I took a late afternoon trip to the Connetquot River on Long Island yesterday. The rules have changed since they discovered a virus at the hatchery this winter. For one, the use of chest waders and felt-bottomed boots is prohibited. There is limited wading on the river below the hatchery, but only in hip waders. (Very few people can wear hip waders without looking ridiculous, and odds are you are not one of them.) I’ll put up the official new rules in a future post.
What else has changed? The days of retarted meat slab fishing (or hero fishing, depending on your perspective) appear–at least for the time being–to be over. The park is still stocking the river, but you can no longer approach a hole, cast a piece of yarn on a size 16, and expect a stocked brook trout to assault it. The trout are still numerous, but in each of my visits to the river this season they’ve behaved like, well, trout. They spook if you approach the river without caution, they don’t forgive you if you flub a cast, and they hightail it somewhere else if you brazenly false cast over their heads. Where it used to be normal to catch upwards of 20 trout, with days of over 40 (then it could rightly be called stupid fishing), this year I’ve averaged around four a trip. Yesterday I worked hard to catch a couple of wary browns and a chunky brook, and connected with a reel-zinging rainbow of serious proportions that would have qualified for Slab of the Month status had it not straightened out the hook. But no one wants to read about almosts, so I’ll end it there.