Well, George Thorogood had a great hit under that title anyway: moanin’ the blues my brother! As far as fishing, I am wondering if I should change my habits. During my travelling years, I fished late every night, stalking the darkness in search of great trout and great moments. Retired and living the dream at last now, I tend to be a daytime fisherman.
Part of that is practical. I awake before dawn each morning and get started with my day, catching up on the baseball scores, tying flies, cleaning fly lines and ferrules, and generally getting ready for my fishing day. Depending upon conditions and destination, I am usually out by late morning to start my fishing. By five o’clock I am tired, as being at the end of a twelve-hour day is reason enough to hang up my waders and relax.
The other part of my daytime fishing regimen is the fact that I have spent many dark hours upon rivers, and for too many of them to count I was standing around and waiting for the big event. Yes, those classic evenings do happen, flies appearing, closely followed by the soft rings of rising trout as the direct rays of the sun leave the water, but a lot of those long nights on the river have resulted in a fifteen-minute flurry of activity just at dark. When it is dark enough that you can’t really see what you are doing, there is finally something to do.
Since we were blessed with some badly needed rainfall, followed by a cooler, cloudy day, I decided to spend an evening on the Upper Delaware on Thursday. I checked river gages upstream after three o’clock and decided the water temperature should be pretty good down as far as Stockport. The first thing I did when I got there around four was to wade in and dunk my thermometer. When I pulled it up and read sixty degrees, I figured it was going to be a great evening.
Indeed, standing around in a river as beautiful and impressive as the Delaware has the makings of a fine evening on its own, but my focus was to find some flies on the water, followed by those lovely soft rings in the surface. I did find some flies in the four hours I prowled up and down the river: one Green Drake and two Psilotreta caddisflies. Other than the occasional shad jumping, the surface remained unbroken. It was after eight and I asked myself whether I wanted to stand there another hour: the answer was no. Might I have missed an epic fifteen minutes, half of which can be spent trying to change the fly? That’s always possible, but after thirty years on these rivers I have my doubts.
Anglers have been talking about the lack of hatching insects. A couple mentioned a magazine article about some new corn seed with built in pesticide that, once washed into our rivers, never dissipates. I firmly believe that two straight winters of extreme, prolonged cold with ultra low river flows have been more than hard on the Delaware system. It could be both, and other factors we are not yet aware of. Nature is amazingly resilient, and I hope that, whatever the cause for this apparent downturn in insect life, she works her magic and fixes the problem. As anglers, we need to be vigilant, and do our best to give her a helping hand.
I may try to re-adjust my schedule and spend a few more nights on the river, just to prove to myself that I am not missing all of the usual daytime action because the trout and insects have decided to work the late shift. If I could only sleep until ten each morning, that would work out wonderfully, but that will remain an unfulfilled wish. I’m getting a little old for eighteen-hour days.