Waiting For Snowflakes

The Dennis Menscer 8′ 5 weight Hollowbuilt and Hardy made classic CFO IV
with a brownie a bit larger than today’s 20 incher. The man builds a GREAT rod!

With rain and snow threatening I headed to the river today with an old friend in the back of the Jeep. Dennis Menscer made the 8′ hollowbuilt bamboo rod for me four years ago. I paired it with a classic Hardy made Orvis CFO IV, 100 yards of backing and an Airflo WF5F line from the beginning and have stayed with that combo. We have many fine memories.

Between fishing from my drift boat and taking my life in my hands to wade a few spots at ridiculously high flows, my spring fishing has had to rely upon a couple of Thomas & Thomas graphite fly rods. Eventually I hope to devise a suitable rod holder so I can fish bamboo from the boat, but for now I have to stick with my old faithful T&T LPS 905. I was eager to fish this afternoon as the river had finally come down to a more tractable wading level and I was finally going to fish dry flies on a favorite bamboo rod.

Dennis’ hollowbuilt got the call as it is a unique rod that is suited to angling all the rivers in the Catskills. The taper is easy casting and has the subtle power for reaching out when needed. All I need do is relax and cast.

I arrived earlier than necessary due to my anticipation and the declining nature of the weather forecast. Leaving home near noon it was a comfortable 55 degrees. The rain was expected to begin near two and the forecasters did an enviable job. Thankfully, a handful of mayflies came out to greet the raindrops.

I didn’t get the heavy hatch that I did yesterday, when the sun managed to raise the water from the mid forties to nearly 52 degrees. A few sporadic Hendricksons floated downstream, but nothing rose to show interest. I knotted a 100-Year Dun to my 5X tippet and waited, feeling the chill deepen in my bones. I guess it was the second or third little flurry of flies that finally raised a trout, and I shot a cast that alighted just upstream of his lie. The old boy must have followed it down, as I was about to pick it up and cast again when he erupted in a burst of white water!

I stripped the line with the rod high until I got him on the reel, then lowered the tip to use the powerful middle and butt of the rod against him. There was plenty of give and take, as the fish bored for the boulders along the bottom of the pool, but the arc of bamboo finally bested him. Measured in the net at 20 inches, he was my first dry fly trout on cane for the season, and a fine omen for the months ahead.

That bronze flanked brownie would be the only trout I would fish to, as the hatch never materialized into something more than a few sparse handfuls of flies. The chill had penetrated by the time I waded to the bank, the air temperature having dropped 9 degrees in a couple of hours. Perhaps we will see that snow this evening.

Wild trout taken on dry flies and fine bamboo are special to me, as there is no other way I would rather fish. The history and traditions of dry fly fishing drew me to the Catskills, and my heart has never left!

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