As some of you know, the best made plans sometimes don't always work out that way. Take that big ol' brown trout across the other side of the spring creek, sipping away at BWO's and flipping ya the fin. You know he's thinking, "Go ahead. Make my day." So you try all sorts of casting angles including a newly learned steeple cast and nadda. Zilch. Zip. No fish. He's too wild and spooky and you just don't have your A game on. You finally pack it in for a day telling yourself "Next time".
Some trips are like that, too. You spend months waiting for the spring trip with the guys from the club. You start planning on making your own flies to take along. Work d-r-a-g-s on and on and on. A month before the trip you start checking the weather channel on the computer to see what the future holds. You remember that two years ago the weather was very warm, the waters were very low and the fishing was tough. Maybe this year will be better.
You keep checking the computer with the regularity of a Swiss watch just to see what the conditions are like at your destination. Soon checking the weather morphs into checking the water conditions and flow rate. You can't pinpoint exactly when that happens, it just does.
It's now two weeks until trip time and the bags are out, equipment all checked and a mental check list is in progress of formation. The weather seems to be holding out and dang! the fishing reports are all outstanding!! Fishing is great!! Great wading!! Water temps are perfect!! Yee-haw!!!!!
But then, like the spring creek brown trout, the weather gods say, "Go ahead. Make my day."
Rain creeps into the forecast along with unseasonably cool weather that makes you change your warm weather fishing gear for the stuff you normally wear in the fall and winter. Well, maybe not that bad. I did leave my handwarmers home!
You start to put off checking the river conditions and fishing reports because, well, no news is good news and hey, maybe they haven't updated their websites...yet.
Undaunted the day arrives and you head out, ready for a relaxing weekend of fishing and fun because you are sooo sure that the rivers have not been impacted by the rain. Yeah, right.
As my fishin' buddy and I finally reached our destination we saw that the Willowemoc just outside of Roscoe, N.Y., was
Chocolate milk in color.
And as one of the guys described it, "No distinguishing features at all. Just fast, muddy and roiling water at all the usual fishing spots."
Well, not for nothing but the fishin' was tough that weekend. The fishing report and conditions for our first night there were pretty much summed up by Ken, owner of The Baxter House as, "Take your life into your hands. I would not recommend going out at all. Wait until tomorrow."
Actually, he did not wax poetic like that. What he said was, "You are pretty much ****ed."
Saturday wasn't all that great although the sun finally did come out and yes, the water level did seem to drop as well as clear up. (Or maybe it was wishful thinking. You know, most anglers can be desperate enough to make even the worst of conditions seem fishable!)
But in the words of one master fly tyer, it was not a "Complete and utter failure."
Mater fly tyer Ralph Graves has been tying for 50 years and the tricks he knows go beyond description. Ralph was at the Baxter House fly shop that weekend demonstrating his fly tying techniques. Ralph is very methodical and thorough and when something wasn't just right he would say, "Well, that's a complete and utter failure." I would end up thinking it was looking pretty good which is probably why he is the master fly tyer and I'm not.
Ralph has a keen sense of humor as well as timing that made everyone laugh throughout the evening. He demonstrated the art of tying extended bodies for green drakes and coffin flies which looked ridiculously easy.
He also tied up some Black Ghosts, a March Brown nymph and then demonstrated how to tie up a parachute by whip finishing on the post instead of the head of the fly, bypassing the tangled mess of thread and hackle that so often happens at that point.
There was also his neat trick of using flex cement on a hen hackle feather which he shaped into a different example of an extended body. However, it was his tent wing caddis that stole the show that weekend. That fly looked as if it was ready to head out the door and into the light of the streetlamp. I can only wish to tye a fly half as good as that.
So what to do, what to do.
Friday and Saturday were shot so my fishin' buddy and I decided on a float trip on Sunday. I really love float trips. I usually refer to them as Cleopatra's barge. Hey, what gal wouldn't like getting rowed down the river for fish!! We figured that if the river wading was too tough we would have someone row us down the rivers looking for fish. Seemed like a perfectly good choice since we had seen Ken come in late Fri. and Sat. with customers who were besides themselves with the big fish they landed.
They even had pictures to prove it and the green drake hatch was on.
It sounded too good to be true.
And that is exactly what happened. We started out on what was looking like a pretty good day to be on the river only to have the wind god march right up that river and proceed to blow our lines all over kingdom come!! It was tough. All afternoon we were battling the wind and gusts that sometimes took Todd's fly up into the air like a kite. And yes, just so you know there were some pretty interesting tangles (note the plural there) of my line with Todd's. (Not Todd's line with mine, mind you. My casting was, to put it politely, a bit erratic as Cleopatra was definately not on her A game!!) But Rich, our guide, was quite patient as someone had to work out those artistic wind knots!
And the hatch? Even with the wind it was pretty impressive. The green and brown drakes as well as sulfurs were all over the water, the boat and us. I never realized a fly could get big enough that when it hit you on your head you could actually hear it. It was truly an amazing sight to see the drakes come up to the surface, crawl out of their shuck and attempt to unfurl those wings without tipping over. Many were not successful.
Todd did manage to land a very, very nice brown trout at the start of the trip and he also landed a second one, just a nice, at the end of the trip. I was lucky to land one by blind casting (more like blind luck), but I kept telling myself, it was not a complete and utter failure because good times were had by all and what the heck, there is always next year.