Rainy Day Blues

Jus’ Hangin’ Out

Had a surprise this morning with some heavy rainfall, enough to push the West Branch back up to floating country and beyond: she’s running 4,550 and still rising! My fishing day seems to have been washed away with my morning coffee. I’m not complaining, as I welcome the rain, even if it comes in bunches.

Buddy Guy is wailing the blues over my shoulder as I put a few flies in a shirt pocket box for next week. Sad to say that our little cool down will be short lived, with a high of 85 for Sunday and near 90 to start the week.

I did get out to fish yesterday, visiting some water I hadn’t seen in a month. I had hoped the cool down and high flows had freshened the water so that some of the stressed trout I had seen that day would be back to a comfortable normal. I found no evidence of that, despite sixty-one degree water after one in the afternoon, failing to so much as move a single fish. I am beginning to accept the fact that I’ll have to wait for fall to enjoy the quality of fishing I had last summer.

The extra water should help the Delaware, particularly with more hot sunny weather on the way. It won’t get to fishable temperatures, but hopefully the increased oxygenation will help relieve the stress on the fish hunkering in place. The water temperature at Lordville dropped steadily during Tuesday’s storm, reaching a welcome sixty-four degrees. The daily peaks have remained just below seventy since then. Yesterday morning’s lovely fifty-five degrees at sunrise didn’t hurt either!

The NYC reservoir page now shows 2.9″ of rainfall for August, 2.8″ more than it showed on August 3rd. I don’t know the origin of their numbers, whether averaged over various gages or measured at some central location, but perhaps the eastern Catskills didn’t get heavier rain than we got here in Hancock as I believed.

A report from my friend Mike in Western Maryland says that hopper season has arrived, as he’s taking a lot of browns, including some good ones, with the Letort Hoppers he’s been tying. I had hoped for a wet year, with good flows and temperatures that would find me floating the Mainstem now and trying my updated hopper pattern along every grassy bank I passed. Then again, wind really makes hopper fishing great, but it isn’t the rower’s nor the fly caster’s friend on the big river.

Daydreams of hopper fishing gets me thinking about the West. I have been telling Mike that we should make a real trip to Montana now that we’re both retired. No guides, no lodges, no set itinerary; and a couple of weeks to fish wherever the best conditions happened to be. I’ve only been out there twice, both times on someone else’s schedule, and though I enjoyed those trips, the fishing wasn’t anywhere near “as advertised”.

I was truly captivated by the beauty of the Henry’s Fork. I had read about that magical fishery since boyhood and desperately wanted to fish it. On my second trip west, Mike and I managed two days on the Railroad Ranch in seventy degree bluebird September weather. Mahogany Duns were hatching during the afternoons, and the wide flats of the ranch were littered with them, but very few trout rose to partake of the feast. Walking a couple of miles of the Ranch, I located two nice pods of feeding rainbows, each with its own pod of fly fishermen. I did find a couple of singles with a little extra effort, landing a pair of bright fifteen inch bows as I stood mesmerized by the landscape. Oh how I want to go back!

The rain and rumbling thunder have departed, and there’s blue sky smiling through the window over my tying desk. Time to see what I can find to do today…

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