Saturday, June 5, 2010

June Trout Fishing Trip to the Catskills

June 5, 2010

Just returned from a few days of fishing in New York's Catskill Mountain region. Stayed with my good friend Bill Wills, his ever-present fishing companion Frank Nugent, and my friend John Crosby.

We left Virginia Beach at 5 am and reached the White Lake area at around 2 pm. John got his NY license and then we went exploring. The Catskill Flies report mentioned that the Beaverkill and Willowemoc were fishing poorly because the water level was down and the stream was hot. It said that the Neversink River was fishing normally so we opted to have a look along the Neversink. We followed the stream from Montecello all the way up to the Neversink Reservior dam - checking out the public access points along the way.

After having surveyed the stream and getting a sense of the places we'd want to fish, we went into Liberty for an early dinner and left by 5 to catch the evening hatch. The first access point we tried, although very promising, did not provide any action. (In retrospect, perhaps it was too early in the evening and the hatch hadn't gotten underway.) The next access point we stopped at had a couple of cars in the parking lot (perhaps a better sign) and we saw two guys fishing with worms right along the bank. We watched the water and I saw a couple of fish rising well beyond where the locals were fishing.

We asked if it was OK to wade out beyond them and they said they didn't mind. John and I both picked up a fish in a seam that flowed off a small riffle and dumped into deep, cold water. There was bad glare on the water so I moved to the other side of the stream and fished the seam from the other side. I caught a few more small browns and then, as the light dropped, I moved to another seam with rising fish. I caught fish steadily until it was too dark to see. Probably ended up with 10 for the night - all caught on a caddis emerger. The hatch was made up of large size 10 or 12 sulphurs, but the fish were not taking the duns, being lazy, and sipping at or just under the surface, so I used an emerger. Worked like a charm.

The Neversink River...

We made our way to Bill's cabin on Toronto Lake, met up with Bill and Frank, settled in for the night and went to bed.

Got up the next morning to a full Frank Nugent breakfast of coffee, made-to-order eggs, toast, and jam. The Catskill Flies report said to fish early in the morning and in the evening, skipping the mid-day heat. Because of the hearty breakfast and our leisurely pace, we didn't get on the Neversink until probably 10 am. We were happy to find we hadn't missed all the action as we pulled up to the stream access and saw fish rising. We cast to rising fish. Caught another couple on an ant cast to to fish rising just downstream from a tree branch (blowing in the wind) before the action stopped at around noon.

The Neversink River...

Pollywogs along the stream edge...

Frank and John....

The Neversink River....

We had a nice streamside lunch and then Bill and Frank went home to the cabin to relax before the evening hatch hunt.

As Bill and Frank bass fished on the Lake, John and I went into Roscoe to visit Mary Dette, buy some flies, and John tried to find a wireless hotspot so he could check on his BP stock status (not good!)

We returned to the cabin and made a spaghetti dinner with the sauce Kathi had made. Bill opted to stay at the house so Frank, John and I went back to the Neversink River for the evening hatch.

The access...

John was determined to go back to the same spot where I'd don so well the night before (and armed with some caddis emergers I had tied that afternoon). Not wanting to fish the same spot, I moved downstream to a different, slower-moving section where fish were rising. I used the caddis emerger again and was rewarded with 7 or 8 brown trout - all between 9 and 12 inches. Put on a show for the worm dunkers who were clearly miffed at our catch and release tactics. Regardless of the size, it was fun fishing.

The fish....

We stayed until dark, and then made a stop at Kevin's Candy Cone for some soft ice cream dipped in a chocolate shell. YUM!

Next morning, John, Frank, and I headed back to the Neversink at 7 am to see if we could get in more catching with the cool morning temps. Although the river was beautiful, we got skunked X 3.

Back to the cabin to lick our wounds. While I took a nap, more bass fishing ensued. I was saving my energy for our foray to the West Branch of the Delaware for the evening hatch. We had an early supper. Bill cooked potatoes and made potato salad which we had with corn on the cob, ham, and applesauce. We had bought green beans, but Bill went out and bought corn for me 'cause he knows I don't like green beans. Bill's my FRIEND!

My FRIEND Bill....

This time, Bill and Frank both stayed home. John and I took the country roads through Callicoon to Hancock and then jumped on the "quickway" to our favorite spot on the Delaware. We were shocked to find the access where we've fished for over a decade (and others probably much longer) posted - No Trespassing! We discussed many covert options, but in the end decided to stay legal, bitch profusely, and find another spot on the river. We found another legal access in a new location, scoped it out, suited up and got to the river just in time for the beginning of the hatch.

We both had rising fish to cast to, but man these Delaware fish were being selective - no more dumb, lazy caddis emerger-taking Neversink fish! There were bugs all over the river and in the air - March browns, green drakes, sulphurs of all sizes and forms (cripples, duns, spinners), the occasional caddis, John showed me a huge coffin fly - Jeepers! We was throwing everything and the kitchen sink - probably changing flies a dozen times. They had just released water from the dam so a lot of junk was flushing down the river and coating the flies on the downdrift wing. Flies required constant attention and cleaning.

With maybe 20 minutes of light left, I cracked the code - a size 16 sulphur spinner. As I stripped in the line, I got a look at the fish and it was a chunk. At least 18" - and probably bigger. He surged and as I tried to get him on the reel, he snapped my 6X tippet. Damn! Damn! Damn!

With minutes of light left, I tied on a new section 6X and found another sulphur spinner. I could no longer see the fly so was casting and scanning the drift on instinct. I saw a fish sip in the vicinity of where I thought my fly was and set the hook. Not nearly as big as the first, the fish nonetheless set out on a number of nice runs before coming to the net. I got him back in the stream and resuscitated him before wading back in the dark and bushwhacking back to the car. We stopped on the way back to the cabin for some gas; John got a beer and I saved my calories for another cone at Kevin's.

It was a good trip all around - good fishing on the Neversink and the chance to fish for big browns on the Delaware.

God willing, can't wait to go again next year!

The Delaware....