Sixty-eight days and counting…

My first dry fly brownie of 2021 accepted a size 16 Blue Winged Olive on the Mainstem Delaware River on April 12th.

At last January is behind us, and I sincerely hope it takes these subzero days with it as it retreats in my memory. This is easily the coldest winter I have spent in the Catskills. The more years behind me, the more I seem to feel the cold. Take heart, for that looked for second week of April lies just sixty-eight days away!

I tied thirty flies yesterday, a little burst in my otherwise modest production to finish out the month. That last day flurry brought me to 136 flies, eleven dozen and four for the new year. I found a little inspiration and tied a few of the flies I have had in my head for a while, ideas that had not yet issued from my vise.

A 100-Year Dun style Coffin Fly came to mind some months ago, and an inquiry on the Classic Flyrod Forum got me interested in finally tying them. My special quill body proved an ideal choice, accented by the classic combination of Teal flank and golden badger hackle. I pray I get a chance to fish the spinner fall come June.

Writing about my early awakening to the Partridge & Orange the other day reminded me that I had promised myself to tie some soft hackles for the Hendrickson hatch, and I fulfilled that promise at last. As these flies are to be presented as mayflies, each has a bit of woodduck tailing as an addition to tying silks, partridge feathers and that pinch of dubbing.

The choices should cover the various eventualities of either stillborn duns or unsuccessful nymphs drifting helplessly in the film, though with still a hint of life. I recall a day on the Delaware during the spring of 2020 when two or three trout fed greedily, immune to my usual array of duns and emergers. They worked merrily along the edge of a riffle, perhaps choosing unseen morsels these flies would imitate.

I was sure to replenish my supply of Shad Caddis, heavy on the size 20’s. I made a solo float on the West Branch last May, finding a few reaches carpeted with tiny, just hatched caddis flies apparently stunned by the thirty-four degree air temperature. I never saw a one of them in their normal size of 18, believing that the City’s October dewatering and winter anchor ice must have impacted the population. I found success only by a bit of on the water surgery on my most sparsely tied 18’s, to approximate the proportions of the unusually stunted caddisflies.

Loose ends at the bench, and mid-season ideas not acted upon; winter is a good time to catch up and bring them to fruition.

Tackle gets attention periodically, and soon it will be time to spool some lines and backing with an outlook to spring. There’s an extra spool for a Hardy Perfect that requires such treatment. I’ve been thinking of a four weight double tapered line for that one, for the 3 1/8″ diameter reel will balance nicely with one of my eight footers. There’s a little Abel too, one of the sweet, classic TR models they used to offer. That and its extra spool seem destined for a four and a five, but there’s time left to consider further. I don’t often take rods out in the snow to cast.

The sun is just topping the ridge line to the southeast and my weather forecast says it is two below. Despite yesterday’s sun, and a balmy afternoon in the thirties, I don’t believe our snow is going anywhere. More is expected via another weekend storm. Yes, January may be gone but February will last all month long!

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