Camping & Fishing

I was finally able to get away for a weekend of camping & fishing on the Farmington River. I used to live close enough to the Farmy to fish it almost daily during the season, but now it requires a day trip or overnight to really enjoy the experience and have a reasonable amount of time on the water.

For this trip I departed from tent camping. With an unknown amount of rain in the forecast, I took advantage of the new cabins at American Legion State Forest. They were  just introduced this year, and according to the ranger, very popular.

Cabin at American Legion State Forest, May 2014

Bunks in Cabin at American Legion State Forest, May 2014While they are called cabins, they could also be referred to as bunkhouses. From the outside they are small wooden buildings with metal roofs, screened windows and front porches.  Inside they are equally plain: two rooms, wooden chairs, a small table, lights and electricity. No restrooms, kitchen or running water.  Austere, yet efficient. Perfect for a short family getaway or, in my case, a weekend fishing trip. A fire pit and picnic table are also on the site. Bears, deer and raccoons optional.

Fishing  on Friday was slow. It was a severe-clear, blue sky day, with temps in the 70’s. Perfect for hiking, biking and canoeing, but tough for trout fishing.  At the third spot of the day I finally hooked a decent rainbow on an olive woolly bugger. Later I caught a rainbow and a brown at another pool. The rainbow took an elk hair caddis and the brown a tiny blue-winged olive.

Rainbow caught in campground pool, May 2014

Releasing the last fish, I realized that these are the first trout that I’ve caught this year. There were a couple of close calls earlier in the month, but either weather or personal commitments cut short these outings. For practical purposes, fishing season got a late start this year. Spring has been slow coming to the northeast, but the forest is now covered in various shades of green, all increasing in intensity. Brown is no longer the dominant color.

As it turned out, there was enough rain Friday night to validate my decision to choose a cabin. Instead of sitting in a damp tent watching the walls and ceiling for leaks, I sat on the porch drinking a beer and watching  my gear dry, smelling the neighbor’s struggling campfire and listening to the muted patter of rain in the damp evening air.

Clothes Drying, American Legion State Forest, May 2014

When it came time to call it a night, I flipped the switch on my portable electric heater and slid into a dry sleeping bag which partially covered the foam mattress. Using a lantern as a reading lamp, I finished the last few chapters of the latest Gierach book and turned out the lights.

On Saturday I fished the Still River almost exclusively. Gusty winds and elevated water levels made some of the Farmington spots difficult. Many people were fishing but none catching. The Still turned out to be a productive alternative. To see more on my experience fishing the Still River click here.

By the afternoon I had hiked, fished, bushwhacked and explored enough to be satisfied for a first trip. My wife and daughters drove up and joined me for dinner. Later we loaded up the family wagon and headed to the Pleasant Valley Drive-in to see a movie. Although technology has changed since I was a kid, the experience of watching a movie in the outdoors on a cool spring night has not.

Finally, one of the best parts of this trip was having my 9-year-old daughter spend a night on one of the bunks.  She slept soundly in her lime green sleeping bag adorned with glow-in-the-dark fireflies. For the sleepover, she brought two large tote bags and a flashlight with a zebra pattern. She was, as they say, a happy camper. Enjoy!

Happy Camper at American Legion State Forest, June 2014

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  1. Nothing beats a weekend away in the wilderness. Glad you and your family had a great trip away, despite having some difficulty catching trout.

    I have never slept in a cabin like the one in the photo. Will have to give it a try sometime.

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