Merly did plenty of legwork for amazing book ‘Flyfisher’s Guide to Connecticut’
Originally written by Charles Walsh for the CT Post on March 18, 2013.
346: The number of pages in the book, whose index may be longer than the full text of other fishing guides you may have run across.
228: The number of Connecticut rivers and streams profiled in the book, each and every one of them personally visited and explored by the author.
117: The number of Connecticut lakes and ponds profiled in the book.
32: The number of detailed maps for accessing those rivers and streams (and lakes and ponds, too).
29: The number of Flyfisher’s Guides for other states published by Montana-based Wilderness Adventure Press.
8: The number of Connecticut counties the author spent considerable time in while researching the book (that’s all of them).
1: The number of years it took to research and write the book, during which Merly spent many a night sleeping in the back of his pickup truck while exploring obscure streams like the Podunk (yes, there is one), which flows out of the Niederwerfer Wildlife Sanctuary in South Windsor, and surprisingly pristine Oil Mill Brook in Waterford.
Just what would impel a dedicated lifetime angler like Merly to give up a year of fishing time to tackle such a daunting task, especially considering that, pressed by his deadline, Merly almost never had time to actually fish in those rivers and streams? (He did get a chance to make a few casts in the very last river he visited on his travels, the Natchaug in the state’s far northeast corner.) I asked Merly, who was raised in Black Rock, to solve that mystery when we met for coffee at Woods End Deli near his North End apartment in Bridgeport.
“Well,” he said, tapping an early copy of the book on the table in front of him, “I asked myself if I wanted a Connecticut flyfishing guide — and I did — what would I want it to look like. This is it.”
By his own description, Merly, who is president of the Nutmeg Chapter of Trout Unlimited in Fairfield County and one of the state’s leading fighters for preserving trout habitat, “has been fishing since I was able to hold a rod.” That would be somewhere around age 5 when his dad, attorney Larry Merly, took him to the Saugatuck River to fish for alewives with “little white flies.” Every so often, he would hook a small trout by accident and, as is often the case, he was hooked on fishing for life.