Who Knew?

By Stuart Shafran and John Nordstedt

August 2008

In a previous article I wrote that I had joined a volunteer army and together we had hauled out hundreds of tires from the stretch of river once known as the Gruendyke Dam. One of the volunteers, John Nordstedt, is an old friend of mine, a long time member of TU and of this chapter. I enjoyed his company that day as well as many other days fishing together on our chapter trips. On one of several work breaks at the old dam, John entertained me with a story that I enjoyed so much, that I asked his permission to share it in Mainstream.

One of John's and my favorite rivers to fish is the Farmington River in Connecticut. Combined we have almost twenty years of fish tales at each and every pool and run from the dam at Hogback Reservoir to the Hillside Motel, in Canton.

Not too long ago, mid July, John was fishing Church Pool, the most heavily fished pool on the river. It's a small stretch of river located at the intersection of Routes 318 and 181. It was just about 6 AM and John was the second to arrive at the pool. The first guy was fishing under the bridge. He was as far out as he could wade. John was standing below the bridge rigging up his rod to fish nymphs.

I was so engrossed in what I was doing, John said, that I hadn’t noticed a third guy until he was almost next to me. He was a young, fairly tall, slender, light skinned black man, very well dressed in new Simms chest waders and vest. He looked like a “poster boy” for the company (now don't get ahead of me) right out of one of the catalog pages. Based on his appearance alone he at least looked like he knew what he was doing.

Though John’s an accomplished angler and never at a loss for words he had to ask. “Excuse me,” he said. “I'm up from Jersey for the day and not familiar with this river. What should I be using?” He moved closer to John pulling off a tiny fly from his vest to show him. “Needhami's size 28 or 30,” he said. “That's what they were taking yesterday.” “Or whatever you use it's got to be small,” he added.

Size 30? John said to himself. I can’t even see a fly that small let alone thread it onto my tippet.

“Here take one of mine,” the young man said. John took the fly and thanked him. He had the sense that the young man really wanted to fish the spot that John was in, and so, he quietly gave up his place and moved on downstream. It was just as well John told me, because there was not that much room to back cast. However, as John was re-rigging his rod to fish dry flies, he glanced over and watched the young man cast straight up in the air and out about 30 or 40 feet with as much grace and elegance as you can imagine.

Within just a few casts the man was into his first trout. John watched him catch several more. John managed to tie on his gift, and he too, caught several fish with it. That is, until it literally came apart. The smallest flies he had left were size 22 BWO’s. John switched to them and caught a few more fish. Meanwhile, his new best friend had crossed the river gracefully without as much as a wading staff and worked his way upstream.

When John returned to his car he noticed there was a sparkling clean black Mercedes sedan parked next to his. He thought nothing of it, got into his own vehicle, and returned home.

Several days later John happens to be watching the British Open on cable and hears the announcer discussing what a passion Tiger Woods has for fly fishing. The announcer added that Tiger had been fly fishing in Ireland just days before the Open. Well, John goes right over to his computer and surfs the Tiger Woods’ Fan Club. He read that Tiger enjoys fly fishing the Farmington River and they were both in Connecticut at the same time.

Interestingly enough, John thought the man looked familiar. And, if he had recognized him, chances are, Tiger would have left and that would have been the end of that story. Who knew?