The Vagaries of Spring

Well, not this bad but it no longer feels like the fourth week of April…

Just took a walk to the Post Office to get a breath of fresh Catskill air. Two hours after sunrise and it is still only 29 degrees in Crooked Eddy, with snow flurries skidding about on the wind. Tuesday evening was perfection, but spring gives you a hiatus just when you are about to get comfortable with warmth and fly hatches.

I would be on the river anyway, but forty mile per hour wind gusts do not agree with fly fishing. I know this for a fact, as I have fished in forty, and even fifty mile per hour winds more than once. I honestly do not recall ever catching a trout in such conditions, though I may have caught a steelhead; once. Steelhead fishing on the Lake Erie tributaries is of course not dry fly fishing. It is chucking weight, and a lot of it, to bounce estaz eggs and Sucker Spawn flies along the bottom of the deepest, fastest, nastiest current you can find. Fly fishers use fly rods to do it, but it isn’t fly casting, so strong winds may be uncomfortable, but they don’t create impossible conditions either.

Retirement in the midst of the Catskills allows one to practice sanity on days like this. When I travelled to fish these rivers, I did so knowing I had a limited number of days each season. If I was up here, I fished, and did my best to try to fly cast no matter how bad it was. With fifty mile per hour winds that included several hours of standing huddled on a river bank, or out in a windswept river, for every half-hour of actual casting. Gusts of fifty seem to happen on days with at least twenty mile per hour sustained winds, so casting isn’t pretty, but it can be possible with a lot of patience and careful positioning.

Two days out of a young season isn’t a bad price to pay for the good days, and I look forward to a lot of them. Besides, I have friends coming and there is work to do.

I replenished my supply of Hendrickson Sparkle Duns and my Blue Quill Cripples early yesterday, but there are friends to consider. I am hoping these flies will still be hatching when they arrive, though one can never be too sure, particularly during a fitful spring. I will tie some extras today so I can hand them out without raiding my own boxes, and there is always the next likely hatch to get ready for.

There are fly lines to be cleaned and a reel to be adjusted, so I can fish trouble free and enjoy the company of friends that I barely saw last year. Yes, we will still fish safe and apart, but with everybody vaccinated we will all be able to relax just a little bit.

It’s kind of a shame that the winds will be horrendous today, as I like to use non-fishing days to cast some different fly lines on different rods; check reels for balance and feel on different cane, that kind of thing. I sort of like to fish period reels on classic rods, one of my own little eccentricities, but there are practical considerations that prevail.

I can keep myself occupied for the day all right. Tying flies and adjusting tackle is good work, and I went a little too crazy this winter to do a lot of it. Who likes to go out in a foot and a half of snow and cast in 25 mile per hour winds? Not me.

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