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A long day in the Catskills!


Less Than Beeko
Yesterday, Wylie and I did a suicide run up to the Delaware. I have been up there once a week since early April and it was certainly my most daunting day on the river.

After reviewing the river conditions on the Main, East and West Branch, we decided that the West Branch would be our best bet.

The day started at 3 am and we were on the water by 6 am. Our plan was to start in the gamelands, find a tailout and hit the foam line till it cleared off and than set up for the afternoon upriver to await the sulphers.

The morning proved unproductive. There was a very sparse amount of spinners and various remains of the previous day and little to no morning hatching occurring.
Most of the rises were that of opportunistic feeders picking of what may come, but nothing consistent enough to key into to target and than pick off a “happy rising trout “.

We pulled stakes at about 11 am and headed to a spot above Hale Eddy. The hatching action had not begun and Wylie decided to nymph a riffle, a game I don’t like to play and especially don’t drive 3 hours to do (my loss). In a matter of 30 minutes he was able to land one fish and fight 2 others, all considerably “good size” trout.

By 1:30 the sulphers began hatching and we moved into a pool more conducive to dry fly fishing, as did every other angler that was shut out of Beaverkill, East and Main Stem.

It was going to be a long afternoon for us. The good news was that basically there were enough fish rising that you could set up in a beat and hold fish all afternoon. The bad news was that there were so many other guys fishing, you were not going to move anywhere without loosing your spot, so you were basically stuck with the fish you had.
The other bad news was that the wind was cranking with gusts up to 30 MPH , luckily this area was somewhat tucked away so it was not as bad as other that were basically unfishable for the best of casters ( a club that I do not have a membership in.)

Now to make things worse I made a very poor strategic decision. Thursday I received back from the Sage Company a brand new 9 ft TCR 6wt. This rod was an impulse purchase that I made several years ago. It is a great streamer rod, although its super fast speed was designed for the best of casters on the dry fly. It is a rod I had no business every buying and is really a waste to use as a streamer rod, in fact I think the sinking line I use is what tore the rod up so bad, that why I had it sent to repair and they determined that they needed to replace the rod as it was deemed “Un repairable “
I also had made the mistake of once reading that if you throw a line one weight shy of the intended rod rating that it helps you “ cut the wind” better.

I basically looked like a right handed, red headed step child, trying to through a baseball with his left hand all day. My pod of rising fish were safe. I stood stoically in my spot all day casting / flailing my rod and changing over 50 different sulpher patterns. I managed to hook one very nice fish, with my broom stick sage that I had no “feel “with and promptly pulled the hook. Just upstream from me was Wylie calmly fish no more than 4 different patterns. He landed to very nice fish and must have hooked at least 6 others. Each time I heard him hook up, my angst grew as I new this hatch was not going to last much longer and I had blown it.

The last sulphers had come, and the greedy risers were picking off the remaining cripples and by 5:30 pm I declared “uncle” in my head and would return to the bank behind me were Wylie was basking like a satiated sea lion assuredly thrilled that he had just kicked my but a retaliation he deserved after a few trips we shared this season where the shoe was on the other foot.

As I turned I suddenly realized my entire left leg had gone numb from standing in the upstream tailwater spot like a statue for 4 straight hours. I forgot that despite how low the water in general, that I was standing on a boulder in a deeper trench that I had done the tippy toe moon walk too earlier that day. Concurrently with my first step I got a defcon 5 muscle spasm in might right calf and with the first step, I was up to my neck in 1 second!

Although there was no real danger as I was just in a depression that was feet away from shallower water, my mind definitely began to panic when I could not feel bottom with either foot and as well could not feel my frozen leg . This was one of the best dunkings I have had, that 45 degree water rushing into your waders makes it hard to even breathe.

As I turned around to get my bearings I could see Wylie heading my way with a look of “ oh crap, he is in trouble “ on his face. My ego alone made me snap out of the panic as I would not be saved by the guy that just outfished me!

As fast as it all happened, I got hold of the bottom with my feet, stood up and headed towards the bank. I was wrecked, mentally and physically.

At this point it was a half hour of undressing, changing cloth, emptying out my vest and shaking water out of my completely wet cell phone and camera (so much for zip locks).

Now I don’t drive up there to quit after the afternoon Hatch, I usually stay till dark to catch the spinner fall, but I was beat up. The wind was howling steady now, and I was not in the mood to take the gamble that the wind would stop and there would even be a spinner fall, so with Wylie’s approval we headed east on 17 towards home.

