February Blues

A river walk at last, and I enjoy a few minutes of freedom from the confines of these old walls! I did get out yesterday, Groundhog Day, though just to shovel away the fourteen inch snowfall February’s debut gifted. The East Branch seems to disappear as it slows from the Hancock riffle, swallowed by the ice and snow entering Crooked Eddy. Back inside now the sun glimmers through the icicle hanging above my window. Where were you when I needed you?

Last year the great prognosticator, Punxatawney Phil promised an early spring, and we had snow to herald the second week of May. I truly hope he hasn’t established an overly generous frame of mind, less this years “six more weeks of winter” ends up lasting until July.

I have designs on July you see, and they most certainly do not include snow, ice, wind or anything similar. What they include are a box of tiny olives and terrestrials, a certain pentagonal cane rod hailing from Montana, and a very special reel crafted much farther away in the opposing direction.

Waiting For Summer…

It is summer, when the rivers become low, and clearer than the air, that the wild trout prowl and sip the little bits of nothing many anglers ignore. The late Art Flick tied his Blue Winged Olives with a hackle and a tail, allowing the whirl of hackle fibers to suggest the moving wings of these diminutive mayflies. I have great sport with them, tied in sizes 20 to 24.

The angle of the morning sun can be a boon to this fishing, as the trout will cruise in the flat, still eddies, their soft rises hidden in the mist. For a while each morning, the climbing sun illuminates the whirl of hackle on my miniature duns, letting me follow them downstream after a sixty-foot cast! I have learned to fish different reaches at different times of day, taking advantage of the low angle of the rising sun at morning, and the comfortable shade after midday and apogee.

A Catskill summer is truly sublime. The endurance of the Catskill winter is the price paid for those long, glorious days from June through September. That price is dear.

February makes me long for the limestone country, fond memories looking beyond the decline in it’s quaint little spring creeks, though it was that wholesale decline that convinced me to take hold of the dream, to retire to the Catskills and make a life surrounded by the rivers of my heart. Winter is a cruel mistress!

A February brown puts a bend in my 8642 Granger amid the canyon stretch of Spring Creek, Bellefonte, PA (Photo courtesy Dr. Andrew Boryan)

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