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A True Fish Tale shared by Angler and Fish

Judy Van Put - Columnist
Posted 5/17/21

Area streams and rivers were still a bit high last week due to the days of rain, however, flows are starting to recede to below the average level. A check of the USGS website showed that the …

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A True Fish Tale shared by Angler and Fish

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Area streams and rivers were still a bit high last week due to the days of rain, however, flows are starting to recede to below the average level. A check of the USGS website showed that the Beaverkill at Cooks Falls on Monday morning registered 496 cubic feet per second, now below the average flow for May 17 of 746 cubic feet per second over 106 years of record-keeping.

Water temperatures this past week ranged from a low of 45 degrees Fahrenheit last Tuesday morning to a high of 53 degrees F on Friday afternoon. We've had quite a few chilly nights and frosty mornings which may have set things back a bit; we can only hope that the apple and plum trees which are now in full bloom will still produce fruit.

This morning we were walking along a stream bank with a laid-up stone wall and it reminded me of a great fish story that I thought was worth repeating. Some years ago, I was fishing with two friends, Vicky and Jennifer, and had planned to show them a favorite destination on the lower Beaverkill.

As we drove downstream, we came to Painter's Bend with its long curving laid-up stone wall high above the river. I could see a number of large rises in the pool and we got out of our cars for a better look.

Due to the fact that the steep wall is about 20 feet high above the river, the pool would need to be fished from the opposite bank. Unfortunately, the water was high, making it nearly impossible to wade across the river to fish from that side.

My friend Vicky was immediately intrigued by the challenge and, avid angler that she was, she didn't want to pass on an opportunity…she said that her rod was strung up on top of her car, and had an idea - she wanted to see if she could catch a fish from the roadside.

She retrieved her rod, tied on a large fly, cast out from the edge of the wall and stripped off enough line to lower it down to where all the action was. Sure enough, a trout took her fly! She set the hook, let out a whoop and the battle began. The fish started to race around the pool and Vicky's rod was bending noticeably.

We were enthusiastic and offering encouragement, but the challenge was: how to land the fish? Our friend Jennifer volunteered that if Vicky could lead the fish in toward the bank, she would help by climbing down the wall to try and net the fish. I handed her my net and at about this time, a family from out-of-state came driving by and saw what was going on.

They stopped their car in the middle of Old Route 17 and jumped out to get a closer look. They did not speak English, but their enthusiasm and excitement was easy to comprehend, as they cheered and clapped, and Vicky tried her hardest not to lose the fish while guiding it in toward the bank, as Jennifer scrambled down the steep face of the stone wall with the net.

It was quite an exciting time and finally - success! The fish was netted - a beautiful brown trout. I suggested that she measure it so that it was a true fish story we could report on. Being the only one with a measuring tape, I dropped it down to her and we were all excited to learn that it measured 19 inches from nose to tail!

After the fish was released, we regrouped and reviewed what had just happened - how many anglers would have thought to cast a fly from the roadside, 20 feet above where the fish were rising?

What were the chances of being able to catch and then land such a fish? And how fortunate to have friends along to assist… The fish was released, and I'm sure that it, too, had an interesting tale to tell!

Judy Van Put is a long-time member of the NYS Outdoor Writers Association, and is the recipient of the New York State Council of Trout Unlimited's Professional Communications Award.

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