June 9, 2011 —
We are in early June, and Barb and I can count on one hand the number of times we have fished. Long periods of rain, often with real downpours, have kept the rivers running high and dirty. In May, when we had a brief period without rain, my best fishing partner suggested we try the lower Beaverkill at the Trout Brook access. She felt the river might be warmer there, possibly bringing on a good hatch of flies. Off we went. We did find a large number of caddis flies in the air indicating there had already been a strong hatch. Since we observed no trout feeding at the surface, we elected to fish a pair of wet flies, casting them in a down and across manner. This is an easy way to search for fish when they are not showing themselves.
Nowadays it is our habit to share a rod, allowing one to fish whilst the other observes and rests. Eighty-one-year-old legs cannot continually test the currents the way they once did. We were using Barb’s new eight-and-one-half-foot, three-and-one-half-ounce bamboo rod. Casting with this rod reminds one of how easily and smoothly a bamboo rod moves a fly line while dropping that line gently on the water.
Today, I once again was to suffer the fate of a fellow who unsuspectingly teaches his wife to fly fish. While I cast no fish were interested in the flies. During one of her turns, just as the flies reached the end of their swing across the current, Barb announced in an annoyed tone, “Oh no, I’ve hung a rock.” Then the leader sliced through the water headed towards midstream. A rock? I think not. Some minutes later, we were both admiring a 16-inch American Shad. The little lady caught a fish, while her partner went fishless. The moral is, if in your own mind you wish to consider yourself an expert fly fisher, leave your wife at home.
The third of June, we tried the upper Willowemoc Creek. When Barb stepped out of the car, the wind sailed the hat off of her head. She decided not to fish this day. The creek was running high and clear with a temperature of 62 degrees. Wild winds or no, I was determined to fish. After a long walk downstream, I reached the pool I wanted to fish. I stood quietly observing the flow until I saw what appeared to be a fish rising over near the far bank. Sure enough, a trout was feeding. Unfortunately, it could not have been safer had it been living in a walled castle surrounded by a wide moat. Brush stems hung over its lie about 12 inches above its dining table.
Just a foot or so downstream, trailing branches not only hung over the creek, but their tips were submerged in the current. The trout had a seemingly impregnable position. Every two or three minutes, the fish tipped up its nose and took another tidbit from the stream. I had found a feeding trout. Now, how was I going to show it my fly? If I had the casting ability of an Ed Van Put this would be a solvable problem. Well, let’s give it a try. First, lengthen line. Try to keep the back cast up lest the willows behind me snare the fly. Now, pin all hope on the forward cast. The fly is on its way. Gracious sakes, can you believe this? Somehow the fly landed perfectly placed, two feet above the nose of the fish. It drifted drag free right into the lie of the fish. This fish is mine. Well, not quite. At the last possible moment, the fly was caught by the currents and dragged like a little motorboat right over the nose of the fish. This alerted the trout that something was amiss. It promptly left the dining room. My hopeful imitation of Mr. Van Put came up just a few inches short. Indeed, I am the “tangler.”