September 8, 2011 —
While August 26th was a beautiful blue sky day the forecast for the following days were six to eight inches of rain with winds up to 75 miles an hour. If Barbara and I were to go fishing, it was Friday or forget about it for at least a week. We headed for the Willowemoc late that afternoon. Upon reaching the stream, we found a pleasant surprise. Instead of a very low flow, the creek was running at mid-May levels with a temperature of 66 degrees.
After walking downstream along a path for a quarter of a mile, we tried to reach the stream. The last time I had come this way, the weeds had been only knee high. In the intervening time, they had grown high as my head. Which meant that as Barb tried to follow me, she found herself engulfed in a sea of green growth. In high-water flows, the stream had also dug a series of hidden depressions in the ground. The combination of these factors led to some exasperated expressions uttered by my fishing partner. Wherever did a nice Episcopalian lady learn such words?
At this time of year, flying ants often find themselves inadvertently landing in trout streams. Trout love the taste of ants. Ed Hewitt, who was always positive regarding his opinions and was occasionally correct, claimed that it was the sour taste of formic acid contained in the ants that attracted the trout.
I gave Barbara a new type of ant fly that I had recently created. It was supposed to float low in the surface film. Instead it sank like a rock. My fishing partner was not impressed with my fly tying creativity. I imagine that even Mike Bachkosky, the talented fly tier from Callicoon, sometimes ties a new fly that fails to perform as expected. I cut the offending fly from Barb’s leader and replaced it with a time-tested deer hair beetle. This fly floated so appealingly that a trout promptly attempted to eat it. Darn, this fish was not hooked.
During my turn at casting I missed another fish and then hooked a small, fat brown that I returned to the water. At the top of the pool Barb had seen a trout leap clear out of the water. I missed seeing this, but she coached me as to where the fish had risen. When I cast the beetle to the proper area, a trout jumped from the water and took the fly on the way back down. Both of these fish had taken the fly so deeply into their throats that I had to cut the leader rather than try to regain the fly. By doing this I avoided injuring the trout and that fly will not prevent them from feeding or cause them any harm.
The light was fading fast as we were leaving the river. On the way out we came upon a young fellow casting a fly with an unusually short rod. I was curious and stopped to ask him about his rod. He explained that he had taped a fly reel onto the handle of a spinning rod. This was the only way he could cast a fly. Even with this unusual equipment he said he had caught two small Brook trout. Darn it, I should have asked for his name and phone number. Our Trout Unlimited group has a few beaten-up but still serviceable fly rods that could be given to a young man so determined to fish with a fly. If by some rather wildly fortunate chance he happens to read this, he should contact me through the paper. He drives an old Ford pickup. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to bump into him on the Willowemoc again.