WFFJ Fall Outing
(by member Terry Brykczynski)

Upon certain extraordinary occasions in our angling lives, we find ourselves having to choose between two opposing actions  -- either to actively pursue a trophy fish rising to our fly or to be caught ourselves and held powerless, entranced by the spectacular surroundings that nature bestows upon the lovely homes of trout. On Sunday, November 25th, each of us who participated in the WFFJ fall outing faced this paradox  --  and we were thrilled at the challenge!

The day began auspiciously as we gathered at the parking lot of Connetquot State Park,  exchanging greetings and eager to wet our lines. The weather was especially favorable -- an overcast day, unusually warm, and full of promise! Especially fortunate omens were the flocks of wild turkeys and herds of inquisitive deer that welcomed us to this unique shrine of flyfishing only an hourfs drive from Manhattan. Off we tramped to the river, refreshing our senses with the aromatic scents of pine straw, budding mushrooms, and ferns heavy with morning dew.

For over a hundred years the Park has retained its status as a spectacular natural oasis, protected from development first as a private sportsmanfs club open only to very wealthy members and then, after being sold to New York State in 1963 for $6 million, accessible to anyone for a nominal fee to enjoy hiking, horseback riding or fishing among its 3,500 acres. The current manager, Gil Bergen, began his involvement with the park as a teenager in 1945 after he quit his job milking cows on a nearby millionairefs estate to guide anglers on the spring-fed stream that ambles through the pristine forest. Today, Gil oversees a hatchery that each year raises and releases over 60,000 fish to not only the Connetquot, but also the nearby Nissequogue River in Caleb Smith State Park.

Among the many challenges that faced us was the ultimate gConnetquot Grand Slamh -- to catch on a single day each type of available trout (brook, Kamloops rainbow, German brown and the rare tiger, a hybrid between a male brook trout and female brown trout). While some of us concentrated on the Grand Slam, others focused on another Connetquot goal -- to catch a plump and feisty returning sea-run fish.  Each year fish descend from the river to the estuary of the Great South Bay, growing enormously fat from a diet of eels and baitfish, and return from the sea  on rainy days (like ours!) to spawn in the waters of their birth. The sea-run browns usually prefer to feed at night, unfortunately, but several of us reported large fish that immediately broke our tippets after charging into the brush near the shoreline. Could they have been c????

While some may know that the New York State record brook trout of over 6 pounds was caught in this river a few years ago, a few other anglers are very sure that even larger brookies have been caught. The largest German brown trout caught here was over a whopping 16 pounds in weight!

Although no records were broken, the possibility was on everyonefs mind as we gathered for lunch and compared our strategies.  While some opted for scud and caddis imitations, others preferred streamers or dark mayfly patterns.  But there seemed to be no overall favorite fly and the happy faces showing in our group photograph attest to everyonefs success.  The organizers of the event are due a huge thanks from each and every one of us, for providing the opportunity not only to catch great trout on a fly, but also to be part of a very special time and place in our sport.