The Connetquot River, a stocked fly-fishing only spot on Long Island, opened February 1st for catch-and-release angling. I’m going to try and get out to fish ASAP on reports that an immature bald eagle has taken residence there, no doubt attracted to it for the same reasons anglers are: lots of fat, stupid hatchery fish. I love the Connetquot for many reasons, first and foremost that it’s a great place to fly fish for trout and be guaranteed to catch them. Last year at this time, my brother and I went and each caught upwards of 45 brook trout apiece. And not dinky little 8-inch ones either. When it warms up, you can catch BIG browns and rainbows, and there’s not too much thinking involved.
Granted, the purists out there might balk at having to pay $15 to fish for four hours, even if you’re basically renting your own private stretch of the river at that time, and no one else can fish your beat uninvited. They might scoff at the unnatural size of so many of the trout, too, and their generally forgiving, oblivious nature. I don’t care.
I love going there a few times a year. The long walk out to the river brings you by wild turkeys, deer, rabbit, and various waterfowl. There’s plenty of elbow room for casting. The fish do get more difficult to catch as the season wears on as they get weary of the beating they take every time they suck in a woolly bugger. And as the season warms up, it gets harder to get a spot, as you have to reserve one two weeks in advance, and a certain psychotic element sleep in their trucks the night before to ensure a prime wading beat. (These might be the same people who sleep in their cars at Bethpage Black.)
When the stripers come back, I usually avoid the whole trout scene. But this time of year, when other fish opportunities are few and far between, I’ll take the Connetquot any day. (Its sister stream, the Nissequogue, doesn’t open until April 1st.) Give me a two-weight, a few woolly-buggers and some caddis and let me loose!