December 22, 2011 —
As a young boy, I always enjoyed taking exploratory hikes into forested hills and valleys far off the beaten path. My curiosity would urge me to seek whatever mysteries lay in the valley just over the next hill. When I am on a trout stream, the current pushes me along until I discover what lies around the next bend. Sometimes this curiosity leads to difficulties. My aging legs remind me that I am no youngster. Yet my curiosity suggests that the unknown and beautiful lies only a bit further on.
In 2008, I wrote a column about a picture-perfect pool that I had found after a lengthy hike along a Catskill stream. My words sparked the curiosity of that talented builder of bamboo fly rods, Mike Canazon. He asked me where that pool was located. As diplomatically as possible, I told Mike it would no longer be my secret pool if I revealed its whereabouts. Sadly, three years have passed since I last fished that pool. Just thinking of that long walk downstream causes my nearly 82-year-old legs to tremble. Therefore, my resolve to keep that pool a secret has weakened. Mike should read, “The Legendary Neversink,” edited by Justin Askins. Then, Mike, start walking.
Even as I put these words on paper, I am gazing at three photos of a beautiful river with two magnificent pools separated by a long riffle. These pools are not visible from any road. I suspect these pools are fished more by ospreys than anglers. I can close my eyes and dream of how they will appear come May of next year. These photos almost sing that trout live here.
One hot July day, after leaving the river and removing my waders and stowing the rod in the car, my curiosity overcame me. Off I went, trout hunting. I was seeking pools I did not even know existed. I had only a general idea of where they might lie. The river was somewhere over there, out of sight. After 30 minutes of strenuous rambling, I came upon the river. At this point it had braided into two flows. Without waders I could not cross the first flow. I hopped down onto a dry shingle that existed along the left hand bank. Some hundred yards further on downstream, the shingle went underwater, forcing me to end my exploring. Off in the distance I could see the main flow of the river. It looked intriguing.
Weeks later, after a long day’s fishing with Ed and Jim Graham, I asked if they had enough energy left to go exploring. Their reply was affirmative. We wore our waders, but left our rods in the car, since time was short. I now had a general idea of how to reach the river. Thirty minutes later, we were standing in the prettiest water a Catskill fly fisher could imagine. We had found two picture-perfect pools separated by a long fast riffle. We took several pictures and then headed back to the car. Unfortunately, Jim and Ed had to leave for White Plains the following morning. Barb and I would be packing the cars for the long trip back to Texas.
Months later, as I sit at my fly tying bench, a Texas thunderstorm is bringing much-needed rain to this parched state. The pictures of the hidden pools are before me. I can close my eyes and dream of May 2012. Dream on angler, dream, till May, with its sunshine, mayflies and rising trout.