The Trout Aren’t Always Rising

Footsteps in the water behind me…glad he wasn’t a bear!

The other side of summer angling isn’t talked about so much; the days when the flies don’t bob along the currents and the trout don’t find a reason to rise. I have friends that never understood that there is more to fishing than fish.

I find a certain perfection in the wild places and moments like I shared with my young friend above. “Bucky” appeared behind me while I concentrated on an uncatchable trout, one of those that chooses a lie where the currents defy an effective presentation from any available angle. He crossed the river and wandered into the grass while I turned and snapped the photo. When I heard more soft wet footsteps, I turned again to see his little girlfriend had been in that grass waiting for his visit. Priceless moments.

That uncatchable trout provided me with diversion on a day when nothing much happened to get the trout excited. Perhaps it was too gorgeous, golden sunshine in brilliant blue skies with the mountains circling and eagles calling from the heights. That trout seems content to wait out the longest float I can offer him, expecting drag regardless of pattern. He moves around unseen in his little sanctuary so I can never be sure just where he is. If I manage a ten foot float, he dimples a dozen feet below me. Sometimes its good to have an uncatchable trout to rely on.

Few of these wild trout are fully attuned to terrestrials just yet, surprising with the paucity of mayflies and caddis available. Once again an unusual season unfolds. At times I think such variety of events are the usual. No two seasons are alike!

The great drakes did not appear for me this year, though I took one spectacular fish on an experimental fly when a few advance scouts graced the water. One morning I touched a single coffin fly in early morning: a kiss goodbye? Likewise the waters I haunt have been barren of isonychia this season, another favorite hatch. Each season in my memory seems to have a featured fly, an insect that was dominant and particularly prolific. Hendricksons, Blue Quills, olives, sulfurs or shad fly caddis for early spring, or drakes and isonychia for the finale; it seems impossible to predict which will come to the forefront each spring.

I have always imagined that each are most important somewhere, that some riffle on some river offers up a multitude of insects that seem sparse elsewhere. I wonder if, particularly on the tailwaters, man’s manipulations of current, temperature and flow tend to move concentrated populations around from year to year. Perhaps we should all search downstream for our favorite bug after a high water year. Of course Nature makes the puzzle far more intriguing than that. “Downstream” may be too warm or too cold for too long and alter the schedule, fooling us again. There is no prediction, simply adaptation I believe.

It is supposed to be raining in two hours they say, a one hundred percent chance. I pray they are correct this time, for conditions are trying for trout and insect alike. The Beaverkill has warmed high into the seventies all week, and the wide Delaware even moreso, the powers that control Cannonsville being content to keep releases down and watch the temperatures soar.Their feigned attempts at thermal bank releases were laughable. A few hours of a 150 cfs pulse will not cool a mighty river like the Delaware. Blessed rain and cool nights are needed; plenty of both.

Cadosia Riffle, Late summer 2019

May snowfalls, and June heat waves; not at all a predictable year. I pray that July will bring us the best of our Catskill summer: cool nights, frequent rainfall, and seventy-five degree afternoons in the sunshine.

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