|Details:||I managed two trips to the Shetucket River for some salmon fishing this year. The first, at the onset of November, following the October stocking, paid-off big. The second, the day after Opening Day, turned-up butkus.
I took the first Tuesday of November off work and left for the Shetucket River around 6:15 AM. It was COLD. I do not have insulated waders and so I dressed myself with long-johns, wool socks, tee-shirt, sweat-shirt, jacket, and flannel-lined jeans. I packed a lunch, some scotch, some beer, and a cigar. I took with me spinning gear and fly-gear. I planned on being on the river 7-8 hrs.
I entered the area at Scotland Dam, at the top of the stocking range. I suited up and grabbed my fly-rod. I had a 8wt rod with floating line and about 5ft of 10lb leader. At the end was a Blacknose Dace streamer. No weight. After some casting, but with no evidence of salmon, I began to follow trail and/or train tracks down river. Every now and then I would stop, where terrain would allow, to enter the river and make some casts. With still no sightings of salmon, however, my casts were blind for the most part. I tried to concentrate on the edges of deep water, or maybe a bottlneck, but there isn't as many of those areas as you would think. Finally I approached where Merrick Brook enters the Shetucket.
SPLASH! My first salmon-sighting of the day. I slowly entered the river to try some casts. It was a little awkward and deep and before long I had a bit of a snaggle. I decided to move and as I did another angler steps into a choice spot. Such is life. I quietly circled around to wind up downstream and fished the main bottleneck. After some dramatic sweeps of my streamer I heard the other angler get a strike, but no fish. This happened once more and then he swtched off with me. I waded through the water.
Merrick Brook has dumped sediment over the years on the nearside of the Shetucket River, making it shallow here. Above the brook, however, is deep; as is the far side of the river that has been gorged by fast water. I positioned myself at the bottom of the deep water above the brook and made casts slightly upriver. My fly would slowly drift along the far bank before coming even with me, when it would pick up speed and do a fast arc in my direction just before the bottlneck. Half-way through the arc I started stripping the line in. I was in this stage that I recieved a strike after a few tries. I missed it, but I hooked the fish for good on the next try. It was only 2 lbs say, a grilse, but Atlantic salmon are exciting no matter what the size because you don't know what they will do. Dive, run, jump, dance, jump&dance, charge, etc. I snapped a photo of the fish in the net and let it go. Another angler showed up and I moved on.
I decided to return to the truck and next entered the river at Salt Rock State Park. I walked upstream, and seeing nothing promising, backtracked and began again downstream.
About a quarter-mile downstream of the Salt Rock fishing area is a bend in the river. There is fast, deep water running into a far, steep bank. There are gravel bars topped with log-jams on the close side. The water gets very deep here and the water in the middle moves along well. As I made a cast a salmon swirled 10ft from me in front of a log jam. My fly swept over the area with no luck. The fish took my next offering and this was a fighter. I landed the fish on the other side of the river completely spent. I had crossed some rapids and fought runs, charges, and dancing. The fish caught it's breath while in the cradle of my hand (way before I did) and swam away. I was at this pool for 2 more hours and landed 3 more salmon. The last of which lept out of the water at chin-height for six feet before giving into my net. I took his picture too. All caught on the same gear and weighed around 2lbs.
My second trip, December 2nd, was ruined by high water from a wide-open Scotland Dam. I could barely step into the river for the first 2hrs! Once the water receded I began to fish in earnest, but never a bite or a sighting. I am not sure if another trip is in my future or not. This season.