Back in the state-stocked stomping ground

The scene of innumerable frustrations over the years.

Patrick L. Sullivan

Back in the state-stocked stomping ground

SOMEWHERE IN NORTHWEST CONNECTICUT — As I type Thursday morning, April 18 it is raining again. Thank God for that. I was worried about the crops.

Q: What crops?

A: Any crops. I just like saying “crops.”

In what seems to be an increasing rarity, we had two days without hardly any rain, on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 16-17. (It did start raining Wednesday evening.)

I ventured into a brook in the lower reaches, where the descendants of state-stocked browns have taken firm hold.

The state stopped stocking the stream about 20 years ago, so these fish are — what, the fifth or sixth generation?

There are more of them in this small stream than you might think from a casual glance. And they are incredibly difficult to catch.

On Wednesday I used a little eight-foot Japanese Tenkara rod I forgot about. Not the greatest rod but it got the job done. I also carried the Dragontail Talon, which at a foot long when collapsed fits in the hand warmer pocket of my waders. It’s 10 feet and change in action. And it’s just a better rod.

(So have I gone all Zen weirdness? No, I use my regular rods all the time. I operate on 100% whim.)

In these new spots, I plucked not one but two wild browns from deeper plunge pools, and both were well over 10 inches. This doesn’t sound like much perhaps, but the typical fish in here is four to six inches and could easily fit in a little rectangular can labeled “sardines.”

Fish were coming up for big dries, Stimulators (size 10) and Parachute Adams (size 10), but the big winner was Joe’s Weenie. Unlike the ho-hum standard Green Weenie, Joe’s Weenie is a darker green, tied on a jig hook and has a very heavy head. It sinks like a stone.

Joe's Weenie is the superior Green Weenie.Patrick L. Sullivan

With regard to the photo of the large pool with the tree across it: This pool, which looks incredibly inviting, is the scene of innumerable frustrations over the years.

The problem has always been the approach. The tailout is shallow, and the spooky fish could see me coming a mile away.

And while visible booted feet are bad enough, many is the time I have watched dark shapes scurrying away after being alerted to my looming presence by a) the looming and b) the waving of the rod.

But this tree fell just right. It minimizes the looming aspect and seems to help with the waving rod bit as well. I can stand a few feet behind it and cast over it without mishap.

Upstream a 20-year old logjam finally blew out and completely changed the configuration of about 40 yards of stream.

This reminds me that rivers are not static systems. When one door closes, another one opens.

And he who laughs last gathers no moss.

Latest News

Inspiring artistic inspiration at the Art Nest in Wassaic

Left to right: Emi Night (Lead Educator), Luna Reynolds (Intern), Jill Winsby-Fein (Education Coordinator).

Natalia Zukerman

The Wassaic Art Project offers a free, weekly drop-in art class for kids aged K-12 and their families every Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m. The Art Nest, as it’s called, is a light, airy, welcoming space perched on the floor of the windy old mill building where weekly offerings in a variety of different media lead by professional artists offer children the chance for exploration and expression. Here, children of all ages and their families are invited to immerse themselves in the creative process while fostering community, igniting imaginations, and forging connections.

Emi Night began as the Lead Educator at The Art Nest in January 2024. She studied painting at Indiana University and songwriting at Goddard College in Vermont and is both a visual artist and the lead songwriter and singer in a band called Strawberry Runners.

Keep ReadingShow less
Weaving and stitching at Kent Arts Association

A detail from a fabric-crafted wall mural by Carlos Biernnay at the annual Kent Arts Association fiber arts show.

Alexander Wilburn

The Kent Arts Association, which last summer celebrated 100 years since its founding, unveiled its newest group show on Friday, May 11. Titled “Working the Angles,” the exhibition gathers the work of textile artists who have presented fiber-based quilts, landscapes, abstracts, and mural-sized illustrations. The most prominently displayed installation of fiber art takes up the majority of the association’s first floor on South Main Street.

Bridgeport-based artist Carlos Biernnay was born in Chile under the rule of the late military dictator Augusto Pinochet, but his large-scale work is imbued with fantasy instead of suffering. His mix of influences seems to include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s popular German libretto “The Magic Flute” — specifically The Queen of the Night — as well as Lewis Carol’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” The Tudor Court, tantalizing mermaids and exotic flora.

Keep ReadingShow less
Let there be Night: How light pollution harms migrating birds
Alison Robey

If last month’s solar eclipse taught me anything, it’s that we all still love seeing cool stuff in the sky. I don’t think we realize how fast astronomical wonders are fading out of sight: studies show that our night skies grow about 10% brighter every year, and the number of visible stars plummets as a result. At this rate, someone born 18 years ago to a sky with 250 visible stars would now find only 100 remaining.

Vanishing stars may feel like just a poetic tragedy, but as I crouch over yet another dead Wood Thrush on my morning commute, the consequences of light pollution feel very real. Wincing, I snap a photo of the tawny feathers splayed around his broken neck on the asphalt.

Keep ReadingShow less