Its been an amazing spring so far here in New York State. For the first time in years, we have had a rainy enough mid-spring, which helps to make up for the lack of snowfall. Conditions have been absolutely perfect for fishing for weeks, and I've been out so much that I find myself falling behind in my reports... Now that's a good problem to have!
The NYC chapter of Trout Unlimited had scheduled some conservation work in the form of tree planting and temperature monitor installations and we set out to do the work, but also to fish the Neversink River.
The Neversink is a beautiful Catskills river, and is my favorite kind of water because, well, its as if they just stacked a bunch of small streams side by side... plenty of features, plunges, and cover for fish. We were rewarded with one of the most varied and epic hatches I've seen here in any of my visits.
As we arrived and set up, we were literally trembling with anticipation - the fish were rising EVERYWHERE. And to pretty much everything, as well. What a joy.
Sight fishing to 17 inch browns, while grabbing brookies on dry flies right in the next current line is an experience that is hard to match, no matter what kind of fisherman you may be...
Not only that, but there were some "wild cards" too, like this sucker that we saw flashing in the current and mistook for a brown trout until it was on the line. Hard to see, but it had gnarly talon marks on its sides... this fish was a survivor, to say the least.
Spring is the time to fish this river... as the summer heat sets in, the main stem heats up and the action moves into the tributaries. The fish are also often spooky in the slower sections, but on this weekend we found no such situation.
Being mid May, I hardly expected to see the mix of different insects... it seemed we had everything from march browns to caddis, blue winged olives and beyond. No need to match anything, the fish were hungry and they took anything that was the correct size, and that was presented nicely.
The scenery was also unmatched, from the car-sized rocks and huge pines...
...to the wild flowers and the beauty of the early-spring forest floor.
The patterns on this stick, where the bark had cracked and then slowly decayed, left nature's thumbprint behind for us to enjoy.
On this day I also caught what I consider to be a "trophy fish." It was a beautiful wild brown trout and it bent my rod almost in half. It took a nymph after we had already "cleaned" out the pool with dries...
I rarely get photos with my fish... a benefit of fishing in small groups. Don't mind the Beatles-style mop-top, it happened on its own... one day they call me Elton, the next day Ringo. Ha!
There were plenty of fish to sight-fish to, and we spent hours just walking the stream, hooking one after another. It was a day of paddle-tails for sure.
Eventually, after having my fill of the larger wild browns, I allowed myself to become "distracted" by a small tributary. I fished up it and caught a couple of small brookies.
These fish swim down into the main stem and grow bigger... and then some of these larger fish swim back up the tributaries later on. Mid summer tributary fishing can be wonderful, and often yield fish much larger than the one I caught, below.
One of my favorite fish of the day fought much harder and longer than a fish of its size normally would. It couldn't have been over 14 inches but it seemed every bit as big as the 17 incher from earlier that morning.
This part of the river is not stocked, and we surely had our fill of wild brookies and browns.
It was hard to know that there would be an end to this weekend on the river... memories that will surely last a lifetime were made, as were some new friends.
Below, my fishing buddies for the day take a moment to soak it all in, watching a rising fish brazenly feed just yards away. Unable to walk away, Mike said "I'm going to go catch that one before we leave." And he did.
On a side note... wet wading. I love it. Yes, I wet waded this river over the course of two cold days, without an issue. Enter the Daiwa Neo NG-400 Gaiter. It fits over a neoprene sock, and keeps you warm. There is a gel knee pad as well, and I rarely leave home without them.
I happened to have imported a few pairs from Japan, and if you'd like to try them out, get in touch and I'll ship a pair your way.
Some more photos of the weekend...
|Planting trees with the TU crew! Horse Brook is looking good.|
|Finding quite a lot of caddis at the site where we placed our temperature monitors.|
So much more to say, but that's all I have time for now... and I won't blame you if these images haunt your dreams the way they've haunted mine for the last month. I can't wait for the next time, and I sure hope next Spring brings similar conditions, for I will surely return.