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ineteenyears ago. when I was 12. my football coachheardfrom somerat on lhe teamthal I wanledto quit so I could leam how to fly-fish.One stinkinghot summerday I arrived at the field early, as usual,and found him sitting on the hood oI his hunter green j" l+lE,:



Triumph TR6. I watked up to him and he asked

:::: :"":":would :,::: what I di, they :: be? :::;:,;.";; very long,bul still I hesitared. trying to be cool. "Well." I said. tugging at the several new hairson my chin, confidentthatthis one would go over easy."l'd like to slartal middle backer and in the slot."

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want to go." he sajd."What's t}e third?" I felt my face flushl it had gone over better than I thought.But now a statjonwagonpulled up and severalof my teammafesgot out, saving me from lettinghim in on thatthird wish. They walked over to rheconvertible.said"Hey" and pulledout someJ5Vs and tossedthem around. "Sure," I said quickly as I tugged on my helmet."l'd be up ,or rn'orr'rr,rnur, on page 68

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Jreflected on thattime as I walkeddown an Iasphalt street.It was a humid, latesummer afiernoon, a double-workout type of day. Yet now I lived in the city, had for pretty close to a decade,so far from the oily tractor shed and the fields down near the river where the cattails and I grew tall and the milkweed pods grew thick. Thesedays I took my lunch breaknot wheneverI felt like it but. instead.around noon or so and for about an hour. Lunch was over and I was in a hurry, had to rush back to my office for that meeting.And as I turnedthe comer onto Boylston Street, I looked down to see a bright new penny. I bent over and snatched it up, wishing all the while that I was picking up a rock streamside. I held that penny tight and walked deliberately, for not far away from Trinity Church was a fountain.I thoughtabout what I might wish for, what I might have come true if the choice were mine. I had beenlong since done with football, and my thoughts thesedays nearly alwaysturnedtoward trout fishing. I wanted to fish a streamthat: . remindedme of my trip West last year; . was a bottom-releasetailwater (so that the water would be cold and fertile) with an around-the-clockrelease rate of no more than 150 cubic feet per second; . had abundant season-longhatches (of mayflies, caddis,stonefliesand midges); . had riffles, runs, pools and pockets; . was of a size so that I could fish near otheranglersor by myselfl . had its own full-service fly shop, with fly bins filled with local patternsthat looked as if my entomologist pal tied them especially for me; . had a no-kill area; . had an active angler's conservation group that periodically lobbied to have the no-kill stretchlengthened; . had brown and rainbowtrout in excess of 20 inches upstream,and bass, panfish, pickerel and pike downstream; . was accessibleto the major city I lived in, with a campground on the river and deluxe accommodationsand restaurants nearby. And as I held that coin, I remembered how simply I had answeredmy coach and how different I acted today. Somehow during the intervening19 yearsI'd managed to make things quite a bit more complicated than they ought to have been.I laughedout loud, pitched in my penny with a Wouldn't that be nice? thought in my mind and went to my meeting. When the meetingwas over. in my message slot was a call from Rooter, my Montanafishing guide."That snake,"I said, smiling."He's going to lay it on reallythick and see if he can get me to come out!" I dialed his number and figured he'd say somethingabout every hatch being thicker

