June continues to be a month of changing moods. All but perhaps its first week typically brings summer weather patterns to the Catskills, however this year has been quite different. Though we have had a handful of warm weekends since Memorial Day, there have been more chilly days and some very cold nights. A blessing to the rivers as far as water temperatures, these cold spells have kept the angler guessing.
I began fishing summer patterns and tactics mid-month and have concentrated on them since. The first couple of days produced admirably. Enter the last cold front, complete with a pair of 42 degree mornings and some much needed rain. Expecting some mayfly activity on the cool, cloudy days, I found very little. The clouds cleared and the sun shone on Thursday evening, and Friday dawned bright and a bit warmer.
My friend Henry was in town again, and we took a chance that the runoff strengthened flows might invigorate the trout and hopefully, the insect life. The sun warmed quickly, and we found ourselves with another summer day, with neither bugs nor trout on hand. I suggested to Henry that we try summertime tactics and flies, at least until the river told us otherwise.
As morning drifted into afternoon, we compared notes. Neither of us had anything to show for our efforts. Henry had been fishing a sulfur emerger, since we had begun to see the odd dun flying around about Noon, but the only rises spotted had been a few one-timers scattered around the pool. I had fished a variety of proven summer patterns, flies that tend to provoke a response from hunting trout, but I had drawn a blank.
We separated and continued to fish, wading back together after another fruitless hour or so. While we were talking, we both saw a decent rise along the far bank. I told my friend to “go get him”. Henry worked the lie expertly, first with the sulfur and then a beetle imitation. The trout rose again, just downstream of a bank side bush, and I knew that Henry should do some good with that beetle.
I had begun to look for some evidence of my own when Henry exclaimed ” I’ve got him!” The fish fought well, and Henry’s old favorite Winston four weight matched every move. Netting a solid eighteen-inch wild brown lifted both my friend’s spirits and my own. If one was eating along the riverbank, there ought to be another. It took some time to find him, but find him I did.
There was no rise, simply a brief disturbance of the water that put me onto that fish. I waded in deeper to be sure I could put the fly within that magic inch. The soft curls in my tippet were nearly spent, the fly having drifted some four feet along the bank. The take was almost a surprise, coming so late in the drift, but I set the steel in him solidly and enjoyed the fight!
Henry was kind enough to take a sequence of photos as the game neared its conclusion, thus:
This was a unique experience for me, having a companion shoot a sequence of the fight and capture of a trophy trout, and I though it should be shared here.
We enjoyed our fellowship and a gorgeous day on a Catskill river, and each managed a fine trout to remember on a day when we really had to work for an opportunity. Henry and I spent a day back in May sitting on a riverbank and talking while we waited all afternoon for the hatch that never appeared. We enjoyed that day immensely. I have always said: “You have to take what the river gives you”. There are days the river offers one fish, days it offers many, and plenty of days that it offers only the experience of natural beauty and contemplation. I come back to the river day after day and find that I am always blessed.