Turning The Corner

March Brown Emerger 2020

If you fish, you will have a run of “bad luck” though, if the truth be told, there is nothing truly bad about spending time on a trout river. I had a rather long week, one in which it seemed that wherever I wandered, I found no hatching flies and no rising trout. That is “bad luck” to a dry fly man, for we wait less than patiently for May, once the final hatches of October have brought our season to a close. May is expected to be the perfect month, so when one strings together a number of fishless days, those oh so precious May days, it can be perceived as the end of the world.

My salvation was of course a fly; not a completely new fly, but an improvement on an old standby. I had a report from a reliable source that good numbers of March Browns were on the water Monday afternoon on the Delaware. Fly shops you see had been reporting them on “all rivers” during that past week, in the optimistic way that fly shops do: some guy sees a big bug of some sort fluttering out there by itself and voila! The March Browns are hatching!

I have been broadening my use of Enrico Puglisi’s Trigger Point Fibers during the past couple of years, and I have found some merit in combining them with CDC on some of my favorite patterns. For years I have sandwiched light and dark colors of CDC feathers to replicate the darkly veined and blotched wings of some of our largest spring mayflies. Since the Trigger Point fibers incorporate both light and dark fibers in their color mixes, it was a natural thought progression to take advantage of that while reducing the bushiness of some of my multi-layer CDC wings. Hence, the improved version of my March Brown Emerger.

I had no foot access to the portion of the river where the heavier concentration of mayflies was showing, so I got as close as I could hoping for the typical upstream progression of many of our hatches. The problem with public river access is that it is, well, public. I waded out into a productive riffle with three trout rising irregularly as they picked off a sparse emergence of March Browns. I heard the small army of kayakers before I saw them. They piled into the river hollering as the young are wont to do, and my pent up frustration from a week of bugless fishing caused me to rush things, trying to catch all three trout before the inevitable advance of the plastic fleet.

I missed one of those fish twice as I kept taking my eye off my fly to look at the progress of the boaters bearing down upon me. On the third try he rolled up and, I thought, ate the fly solidly, and was off in a spirited run downstream into my backing. He wasn’t coming back up so I followed. When I reached him, I was dismayed to find my big fly in his side. He had rolled on it, refused it, and I had foul hooked him.

I removed the hook as gently as I could, and the indignant brown wasted no time in streaking back to deeper water. I started walking back to my original casting position rather dejectedly, and then the fleet was upon me.

I guess they tried to avoid disturbing me by going behind, but plastic kayaks don’t float on wet rocks. It is truly amazing just how much noise half a dozen people can make bouncing plastic hulls off of rock after rock, all the while splashing and stumbling. They tried, but just didn’t know any better, spoiling their own fun and mine by their good natured effort.

It took a couple of hours before another trout rose within 100 feet of that location. I scanned the water up and down river, and there was nothing encouraging. Every once in awhile a March Brown would pop up and bob along unmolested, and here and there a caddis would dance past.

Eventually one of those original fish began to sip or pop at, I thought, one of the caddisflies. Not feeding, just taking a bug now and then, every five to ten minutes. The fish was moving as Delaware trout like to do, so I couldn’t seem to put a cast over him, either that or he simply didn’t like any of the 4 or 5 patterns I offered. I was thinking about heading home for an early meal and had decided to dig out one more caddis pattern to try, when I heard the thunk of a solid rise close at hand. Looking up, I saw a couple of March Browns were hatching again, so I tied on the improved emerger.

It took five minutes for the thunker to rise again so I could spot him; a good fish. Two casts was enough, as that heavy thunk intercepted my fly and the game was on. You’ve gotta love a solid Delaware River trout in fast water. They come to play and they give it their all. Nineteen inches in the net, a beautifully colored brownie with deep bronze flanks peppered with black and red spots. Monkey, kindly remove yourself from my back!

There were no others, at least not until I started wading upstream and spotted a splash halfway back toward the landing. I waded out and gave him a try, but the sparse flurry of bugs has dissipated and he wasn’t coming up again. Time to grill the sausage and cook the pasta until evening.

I drove to several places after dinner. The crowds at some of them were ridiculous. I miss the old days when fly fishers would drive by an access that already had its complement of two cars. Now you see a dozen, sometimes two crammed in end to end, and all these guys playing line up in the river.

On my last try I found a pool that was empty and pulled off to the side of the road. I knew the river had hit 68 degrees on that hot, still afternoon, but I knew that the deeper half of this particular pool had been in shade for the past couple of hours and was well oxygenated. Still, there wasn’t much activity until nearly dark.

The first riser turned out to be a very well energized 9″ stockie, a NYS issue regulation brown trout, released quickly and none the worse for wear. It had to get a little darker before a couple of better rises began to appear. I tied on a size 16 Grannom X Caddis and took a very nicely colored eighteen inch brown who was even more energized than the little guy. The action passed quickly, as there simply weren’t a lot of bugs on the water. One more good rise, one quick cast and one heavy but brief hookup. That fish literally ripped himself right off the hook! A good one, though I’ll never know how good.

I tied some more March Brown Emergers this morning. Right now I am debating whether I should chance floating the big river with a 5 to 10 mph SSE wind.

A Peaceful Evening

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s