The Housatonic River in Northwest Connecticut had just gotten down to a wadeable level in the trouty areas in the week before the Memorial Day weekend.
Then, naturally, it rained.
In these circs. the wading angler can a) fish somewhere else b) take up another hobby c) try the stretch of the river between the dam above the Great Falls and the Falls Village hydropower facility.
Whatever is slopping over the dam is the flow. That in turn means that warmwater species can be found in the scoured out pools and runs — smallmouth bass, bluegill and what some insist are crappies and others maintain are rock bass. All I know is they are green and have bassy mouths and panfish bodies.
The footing is on smooth rock and pretty treacherous. The other day I watched casual hikers, one after another, slip and slide around. I tried to warn them. They didn’t listen.
Hardly anyone fishes here, let alone prowls the falls armed with a Tenkara rod. The competition, if any, comes from Latino guys up from Danbury and using enormous salt-water spinning rods. They tend to kill everything they catch, but they don’t catch much.
They’re cheerful and always curious about what I am doing. I try to explain it’s probably not a good idea to eat fish from this river — who wants to be the guy who grills up the one smallie that somehow ingested a chunk of PCB?
But they don’t speak much English, and my Spanish is slightly less than rudimentary.
And so the long day wears on.
So I spent the better part of a week exploring this area. I found the Lagoon of the Lost and a pool with some stranded fish in it.
I tried to catch them but they were busy setting the world record for spookiness.
I found some beer cans.
I tried a three-fly rig of Stimulator, Cahill nymph and isonychia nymph on a jig hook — on an eight-foot Tenkara rod — and it worked.
As did Momma’s Bathrobe (aka the mop fly), poppers, streamers, bushy dry flies, anything with rubber legs, and Wooly Buggers.
You could fish this river, anywhere on it, with nothing but brown Woolies in various sizes and permutations and catch something every day.
Because in the final analysis, you never really know what’s on the other end of the line around here.