It is Friday, the 26th day of May, two thousand and twenty-three, gateway to Memorial Day weekend and the pinnacle of our Catskill dry fly season. It is 35 degrees here in Crooked Eddy.
Once again the spring season has reached it’s climax, too quickly it seems after proceeding in fits and starts from that quizzically warm second week in April. It could be my own tainted recollections, but it seems this has been one of the windiest runs of spring weather among my decades stalking Catskill rivers.
My longtime friend Mike Saylor rolled into the Eddy yesterday for an all too infrequent visit. He battled Boston traffic during the early morning hours, heading south from a visit with his new granddaughter. Mike and Cheryl have been travelling the world since his retirement, both with and without a fly rod in hand. It is good to see him back to enjoy some of our old Catskill haunts.
That spring wind was brutal here in Crooked Eddy as we shared greetings and donned our waders for an afternoon of fishing. Fearing the worst, we found conditions much better once we reached the river and waded in.
The trout were waiting for us. Numerous soft rings interrupted the ripples from the breeze across the shallow flats, good fish delicately taking the scattered shad caddis. My CDX brought music to the scene quickly, as the little Hardy was urged into song by an angry brownie. He was gorgeously colored, plump and firm in the net as I twisted the little fly free and sent him back to ponder his dietary choices.
It was pleasant fishing for a pair of old friends, easy wading, and smooth, gentle casts each time the breeze abated. The wild browns were strong and willing, though as always demanding of perfect pattern and presentation.
When Hendrickson duns joined the caddis on the water, the trout quickly shunned the CDX, and an Atherton Inspired 100-Year Dun replaced it on my long 5X tippet. The fly was immediately accepted, and that familiar chorus rose amid the rustling notes of the wind.
We tallied half a dozen fine fish between us, and Mike made sure to call me over to help him out by netting his twenty incher. A fine reunion for two friends who fished often during thirty years of friendship. We have waded the rivers and streams of the Catskills, Montana and Pennsylvania, chased steelhead in Ohio and Michigan, always eager for one more cast.
Another day lies before us, so I will tie a few more flies to tempt those brownies…