Tuesday, June 6, 2017

10 Days in the Catskills (PART 1)

Whoa boy. It feels good to be home. What a week and a half I've had. People were met, friends were made, good food was eaten. Oh yeah, and trout were caught. Lots of trout. BIG trout. I'm exhausted, but let's dive right in.

We left on Sunday. The plan was to camp with my family in Cooks Falls from Sunday until Tuesday. They'd leave on Tuesday and I'd be on my own until Thursday, then the whole Roscoe crew minus Dave Gallipoli (he's in Montana) would roll in and I'd spend 4 days with them. On Sunday Rik would drive up and we'd fish for two more days and then head back to CT.

Last year I did the four days at the cabin with the "Roscoe" crew because David had invited me, the weather was warm and the fishing was good but not great. This spring has been cold and wet, excellent trout conditions. I was undoubtedly in for much better fishing. After everything was arranged Sunday night I broke out my gear to wet a line in the Beaverkill for the first time in almost a year.

After a little bit of time and some missed takes, I caught my first Beaverkill fish of the trip, a beautiful brown on a Royal Stimulator. It barely hinted at what was to come.

It rained a lot the next day. After having breakfast and getting rained out on the Beaverkill, I fished some oxbows and caught perch and sunfish. Why? I was bored. The stretch of river I had been fishing had just been rained on so hard it actually put the risers down! 

In the afternoon, however, a good window opened and the bugs and fish started coming up. I walked upstream from the camp and found fish rising aggressively to mayflies in a deep riffle. I caught two mid-high teens browns there and put a third down. None of these trout were wild, but the Beaverkill stocked trout come from a hatchery where the water is diverted from the Little Beaverkill. These fish grew in the very same waters they swim in now, and it shows. They look better, feel better, and fight better than stocked trout I've caught in other states. Both of these trout took line off my reel. The 2nd one ran up stream, hard, attempting to get into a branch. This was the NY dry fly fishing I came for. 

After doing what I assessed to be an adequate job in that riffle I went downstream to fish the pool right behind the campground. One of the camp's regulars, Charlie, pointed out a riser. It was right in front of a submerged rock. I made a long cast and watched my stimulator go over the rock with the fish right behind it. When it went into the white water behind the rock I set the hook and the fish was there.
 I caught a few more at the head of the pool on the edge of the fast water, including the one I had caught the night before, and called it a night. 

After breakfast and dropping some sedgehammers of at Dette Trout Flies, we went to check out a waterfall. There are a lot of waterfalls in the Catskills. This one was about a 30 ft drop on a small mountain stream. The ideal place to catch a native brook trout. 

It was a beautiful place in the backwoods of New York. Clear, frigid water, wild fish, and heavy tree canopy. Just a gorgeous place. On the way out we stopped to photograph a school buss that had been abandoned in the woods. That was very creepy, but made for some really great photos.

That afternoon around 1:00 my family left and I was on my own. What to do? Well that was a no brainer.  

That afternoon into the evening I found an incredible hatch of march browns and green drakes, with a few paraleps and bwos mixed in. I caught a bunch of really nice trout, including an 18 inch rainbow that got me into my backing and forced me to make a quarter mile downstream run. Not a lot of people realize it but all of the Beaverkill rainbows are wild, the only trout stocked into it are browns. The river has a modest wild trout population due to inconsistent summer temperatures but it is a blast to hook into those mini steelhead. Unfortunately the only photo that was even remotely decent of that big wild bow was on my phone. I hate posting low quality photos but there's nothing else to show.

Displaying IMG_20170530_203852.jpg

That afternoon was one of the best dry fly fishing I had ever had. I caught a bunch of really nice fish, all on top. If you were really observant you noticed the beadhead fly in the corner of one of those fish's mouth and just thought "you lier". That was not my fly. In the other side was my march brown. I pulled out that broken off caddis emerger and kept it, probably never to be used. 

In the morning I went out hoping to catch a few of the big fish I had missed the day before. This time caddis were one the menu. 

I found one fish that I had missed on 4 different flies the day before doing head and tail rises. It was following the same pattern and sitting in the same spot it had been 14 hours ago. It took me some casts to get him but eventually I won. It was a beautiful high teens wild brown.

The next one, which I had missed once the day before and another time the day before that, was really obliging. The first cast I got into his feeding lane he ate my little cdc caddis. It did not take more than a minute to figure out that this was a really nice fish. My first 20 inch wild brown on a dry fly, in fact. But not the only big trout I would catch on this trip, far from it.

That was only the start of my day. I ended up fishing all the way down to Horton's, on of the famous stretches that is known to produce big fish. On the way down I found one big brown that took a stimulator on the first cast I put over him but would not touch any caddis imitation I put over him despite the fact that he was very clearly feeding on small tan caddis that were all over the water. Maybe I just wasn't getting good drifts with smaller flies. Who knows. I did get another good brown in a place called Acid Factory Run. It took a big Usual. 

That night the weather was a bit dangerous. Fortunately the hail and tornadoes stayed to the north east of Roscoe, around Albany. But I did not miss out on some gnarly looking storm clouds. 

Between the storms I got out and fished. It wasn't terribly productive, despite an incredible egg laying caddis flight. The bugs stayed in the air. That's not exactly conducive for a good rise. It sure was beautiful though. I tucked in for my last night in the tent under some incredible anvil crawler lightning.

The next morning I would be leaving. This is just the first chapter of the best 10 days of trout fishing I've ever had. 


  1. Great trip my friend, looking forward to hearing about the rest of it.

  2. WOOOOOW! That was a great outing with lots of variations in weather, nature and fish. The trout all look fantastic and healthy. Love the photos and stories. Thanks for that adventure!
    Tie, fish, write and photo on...

    1. Trust me, they get bigger and better looking.

  3. Rowan
    One epic trip, enjoyed the journey---thanks for sharing

    1. Not done Bill. There are bigger and better things coming!

  4. Just awesome - what a great trip... Looking forward to "the rest of the story"!

    1. The first leg was tough. It gets better!

  5. Hey, Rowan! These pix and your account are sure worth the wait. Your enthusiasm is palpable and the word pictures so vivid, I can hear the wind and rushing water. But wait, a thunderstorm is building up here and the lake is getting ready for it. Now I have special effects to enjoy with your blog! Write on, as your audience awaits!
    - G.

    1. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Nature makes it VERY easy sometimes.

  6. Rowan
    Certainly appears you had an outstanding road trip! Great photos! Well done all the way around.

    1. The first leg was the hardest. It gets better!