My secret plan was to get off at “ Jaws “ and take old 17 along the Beaverkill to see if the now receded, but off color flood waters may offer up some Streamer opportunities. I figured after a cup of hot coffee in Hancock from McDonalds I may feel better by the time we got there.

The coffee immediately cured me and as we all know there are no straight lines in the Catskills we did a little PM reconnaissance. Drove to the 191 bridge to check the lower West Branch first. There were white caps and wind. Than we drove to firemen’s on the East Branch, the beaverkills influence had turned it still into sheer brown water. The next stop was Bard Parker to see if the demarcation line between the West and The east may have a glimmer of hope. Once again we were shut out, disregarding the wind being a factor, the Dark water mixing with the West Branch was so thick the clear water was gone 100 ft downstream on the junction.

We were off to 17 and than I would parallel the Beaverkill to check for streamer opportunity. Well I can tell you this. There was probably plenty of opportunity to get a good spot to heave streamers. The flow had subsided, the water was still off color but clear seems were developing, but as weird as this sounds it seemed wrong to fish there after several people had just died in the flood and the area had just been so beat up. We saw ONE fisherman between Jaws and the town of Roscoe, a strange site for the middle of June on a 65 degree night.

As we entered Roscoe, there were detours, police vehicles and army national guards all over the place. We spied junction pool, I have no picture, but it has been completely changed there are gravel islands in the middle of the pool, unbelievable!

Despite the morose my shallow ego still needed redemption so I headed east on the road that hugs the Willowemac a river I or Wylie has never fished. The water was crystal clear and we spied a pool from the car, that was empty and visibly had rising fish in it.

We parked, got on the gear and headed in. The first thing we came upon in an unlikely spot along the trail was man and a woman wrapped in a blanket in the high grass along the river. I don’t know whom was more startled, us or them. Apparently it was “sky rockets in the night, afternoon delight “for them, and a good chuckle for us.

We made it down to what I will now call Redemption Pool. There were fish rising everywhere. With every cast our flies would get head butted by trout about 3 inches long.

This was the slowest moving pool I have ever been in. It was extremely deep and despite it in such slag conditions it appeared to be lighting up. There were caddis and sulphers hatching. Spinners were on the water and the little fish were breaking water everywhere.

I swore to myself this deep pool must have a few monsters in it and by dark they would be rising. The rising activity continued and finally my redemption came. My savior came in the form of a 12 inch brown trout. One of his eyes was missing and there were more scars on his mouth than I could count. Not a handsome specimen, but just the medicine I needed to make the shortened 2 hour trip from Roscoe home. I basked in the glory of my prize and thanked the fish gods for redemption.

We hiked out of the pool packed up the car and headed home. It was a long day. Even the love making wookies were gone.A humbling day. I theorized, about what I had done wrong and how I would do better next time. Maybeow I would hold off now and wait till some bigger flows were coming down the river before I went back. Maybe I would not go back at all till the fall. Yes that was it, I will start playing golf again and fishing saltwater, that’s what I'll do!

See you at the River.. soon

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Just finished a River Runs Through it!
So that was you guys who walked up on me and my lovely local women. I thought i was well hidden! Oh well better luck next time ralph. You should have used the truform with the polar bear dubbing. haha

Fly Tier

Four score and 7 years ago...
You could have summed that up in a few sentences.

You went up to the West Branch. Read water conditions incorrectly and didn't bother to look at the weather. left way way too early in the AM. Caught nothing.(well 12" of nothing) Butthanagain, its more than I caught Friday. made a quick phone call and decided to leave again, too early...you needed approval? You were out fished by Wylie....You're an embarassment:) Wind cut out and WB fished in spots until after 10pm, looooow water and all
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Anadromous Angler
Ralph I couldent belive that the upper WB was so crowded on a Friday! I thought I was fishing the Lower Fly Zone in Pulaski admist the salmon run with one exception. That being said I have yet to fish the SR when it was as windy.

If I get around to it tonight I will try and post a picture of my secret fly.

Eagle Claw

Trout Hunter
I was on the West Branch on Sunday, not much of a crowd at all, I would say light to medium. I was speaking to a guy who lives 20 minutes away and he said weekdays have been worse than weekends lately. I wonder if people are going during the week to avoid weekend crowds. I fished four nice well known pools and each had 2-4 other fisherman.


New member
I fished four nice well known pools and each had 2-4 other fisherman.

