Days Along the Water

A freshly hatched Hendrickson dun: I believe he is smiling, for he seems to have little to fear from our Catskill trout. I have not even seen the birds gathered for the feast when the flies have hatched.

On Monday I was preparing for another day on the river when a beep from my phone attracted my attention. It signaled a text from my friend Henry, letting me know he was in town for the day and wondering if I wanted to get together to fish. I messaged him right back and then answered his call a moment later. It turns out we had the same river in mind for the day and were both about ready to hit the road.

I was standing on the riverbank looking wistfully at the quiet pool when I heard the car door above and turned to see Henry’s smiling face looking over the guardrail. He joined me on the bank, and we talked about the flies and rises we both hoped to see within the hour. As it turned out, we would have plenty of time to catch up.

After grabbing his rod and vest from the car, Henry returned, and we found a couple of seats on the bank. I filled him in on the rather unimpressive fishing this spring. I waved my hand across the long reach of water in front of us, telling him that it had all been covered with Hendrickson duns on Friday afternoon, with not a single trout rising to take advantage of the bounty. I confessed that I had hoped for some returning spinners despite the dampness on this cloud covered morning, since calm periods have been quite rare this spring.

Henry was fresh off a float down the West Branch on Sunday. He showed me the photo of the best fish of his day, an impressive brown in the twenty inch plus category. He said they managed a couple of fish, though there wasn’t a lot of insect activity, but he was obviously pumped from battling that trophy brownie. Henry usually seems to be pumped up when it comes to fishing. He has one of the brightest personalities and best dispositions of anyone I know.

My friend Henry with a wild brown in the two-foot class, taken one morning on a size 16 Rusty Spinner I handed him just as we arrived on the river. That very light four weight bamboo rod and the little St. George were tested that morning! The trout ran all over the pool and Henry worked him perfectly, finally bringing him to my waiting net.

Henry was pretty upbeat for such a dreary morning, exceedingly happy that he didn’t have a five hour drive home anymore. He had moved since last season and was now within an easy hour and a half of Roscoe. I was glad to hear that, and told him I would let him know when the fishing improved, since he was now able to toss his gear in the car and go fishing without a lot of pre-trip time and planning. Talking about the long drives had me remembering just how much I hated having to drive all the way back to Chambersburg before I retired. During the Hendrickson hatch, I always had to leave the river and roll out by five o’clock to make the four and a half hour trip home. I always left wondering if the best hatch or spinnerfall of the week started just after I had left.

We fished a little and talked a lot this day, each of us briefly encountering a single sporadic riser that shunned our efforts. After the abundant hatches of Friday, there seemed to be very few bugs in the neighborhood on Monday. We stayed until five, finally agreeing that it simply wasn’t going to happen on this day, saying our goodbyes with smiles and wishes for good fishing.

I am pleased to hear that my friend is closer to the rivers we both love now and know that we can look forward to more times fishing together. Sooner or later our weather will start acting like its May, the rivers will warm, and the trout will suddenly realize it isn’t winter anymore. I hope there are still a few Hendricksons crawling around down there in the gravel, since I absolutely love that hatch!

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