Meanderings on dry land

A heartbreaking view of Cadosia Riff from last September: I fear we are headed there again.

Though I waded cool deep water yesterday morning, it soon became too hot to fish; even for me. Ninety-four degrees in Hancock around one in the afternoon is not the Catskill summer weather that brings so many wonderful memories.

We need rain terribly lest we repeat last summer’s drought, and worse. It felt like we would get some relief in early evening. The rain clouds massed and my porch thermometer dropped from 94 down to 86 with a beautiful wind to drive the cooling air. Sadly they moved on toward the southeast, where their gift was not so well received. New York City, Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania all but washed away in powerful storms. Would that some of that rain had fallen here rather than continue its travel, adding to the destruction further to the southeast.

Heat and warm rivers have chased me early in the day, and I have had to fill my afternoons with tackle tinkering; winter stuff.

Last year I tried one of Scientific Anglers’ new Amplitude fly lines, the smooth trout taper. I bought it for a graphite rod but, with the description touting the suppleness and compatibility with bamboo, I decided I should give it a whirl with some time on my hands. I spooled it on a Bougle` and, after fishing it two or three times, I can tell you it will never leave that reel; not until the core is showing and I am forced to buy a new one. This is a wonderful flyline for fishing bamboo on our Catskill rivers, or any waters that demand delicacy as well as distance and control.

I am still tinkering with terrestrials, though the trout are not yet responding to them as they did last summer. Checking the notes in my tying log I find that it was late July when the great terrestrial fishing began, so perhaps the extended high heat of late June and early July has me rushing things. I tied a foam bodied Carpenter ant, complete with wiggly legs, a fly I believe should catch it’s share of summer bruisers.

Wandering about the house in yesterday afternoon’s heat I thought it a perfect day to take a drive and go wandering about the fly shops, though I dare not venture anywhere that people have congregated. More reports have been released, with experts admitting that the Coronavirus is airborne, that it “floats around in the air” waiting for its next victim. You cannot fish when you’re dead, so I am left to my own devices.

Even in Pennsylvania’s limestone country, the worst heat waves kept me from the streams. The heat and a hot wind made perfect conditions for terrestrial fishing, but when that wind refused to blow the head high grasses of the water meadows roasted anglers like an oven. The West Branch was once a refuge on such days. Standing in waist deep 48 degree water takes the edge right off a ninety degree afternoon. The crowds were large at times in those years, at least in places, but now they are far heavier, and come with the addition of a sinister threat.

I keep thinking of the joys of the lightest tackle. There is a two weight rod and reel behind me, leaning against the armoire in a travel case, and my Dennis Menscer 3 weight bamboo is in reach of my right hand. My little Galvan 2.5 Standard reel is spooled with an unfished 3 weight line, ready to offer its smooth, matchless drag with the subtle strength of Tonkin cane against the charge of a wide bodied brown trout, deceived by some minute creation of feathers and fur.

I fished that 6’8″ gem on the West Branch once, and tied into eighteen inches of Delaware rainbow that objected to the size twenty hook he found in my sulfur. I had a CFO mounted that day, with its simple spring and pawl clicker, and that bow made joyous music as he cavorted on his way down to Hancock. I landed him, but not without some joyously tense moments!

Oh how I wish I had owned such a rod when the limestone fishing was grand! I still have the little graphites I used back then, six and a half footers for two, three and four weight lines. By the time I was able to acquire a proper seven foot four weight cane rod, the best of the Cumberland Valley’s spring creek fishing had succumbed to pressure and development.

Big Spring’s Willow Pool in summer, before the decline

I have always dreamed of fishing the western spring creeks, both the more intimate streams like Armstrong’s Nelson’s and DePuy’s, as well as the larger rivers like Idaho’s Silver Creek. I managed a couple of days on the Henry’s Fork’s Railroad Ranch water fourteen years ago, in a season the great Mike Lawson described as a “down year”. I have always wanted to return, to spend a month learning and savoring the fishing on those amazing waters.

While I’m daydreaming and wishing, I cannot help but wish to take a walk back through time to angle old Ed Hewitt’s water on the storied Neversink, and to drink a toast to the West Kill with Art Flick at it’s namesake tavern. What I wouldn’t give to share one more day with my departed friend Ed Shenk in the meadows of the fair LeTort!

Dreaming aside I must decide upon today’s course. Might I find a spot away from the crowds to stand in the frigid flows of the West Branch? Might today be the day to stalk forgotten waters? I will see, yes, I will see…

One thought on “Meanderings on dry land

  1. Well done and well written, I tooat times find myself wishing for a chance to talk to Mr Hewitt or fish with Art most often wish is to be able once again to sit and talk with both Hans Roeper and Dave Decker, both of whom I count as my mentors. Mike


Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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