West Cornwall to North Kent, CT
by Bob Rancan
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Saturday found us making our annual trip to Litchfield County, Connecticut to paddle the Appalachian Trail section of the mighty Housatonic River. It was indeed mighty this year as several days of rain during the week had brought the flow below the Falls Village dam up to 4.93 feet, or 2,770cfs. In contrast, our trip on May 8, 2010 had us dodging rocks all day with a much lower flow of 2.72, 593 cfs. This year's trip was perfect; well the "sunny" day turned out to be more overcast and much cooler than expected. BUT, there was lots of water! And, because of the volume of high, fast-moving, turbulent cold water, the usual army of wading fly fisherpersons had stayed away for the most part. There were some folks fishing from the banks and from drift boats but no one was wading out in those conditions. Actually, this section of the river is a "no kill, fly fishing only" resource and it is great to see the stream being protected and cared for so well. It is also a wide enough river that with a little bit of boat control, coexisting is not too difficult.
We had 12 Club members and 3 good friends from the Nutmeg State, Matt, Scott and Sharon. It was a fine moving water experience, to say the least. As shown in Matt's great pictures, my theory that "it ain't the boat, it's the boater" was largely proven to be true. We brought 5 whitewater canoes, 3 "regular" canoes, 4 whitewater kayaks, 2 recreational kayaks and even 1 sea kayak. Everyone was present at the finish, although some were wetter than others.
I counted 2 osprey, lots of yellow warblers establishing their territories, red-winged blackbirds, common grackles, common mergansers, Turkey vultures, at least one pair of belted kingfishers, a great blue heron, a red-tail hawk or two, multiples of tree swallows (with probably some rough-winged swallows mixed in) out catching the bugs the trout weren't rising to and a kingbird at the take out. It was a great day. Plus, I got to take my traditional tea time break on the Appalachian Trail. I can tell all my hiking friends I did a section this year!
Thanks to Henry D., Jim L., Mark G., Charlie L., Jan K., Ken K. and Michelle P-K., Ben H., Lee R., Mike K. and Captain Scott for a great day on the river and Matt for the photos, including nice shots of the sky and the three serious kayakers that of course he happened to know.