A Little of This, A Little of That

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…

If you read a lot of fly fishing books, I expect you have noticed the common theme of meeting the hatches for great fishing. Some of those tomes make it seem quite a simple matter to consult a hatch chart for river X and then show up with a handful of the classic fly pattern to match the hatch du jour. I guess if you are really lucky it could happen that way for you, maybe once or twice in a lifetime.

In the real world, Mother Nature throws us curves. The hatch that’s supposed to be in full swing usually isn’t, either winding down because they were hot and heavy last week, or there’s nothing but a few advance scouts because the main hatch won’t really come off for another week or so. That is more like a typical spring on our Catskill rivers. And then there’s summer…

Hot weather and a lack of rain changes things, and usually most of the main mayfly hatches are finished for the season once summer rolls around. I love summer time in the Catskills, and it is not for the big hatches. What you usually get in the summer is a little of this, and a little of that.

This morning was lovely. We actually had what the weather man would call a shower, though let me be clear that I think “a dampening” is a more accurate description. It was brief, but the cloud cover and that smidgen of rainfall left a new freshness in the air. It was cooler, and it’s stayed a bit cooler throughout the day, though there was plenty of sunshine on the river when I sidled down her bank at a quarter to eight.

I watched a while, seeing very few tan caddis flying about, then eased into the river and tied one of my T.P. Caddis to the 5X. There were no rises, and I had no intention of fishing the water with that fly, but there was a lie close by that I have some history with. When I fished that reach last summer I had my fly taken away when not too much was happening.

I figured it wouldn’t hurt the rest of the pool if I made a couple of casts to that particular lie to see if my old nemesis was home and thinking about breakfast. I made three casts, starting above the lie, twitching the fly and picking it up before it ran out of slack and dragged. At least that’s what I did with the first two casts.

I shouldn’t have been as surprised when that big boy set my Hardy spinning and rocketed out of the water three times with the reel screaming all the way. The small spurt riseform should have told me that my old friend was a Delaware rainbow. I think the folks at Hardy ought to make a sizeable conservation donation to benefit the Delaware River and its wild rainbows, as there’s nothing like a bow to light up the atmosphere with that special kind of music that Hardy reels are known for!

He was something! My old Granger was bent dangerously then he was out of the water again, twice, before rushing downstream to make the clicker sizzle again. When he decided to come back upstream I was reeling frantically to try to keep up. I barely made it. A Delaware bow with shoulders, and a lot of piss and vinegar, he measured twenty-two inches in the net. Made my day with three casts!

The caddis I had seen didn’t stay around, and it was a while before I began to see a rise here and there. I had a different fly on by then, a smaller CDC caddis, at least until I saw a dark mayfly wriggle to the surface while I was trying to pinpoint one of those risers. Cornutas; I had seen a lone spinner last week so I knew a few had been around. I dug out the comparadun I had tried that morning and started working down to cover the rise.

The next “little rise” turned out to be a little fish, but that ten inch brownie put a bend in the Granger as best he could. After landing small fry, another good fish showed, but he wasn’t interested in that comparadun. The cornuta hatch lasted maybe ten minutes, then things went very quiet for half an hour.

I switched the deer hair comparadun for one of the T.P. Duns I had tied last week, hoping that more than the single spinner I had picked up would show up on this beautiful stretch of river. A spurt rise got me thinking bow again and I covered it with a long downstream cast, backing up the rod tip before dropping it quickly to put plenty of slack in the leader. He came for the fly and I got a look at his broad side as he turned and went down to the rock he had been holding on, confident I had him until he promptly unhooked himself.

The hatching duns subsided again, and I busied myself by wading carefully up and back down chasing a few one-time risers. I changed flies, and was changing back when a trout rose fairly close by. While I finished my knot he continued working my way, until my twenty foot cast put the T.P. Dun in his sights. Hookset, scream, backing! In one great rush he was 150 feet downstream, and there was no doubt in my mind that I had another tiger of a rainbow by the tail. Reeling, reeling, the 2 7/8″ diameter Hardy Perfect sounds wonderful and looks nice on the Granger, but man that’s a lot of turns to get all that line and backing back on the spool!

When I got my “rainbow” in close quarters, he displayed the gorgeous gold and bronze of a brown trout. Fooled again. He measured all of twenty inches when I finally coaxed him into the mesh. I let myself linger as the last here and there rises led me wandering about the pool some more, changing to 6X and a size 20 olive when I spied some tiny wings on the surface, but the sparse activity soon dwindled to nothing.

A great morning, and two very memorable trout that took my breath away! I tip my glass of single malt to salute them, giving thanks for a Granger Special that’s several years my senior, and three little ten minute hatches of cornutas. I think I’d better ties some more of those flies.

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