A break from the bleak

Joe’s Green Weenie, top right; Bread and Butter nymph, bottom right; Wooly Bugger in grey/purple.

Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan

A break from the bleak

We were only a few days into 2024 and I was casting around for a word to describe the immediate angling prospects.

After rejecting “lousy” as ordinary and “@&#%!” as unsuitable for publication in a family newspaper, I settled on “bleak.”

It was cold. It was rainy, except when it was snowy. All the rivers and streams were high.

And then it happened. Friday, Jan. 12, wasn’t bleak.

The day before, I had to go to the dentist in Kent. I decided to improve the shining moment by doing a little recon work in the vicinity.

Macedonia Brook was just barely fishable. It would have been a question of walking along and dropping a line into intermittent spots, primarily deeper slower pools and runs with some soft water on top.

Kent Falls brook was in similar shape.

Problem is, Lakeville to Kent is 45 minutes no matter how you slice it, unless you drive over the speed limit and don’t take your foot off the gas for anything, such as other cars, stop signs, animals or people — then it’s 43 minutes.

So I looked around here first. The Blackberry was too high, full stop. But the Mystery Brook (That Shall Not Be Named) was in decent shape.

I suited up and deployed a fixed-line rod, a Dragontail Mizuchi, with No. 3 level fluoro line and the same 2 feet of 4X nylon tippet I used the last time. Hell, I used the same fly, a bedraggled size 12 March Brown dry with most of one wing chewed off.

No takers on the surface, which wasn’t surprising. The fish were feeling the bleakness.

The only way forward was to get something down into the slow-moving depths, where a lethargic char might shake off the winter blahs long enough to eat something. Similar to me falling asleep during a Knicks game and only stirring from the couch long enough to get something from the fridge.

Sounds bleak, doesn’t it?

Around 1 p.m. two things happened. The sunlight hit the water, and almost immediately little tiny speck-type insects appeared. Nobody was eating them, at least not on the surface, but it did indicate the stirring of life.

The second thing that happened was I caught a spunky little brookie while tight-lining a size 14 Bread and Butter nymph through a slow, deep section.

This dizzying success made me think of trying a bigger fly.

The size 16 Wooly Bugger in a greyish purple-y color and with a tungsten head had the fish swimming in circles. I nicked a couple but could not seal the deal.

So I went with the nuclear option: a Green Weenie.

Not just any Green Weenie, either. This is Joe’s Green Weenie, tied with a darker green material than the average store-bought Weenie, with a jig hook and a heavy bead head.

I have suggested to Joe that he sell these remarkably effective flies and even offered a marketing slogan: “Nothing Beats Joe’s Weenie.”

For some reason Joe thinks the slogan might be a bit much.

Anyhoo, Joe’s Green Weenie sinks like a stone, and provoked bona fide tugs.

But the bleakness had rendered me rusty, and I was unable to bring any of the participants to hand.

I did, however, land a stick. For a hot second, I thought it was the proverbial monster brook trout.

Bottom line, I spent an enjoyable two hours and change on a trout stream with some action in the middle of January. I did not freeze, fall in or suffer any injury other than getting slapped in the face by a branch.

My message is simple. Never mind bleak. Just watch the weather, monitor the streams and keep your gear handy. The opportunities will come.

Latest News

Thru hikers linked by life on the Appalachian Trail

Riley Moriarty

Provided

Of thousands who attempt to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, only one in four make it.

The AT, completed in 1937, runs over roughly 2,200 miles, from Springer Mountain in Georgia’s Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest to Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park of Maine.

Keep ReadingShow less
17th Annual New England Clambake: a community feast for a cause

The clambake returns to SWSA's Satre Hill July 27 to support the Jane Lloyd Fund.

Provided

The 17th Annual Traditional New England Clambake, sponsored by NBT Bank and benefiting the Jane Lloyd Fund, is set for Saturday, July 27, transforming the Salisbury Winter Sports Association’s Satre Hill into a cornucopia of mouthwatering food, live music, and community spirit.

The Jane Lloyd Fund, now in its 19th year, is administered by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and helps families battling cancer with day-to-day living expenses. Tanya Tedder, who serves on the fund’s small advisory board, was instrumental in the forming of the organization. After Jane Lloyd passed away in 2005 after an eight-year battle with cancer, the family asked Tedder to help start the foundation. “I was struggling myself with some loss,” said Tedder. “You know, you get in that spot, and you don’t know what to do with yourself. Someone once said to me, ‘Grief is just love with no place to go.’ I was absolutely thrilled to be asked and thrilled to jump into a mission that was so meaningful for the community.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Getting to know our green neighbors

Cover of "The Light Eaters" by Zoe Schlanger.

Provided

This installment of The Ungardener was to be about soil health but I will save that topic as I am compelled to tell you about a book I finished exactly three minutes before writing this sentence. It is called “The Light Eaters.” Written by Zoe Schlanger, a journalist by background, the book relays both the cutting edge of plant science and the outdated norms that surround this science. I promise that, in reading this book, you will be fascinated by what scientists are discovering about plants which extends far beyond the notions of plant communication and commerce — the wood wide web — that soaked into our consciousnesses several years ago. You might even find, as I did, some evidence for the empathetic, heart-expanding sentiment one feels in nature.

A staff writer for the Atlantic who left her full-time job to write this book, Schlanger has travelled around the world to bring us stories from scientists and researchers that evidence sophisticated plant behavior. These findings suggest a kind of plant ‘agency’ and perhaps even a consciousness; controversial notions that some in the scientific community have not been willing or able to distill into the prevailing human-centric conceptions of intelligence.

Keep ReadingShow less