...not much of a crowd at all, I would say light to medium.

I've complained and forewarned about overcrowding before, but I now fully understand the cultural change on the upper D. I suspected it all along, but had no proof of my theory and I think the comments I've quoted now confirm it.

The mass influx of fishermen from high-density population centers has shifted perspective, with theirs now being the perspective of majority. These people are used to crowds on and off the stream. They're desensitized to crowding and won't let crowding stand in their way of doing what they'd set out to do.

2 to 4 in a pool (even more so at the flow levels on Sunday) not too long ago WAS crowded, not "light to medium" and a fisherman would look elsewhere to fish. The new culture of fishermen pounding the upper D. daily have arrived with the perspective that 2 to 4 guys in a pool means "well, there's still room for one more."

I'm inclined to ask, if there were "only" 2 - 4 guys in each popular pool then the rest of the river must have been pretty empty -- so why didn't you spread out and fish some less crowded water instead of adding your body to those pools?

My question isn't directed specifically at Eagle Claw. I don't know Eagle Claw and maybe there's a reason why Eagle Claw couldn't seek out a spot with fewer guys on such a "light pressure" day. But I do offer the question for everyone to ponder for their next outing.

I guess I'm an old bird of a different feather. Aside from spending the last several years trying to find less crowded waters, I also find myself walking up to a pool that somehow "only" has one or two guys in it and saying "lucky s.o.b." as I walk-on leaving the lucky fisherman to enjoy what's become a rarity on the WB -- room to fish and work some river.

On days when it isn't "very" crowded, that's all the more reason to spread out and give everyone room. It isn't an open invitation to make uncrowded suddenly crowded for the guy(s) that got there before you.


Trout Hunter
JW... well stated. What's crowded is in the eye of the beholder and what is or becomes a cultural norm.

I will point out however it's not just folks from more populated areas. I'll remind you that the Beaverkill has been more crowded than the WBD for years. It's evidently viewed completly acceptable to line up along a riff 20 ft apart with 8 or 9 anglers fishing a riff into a pool. Having said this, folks that drive 2 to 3 hours for a day of fishing will certianly tend to fish and crowd more water than those who live with 15 to 30 min of a spot. They can't simply say "oh well" and go home.

In Japan, and I've heard in some salmon streams during runs, anglers wait in line for their turn to fish a spot for a few minutes and then rotate to the back of the line.

Now I will more than happily walk down a pool or two to find less crowded (and unpressured) water from any access point. I enjoy "walking" the bank (CDUN... I am actually no weenie per your definition) leaving a car upstream and one downstream at the next access point.

The unfortuneate thing about "Civilization" is that it does produce more crowding including crowding in our rivers which offer great fishing. This is unavoidable and uncontrollable (unless we want some overseer to put restrictions on us all).

As anglers then we can only deal with what's controllable. 1) try and spread out more by walking or with boats. 2) be more accepting of our fellow anglers and share more of the water... yes accept more crowding. 3) don't fish as much... which is probably not a great alternative for most of us.
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Eagle Claw

Trout Hunter
First of all, I was speaking to the description of so many guys it seemed like opening day in NJ, secondly I was there first and lastly the pools were more like long runs, I was not 20 feet from the next guy. Do you consider 4 people in the gamelands crowded like opening day in NJ ? The second stop was the first parking access on airport road by the cornfield and I walked down to the bend in the river about a 10 minute walk, one guy was on the other side, myself on the other side and a guy 200 feet down from me fishing the far bank for sippers. I dont need the whole river to myself. One of the guys spent most of his time sitting on a log waiting for some rises. So lets put my remarks into perspective as to the size pool or run. I do think 2-4 guys in a small pool is crowded. I do not think 2-4 guys in a long pool like Cairns on the Beaverkill is crowded. If your definition of not crowded means you are the only one on the river, take up night fishing.


New member
i think the water releases (or lack thereof), plus the low water on the bk and willow, have made this year seem more crowded than usual. i don't know about you guys, but in years past i have spent minimal time on the wb, focusing more on the ms and eb and even the bk. generally in the past 12 years, i've found the solitude i was after. but with the low flows, the ms and the bk have really been out of commission since mid-May, thus forcing anglers like me to fish the wb. i'd rather have a pool to myself, too, and still try to put myself in that situation every time i go. but sometimes, under certain conditions, that just ain't happenin'.

let's face it, when all rivers in the area are in "working order," there's room for everybody.