The Summer Solstice, June 21, the longest day of the year, is a day that is celebrated all across the globe. Here in the Catskill mountains the month of June is special – …
The Summer Solstice, June 21, the longest day of the year, is a day that is celebrated all across the globe. Here in the Catskill mountains the month of June is special – with all of nature’s splendor to enjoy.
Last week on an early morning walk, upon emerging from the densely wooded trail into the pasture, our senses were sharply wakened by the sweet fragrance of the multiflora roses that had bloomed seemingly overnight, their spicy perfume permeating the air all along our walk to the river.
Our beagle puppy has become quite adept at picking the wild strawberries that are prolific in the pasture this spring, taking her time to enjoy the tiny pungent fruits as we wend our way past resting deer, or an occasional cottontail, even a wood turtle on the side of the trail. With no late frosts to disturb the fruit blossoms, it should be a great summer for blueberries, pears, wild plums and apples.
The cheerful choruses of songbirds seem more plentiful than ever, and a pair of Carolina Wrens are nesting in the rafters of the horse barn, greeting us with their songs that vary from a raspy chatter to the musical “teakettle teakettle” chirps.
On the river, a wide variety of flies have been hatching at times, fishing has been good, and all is well in our part of the world.
On Monday morning, June 21, 2021, the Beaverkill at Cooks Falls was flowing at 148 cubic feet per second, which was below the (mean) average flow on this date of 358 cfs over 106 years of record-keeping. Water temperatures have ranged from a low of 58 to a high of 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hatches for this mid-summer period range from tiny midges, size #20 and less, and small Blue-Winged Olives; to various sizes and colors of Caddis flies, and Sulphurs and Light Cahill mayflies.
When flies start hatching in the early spring, they tend to be dark in color –brown, bluish, slate-gray such as the Quill Gordon, Blue and Red Quill mayflies – but as the summer progresses and waters warm, flies that emerge are lighter in color, such as Light Cahills and Sulphurs.
When fishing during this productive time of year, exact imitation is often unnecessary; rather try to estimate a fly that is close in size, shape, and overall color –– meaning light, medium, or dark. Remember that Mayflies have the large upright “sailboat” type wings; Caddis flies have puptent-shaped wings, and Stoneflies have large flat wings folded over their backs.
In addition, it’s important to match your tippet size to the size of the fly (hook) you’re using. Tippet sizes are calibrated by diameter and are given an “X” Rating.
As with trout flies, the larger the number, the smaller the fly, and the finer the tippet. There will be some overlap of a size or two, but in general, we use a size 4X tippet for larger flies such as sizes #10, #12, #14. We will tie on a section of 5X tippet to fish flies that are #14, #16, and #18s; and small flies such as #18, #20, #22s will require a 7X tippet. For those who have excellent vision (or magnifiers) and like to fish smaller midge flies, such as #24, #26, and #28s, an 8X tippet is generally used.
Remember, when choosing which size tippet to use with a fly where there’s an overlap, the smaller size tippet is the better choice, as it will give your fly a more delicate and balanced presentation, which is most important when fishing dry flies for trout.
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.