Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Little Unsettling

This weather evokes deep foreboding in my bones.  While a part of me has greatly enjoyed the snow deficient winter and the very mild spring here it is mid to late April and the Hendrickson's are gone, done finished, not to be seen for another year.  While there is variability in any hatch they typically are just getting started.  the fact that they are completely done scares part of me since we are in uncharted territory.  There is a dark side to all of this warm weather and its not just the tick warnings.  A buddy saw a couple of green drakes last weekend on the Delaware.  He has been fishing that system for 20 years and has never before seen one before May 26.  Another friend mentioned that there are reports of sulphers in Pennsylvania.  It seems as if the entire clock of mother nature is out of whack.  While we humans typically are pretty removed from mother nature those of us who pursue fly fishing especially dry fly fishing usually set out calendars to our favorite hatches.  Not this year.  The scary fact is no one really knows what it means or what the implications may be down the road or if there even will be any implications.  So while all of this leaves me just a little unsettled I think I will try my best to enjoy the opportunities that it may bring and go fishing as soon as possible.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Nymphing Works

It's not exactly a secret that nymphing works, but since its been so long since I've done any I have to say that I was a bit surprised at the results.  For me it gets left  in the forgotten bin of fishing techniques.  Too many years of nymphing in AK for trout and for steelhead have left me numb to its effectiveness.  I've moved onto other challenges in the fly fishing world.  It lacks the visual confirmation of a surface feeding fish and I have to say I am a sucker for that.  The other day when nothing was going on on top I was just sitting there and the little voice in my head said this would be great water to nymph.  So I broke out the bead heads and 5 casts or so later it was game on.  Very satisfied after landing this pig, I switched back to a dry fly and awaited the spinner fall.  Its a good reminder that I should try it more often, but just can't get myself to commit to it.  Searching for noses has its rewards also. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dreaming of the D

The magic of the Delaware River seeps into my consciousness every once in a while, alright more often than that, but the reason for that has legs to stand on.  We are truly blessed to have such a fishery within a few hours drive.  Yes, there are other great rivers in the area, but to go to that water, the birthplace of American fly fishing, to witness the prolific hatches and to chase the noses of wild trout that demand your A game is a treasure worth dreaming of.  
            I am a relative newcomer to this fishery, but the more time I get to spend on it the more I appreciate it.  Yeah I know the fish are easier to catch nymphing, but that is not the challenge that draws me there nor the reason it steals my thoughts.  It is stalking big noses, rising fish, with dry flies that draws me to these waters.   I have been blessed to have fished some great rivers in my life time and seen rivers boil with rising fish, but that typically isn’t what one sees on the “D”. Yet it draws me slowly deeper and deeper into its waters. 
The Delaware’s trout rarely get into a steady feeding rhythm.  They rise a few times then shift position and rise again.  Sometimes as many as five minutes can lapse between rises.  It can be maddening, but that is the luxury of fish that live in rivers with such a biomass of insect life and the curse of us fisherman who try to catch them.  The other thing that seems to happen on the Delaware is that when you figure out what stage, size and type of insect one fish is feeding on you generally have to start the whole process over on the next fish.  On most other rivers once you crack the code it is game on for every subsequent fish, but this is not on the “D”. 
            This past week my dreams turned into reality as I was able to spend two delicous days plying its waters and matching my skills against its inhabitants.  The first day found me on the West Branch with strong wind and flotillas of Hendricksons riding down the river plus an almost equal amount of Blue Quills, assorted caddis species and stoneflies.  Given the amount of insects on the waters surface the fish weren’t too happy to feed on top, likely the result of there being to much wind.  Nonetheless the day proved to be a banner day on two counts.  First, I got my first Delaware slam, a brookie (my first), a pig of a brown and two bows including a large bow.  I’m not one to count fish usually, but when the numbers are so low it’s easy to keep count. 
Well now we come to what I most appreciate about the “D”, you have to earn these fish.  Rarely do they come easily.  On this day I had targets most of the day, not easy ones, as they were mostly sporadic except a handful of noses eagerly sucking down duns tight to the far bank.  Given the wind direction and strength plus the depth of the spot just getting a cast far enough with slack was a challenge.  Long story short finally one of them sucked my emerger down and it was game on.  The big brown was my best fish on this river to date and I knew that it was a well earned fish. Later that day two bows were fooled by my flies, but it was that big fish under such tough conditions that made me feel like I’d earned that fish.   

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Fools

So I was able to sneak out for a couple of hours late in the afternoon on the first day of trout season.  Now as anyone knows who lives in upstate NY this is typically a terrible day to fish.  The rivers are usually too cold and too high.  Not this year.  Our rivers are actually too low and too warm for this time of year.  My buddy Geoff called me @ 3 saying it was on Blue Quills and Hendricksons.  Blue Quills I understand this time of year, but Hendricksons, typically they are late April around these parts.  Non the less I met up with Geoff and banged this little beauty before the bugs ceased for the day.  Not only did I get a nice little trout is was on a Hendrickson adult pattern.  So weird.  I hope we get some rain in the not too distant future.