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than it was last year, when I was out there. But when we were done joking around, he didn't say a word about the bugs. It was fourth and short and he didn't go for it; he askedme not, "When are you coming out?" but instead,"Have you ever heardof the FarmCustomCanefty fuds ington River in northwestem Connecticut? One of my clients last week fishes it reguSimply the finestsetupyou canbuy 7 Mirijo Road larlyand...." for lightingandseeingyourwork. I rememberedthat I had fished it with my Danbury,CT 06811 football coach as a kid. 203-',790-4188 In the recent past I'd convinced myself that it was a long drive, better to fish close by. It wasn't that way for me on a mid-June Traditional . Flame Tempered Wednesday when I left Boston at around noon and was at the 219 Bridge in . . Hex Original Tapers Quad Collinsville by 2:30. I took a look at the river, this lowest end of the Trout ManagementArea, and yep, it still was just as I remembered-perfect. But it was too early in the day for the Sulphurs,and so I . Adaptdble to anyvrseor bench drove over to the Classic and Custom Fly . 5 rn.R'nless withsuoe Magnifier rio'dept^of Shoppe, which had opened some years in GUIDES ON THE SAN JUAN. fieldon24in.neck between when I first fished the river and DOLORES.GUNNISON & . "Coolhead"lamponhealydury,no-droop 30in now. I met David Goulet, the area'sangling RIO GRANDEXIVERS gooseneck sage, who was outside updating the hatch o 15lb.worksurface baseor optional mountng ffiHikn%|li / (303)385-4081 board. We talked for quite a while. l-ocArlo\s r' systems DURANGO "Sulphurs started on Monday," he said. . Normal OUTFITTERREG Incandescent oroptlonal natural daylight NO671 (505)632-5952 "Had a few days in the 90s and that kind of bulbsto 100watts . UL& CSAapproved, got things going." He smiled and pushedhis SAN JUAN available in blackor rvory RIVER glasseshigher up on his nose."Course there GoodwinManufacturing Company are some Grey Foxes,black, green,tan and 241MalnStrâ&#x201A;Źâ&#x201A;Źt.LuckW54853 =801 B brown caddis, some Cahills, that's about it. 1-800-282t5267 MAIN AVE. l' When are you planning on fishing?" Cdllor writeforbrochure, or to order DURANGO, CO =tq<l:'= VISA,MASTERCARD, or CODaccepted ="Probably stafi nymphing after I set up 8 13 0 1 camp. I tied some small Sulphur emergers Iast night and I'm kind of anxious to see if they work later." "Well, if you don't get them on nymphs, you'Il do all right arounddusk." I got back into my car and drove the four or so miles up Route 181 to the Austin Hawes Memorial Campground.Arlene runs a tight ship here, and it's no wonder the 32 sites disappearquickly. I hadn't pre-regis*U.S. Patent# DES 341 866 tered, but I figured I had God (and a lucky penny) on my side and would luck out with a spot and pitch my tent pretty quickly. I did. Back into my car, and I drove downstream leisurely. There was no rush. There were fish all over the river, with no one spot better than the next. The bottom-releasetailwater sends 100 cfs flow around the clock, so the river level never changesthat much. In addition to the caddis, some black-and-yellow stones hatched now. The mayflies would start soon, so I was staringhalf a dozenof the season's best fishing hours in the face. I drove past the Church Pool just below the 318 Bridge. It's deep and slow, and the innovative design* ano big fussy ffout here will no sooner take your the logic of hydrodynamics, our #24 BWO than they will climb out of the river and recite poetry. Fourteen years ago, new V shapedGLIDERIDER'" slips through just after I had gotten my driver's license, thewind andwaveswith stealth-likeperformance I'd cruise up here and fish alone. Late one for unsurpassed comfort and quality. lazy summerday, I panickedas I saw an old man sneak out of the dense brush and sit Wmd River. .the "naturalselection"of theseriousangler."Alwaysoiginal, alwaysthebest!" down near the area I wanted to fish. There he sat and therehe smokedhis pipe. Fifteen minutes went by, then 20, then 40, and more. He just sat there smoking while I cast to every rise I saw.

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Fifteen more minutes, then 15 again passedand by now the ffout were not feeding asregularlyas thcy had been.I wadeddownstream, clirnbed out onto the bank ancl walked upstreamto where the m,rn sat. " Y o u a l l r i g h t ) "I a r k e d . "Couldn'tbe better,"he said."You?" "Eh," I tilted my head. "What're you doing'?" "What's it look Iike I'rn doing'? I'm fishing." "Kind of a funny way to be fishin-e,"I said. "l don't see anythir-rg funny about it," he said, stood up slowly and steppedtoward the water. And in he went. barely above his ankles. He kept his eyes fixed about 45 degrees upstreamand only thcn did I seethe brown trout sipping50 feet away.The rnanworked out some line, then some more, then still more and, when he had quite a bit out, he startedto pump his left hand;not wildly, but in synch with his right. I'd never seen anyone cast like that before, and in a

This driving alonu the river tryas nice, butit \rras titne tofish. moment he had sent out more line than I'd ever seentoo. At the end of his casthe wiggled his rod and his line fell al1 wavy, nowhere near as straight and neat as my own. I watchedhis f1y, a micro-small BlueWing Olive, float downstreamuntil I lost sight of it. The next time I saw it was 12 minutes later, stuck firmly in the corner of the big brown's mouth. I saw him oncefive or six yearslater,just below the Morgan Brook Pool. He carrieda wading staff with him. but this tirnehe never enteredthe water. Again I watchedhim like a hawk. This time I kr.rewthat he was lishing emergersin the run just below where thc feeder stleam entered the rifIle. He put a pinch of lead two feet above his fly, cast across lnd downstream and mended as needed.Sometimeshe'd take a fish by hesi'd tating a moment or two or threebefore he pick up and cast again. Other times he'd strip in slightly, slowly, repeatedlyuntil the fish hooked themselves.I went 100 yards upstreamto the Drive-In Pool and fished ny flies just like he did. This time, too, I caught fish, three good rainbows,just like he did. I vowed that the next time I saw hirn I'd thank hirn; I'm still waiting.

