However, shortly after bringing my kayak to New England I was bitten by the striper bug, and over the years have only made a few trips to explore this great fishery. Well, I’ve vowed to change that, and over the next two years I want to become familiar with the waters close to me. I’ll eventually try to kayak and fish the entire river and some of its tributaries.
For this trip, two friends and I floated a section of the river close to where we live. We launched at Pauchaug Brook (mile 132) and took out at Riverview Picnic and Recreation Area (mile 124). We met before 6:00am at our planned takeout and the gates were still locked. We parked a couple of vehicles there, loaded all the kayaks onto my HHR, and made the twenty-minute drive to the launch. We quickly rigged our kayaks, launched into the mist, and started our adventure.
We weren’t on the water more than about five minutes when the first smallmouth of the day slammed my top water Bomber “Badonk-A-Donk”. We continued fishing the banks, and I picked up five more smallmouth before the mist cleared - all on topwater, or soft plastic fluke-style baits near the surface. When the sun broke through the bite slowed down, but there were still fish to be caught.
My first topwater smallie in five years
Since we had to cover eight miles, we started covering water faster, stopping to put time in at spots that looked especially good. When we took a break for a shore launch, CrazyCrawler decided to soak a worm from the bank and picked up a 30” eel. Over the day the variety of fish included smallmouth and largemouth bass, red-eye rock bass, perch, carp, suckers, and an eel. A few pike followed my lures, but none of them took the bait.
CrazyCrawler and his 30" eel
Interesting artwork on a bridge piling
After lunch, we realized we were way behind on covering the miles we had planned. We picked up the pace and even did some trolling. About ¾ mi from the takeout, I hooked up on my biggest fish of the day. The 20” river-grown smallmouth made several acrobatic leaps 3’ into the air. After the landing on the third one, my line went slack as the bass swam off to fight another day. As expected, this section of the river holds the potential for 4+ lb smallmouth.
The action slowed after the mist cleared, but there were still fish to be found
When we arrived at the planned take out, we discovered to our dismay that the Riverview Picnic and Recreation Area has no actual launch ramp. We were able to push and drag our kayaks up the embankment and haul them to our vehicles, but this is not a location that I would recommend on planning an exit or entry.
The river in the section we floated consisted of muddy bottoms and banks, there were areas of rip-rap around bridges and where bridges used to be. These spots seemed to hold fish, as did some grassy flats we found along the banks. The water level we faced on this trip would be considered to be on the lower end of normal conditions. The water clarity was pretty good, with visibility of 2’-3’.
There was lots of life in this section of the river, including this newly-hatched baby snapping turtle