April at Caleb Smith

April 14, 2021 – Caleb Smith

I am early and take the turn up Ledgewood Drive to see how Clark’s old house is doing.  It looks a little lonely and not well cared for.  I remember him always blowing a kiss to the family whenever I picked him up to go fishing. Good memories.

Clark after a good day on the water
Clark after a good day on the water

I pull into the Park about 11:30 and take a walk to Vail Pond.  The weeds have not crested the surface yet and I can see some nice holes to work should I want to spend a day on the docks. Soon this will be unfishable.  Paying my fee I see Bill Smith along with few other guys I don’t know.  Bill has #3.

Vail Pond mid April

This is my first trip to the Nissequogue this year. I took Beat 7 and expect to fish a streamer unless some flies show up. Black Nose Dace is my choice and it is unweighted. I know where I want to fish it. A heavy fly will get there faster but will catch more bottom than fish.  Prefer to work a light fly such that it drops down, when the situation allows for it.

I start slowly working at the top, testing all the low percentage spots before moving into position to fish under the trees and into the bushes. I have not seen a rise.  Nor a fish.  Not even a flash. Water is about 60 degrees so they should be looking up. Last season there were some big girls hanging around down here and they were not shy, showing themselves boldly. Not today. Wonder where they went? I hate to rely only on freshly stocked fish but it is early in the season and who knows what we’ll see.  I will take what He provides.

An hour in and no action, I go to the closest thing to a honey hole – under the bush above the weir. Working the fly into the opening. Avoiding the snags and trailing branches is a bit tricky but with patience I manage to get the Dace in there, then drop it back some more.  The ten foot leader allows me to work it with the fly line nowhere near the by.

I get a big hit – Rainbow. Full of fight, probably a hold over.  Good colors too. I release him over the weir. Then fish the outside edge and Bang – a brawling Brookie, also with some time in the stream.  Put him over the weir as well, trying to stock the lower river all by myself.  I work it some more but no takers.  While picking someone else’s black woolly bugger out of the branches I can see at least three more fish are in there.  It needs a rest so I move below the weir.

I don’t expect much as I have not caught many fish below the weir in a very long time.  They don’t stock it. I still fish the spots they should be even though they have been unproductive – but not today.  Bang, Bang, Bang and Bang.  4 fish.  Substantial size brookies, probably recently stocked as their fight was more a matter of fighting the current as I dragged them in.   I am at the top of 7B and wondering if they stocked down to 8 or even 9.  Wow, that would be great!


I didn’t see another fish and turned around at middle 8.  I sat for a while on the bench and watched, catching my breath and feeling pretty tired.  This is new for me, no stamina at all.  I look at my watch and it is only 2:30. New stage of life compounded by a pandemic and third shoulder surgery. I ‘ll deal with it.

I walk the path from 8 to the top of 7 and notice tire marks in the mud.  Stocking truck?  Maybe. I hope so as dumping all the fish in at Beat 4 is just not good for the rest of the river. I re-work 7 from the top a bit faster, not caring to test the low percentage spots.  When I get to the “zone” I do what I did before but it doesn’t work. The day is done as am I. 

I head out a bit early, with a smile.