Rainy-day fishing

I guess it was the two galvanized tubs hanging among cobwebs high along the carriage-shed’s north wall that stirred uplifting memories on a gray, still Tuesday morning — air heavy, storm brewing — on my way out back to the kennel.

The smaller, round tub is familiar to one at my previous South Deerfield home and that of my great-grandfather, Willis Chapman Sanderson, who was discovered unconscious in the road from Whately and carted to the Greenfield hospital. There, he died a few days later (Jan. 23, 1913), a week shy of his 47th birthday. A milkman, grist-mill electrician and town constable, foul play was suspected but never proved, thus the final life-insurance ruling of accidental death by fall from carriage on the way home for supper. Officials figured maybe the horse got frisky and dislodged him airborne from his seat and onto the back of his head.

My father used to play basketball in his late grandfather’s large dairy barn out back. By my time, though, it was totally dismantled, only a memory, the outline framing grandfather Waldo Willis Sanderson’s large summer vegetable garden with a battered chicken coop and broad ash tree standing sentry on the west side.

It was in that backyard between garden and driveway, then in the old north pasture behind the garden, on Frontier Regional School property taken at some point by eminent domain, where my youthful, intermittent night-crawler hunts began on hot summer nights with wet, dewy grass covering rich, foot-deep black loam. Unfortunately, that prime soil was trucked away to who knows where during the Frontier athletic-field upgrade of the 1990s. All I know is that the project was well underway when I decided to pull up stake and move to Greenfield in the spring of 1997.

I truly believe there was no better place on earth to pick crawlers than on those mowed green acres book-ending north and south my Pleasant Street home — a sliver of which dated back to Revolutionary times, when Scots-Irish Colrain soldier William Anderson and family bought a 60-acre parcel. The first owners I remember finding in deed research were three Deerfield soldiers who had obtained it as a land grant following one of the French & Indians Wars that consumed the first two-thirds of the 18th century.

In the cellar, on a waist-high mound of dirt supporting the piled-stone footing for the kitchen fireplace — near a narrow, white rectangular gravestone wearing the initials T.A. — I kept my night crawlers in a squarish-round galvanized tub covered by a window screen for air ventilation. Inside was six or eight inches of moist loam covered by a thicker layer of wet leaves that fell far below tub top. About once a week, or on the day before predicted thunderstorms and flash flooding, I’d mix in wet grounds from a morning pot of coffee, just to keep the bait caffeine-buzz lively, oh-so enticing to feeding trout in sanctuary pockets of muddy-brown storm water. How I appreciated those deluges as a young man, heading off on eager trips to West Whately and Conway streams that were always productive at such times.

Although concealment could be a factor that draws big feeding trout out of hiding places and into muddy water during summer rains, I believe the primary reason for coming out is to take advantage of the diverse feed liberated into the flow by turbulent water. The increased flow riles up the sediment and accepts runoff carrying unwilling insects, reptiles, rodents and even unfortunate baby birds out of nests along the banks and those of tiny storm tributaries. Never is it easier to catch nice brown trout you would otherwise doubt existed in such streams when running slow and low. And it’s not only browns. There are also big brookies and even rainbows that come out in high water but are rarely caught from low summer daytime streams. Not even from deep, dark pools, where little trout and immature salmon tend to bite instead.

It’s not rocket science. Once streams recede to their shallow summer trickle, most big trout hold tight out of sight and become nocturnal feeders. All you catch during the day are fingerlings, which many meat fishermen prefer, anyway. Not me. I like big fish that tug hard and leap into the air like sky pilots trying to shake free of the hook.

Astream, it helps if you can identify lanes, pools and eddies where feeding trout lurk — in other words, know how to read water. But even beginners ignorant of such stream dynamics will catch fish, and very nice ones, during summer rains like this week’s. You must experiment with different sinker combinations to get your bait to the depth at which fish are feeding, and you may find a need to add or subtract a split-shot from location to location. That’s fishing savvy. In fact, you’re better off in some spots with a fat crawler and no weight at all. Honest.

My preferred routine, whatever the flow, is to cast upstream 45 degrees and dead-drift the live, frisky “speed-worms,” which contract and expand through feeding lairs. There, usually on the final 90-degree swing, is usually where you set the hook start the entertainment.

You can catch fish on fly tackle using the same dead-drift, but roll casts and back casts under overhanging foliage on small streams requires expertise. For brooks, I always preferred and open-face spinning reel, a five- or six-foot ultralight graphite rod and 4- or 6-pound test line. With it, I’d lob delicate pendulum casts upstream, quickly correcting the loop by mending line to create a realistic bait drift. If you allow the loop to precede the bait, an unnatural drag alerts wise fish that something’s amiss.

It all comes down to presentation, reading water and knowing where fish feed. Once you learn the basics on small streams, it will transition nicely onto larger streams like the Deerfield, Millers, Green, Falls, North and Sawmill rivers.

Rainy summer days can’t be beat for trout fishing. And, while you’re at it, get a good, light, hooded raincoat with elastic wrist bands.

Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Mad Meg theme designed by BrokenCrust for WordPress © | Top