Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Day On the Beaverkill

Sure, I know I have been AWOL lately, but it is not (isn't) because I have been sitting around on my arse all day.  I left my job last week after 8 years there, and I am off this week before starting the new venture, and you can't imagine all the stuff and stress that entails at my young age - I am a grandfather, afterall.  I'm not going to dwell on that though, except to say I'm excited about the new job and look forward to getting started.

In the meantime, I'm up in the Catksills for a few days to fish and clear my head, not that the latter will ever happen, but it is good to give it a shot every so often, or at least pretend to. At present, I'm sitting in a friends cabin that overlooks the famed "kill" just a few short miles down river from Roscoe.  I just tied a bunch of flies, music is on a fairly high volume, a beer at hand, and I figure now is the perfect time to write.  The lights are low except for my tying lamp, and across the room from me the phone cradle blinks a bright red 64-64-64........apparently Paul hasn't listened to his messages in a while.   I just tied a bunch of rusty spinners and march brown emergers to replace the ones the fish stole from me earlier today.....bastards.

When I got to the river today, the air was warm, the skies bright and the wind calm.  As I had expected, the river was higher than usual for this time of the year, but clear.  The rolling hills are just starting to green up; mostly that bright, lime green of freshly emerged hardwood leaves, most only a fraction of the size they will grow to in a few weeks.  Birds darted and swept down over the water to snag newly hatched insects from the air - the bugs have it tough this time of the year, if the trout don't get them, there are plenty of winged creatures to fill the void in the food chain.  It's (it is) a wonder enough survive the onslaught to mate and perpetuate the species.

About an hour after I waded out into the river, or two caught fish later, the atmosphere decided it was time for a change.  Clouds rolled in, swirling and gray, carried by gusty breezes that challenged the direction my fly line was intended to go.  And it began to rain lightly.....or is that, lightly rain?

Anyhow, the aquatic bugs love the conditions previously described, and so they had a big hatching party. There were March Browns, Hendrickson spinners, large Sulphurs, Blue-winged Olive duns and spinners, Light and Dark Grannoms (caddis), egg-laying caddis, Yellow Sallies and Brown Stoneflies.  A veritable smorgasbord of trout food.  And the trout responded as one would expect, rising steadily in the softer water just off the currents and eddies.  A well placed cast with a deer hair March Brown emerger took fish, or at least got a serious look from them, more often than not.  I even caught a nice 14" rainbow that took line and jumped a few times before coming to hand.

That lasted an hour, maybe two, before the sun had enough of that and tossed the clouds to the Northeast. It warmed up again and the fishing cooled off.  I decided to change locations, got to my car, and headed a ways down river to one of my favorite flats - this stretch of river is about 300 yards long, full of small boulders and depressions that house both insects and fish alike, and often fishes quite well this time of the year as the sun settles down below the hills.  

When I got there my excitement was quickly quelled after I walked the path from the road through the fast growing knotweed, arriving at the water's edge to find 8 anglers spread evenly through the run casting away to invisible about a traffic jam.  Bummer.  Where the hell were their cars? I watched for a few minutes; just long enough to consider my options and decide where to go next, and then turned back up the path to my car.

So I went to another spot I had passed on my way to the casting festival, and walked down to the river, sat on a rock, and watched the river go by.  As the sun fell and the light softened, bugs started to show, birds began to feed, and on cue, trout started to rise.  There were only two insects present this time - rusty spinners and caddis.  The rise forms were subtle, telling me the rusty spinners were on the menu.  I tied on a #12 rusty spinner to the 5X tippet at the end of my 14 foot leader, and waded out into position about 30 feet from a pod of rising fish. Over the next hour or so I hooked a bunch of fish, landed a half dozen, and got more refusals than takes as is often the case when the trout are examining spinners in moderately flowing water.

So here I am after a good day on the water, excited about tomorrow when I can fish again and get lost in the solitude of a clear, quiet river, surrounded by greening hills, singing birds and thoughts of the people I wish I could share the day with.  You know who you are. : )

Sharpen your hooks.                                          


Anonymous said...

Hey Matt:
Nice article to start my day here at the office. It brought up past memories of camping at Wagon Tracks campground (is it still there?) back in the 80's. Every year in late May, my fishing partner and I would spend a week or so camped out on the island. We waded sun up to after sundown (spinner fall), added some bourbon afterward then would do it all over again. Leaves in early bloom, mixed hatches, butter colored browns and many more refusals were standard fare. We'd be there religiously even if Walt Dette told us the river was "high and in the willows" on his hotline. Then somebody in Hollywood decided a movie with faux fly fishing was a good idea (and it was - to sell movies)and the already popular Beaverkill spots became choked. More frequently, we ended up driving past our usual parking spots that were now overflowing with BMW's whose owners carried more crap on them than a Cabela's catalog. Glad your up there this time of year and got in. It’s a magical place. After reading your post I'm wondering if it's time to give it another crack. There's nothing like cracking the hatch code (or just getting lucky) up there. You know it's loaded with fish. It's just a matter of time and our perceived "skill" to figure those rascals out. When it happens, why do we feel like such heroes? Like feeding a fish something it's supposed to eat anyway makes us somehow so superior in intellect...I don't know the answer, I just know it's the second best feeling in the world. And it lasts longer.
Have fun,
Anthony B

Mr. Q said...

Sounds like fun.....My house has no walls!!!

Hibernation said...

Congratulations on your new venture. It's smart that you set yourself up with some times like this to unload, charge the battery and move forward.

Be well!