06 June, 2011

A stranger in a strange land...

I've been out a few times over the last few weeks. Most of time has been spent trying to find good local waters; streams and/or ponds that I can visit when I have a free hour or two.

The Ipswich River is very close to my home and it receives a fair amount of press--both good and bad--from locals. Recent scouting trips have been underwhelming. The stream just doesn't seem to hold very high densities of fishes (at least in the upper sections). Now, I am not expecting ~500 trout/mile--in fact I am not really looking for trout per se--but I would like to find a wadeable stream/pond that holds decent numbers of centrarchids, esocids, and/or maybe a few sizable cyprinids (e.g., Semotilus and Cyprinus). I've landed a single Lepomis macrochirus and from the looks of things, the stream should hold Micropterus in abundance; where the latter are hiding is a mystery. And the lack of pickerel and minnows is a little more than disturbing...perhaps there are larger water quality issues here than I suspect.

The local pond in Breakheart Reservation is fishing well but has been invaded by weekend warriors. That latter is fine by me, but they set-up camp--with rod, bait bucket, and cooler--in most of the places where casting a fly rod is easy. And every time someone sees me fly fishing, I get that look like..."are you lost? you do know that trout aren't stocked here, right?" Really, I don't mind company while fishing, but two's company and three's a crowd...you know how the saying goes.

The carp flat in Lake Quannopowitt is also devoid of life. Holly and I spent the better part of an hour looking for Cyprinus carpio; we didn't see any. The lake used to have a reputation for holding large Esox niger, so I brought my 7 weight and a few trusty bait-fish patterns and made a few hundred casts in a very "pikey" looking cove...nada. We didn't see any centrarchids spawning in the shallows either; more of mysteries to consider.

Finally, I chose a overcast and windy day to head out to the Parker River. I launched the canoe at Thurlow street and paddled downstream to Crane Pond. I had heard stories of large pickerel and good populations of centrachids. That the stream is also stocked with trout, and might also have holdovers, was a plus.  Long story short, I managed to hook my first pickerel with fly rod, but lost the bugger at the gunnel. I managed to also catch a decent Perca flavescens and explored much of the pond and downs stream reaches (Hemlocks section) of the Parker. The fishing was really slow (no big surprise there, right?); the marsh and surrounding area reminded me of southern Louisiana.

Being in a new place should be exciting. A sense of adventure every time I head out to wet a line. I don't know what it is exactly, but I think I am a growing a little frustrated with the "newness". The poor quality of fishing near home and over crowding of decent spots is probably correlated with urbanization in Eastern Massachusetts. However, I lived smack-dab in the middle of New Orleans and had great freshwater and saltwater fishing 5 minutes from the house; go figure. My time is more limited now; my family is growing and I value spending time at home with my girls. I cant' and won't spend 2-3 days a week fishing, looking for those sweet spots. A lack of patience coupled with limited time makes for a unhappy me.

I am seriously considering heading to the coast and chasing Morone and Pomotamus on the fly; sound like a good idea? After all, the North Shore of Massachusetts has world-class fishing for these species. Gah, learning a new fishery can be a bitch... I see more "newness" in my future...

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