Farmington River

Yesterday afternoon I had the water to myself. During the dog days, the Farmington is one of the few local places to reliably find trout. Weekends it can be crowded but mid-week you can still find places to be alone. I fished and caught in solitude until rush hour. The road across the way, unnoticed through the afternoon, suddenly had a spurt of life. It was the only indication of the rhythm of elsewhere.

A little while later I heard commotion in the small lot behind me. Late of some workplace, three guys entered the pool above me. While they were a hundred yards off the quiet of the valley and the reflective quality of lazy water made their banter easily heard. These three took up what seemed like the usual spots and the cliche, stream-side taunts bounced back and forth. Portly guy was into fish quickly and rated a few hoots while his buddies struggled. Before long the abundance of the Farmington yielded bent rods for the lot of them.

As things settled down and the fishing began in earnest additional anglers entered above and below. The chap above brought a yellow lab. The dog swam out to a mid-stream rock and perched himself there barking at everything and nothing. I tend to agree with Gierach on this subject. Dogs are fine roaming the heath or in the blind but on the stream most are just a nuisance. Some are worse. Fortunately the web-toed beast tired of the game and roamed elsewhere much to the consternation of the angler.

Below a father and son cast in the the long, slow belly of the pool. The father was one of those coaching types. He gave a continuous stream of advice on positioning, fly selection and every other aspect of the sport. I instinctively thought he was trying too hard. His chatter was that of a parent in the bleachers of a Little League game who can't resist coaching to the great annoyance of coaches. Not being a coach I tucked away my annoyance and got back to the distraction of splashy rises.

The fishing was good. The hatch was a mixed bag of summer fare and the trout didn't seem to be on any one thing. I spent most of the evening working a #20 parachute sulphur in front of each rise garnering takes and hook-ups with enough frequency to be satisfying. In fact, it was probably my best day of fishing so far this year. So much so that when it came time to cast in the pitch dark, I chose not to.

The father and son came up to the lot as I was taking off my waders. We got to talking and he mentioned how he and his son had just taken up fly fishing. The young man was heading off to college in the fall. The father thought that the sport would be a good way for them to stay connected. The son seemed genuinely interested and I was excited for them.

My oldest son is also off to college in the fall. Chris is a good sport when it comes to fishing but his passions are elsewhere. I’d like to think we have found bridges between between the things that excite him and my interests. But what's been most challenging for me lately is that he's beginning his own journey and I'm not going to be as much a part of that journey as I'd like to be.

The great irony of all this is that for eighteen years I've been imagining how Ann and I would get our lives “back” after the kids were off. We’d have our lodgings to ourselves, our schedules would revolve around shared interests (and some fishing), and there’d be no arguments about what’s for dinner. There’d be a measure of solitude that would yield a peace not found when you’re standing in the middle of everything that makes a family prized. On the cusp of that moment, one discovers the price of such dreams.

Steve lives and fishes in western Connecticut. When not working on his spey cast he writes at and on dead trees for various magazines.


Thanks, Mike.