June 1st, Crooked Eddy, Hancock, NY, thirty-four degrees at sunrise. A hazy summer morning, no, nearly a frosty one!
I have been wondering where all of the rusty spinners have been hiding this spring, then I found a pair on the screen of my front porch door the other morning. Spies! Reporting back to the mating swarm this angler’s whereabouts that they might chose a different riffle. Nonsense of course, perhaps they are just a little lost.
I have caught one trout on a spinner, a fine 20″ brown in fact, though there was no real spinner fall. The rising fish I was working began to ignore my Hendrickson, and I searched the drift for answers. I saw one or two small spinners, perhaps even expired duns, as it was hard to say in their faded state, and changed my fly accordingly. Success. I may simply have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but with so many frosty mornings and windy evenings I wonder how the next generation of Hendricksons, Blue Quills and Quill Gordons will fare?
I get to go fishing today, a pleasant thought on this chilly morn, and I am glad for the chill as it has come in the nick of time to cool our rivers. The Delaware and Beaverkill had reached and exceeded seventy degrees last week, not a condition we want to see in May. I’ll wear my fleece lined khakis and a sweater again, and the heavier wool socks and be glad of it. Catskill rivers should be cold in spring, and remain cool and productive throughout the summer.
I am still wondering at the paucity of insects since the Hendricksons completed their annual affair. I have worked hard to stay away from crowds, though I haven’t tried to avoid the hatches! I greet each day astream with the delicious thrill of anticipation: will this be the day the flies come heavily? It can happen like that, yes, but it can also continue at more of a trickle; a few flies at odd intervals throughout the day and evening, hunting trout in out of the way corners where they lie securely and sip the handful of mayflies that nature offers.
I love hunting trout, though I associate it more with a summer game, once the heavy hatches have come and gone for the year. Stalking with a terrestrial dry in the quiet places, or floating the riffles and tossing a big isonychia comparadun to the pockets and eddies along the bank, its all hunting, and it is all exhilarating.
I set up the perfect drift last summer, the oar handles slipped beneath my knees, the drift boat an ideal distance from the bank and floating straight downstream in a familiar riff, allowing me to sit and cast my isonychia, working the covert to flush out the bird. A brawler of a 22″brown trout liked the morsel I dropped in his pocket, sipped it gently, and we were both surprised when he boiled to the arc of my rod and streaked into the main current.
Many days I picked the perfect hour to slip into quiet pools and stalk, moving with agonizing stealth into casting position for each suspected lie. Sometimes a take would come, an explosion in the quiet water; sometimes no response, leading to another cast or two, knowing each drift has a little less of a chance of connecting than that critical first cast.
But wait, it is not yet summer, not at thirty-four degrees with the greatest of the hatches still in front of us. Ah yes, still spring, with the peak ahead, and the puzzle of timing to be solved.