Ramblings of a Catskill flyfisher

Fishing the home pool

Posted 3/9/22

A river can be a strange, yet beguiling, mistress, drawing us in with its charm and potential reward, much like a beautiful woman. A river can be elusive one day and generous the next. A river can …

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Ramblings of a Catskill flyfisher

Fishing the home pool


A river can be a strange, yet beguiling, mistress, drawing us in with its charm and potential reward, much like a beautiful woman. A river can be elusive one day and generous the next. A river can seem like one thing and be another. As anglers, as we learn about rivers and how to read their secrets, experience dictates which pools we fish and which we do not. Most of the time our intuition about a certain pool is right; sometimes it is not.

In April of 2005, Roger and I drove down to the Peaceful Valley Campground to check our RV for the coming trout season. Everything appeared normal, and since, due to the weather, there was no fishing to be had, we left and went way upriver above the reservoir to try our luck.

It was too cold and early for Hendricksons.

About two weeks later, we returned to Peaceful Valley, drove to where the RV was supposed to be, only to find it missing. To say we were perplexed would not be the term for the words used that day. We had a prime spot up on a bluff overlooking the river. Because of its elevation, the RV was never in danger from flooding.

Because of discussions that I had with our neighbor during the previous seasons, I knew what had happened. That neighbor had a friend who wanted our spot, and over the winter, the proprietor of Peaceful Valley decided to accommodate the parties. Sadly, that man didn’t have the common decency to let us know that our spot was being provided to another “camper,” despite the fact that we had been clients for over 14 years.

So rather than debate the issue with the proprietor, who was a rather unscrupulous fellow, we had our RV moved to another campground several miles upriver. At the new facility, we asked the owner if we could have the empty spot that overlooked a meadow and the river, and he agreed.

Across the meadow, the river here has a side channel off the main stem. We call this piece of water the home pool. In the beginning, and in fact for the first few years, no one fished the home pool, venturing instead several hundred yards downstream to fish the big river where the side channel met the main stem.

At the time, it seemed obvious to us that the big river meant big fish, which turned out to be true. So over the years, that’s where we all fished, while the home pool flowed lazily along, ignored by all, who were supposedly pretty good anglers. What eventually happened was that the river below the confluence, the “main river,” became too crowded.

Then, one evening when the competition for a spot on the main river became a bit too intense, I decided to pack it in and head back to the RV for a break. On the way, and on a whim, I stopped in the meadow to check out the home pool.

What a surprise! There was a good hatch of small mayflies on the water, with several undisturbed trout rising to the helpless duns. I watched this scene for a while, trying to figure out the best place to wade in without disturbing the feeding fish.

There are two small channels that make up the home pool, converging at the head, to form a flow with several different current speeds. The trout were rising near the far bank, where riverside vegetation provided cover from a variety of predators, including bald eagles and ospreys.

While I watched the trout feed, it became apparent that once my fly line landed on the water, it would be subject to all the different current speeds I noted, which would create drag. Drag causes the fly to speed up and move unnaturally, which is never a good thing when fishing dry flies. The only resolution under these fishing conditions was to use a reach cast when presenting my fly. The reach cast is made after the power snap on the forward cast, by moving the rod smartly upstream before the line lands. That movement places the line above the fly, minimizing drag, at least for a few feet.

I don’t know if I hooked or landed any trout while fishing that evening. What I do know is that the home pool became my favorite fishing location whenever we were at the camp. Over the years, I landed a number of very fine brown trout, and just two years ago, a large rainbow, which is an anomaly in this part of the river. Upon occasion, fishing in the home pool has been so good that my friend Jamie and I hooked and landed over a dozen large browns one evening during a hatch of pale evening duns.

I think the reason that fishing in the pome pool has been so good over the years is that it has not been fished very much, and perhaps more importantly, it does not look very “fishy.” So until I began to fish there, the home pool was ignored.

The lesson here of course is that looks can be deceiving, even when it comes to rivers, and for very experienced anglers!

With all of today’s angling pressure on Catskill rivers, anglers need to look to pools that are ignored or lightly fished as alternatives to the more popular locations. There are other “home pools.”

home pools, Catskills, Catskill rivers, RV, fly fishing, trout


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