THE TWO BEST TIMES TO FISH IS WHEN IT’S RAININ’ AND WHEN IT AIN’T: A GUIDE TO THE PLEASURES OF FLY FISHING IN CONNECTICUT
HARTFORD, CT — April 19, 2005— Humorist Patrick F. MacManus once said that, The two best times to fish is when it’s rainin’ and when it ain’t. Comedian Steven Wright observed that There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore looking like an idiot.
This is especially true of fly fishing, an exceptionally graceful art practiced by passionate devotees in some of nature’s most beautiful settings and requiring considerably more skill than worm-dunking, as the alternative has been called. For those already in love with the sport as well as the many who are intrigued enough to try it (fly fishing is one of the fastest growing sports, particularly for women, in the country), Connecticut offers a guide to discovering the pleasures of a fly fishing getaway on the Housy, the Farmington, or even the Sound.
With plentiful fly shops, talented guides, experts giving classes, and some ideal water, the state consistently has been ranked at the top of the list of fly fishing destinations in the Northeast by the people who know the sport best. Combined with a cozy B&B or country inn and a fine meal or two, there may be no more enjoyable getaway in Connecticut.
Connecticut’s fly fishing comes in two varieties – fresh water streams and the saltwater Long Island Sound. While dozens of streams crisscross the state, two rivers stand out as favorites among fly fishermen. Both offer opportunities to catch 18-inchers or bigger. The Housatonic, affectionately called the Housy by fishermen, tumbles out of the Berkshire Hills into northwestern Connecticut. With a ten-mile trout management area, abundant deep pools, riffles and runs, and a fly fishing only section, it has been dubbed one of the best in the eastern U.S.
Farther east, the western branch of the Farmington River eventually joins the Connecticut. Thanks to reservoirs feeding cold water into the river, the Farmington serves as a year-round trout hatchery, with its own trout management area, and all the natural features needed to nurture brook, brown and rainbow varieties. On both rivers, the fly fishing action begins as early as April and continues into autumn. Fishing licenses are required and are available on a calendar year basis from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (for more information, visit http://dep.state.ct.us).
For those new to the sport or new to Connecticut, there is no better way to enjoy a fly fishing vacation than with help from experts. Some of the best include:
- Housatonic Anglers Guide Service (www.housatonicanglers.com) is one of the oldest companies operating on the river. Rob Nicholas is an FFF Certified Casting Instructor and provides both guiding services and instruction on the Housatonic and other local streams, offering day trips of the float or walk/wade variety, including a homemade lunch, from mid-April to November.
- Housatonic Meadows Fly Shop & Lodge (www.flyfishct.com) is a licensed Orvis full line dealer as well as Orvis-endorsed guide and instruction service. With more than 20 years experience, the company offers lodging as well as fishing trips.
- Housatonic River Outfitters (www.dryflies.com) is a full-service flyshop, outfitter and guide/instruction service operating on the Housy and the Farmington as well as smaller streams in northwestern Connecticut. In addition to a full supply of equipment, including 50,000 flies, the company features classes in fly tying as well as fishing. Full day trips include a gourmet lunch.
- Bob Kneeland (www.ctflyfishing.com) is one of many individual fly fishing guides in Connecticut. With over 30 years experience, he can share his passion, and secrets, on the Farmington, the Housatonic, and, on a seasonal basis, the shoreline of the Connecticut River. Another expert guide is Robert Parkins (www.yellodrake.com) from coastal Connecticut who also offers guided trips on the Housatonic, Farmington and, new for 2005, a guided tour of reservoir fishing from a flat boat.
- Classic & Custom Fly Shop (www.classicandcustomflyshop.com) is another source for expert instruction in fly fishing. Learn to Fly Fish with Marla Blair one-day classes, taught by Federation of Fly Fisherman Certified instructors, are offered periodically through September.
- Mountain Meadow Outfitters & Charters offers Connecticut Atlantis salmon and Trophy trout angling in the Shetucket River. Fly-fishing, light tackle, half-or full-day adventures, shore lunch included. Rental gear. Tackle and flies available. (203-415-4647)
- Two other organizations passionate about fly fishing include the Connecticut Fly Fishermen’s Association (www.ctflyfish.org), which is organized to preserve and promote the pleasures and traditions of fly fishing and offers classes in both freshwater and saltwater fly fishing; and Fly Fishing University (www.flyfishingu.net), which, in addition to an annual World of Fly Fishing show (usually in January), offers instruction via seminars, clinics, shows and private lessons.
Long Island Sound, from Montauk Point across to Rhode Island and all along the Connecticut coast, is the scene of Connecticut’s popular saltwater fly fishing expeditions. This is where fully-equipped modern boats, staffed by expert guides and instructors in both fly fishing and spin casting, go after the big guys – shark, tuna, dorado, bass, bluefish included – on charter trips and special adventures year-round. The waters are particularly noted for trophy-sized striped bass, hard-fighting bluefish, and the quick and powerful false albacore and bonito. Boats depart from Norwalk, Old Saybrook, Westport, Waterford and other coastal cities, towns and marinas, offering fishermen and fisherwomen of all abilities an experience of a lifetime.
No license is required for fishing in marine (or coastal) waters.
Among the companies offering a wide range of saltwater fishing adventures:
- North Coast Charters (www.northcoastcharters.com), Old Saybrook, offers saltwater fly fishing and light tackle guided trips and charter service, including instruction for all skill levels. In addition to fishing the spring and fall migrations at Montauk and regularly scheduled trips throughout the Sound, the company also features fishing on the Connecticut River and the Housatonic River. Owner and operator is Bob Turley, a 25-year veteran of fishing the Sound.
- Northeast Saltwater Flyfishing & Westport Outfitters, in Norwalk (www.saltwater-flyfishing.com), offers a complete selection of equipment and gifts as well as guided fishing services just 15 minutes away from the world record striped bass waters along the Norwalk Island chain.
- Northrop’s Landing, in Westport (www.charternet.com/flyfish/northrop), features an Orvis saltwater pro shop and guided fishing expeditions headed by Captain Jeff Northrop.
- North Cove Outfitters in Old Saybrook (www.northcove.com) presents a fly fishing department and seasonal schools for fresh and saltwater fly fishing, fly tying and casting clinics taught by FFF certified casting instructors.
- Connecticut Woods & Water Guide Service, with Captain Dan Wood in charge (www.ctwoodsandwater.com), caters to fishermen of all abilities and provides day fishing trips on the eastern Long Island Sound with four boats specifically designed for northeastern waters.
Finally, a new source of information about Connecticut’s fly fishing opportunities will be launched in May, when www.coastalCTFishing.com begins to provide information and links to many of the outfitters, guides, fishing vacation packages and other resources.
For further information about the 52 Getaways to Connecticut, restaurants, resorts, country inns, B&Bs and other places to stay in Connecticut, please call 800-CTBOUND (800-282-6863) or visit www.ctbound.org. Connecticut offers visitors a multi-faceted wealth of attractions, historical, cultural and recreational activities, diverse and beautiful natural landscapes, parks, beaches and wilderness sure to fulfill any getaway need.
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