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Home » SCIENCE AND NATURE » CONNECTICUT » Fishing the Hard-to-Reach Spots on Riga Brook
Oh - My Back Hurts!
Fishing the Hard-to-Reach Spots on Riga Brook

By Patrick L. Sullivan | November 08, 2010

Patrick L. Sullivan, an experienced fly-fisherman seeks brook trout in Riga Brook in the northwest corner of Connecticut.

Fly-fishing the Riga Brook (aka Wachocastinook) in Salisbury is always a challenge. It is squirrelly, to say the least.   Managed as a year-round catch-and-release stream, it is chock full of brook trout that are about as wild as we’re going to find in the state, and the aggressive brown trout, at least in the lower reaches.

Public fishing access begins just before the stone bridge on the Mt. Riga road, and continues all the way up to the South Pond dam. Single-hook artificials and lures only, mind you.

A Newly Caught Trout Moments Before It Is Released

The initial section is the most heavily fished, and I usually skip it, my rule of thumb being when I stop seeing streamside detritus, I start fishing.   As the road climbs away from the stream, the angler has a choice: to keep going, knowing there is no easy way out, or to call it a day.   If you keep going, be aware that there are two ways out: go back downstream, or keep going to a point that is about 2 miles up by road, and represents at least two hours of serious clambering in the brook. And that’s if you don’t stop to fish.

So you’ll want some food, a flashlight and a fatalistic attitude, because the weather can turn on a dime. Being stuck in the box as a nice cheery thunderstorm blows up is an excellent reminder of human frailty.   (You can bring your cell phone but it won’t work. I tested it.) You’ll also want some 4X tippet, a box of bright, bushy flies — any caddis flies and attractors like Humpys, Irresistibles and Rat-Faced McDougals — plus a few nymphs.

I use a 6-foot rod for a five-weight line, usually. I have a 6-foot, two-weight but it is not up to the task of flipping over anything bigger than a size 16 fly, and is almost useless with any sort of weight. (Buying it seemed like a good idea at the time, but in retrospect it’s like having a pair of spectator shoes — fun to have, but how often do you trot them out?)


There are places where you can get off a back cast, and there are places where you’ll have to use a bow-and-arrow cast.   And there are spots where you have to crawl on your belly, stick the rod out perpendicular to the stream, allow some line to flow out, and then, with a deft flick of the wrist, use the weight of the water on the line to provide enough heft to propel it (and the fly) upstream.   This is impossible to describe. You’ll just have to fool with it.   Anyway, it’s no stroll in the park, but you get a shot at some genuinely wild fish — and a few surprises.

Such as a 10-inch brown that jumped out of the water and grabbed a terrific little pattern, a Royal Caddis, almost before it hit the water.   Big deal, right? Well, yeah. A 10-incher in this little stream is a monster, and certainly beats up the other kids on the block.   And the amount of time and effort spent getting to the trout? I’ll take it.

Later on I took the pontoon boat out on South Pond, known to the summer community as the Lower Lake. This boat has never been on any other body of water, and that status shall remain quo, because a) I don’t want to track any invasive species in and b) it’s so rickety I don’t dare use it anywhere with a current.

It was a sunny day and the water was still pretty brisk. These frost-warning evenings in this rather late spring must be playing merry hell with the romantic activities of the largemouth bass and other species. I saw a few spawning beds but nobody around guarding them, so I am assuming the schedule is running a bit late.   But I did connect with a medium-sized crappie, caught with a green sculpin pattern, fished deep.   I think it was pregnant, but I was too polite to ask. [Editor’s note: Sullivan returned the potentially pregnant fish to the lake.]

As the weather gets cooler, the good news is there is more water in the little brooks, and the underbrush is mostly gone. The bad news is you need hip boots, warm socks, and a higher than usual tolerance for discomfort.

Reprinted with permission, copyright The Lakeville Journal Company, LLC, 2010. www.tcextra.com

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