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August 01, 2014
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Difficult times


In baseball when a batter fails to hit well over a period of time, it is said the batter is in a hitting slump. As a fly fisher I have been in a season-long fish-catching slump. While those that I usually fish with have not exactly been wearing out the trout, my results have been very disappointing. Of course, my time on the streams has been greatly curtailed. Heavy and frequent rains have turned the rivers into raging chocolate-colored rapids. On those days when I have been able to go fishing, I return home without even a tale of the big one that eluded me. The Graham brothers, Ed and Jim, usually do very well when they come visiting us. Even this fish catching pair have struck out more often than they have found success. The last week they were here they landed only four trout. Just one of these fish went over a foot in length.

Surprisingly, several nights when the Grahams and I went fishless, it was Barbara Ann who was able to nymph a few trout. One thing that most of the anglers I have talked to remarked about was the scarcity of fly hatches on the streams. One evening Barb and I sat on a pool on the East Branch of the Delaware hoping to find a strong hatch of insects. In an hour and one half we observed three mayflies hatch from the flow. Other years, this very pool would produce hundreds of insects and numerous rising trout. No bugs, no rising fish.

Roger Menard and Tony Bonavist, of the “bamboo gang,” have mentioned the only insects they see appear briefly between 8:30 p.m. and dark. Their favorite pool on the East Branch has given them very few chances to cast to rising trout.
Barb and I were invited to Dr. Oliver Herz’s camp on the East Branch the afternoon of July 3. Usually, we have found excellent fishing conditions at this location. Instead, we found the East Branch running high and dirty with trees floating by in the flow. There was no fishing that afternoon. Despite the good flows in the Beaverkill and the Willowemoc, another problem is fast approaching. While fishing the Beaverkill on July 7, I found the water temperature was up to 68 degrees. Barb and I will not fish these streams if the water temps go above 70 degrees. Trout hooked, played and then released when stream temps are high, often will not be able to survive the stress this puts upon them.

Starting on July 18, local Trout Unlimited (TU) members will be mentoring 11 teenage boys and three teenage girls at the State of New York TU fish camp. The home base for this week will be the Sons of Norway Lodge in Sherman, PA. This will be the third year that I have been privileged to be involved in this effort. I am always amazed at how quickly the youngsters pick up the basics of fly fishing. Monday morning they barely know which end of the fly rod to hold. By Friday evening they are rolling out 40-foot casts with ease. I had the pleasure of carrying on a correspondence all winter with one of the young fellows I helped last July. We exchanged flies several times during the winter, and just before we left Texas he sent along a pretty pair of fly earrings for Barbara. If you have never been involved in this effort you are missing out on a great experience. I hope to see y’all on the river. Heck, maybe I’ll even have a trout on the hook.