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.

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