A Breath of Mountain Air


It is forty-five degrees in Crooked Eddy this morning, as we enjoy a short break from a run of warmer weather. A crisp breath of mountain air is the perfect way to start the day!

The rivers have cooled a bit, and their flows have been replenished for a time. Sadly the benefits of thunderstorms are fleeting: a quick spike of muddy water, followed by a handful of days of clearing and more moderate flows can freshen the fishing, but soon we return to low water and fishing with our stream thermometers. An all day, all night gentle, soaking rain would be a blessed gift!

I have enjoyed some fabulous fishing so far this June, though yesterday I found the river as quiet as a grave. Mayflies were scarce, a few tokens to remind that this is still spring, but no where near enough to interest a fish. It was a gorgeous day, the introduction to the cold front with cobalt skies and small, isolated banks of threatening clouds blowing by in the winds, but my anticipation for good fishing after the storm’s refresher waned by evening. Still I marveled at the beauty around me as I walked out, the mountains lit with the shimmer of the retreating sun.

In the limestone country, dry fly fishing would just be getting started. The mayflies no longer populate those classic spring creeks in any abundance, and it is the terrestrial flies that provide the surface fishing. The dry fly man who looks for rising trout may look a long time though; unfulfilled.

The spring creek angler learns the lies that trout prefer under varying conditions. The time of day and season dictates the angle of the sun, and which lies are shaded and likely to hold an interested trout. Cover is always important, vital in small waters, and in June the grasses grow tall in the meadows. Where they overhang perhaps there will be just enough security to house one good brown!

It may be the peak time for hatches in Catskill waters, but pardon my wandering through thoughts of terrestrial fishing and summer days. That style of fishing can be great fun here too. Not one to rush the year, as they pass all too quickly, but I cannot help but look forward to the long days of summer. I won’t spend hours waiting for the hatch then, for I will haunt the rivers at certain times, different times for different reaches, brief forays to hunt the choice lies.

I have resorted to terrestrials already, with breezy conditions and scant hatching activity I have offered ants to sippers cruising for a snack, both of us impatient. My heart raced early this week, as I connected with a spectacular brown, only to have the little ant let go before the finale. Yesterday’s idle hours led me to knot the new cricket to my leader and toss it over some prime cover. All kinds of insects get washed down the rivers in spate I reasoned, why shouldn’t the trout be hunting new tidbits in the receding flows? I didn’t connect, not this time, though I am sure that fly won’t languish in my box too long.

Mark’s Cricket 2020

The memories of a terrestrial summer got me going in December and early January. While winter winds rattled the windows I tied beetles, crickets, ants and hoppers, with thoughts of summer filling my mind. It will soon be time to bring those daydreams to fruition!

Abundant sunshine lifts the soul and spirit of this angler, though it is not the best condition for hatching mayflies and rising trout. Sunshine though is the heartbeat of terrestrial fishing, sunshine and wind!

Summer is a wonderful time here, with long runs of beautiful weather. The richness of the rivers provide varied diversions. There are still mayflies, the olives and isonychia most prevalent on the cloudy, misty days, and the bright little sulfurs cheerily bobbing atop the currents rain or shine! Summer screams for a light four weight rod: seven or seven and a half feet of slender Tonkin cane in a classic Catskill taper, fitted with a lightweight click pawl reel, double tapered line and a long, fine leader. Beware the heavy hand of spring! No 4X tippets here. Five X, 6X and a measured hand will bring the largest trout to net.

Seven and a half feet, a classic Catskill taper…

Still spring indeed, but we are upon summer’s doorstep. I believe spring’s hatches will linger, that we may have a few weeks to enjoy the best of both.

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