Monday, April 21, 2014

Returning to the small river

I put in from a muddy ramp just below the bridge on the Lieutenant River no more than a mile above the Connecticut River on a calm and sunny day, the weather being what brings me here to an open marsh so close to the ocean.  As soon as I have taken 20 strokes, I pass some fishermen and a couple of osprey, all of which have the same goal, although fishing must be tougher for the osprey in the silt laden water of this tributary.
The Lieutenant River

Once at the big river, I turn seaward and follow the east shore just as far out from shore as I need to paddle without striking bottom.  There are many osprey either on nests or in the air.  Occasionally, I flush a mallard, some buffleheads or some scaups.

Osprey nest in a rootball on Great Island

Low tide prevents me from entering the smaller side channels, so I stay in the big water.  The area had been recommended to me, but as is usually the case, it's a little less interesting to me than to others.  It is "big", and it looses the intimacy of smaller rivers and marshes, although the sandy beach out near the mouth is probably a fine place for a picnic, if one is into picnics.  Near the mouth of the river, I make the ten minute crossing over to the Old Saybrook side aiming for the taller of the two lighthouses.  The strength of the current and swirls from the tide and river colliding show that this side of the river is the deep water...the traffic lane, although there is not a single boat in sight on this day.

I head back upstream, but the shallows keep me a hundred yards out from shore.  Even with that taken to consideration, there is far less wildlife on this western bank of the river.  When it comes time, I cross back and into the Lieutenant River once more.

The Lieutenant River

I pass my put-in and continue upstream with a tailwind and a flooding tide current, thinking about returning at each bend, but wondering enough about what is beyond the next turn that I keep going, mentally and physically running from one point of land to the next.  This is a delightfully fine river, bounded on the sides by still grey deciduous trees and rocky hillsides. And, finally I get to a wide spot where the river will next become narrow, and here three osprey circle overhead and hover at times, fishing in much clearer water than I found downstream.  A half a dozen times I watch an osprey drop from a hundred feet, plunging into the water after fish...climbing out to resume the hunt, until the sixth... a catch.  And off it goes.
Oprey in a dive
And off I go, back to where I started.

1 comment:

ncmc said...

Have not paddled the Lieutenant in years; a good reminder to go back.