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colder the farther upstream I fished. The sun warmed up the river as it flowed downstream and often those few degreesmade the difference between a hatch and no hatch. For now I wanted to fish caddis, but come eveningI was keen on changingto Sulphurs. I saw the dirt road on my left, downshifted and pulled in, my mind made up: into the Central Riffles and the head of the Boneyard I would go. I slalomed around the deep por holes all the way to the end and got out. I stuffed my sandwich into my vest, took out my rod and started the long walk down the grasspath. On my way I flushed a grouse, and the path ended at the top of the Boneyard. Some small fish were working and I smiled. These fish are part of the effort prompted by Steve Lewis and the Farmington River Angler's Association,a local fishing group that has been a watchdog of sorts over the river for the past few decades.A couple of years ago they lobbied to add 1/z miles of Trout Management Area to the river, to bring the total to 5/z miles (regulationsin the TMA are catch-and-release, articificals only). Looking out at the dimpling water, I knew I'd be one angler who was thankful for their hard work. Steve had also said that the river had recently been classifiedas a wild and scenic river, and so was under national protection. It was a comforting thought, and I moved upstream toward the lower stretch of the Central Riffle. I saw a few tan caddis drifting about, and I bent down and overturned a couple of rocks. Several larvae moved freely, probably ready to inflate their sacks and float to the surface. Some Sulphur duns moved about,too, as did some nymphs. I examined the water surface and put on my polarizing glasses.I looked throughthe clear water and could easily see three fish spreadout laterally in the pocket, quickly taking nymphs just off the bottom. On went a tan bead-head caddisand a pinch of lead. My first cast, a 25-footer, was just OK. There were large boulders scattered throughout this stretch of the river, and the pockets they formed were not only three or so feet deep, but the water moved through them fast. I studied the water carefully and there, behind the rock, drifted the feeding ffout. I figured that 15 feet of line would best reach my trout on the far left and I cast upstreamagain; he didn't budge. I reeledin some of the excessand cast again. My pupa sank and dead-drifted by him; he ignored me once more. I ceased casting and watched him for a good while; yes, now I could see that he, the one on the far left, took nymphs that ascendedto his right. I moved downstream a bit, tuck-cast to his right and watched my fly drift for two feet, then disappearinto his mouth. He was, above all, a spunky fighter. During the next two hours I pick-pocketed half-a-dozen or so fish by moving around, spotting them just below the main currents, casting directly upstream, sometimes adding a dropper and wondering what I'd do if I were faced with a Scotch double.

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That didn't happen betbre the sun wilted away behind the evergreensand I returned to the bank to tie on a new tippet and eat my sandwich. I moved back downstreamand watched fish rise in the Boneyard'sflat water,just below the riffle. I typically look fbr the big trout and fish nymphs during a hatch, but this time I tied on a #18 ParachuteSulphur. I dipped the f1y in flotant and watched.I was in no hurry, and I lookedaroundat all my obstacles.There were a f'ew trees near the river's bend, but if I were careful they'd presentno problem. The light was muted now, better chance of stalking in close,but no, not this time. There was a goodbrown acrossthe river. I watchedhim for severalminutesor so, and he took a Sulphur regularly, about every20 seconds.I watcheda little longer and saw that he was f'eedingto his left. If I wadedin just a bit and was carefulenough not to spook the smallerflsh nearerto me, I could avoid those trees.In I went, slow, painfLrllyslow. I pulled some line off my reel and let it drift downstream.It tugged on my rod, ready to go. It snappedto attention and forward and back, forward and backit went.I could double-haulnow and I addedtwo strokesto speedup my long, 3weight line. My line shot fbrward and reachedout, out, out befbre it settledin and drifted back toward me. My dun floated well, too; if I were a trout I'd take wham! My line sprung into the air, tight, very tight,then I heardthe slow whir of my pawl. I worked my way toward the bank, changed the pressure on my fish a f'ew times and f'elt the tugs get stronger and stronger. The Farmington River-it was just as I'd remembered. tr

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F\ RodE ReeL 73

Sulphurs on the Farmington by Tom Keer originally printed in Fly Rod & Reel  

Glory days, then and now, on a Connecticut tailwater

Sulphurs on the Farmington by Tom Keer originally printed in Fly Rod & Reel  

Glory days, then and now, on a Connecticut tailwater