A Quiet Day

May’s full moon catches the sun’s rays on a gorgeous afternoon.

Saturday, a quiet day for me. Hundreds of anglers will be heading out to the rivers, but for me the weekends are about relaxation. I’ll visit Dette’s fly shop to pick up some odds and ends, then stop by the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum to kibitz as my good friend JA will be their guest fly tyer today. This afternoon, the Catskill Fly Tyers Guild will gather for our summer meeting, comparing notes on sulfurs and terrestrials. In all a quiet, enjoyable day.

Fishermen will find unusual conditions for the middle of June. The chilly northwest winds were already blustery at daybreak, and despite yesterday’s eighty-degree sunshine, today’s high temperature is forecast at a chilly fifty-seven degrees. It may look like summer, but it will feel much like early spring.

With the difficult spring, I have been hitting it hard, first to try to be on the water in case there was a ray of light on many of those tough days and, since fishing has improved somewhat, trying to make up for all that I missed. That statement captures the sentiment, though I know full well that those fleeting moments of perfection on trout rivers once missed, can never be recaptured. The angler simply moves on and looks for the next such moment that he may be blessed to capture.

Funny how this sudden chill wind makes summer seem quite fleeting when it has barely begun. I always hope for a long season, chasing moments deep into October, living the glory of those days we call Indian Summer. Twenty twenty-two has been a cold year so far, and I will certainly welcome a cooler summer. I have no love for ninety-degree days and steamy nights. Sunshine, a gentle breeze and highs in the seventies grace us often during a Catskill Summer, and I love every moment of it. Save a bit of that extra warmth for October Lord, and parcel it out each afternoon as the leaves herald the coming of autumn!

The winds have quieted now, though I am certain they will return. The new day takes a breath. I should check my fly tying kit, in case I choose to tie a few flies at today’s meeting. I am thinking about the Letort Cricket, one of The Master’s classic, crowning achievements. The Letort Regulars can still testify to the feats this dry fly has performed. Their words live on in the pages of the classic books from the halcyon days of Pennsylvania’s Cumberland Valley, works by Shenk, Fox, Marinaro, Koch and Schwiebert.

The late Ed Shenk, Master of the Letort, with a size fourteen Letort Cricket fresh from the vise. March 2007

The Master once took me to a willow shaded, brush pile enveloped, deep hole in the hallowed Letort, pointing out the lie of a brown in the nine pound class he wrestled from that impossible mass of cover on a size fourteen dry fly: the Letort Cricket.

The late Ed Koch struck similar gold decades before, when the pattern was new, taking a few from Shenk’s hand for the next morning’s jaunt along the Letort. That day is history too: nine pounds, brought to hand on a size fourteen. The black fly’s legacy leaves a lot to live up to.

It gave me my first larger brown from those holy waters, cast above the eddy where the silver current slid beneath a great mid-stream log jam, a dark, deeply colored fish of eighteen inches. Though a yard short of nine pounds, that trout was special to me in my formative years prowling those historic limestone currents.

The Barnyard reach of the Letort Spring Run

All the Regulars rest now beneath the limestone, though their history, their words and their memories endure.

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