A Salmon Story - Tim Sheffield

My love for catching fish on the fly began at a young age when I was introduced to the sport by my father. He and I have an unbreakable relationship which grows stronger every time we share a piece of water. I owe it all to him. Growing up on the coast of Connecticut, we fly fished mainly for stripped bass. It was only after attending Montana State University Bozeman that I found my love for chassing trout on the fly (not a bad place to start).  Upon my return home from the Big Sky State, my new found passion for trout bled to my father. His master plan was coming to fruition with its success only to be measured in wet hi-fives and moonrise drives.

For the most part we have a pretty straight forward fishing itinerary every year. Always having trout on the brain keeps us chasing them from early spring through the middle of winter. In addition to our trout trips, we mix in salt water adventures when we can. For the past 10 years we have put more & more effort into catching false albacore & bonito during their predictable yet short visit the Connecticut/Rhode Island shoreline. I have acquired a love for these adrenaline fish and I try my best to get a good workout with them if possible. The past few seasons have been great resulting in numerous fond memories & sore arms.

This fall, once the salt season ended, we added a new chapter to our fishing story. A spark ignited in my father. Instead of returning to our usual trout fishing grounds, he was hell bent on catching one of the elusive Broodstock Atlantic salmon we have here in Connecticut. True to form, I followed suit and tried to forget about wild brown trout for a season.  Stepping out of our comfort zone was well worth it. This fishing season turned out to be one of the hardest of my life resulting in an extremely bruised ego which, although painful, turned out to be a god send. Sometimes the amazing things in life are the hardest to procure.

  Salmon season was in full swing. After 6 trips to the river and only moving a handful of fish my patience was being tested.  They were playing hard to get making my lust only grow stronger. I kept at it being that these 5 to 25lb salmon live a mire 30 minuets from my door. My father, surprisingly enough, was also having trouble sealing the deal. Although each trip made our frustration grow, just sharing the current with these giants was an amazing feeling. They roll & chase as if purposefully taunting us to stay & fish. Eventually dad broke the ice in mid November with A 10-lber on the swing. He managed this feat with…wait for it…..wait for it….. a salmon fly! A Mickey Finn which he had tied the night before.  

It was at this point that I put away all of my trout flies & gave into the swing. I had so many close calls stripping modern trout streamers, it was very difficult for me to resign the technique. So traditional salmon flies it was. I armed myself to the teeth, picked up one of my closest fly fishing friends (who was also in need of finding his first Salmon) and headed back to the river. Well, that was all it took. We drove to the stream that day with a new found hope. After a good hike & not a soul in sight I knew we were ready. Both of us caught our first ever Broodstock Atlantic salmon that day. (within 20 minutes of each other) The fish were amazing specimens showing acrobatic talent, long runs & strength that was surprising. (especially for a freshly stocked fish) All I needed was one. The monkey was off my back making it all the easier to catch another. To say the least, I was amped. On the walk back to the car I reflected on the numerous times I had hiked this path in despair. It was nice to finally make that trip up the hill with my head held high.

As I type this, the salmon that I chassed all fall are probably being digested…. and that’s ok. Its part of the deal. Every year on December first the “no kill” ban gets lifted & the river runs red. As much as I love these powerful creature its almost like getting to close to a pig on a farm. Even so, Fishing for these salmon has broadened my horizons, making places like Pulaski sound more & more intiesing. Never the less my heart still lies in the elegant flows of my home states trout streams. There’s just something in a wild trout that makes my motor run.

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