My right hand and a Brown Trout
The Housatonic is a solid 3 hour round trip from my home on the coast. Purely as a matter of record, that feels like a long way to go on the Sabbath. But the river had just been stocked, and I now conform to the blood lust chances of catching were good, and catch we did. At first, it was just me doing the catching, and this isn't terribly polite when you've gatecrashed a chap's Sunday quiet. But Zakur and I take it in turns at being good at fishing (and as I write this I realize this is another very good thing about the sport. "After you, no no, I insist, you first"). The last time Z and I fished this pool the boot was on t'other foot and I couldn't buy a strike. This time my "success" came of pure laziness, Steve having diligently rigged with nymphs under an indicator, me lacking patience for such apparatus and stumbling on the swung fly as the stockies' favorite. The difference between fish or none is often that simple.

Zakur's turn.
After cookie cutter rainbow followed cookie cutter brown, we decided - as the discerning types we are - to switch to the dry fly. Also, fish had started to rise quite regularly to all manner of mayflies; grey ones, yellow ones, in size something or other. The catching slowed as we worked the rises that were furthest from us, because (a) we pretend we are targeting the most challenging fish, but mostly (b) casting is good, and (c) the fish in the distance are always bigger. At one point we were both playing fish and commented during the struggle that these felt like "better" ones.

Quite embarrassing, then, that we doubled on fallfish. (Incidentally, I think they are very pretty, will take a dry fly, and at the very least present a nice change from trout after stocked trout.)

Quick: here's a shovel-tailed male brown trout to make us feel better.  He hammered a dry Adams and tugged well. It was nice to land him.
Speyside in Connecticut. We'll be back for our Thanksgiving Fruitcake, floods permitting.



  1. Black Friday cannot come too soon.

  2. spectacular place, and very nice colors on all these fish. especially the fall.

  3. That blog header is retina frying! In all the best of ways. I don't get sunsets nor red fall foliage out my way nowadays. So thank you for the reminder! Beautiful photos.

  4. I look at adds for 55 gallon barrels for 75 bucks, but you can get a culvert for 150 bucks that could hold 750 gallons with a little work. Seal one end with concrete drill a hole for a faucet and viola. Is there something I am missing?