Low water everywhere…

Once again the western Catskills have been cheated by an approaching weather system, and our rivers are terribly low. We were forecast to receive better than an inch of rain, and now today’s revised estimate is three hundredths of an inch, barely enough to dampen the grass. The eastern reaches of our mountains are getting something right now, but only time will tell if they get enough to do the rivers any good.

I have been searching for rising fish for more than a week without finding any. I had hoped that rain and freshened flows might improve that situation. Skinny water cools faster overnight, and the water temperatures are already well down in the fifties at their daily peaks, and the forties are knocking at the door. Certainly I could simply be missing the little hatches and activity periods, that is easy to do when these occurrences are brief and spotty, but I fear that winter approaches with haste. It is a feeling I have had since September.

The long range prediction was for the second half of October to be warmer than normal in the East, but our chances for that Indian Summer are fading fast. Our only hope seems to be the last week of October. How I would love to enjoy one last burst of dry fly activity!

I am a dry fly fisherman by choice, and that choice limits me to six months of joy each year. There are seasons when Mother Nature shaves time from each end of that wondrous period; winter lingers, droughts and heat waves persevere. Yes, I do walk the rivers in the off season, for I am drawn to bright water, but a mild, knowing melancholy is my companion until the trout rise again.

Winter’s version of bright water; still beautiful, though unapologetically much less hopeful

My thoughts have followed me to the tying bench, where my fingers have fashioned soft hackles of late. Swinging flies is how I get through the other six months, that and wandering the mountains.

I dressed to go out yesterday, but the chill from the damp breeze caught me short. There is something about a damp fifty degree day that chills me to the bone, much more than winter ever could. A bit warmer today they promise, so I’ll go, go and try to find a run deeper than the toes of my boots. I’ll search the surface for a little boil, a dimple, those blessed concentric rings that promise me the end has not yet come.

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