This weekend the Gowanus Noodlers hit the Housatonic for the first time. We were celebrating our one-year anniversary since our Wulff School meeting where we learned to fly fish. The Housatonic is big water and feels very much like a Western trout river. Broad, meandering, with a freestone bottom but tailwater characteristics, the main TMA is about 9km and stretches mostly through a state park between two bridges in Cornwall and West Cornwall. The water was about 800 CFS and very wadeable due to low snow melt this winter and the classic Mother’s Day caddis hatch was on in the mornings and evenings.
It’s not a native trout fishery–gets too hot in the summer–but it gets hold-overs. Tuesday they stocked 9K bows and browns that go from 12 – 18″ or more. The Housy really looks like a classic western river, wide in many areas with over a dozen good pools and plenty of pulloffs for cars. Its surrounded by a state park so feels isolated and quiet, very little humans except those on the road. The browns held close to the banks and the bows in the riffles and fast water. Armed with a map of the various pools from the Housatonic Fly Fisher’s Association, we pulled in about 20 fish and missed half as many more. I had on a couple of monsters who broke me off–holdovers easily in the 20+ range, but most trout was an average 13-15″.
Though stocked, the bows were good fighters lots of jumps. Early in the day there was a good caddis hatch, then nymphing for the middle of the day and then caddis again in the evening, as well as some big mayflies. It may look a little fast for dry flies, but once you get on the water, you find fish rising in some obvious places.
The river is breathtaking right now, and fishing very well. Whats more, I saw an owl and large wild turkey, along lots of other waterfowl–it feels a million miles away. One hole, the “garbage hole” (see above), could have been straight out of Montana, really. This is one river I expect to return to on a monthly basis. Especially as it gets warmer and the smallies come upriver. I love smallies on the fly. We already caught a few and I sight-fished to at least a 6lb bronzeback in pre-spawn–before he broke me off. You could get away with a 5wt, but if you have a 7/8wt that won’t hurt either to get your cast out there, because on occasion we saw rises in the middle of the river but unreachable due to drop-offs and so forth.