I caught up with one of my best friends last evening and spent much of the message telling him why I didn’t think it was worth his effort to drive up today for a little fishing. I do like for my friends to have good fishing when they visit, and I know that this one would be hoping for more than perhaps one shot at one very difficult trout, but in thinking about the conversation this morning I realize the irony. You see, I am unobligingly happy to be alive, retired, and fishing in the Catskills! What more could anyone ask to share?
I learned long ago that seasons and days on the water vary constantly. I learned to take what the river gave me and appreciate that, for every day spent astream is worthwhile, even sacred. Fly fishing is so much more than a fish on the line, or a few in the creel of our minds. Indeed, this season has not panned out the way I had hoped, nor the way countless other anglers had dreamed about. Our boundless fly hatches have clearly found their bounds and, for the second year in a row, rising trout have been at a premium. That makes those few we encounter all that much more precious!
As a confirmed dry fly man, I choose not to try sunken flies and other methods simply to see if I could catch a few more trout. I love the challenge as much as the method, and a year like 2022 presents a great deal of daily challenges on our Catskill rivers. I do not offer apology for my passions, I simply state the truth.
I read a beautiful sentiment this morning. It got me to thinking about those passions, some stimulated by it’s author. I met Jerry Girard a number of years ago through the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Association. He is a long time angling historian, collector and author, and one of many who formed the seed of my encompassing interest in classic fly fishing tackle. Jerry recently published a book entitled Casting About (The Whitefish Press, 2022) that contains the fifty columns he wrote for the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum’s Castabout newsletter between 2010 and 2016. The words that inspired me are found in column number 27, Winter Rambling Thoughts, Perhaps Even Rants:
“Fly fishing is not just a physical journey, but a spiritual one as well. It is a blend of art, literature, science, history, philosophy and camaraderie. These are the things that lift our spirits and add to our joys when we cast a fly and maybe catch a fish.” Beautifully said Jerry! The book is available at the CFFCM gift shop and should be required reading for anyone who fly fishes. As the author laments, too few of the many fly fishers encountered today have any knowledge of those who came before and all that fly fishing entails, and that diminishes their enjoyment whether they know it or not.
During my working life, I was drawn to live in Pennsylvania’s Cumberland Valley, one of the two greatest nexuses of American fly fishing. The history there drew me as well as the lure of difficult trout, the desire for beauty and art and challenge! In retirement I sought life amid the other great nexus, the seed of American fly fishing and birthplace of our own traditions of dry fly fishing, the Catskills. The challenges are sweet!
It is a rainy and potentially stormy day here in the Catskills. I was looking forward to fishing, having polished up a favorite bamboo rod yesterday morning after casting it with a variety of fly lines and reels. The weather has decided this will not be a fishing day, and I am thankful, more than willing to offer up a cherished day for the gift of rainfall our mountains, fields and especially our rivers so desperately need. There are always a few fly lines that could be cleaned, and I could certainly tie a fly or two…