We were blessed with one warm, sunny day this first week of the new decade, alas it came on the heels of some frigid nights. The river temperature dived again, so I chose to spend the morning chasing grouse in the headwaters of the Beaverkill. The higher elevations had a fresh touch of snow when I arrived, and the landscape glittered under a glaring sun in the cleanest blue sky you could imagine.
I hunted the covers hard, putting several miles on my boots, and taking the glorious mountain air deep into my lungs. With deer season behind me, of course I found fresh tracks throughout the area. The grouse though had chosen other quarters.
The river looked clear and welcoming as I drove along the hallowed reaches of the upper Beaverkill, foretelling a fine season ahead for those members of the historic Catskill angling clubs who still fish these waters. I confess I harbor a desire to wade those bright riffles, an old Thomas rod in hand; to wander back in time in my thoughts.
Angling history drew me to the Catskills as it drew me to the Cumberland Valley and the charming Letort long ago. There is a special charm to these waters. Walking there I cannot help but hear the whispers of the past. The swishing of the wind through the pines becomes the swishing of a rod and its silken line…
The classic Catskill flies intrigue me as well. Soon I will be tying Hendricksons, Red Quills, March Browns and Cahills, though there are plenty in my fly boxes already. I’ll fish them too, most certainly with the same confidence I fish my own creations of CDC, biots and blended dubbings.
Some Delaware anglers swear that only such low floating flies will produce. Do the trout scorn the beautiful history of the region? No, they accept the classic flies as they do the modern creations when artfully presented. Should leviathan refuse a Catskill Hendrickson, a clip of the scissors will offer the classic pattern with a brand new perspective, flat water or rushing chute.
I love dry flies, and I have learned the patience to enjoy them to the fullest. I once frothed the water with nymphs and streamers for hours, where now I sit on the bank and enjoy the view until a rise becomes evident. I love the stalk, particularly on flat, unforgiving water. I approach with agonizing care, studying subtle currents and visualizing the perfect cast. Patience.
A vintage bamboo rod and a classic fly is at once an homage to the history of our sport and our lovely rivers, and an efficient means to an end. Presentation is not all line speed and power.