It looks like spring is finally here - trees starting to leaf out with their soft May-green leaves, weather warming enough to stop burning firewood and shed the turtleneck sweaters - and it can't …
It looks like spring is finally here - trees starting to leaf out with their soft May-green leaves, weather warming enough to stop burning firewood and shed the turtleneck sweaters - and it can't come too soon for those who are housebound and itching to spend more time outdoors.
We fished the Beaverkill on Saturday night after dinner and had an enjoyable though unusual trip. The air temperature was 61 degrees, but the river a chilly 46. As we suited up, I realized that I had forgotten my fishing vest - and in it was my reel! It had started to rain, and when I told Ed, he suggested I drive home to get it, but with the realization it would be a good 25 minutes to head home and back again, and a forecast for possible thundershowers, I decided to just watch him fish. Being a good husband and fishing partner, he offered to share his rod - and the fun began!
The river was in perfect condition - at just about the average flow - and earlier in the day as we drove along the Willowemoc there was a hatch of flies hitting our windshield. Despite the fact that the trout were probably feasting all day, we did see sporadic rises and a few caddisflies in the air traveling upriver.
Ed tied on a size #14 Elk Hair Caddis and cast to a rising fish. He caught it and reeled it in, and I prepared to net it for him, only to realize my net was affixed to the back of my missing vest. He handed me his net so I could complete the task. After admiring the fish, a feisty brown trout, he handed me the rod to try my luck.
I watched the water and saw a rise, cast to it and set the hook -- another feisty brown that took a bit of time to reel in due to its energy. Ed netted the fish for me and we exchanged net for rod. He noticed a rise, cast to it and had another fish on. This brown leaped out of the water five times before coming close enough for me to net it.
After releasing that fish, it was my turn, and we repeated our alternate successes yet again. For the last fish I waded a bit deeper into the pool, well above my knees, and realized how chilly it was -- no wonder the fish were feisty! I “blind” cast to a good section of water and was happy to catch and reel in the last fish of the evening.
In our 1 ¼ hour's fishing we each caught three trout, the smallest a rainbow trout measuring 13 ½ inches; the largest a brown measuring 17 inches, all caught on the same fly, the #14 Elk Hair Caddis, that was never changed.
Interestingly, the larger trout were in poor condition, and appeared to be fish that had spawned but had not yet recovered from spawning. They were long and ‘slinky' and despite the feistiness they exhibited upon being hooked, they were not yet in good physical condition.
Back in early 1900s the trout fishing season never opened before May 1 - the reason was to enable the fish to regain condition after spawning (brook trout spawn in September/October, followed by browns in October/November; rainbow trout spawn in early spring.) Early trout fishers realized that the fish had not recovered from spawning, and were inedible in April.
If you observe each trout you catch, you can learn more about it -- the fish, the conditions, etc. It can add much to your fishing enjoyment once you realize that every fish has a story -- and perhaps a lesson to learn from!
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.