Preparations

Summer on the West Branch – our best bet for rising trout due to plentiful cold water.

The forecasters, and my own sincere desire for the vital rainfall they promised, boondoggled me once again. I decided against fishing yesterday to avoid the severe thunderstorms they told me were threatening but never occurred. Not that I craved severe weather, I would trade any number of thunderstorms for a nice gentle all-night rain.

Hancock had a little shower in the morning and then a very brief wetting in early evening. Cannot bring myself to call that one a shower. I spent my day reading, writing, and casting a favorite rod with a three weight line, just to refamiliarize myself with it’s charms. Preparations: tying a handful of flies, checking reels, lines and leaders, and generally making ready for tomorrow.

My Cumberland Queen gets the nod today, freshly polished after removing traces of the familiar West Branch slime.

I am set to try one of Cortland’s Sylk double taper lines on an old favorite rod today, my Dream Catcher Cumberland Queen, a lovely flamed eight foot four weight that is a deft summer weapon against the speed and energy of our outsized Catskill trout. The rod’s first debut was on the same West Branch Delaware, on a blustery September evening nearly a decade ago, casting a big size 10 Isonychia emerger. Now conventional angling wisdom would tell you that a four weight bamboo rod was not the tackle to toss such large dry flies in gusty, 20 mph winds, but the Queen excelled in meeting that challenge!

Dual tactics for those impossible brownies hunting the odd sulfur on a hot, bright afternoon: a 100-Year Dun and a North Country style spider.

The old girl will have an easier time of it today. Not that there won’t be wind, but she won’t have to toss big size 10 dries against it. The Queen will be called upon for another of her considerable attributes – delicacy of presentation. I tied half a dozen primrose spiders this morning to be prepared should the trout shun the surface and look to the wiggling emergers just beneath the film. I have seen their moods change, one willing to sip the dun from the surface, another demurring and gently inhaling something unseen with the barest disturbance to the film.

The morning’s flies are nestled in a shirt pocket box along with yesterday’s and a few changeups, and I just tied a bit more than four feet of new 5X fluorocarbon tippet to the little Hardy’s leader. Time to shower and take care of some errands before driving out to the river to begin the hunt.

Summer fishing is more relaxed than the rush of springtime, trying to contain six months of pent-up energy and anticipation for the season’s first hatch. You feel like you know what you will find in summer, though the river gods can hatch surprises at any time. I’d love to find just enough of a breeze to ripple the surface and help the trout feel better about taking duns on a bright afternoon, and I would happily welcome more sulfurs and fewer midweek anglers. I’ll never turn down a chance for a little solitude on a summer river!

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