May is a great time in the Catskill mountains. Its too early to be backpacking in the Adirondacks, where the upper elevations are still under plenty of snow. Farther south, the snow has melted and the explosion of spring growth is underway.
On Sunday I took a trip to explore a new stream for me, one that I've been wanting to check out for a while, and had scouted using google earth. I was happy to have discovered that it was, in fact exactly what I was hoping for.
I took the time to stop at the fly fishing museum, and saw this old line-winding machine. I also checked out a couple of fly shops in Roscoe to see what was going on. It was really a welcome surprise to see a prominently displayed Tenkara USA display in the store. I bought a fly box and some 6.5x tippet, a rare find, before embarking down a long dirt road to get to where I wanted to be.
Here's my fully loaded Tenkara guide sling, with enough supplies for an entire day of exploring a stream (or hiking, for that matter.)
I had filled it up with the following:
very light softshell wind jacket
synthetic vest in case it got cold
water bottle and Steripen water filter
medium tenkara rod case with suntech kurenai HM30R and Shimotsuke Kiyotake 18
3 different small fly boxes
wallet, phone, keys
The clip holding the net on is a rather ideal setup. Mounted to the strap, I had their Tenkara Strap Pack, which held:
size 3.5 level line
a medium/small sized fly box
two spools of tippet
And there was room for a little more in that strap pack. I am rather giddy about this purchase, as it came out EXACTLY as I had hoped. Now, everything I need fits in one pack and is comfortably slung over my left shoulder, leaving my right shoulder unencumbered for fishing and whatnot.
As I approached the stream, there were wildflowers everywhere.
Some were just beginning to open.
I emerged from the woods along a nice bend and pool. I had a hook up on my first cast, but somehow the fish wiggled off and so I figured I'd just start working my way up stream.
I was into some fish pretty quickly.
The weather was textbook perfect, and I chose to wet wade for the day with the new gear that my friend in Japan had helped me secure while on my adventures over there earlier this spring.
The sky was overcast but the sun kept peaking out and creating moments of intense brightness. I was using the bow and arrow cast plenty due to many small downed trees around the stream.
There were many different "types" of water to fish on this stream, and I enjoyed finding fish in many of the places I wanted to see them.
Undoubtedly, the fish of the day was hooked and then lost in this deep pool. I have lost some impressive fish on my barb-less hooks this year, and clearly more practice and learning is in order. I saw the fish I had and it was a beauty, likely over 12" and a brookie. I will be back to cast my line in this pool again soon.
At this point, the sun returned and some hatches began.
I ran into a local small-stream fisherman who had been fishing dries all day but had only hooked two fish. I decided to stay with my sub-surface options and wasn't sorry that I chose to do that, as I continued to catch for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
I stopped to have a snack here, it was one of the most beautiful moments of the day. But I had no idea what awaited me ahead, just upstream. I fished both forks of the stream and then came upon a prime Catskill waterfall.
I fished my way through some perfectly clear pools as I worked up to the waterfall.
This pool certainly held trout.
While I did manage to catch one larger fish here, most of the fish I got were on the very small side. This spot was not very far from a road, and I suspect that it gets fished out by locals on occasion. At least the healthy little fish indicated that to some degree, the stream seems able to handle the current pressure.
I had about an hour of good sun left, so I climbed above and around the top of the falls, sneaking dangerously close to the edge while getting around this natural "stone wall."
One last fish was netted in this picturesque little pool.
I kept exploring up river for a bit, mesmerized by what would be around each new bend of the river...
The sun began to dip, and that was my cue to climb up and out of the gorge and find the road again.
As I walked back towards the car a mile or so down the road, I marveled at the different micro-climates and interesting features of these mountains. I can't wait to return to this forest again soon.