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August 01, 2014
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Trials and tribulations


On my most recent trip to the lower West Branch of the Delaware, I fished in the company of a Mr. Blair Williams. It was a tough night, with very few flies hatching. Of course, this meant that rising fish were scarce. The high point of my night occurred when my legs suddenly went numb and I went for a swim in water barely up to my knees.

Over the years, I have elevated the act of falling into a river to new heights of gracefulness. I am able to slip into the flow with only a tiny splash, while holding my precious bamboo fly rod high, out of any danger. This latest flop happened while standing perfectly still in barely moving, shallow water. Is this the same fellow who once waded the swiftest, deepest, boulder studded flows of the Salmon River below the town of Malone, NY? In those days, I did not even carry a wading staff to help me maintain my balance. It seems that fly fisher has disappeared around the next bend in the river, out of sight.

As the evening ended, Mr. Williams worked his way down to where I was. He had managed to take one small Brown trout of 13 inches. That fish had taken a size 16 comparadun just at dark. I had lugged in a small three-legged stool to sit on in order to give my legs a rest every once in a while. Spotting it on the bank, Mr. Williams scooped the stool up and offered to show me a better way to reach the path that would eventually lead us up from the river to the road.

It was now quite dark. I did have a flashlight in one of the pockets of my fishing shirt. However, I did not need to try and find it. Every 10 steps or so Mr. Williams would halt and turn facing me, so that his headlamp would light the path for my uncertain feet. I attempted to scurry along as quickly as possible not wishing to delay him any more than absolutely necessary. When we finally reached my van, it felt good to sit down and get my breath back. It is a sad state of affairs when I need to accept the help of anglers who barely know me. Mr. Williams is certainly a kindly Samaritan. I owe him a cold one the next time we meet.

A day or two after the Second Annual Hardy Cup was over, I received a phone call from my friend Takatoshi Kumakirri. Using one of his own bamboo fly rods, he had placed third in that competition. That was good enough for him to be awarded a fine Hardy fly reel. Next year, Kuma has his sights on taking the first prize. Masaki Takemoto, from Japan, who had won the cup last year, placed fourth, just behind Kuma. The Hardy Cup is fast becoming the most popular event held at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center.

In my column of June 14, I tried to convey in a few words my criticism of the attitude of some of the newcomers to the sport of fly fishing. A week ago I purchased a copy of “Learning from the Water,” written by Rene Harrop, from the shop of Mary Dette Clarke and Joe Fox. In the book’s first two paragraphs, Mr. Harrop clearly and concisely sums up what I was struggling to say. In my next column, I will tell you which of his ideas in this book I have experimented with.
You will not believe this one.