The Ides of March

Spring Comes To The Neversink

“I’m looking for the April thunderstorms that wash away the drab dull colors of the wintertime; I’m looking for the spring to break wide open; to hear the phoebe and the robin and the meadowlark; to see and smell the violets and the blossoms on the apple trees; to watch the swallows sweeping low across the satin surface of the stream; to wait for ripples of the rising trout, as evening falls and nymphs emerge and all the world is sweet with scent and song and gentle colors” Dana S. Lamb, “The Ides of March”, Woodsmoke And Water Cress 1965

It is a lovely march morning in the Catskills, the sun tinging the southeastern horizon with orange, the landscape bright with a fresh dusting of snow. My thermometer reads fifteen degrees, but my spirits feel warmer than that. The calendar tells me that spring will arrive in just eighteen days…

Yesterday was the occasion of the Dennis Skarka Flyfest, as members of the Catskill Fly Tyers Guild gathered in the Catskill Flyfishing Center’s Wulff Gallery to shake off the effects of winter and greet the coming season with open arms. Thanks to the Guild’s Catskill Kids On The Fly program, I enjoyed the opportunity to add two new fly tyers to the thirty or so veterans gathered in the hall.

I used to teach fly tying regularly during my fly shop days, but it has been a long time since I had the chance to help a youngster learn to tie their very first fly. I look forward to our March meeting at the gallery, and a chance to witness some more new smiles as bright young eyes see the magic of a hackle spring up into a sparkling little fan of fibers as they wind it around a hook for the very first time.

Often we mark time during the winter, tying flies, polishing rods and oiling reels as we dream about sunshine reflected in a subtle bulge in the surface of the pool and that miraculous ring that wasn’t there just a moment ago, but now it is time to get serious about the new fishing season. Now the mystery becomes palpable. No matter what the long range forecasts say, every angler knows that spring can happen at any moment. A turn in the wind currents a thousand miles away can send warmer air our way, dispelling the clouds and waking all the creatures of the stream that so delight us.

The time for tying flies on dreams and whimsy has come to an end. It is time to check all those early season boxes to be certain that all the needed patterns are in good supply. The vest must be sorted through, old leaders discarded and fresh ones laid in, and the drift boat will need to be uncovered, tires checked and compartments cleaned. Everything must be absolutely ready to go, for we dare not miss a moment of it.


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