July 12, 2012 —
Norman MacLean once wrote, “No one can tell what a spot of time is until suddenly the whole world is a fish and then the fish is gone.”
Several days ago, I was sitting on one of the two pools I am able to fish up on the East Branch of the Delaware. For an angler with a seriously painful arthritic knee, it is a blessedly short walk from the road. While this piece of the East Branch has the appearance of being a pool that should hold trout, it is deceptive. A good riffle comes in at the top. The flow then slows into a wide, smooth-surfaced pool, before running into a short swift riffle. I have now spent several evenings observing this spot and if it holds trout, they rarely reveal themselves even at the height of an evening hatch of mayflies. Certainly, this was not the best place for a fly fisher to station himself. However, like the gambler who, when asked why he continued to play even knowing the roulette wheel was crooked, said, “well, it’s the only wheel in town.”
So of a recent evening there I sat, bad leg extended straight out trying to ease my discomfort. The current slowly slid past. Its current was carrying tiny pale colored mayflies. Some of these little flies managed to become airborne and flew off to the nearby trees. Others were unable to get into the air. They floated serenely to the end of the pool into the choppy riffle and certain death. In spite of the fair number of flies floating past where I sat, no magic circles were being formed on the surface of the flow. The sun slowly dropped beneath the ridge at my back. The light intensity dropped as twilight time fell over the river. Soon my fishing partner, Jim Graham, should be returning from downstream. A pleasant evening had passed watching the East Branch flow by, heading towards its merger with the Beaverkill.