Slightly frustrated by the early season conditions and coinciding with a tear in my ultralight hammock body, we took a break from the fishing to hit Mohonk for a day of hiking. It was a beautiful day. The sunniest and warmest of all so far... a bit too warm even. But I didn't complain.
Mohonk is a beautiful place on the Shawangunk ridge - a world class climbing destination and a wonderful place to hike for a day or two.
The blueberries were in full bloom, and the smell of the flowers, coupled with the hot evergreen trees and their needles baking in the sun, was just sublime.
After grabbing the replacement Hammock body (shout out to Dutch for insanely speedy service) we headed up to Massachusetts to find some Brookies.
The first stream was a real winner as small streams go. Epically beautiful, steep, tumbling trout water. I hooked into a few fish but failed to land any of them. I'm not sure what happened but for whatever reason it just wasn't meant to be.
This place should have been a slam dunk but again, we were early. It was still cold and high, and for whatever reason, the fish just weren't really into it.
We fished a number of other streams around the Deerfield and Cold Rivers, without much success. A nibble here, a small brookie there. Where the heck were the fish? It made no sense. Years of successful spring fishing had us scratching our heads on this odd season.
At least the views didn't disappoint. It was an adventure. And the rain kept falling. We spent some time in a hotel, and this is becoming more of a reality as we attempt to cycle between car camping, backpacking, getting gear wet and dirty, and then trying to get it clean again. Such is life.
Sometimes we even felt like we were in Japan... the scenery surely fit, as did the weather! (It always rains when I travel there.)
The water was powerful but none of the streams were truly blown out. This only added to our general confusion. Why weren't the trout coming out into their feeding lanes? Odd.
My feet were cold a lot, which tells me that the water was colder than normal. Were the fish just holding down later than usual?
After fishing, we took some time to visit a piece of land my family has near Charlemont. It is beautiful woods up there, with a nice mix of spruce and evergreen. The black flies were out, but the cold mostly kept them at bay. What a treat to walk the property for a bit. It makes me proud to feel that my family can steward this land, which is in fact protecting a few forks of thin blue line that form the headwaters of a tributary to the Deerfield; essentially preventing the land from being logged regularly or developed. I hope the brookies flourish below... unfortunately the fishable part of stream is all on private land that I have never been able to access. Maybe one day.
The newts were everywhere, and we had to be careful not to step on any of them.
The following day we paid a visit to a newly conserved piece of land that surrounds a truly fine trout stream. There is public access but its a steep walk down and we presumed it kept many fishermen out. We did see some boot prints from the previous days however, and this time, actually did not even get one single bite.
I was starting to really lose it, and I think Rob was even more frustrated than I was. How can a couple of skilled fishermen spend a day at a place like this without even a bite between the two of us? Just nuts.
We discussed the need to revisit some of these spots during prime season and warmer weather in the future - we just couldn't believe in the results from this particular day as an indicator of the stream. At least I HOPE that's not an indicator of the health (or lack thereof) of these local brookie streams this year. If so, "we" are in big trouble.
Irene did a real number on this area, and I hope that wild trout populations are recovering. They should be, at least by now. I can't blame our experiences on that... we researched a bit and found studies that totally verified population resurgences in other areas heavily damaged by Irene.
We decided to walk away skunked without getting all flustered about it or spending any more time re-fishing the best spots. It just wasn't meant to be on that particular day. The walk out was also beautiful - we followed a tributary back up to the main road, passing an aging barn soon after. This was the quintessential New England experience for me, and I was only sad to have not put any larger beautiful wild trout in my net to go along with it this time around.
Luckily, there's always next time. With that in mind, we said goodbye to MA and embarked on a back-roads route through southwestern VT towards the Adirondacks. And the rain continued to fall.