Got to do it in the dark

June 1, Wednesday

Fished the upper Beaverkill from 9 until 3 – action all day.  A few significant fish and lots of smaller ones. Most of the day I had the water to myself, a benefit of mid-week fishing.

Mid Day Brown
Mid Day Brown


Good lie on the Upper Beaverkill
Good lie on the Upper Beaverkill

I head back to the lodge and take a nap. Refreshed, I go upstream of the Riverside around 5. There are two cars in the pull off and I almost go somewhere else. Something tells me it will be okay and, sure enough, each car has only one person and one of them leaves shortly after I arrive.

I am hoping for Iso Spinners.  Dennis of Catskill Flies said to put on 4x, even 3x, if I want to land any of the fish that will surely be out for the expected event.

Big Beaverkill, head of the pool
Big Beaverkill, head of the pool

Early on there are jumpers and some hits on the fly fished in the rough water. Encouraging. I had a few Browns but no size or number to speak of.  Also no bugs.

Rainbows are usually here for me, up in the riffles.  I run a fly down the edge and, as it enters the resulting flow, the fish would grab it. Not tonight.

Dark comes and I wait for it, the spinner fall that is, or whatever will excite the fish I know are here. Caddis hatch, dragon flies, some mosquitos, but no spinners.

I work my way through all the logical flies and even put on a Joe-Stack, then back to a spinner, then a big March Brown with an indicator (which I could see), and all kinds of Iso’s.  One more small Brown for all that, on an Iso Emerger.

I know they are here...
I know they are here…

It is now dark on the water but I can hold a fly up to the sky and manage to tie it on.  I figure I have one more chance before I have to pack it in. I look for an Ausable Wulff as the oranges in it often do the trick in low light, and it has a high profile. I don’t have one in the box. The closest thing I have is a Royal Wulff. I can’t remember the last time I used one but I always carry a few, I guess because it was the first dry fly I ever tied.

I flip it into the run alongside the riffle, where the Rainbows had waited for bugs in the past. The drift was just a few feet when a brown takes it. A modest one.  I am thinking I’m not going to see those Rainbows I remember so well tonight.

I release him without the net and flip it again. Slurp – it takes a second for him to realize he has been duped – line is ripping off the reel before I know it. Strong fish. A few jumps and runs. He avoids the net several times and runs some more. Takes a while to get him in and once released he kicks out of my hand, no revival needed. What a fish.

I stand there savoring the moment and thanking the piscatorial gods for their good graces. It is after 9 and don’t want to walk the 100 yards or so out in total darkness. I flip one more cast, just because.

Bang.  After a very short drift, another reel running fish, this one even more determined than the first. Glad I put on 4x when I arrived. I let him run and take in line when I can. He moves up and then down. At one point he is turning me around 360 degrees.

After a while I realize I am not going to get this guy to cooperate. I let him run down and move to the slow water by the bank.  Once in the calm, he seems to relax a bit and I beach him in the shallows.

Memorable Rainbow after dark
Memorable Rainbow after dark

Bigger than the last one and, even after a quick photo, he speeds off as soon as I put him back in the stream. These are the fish I remember. As friend Peter always tells me, it is the dark that brings them out.  You just have to wait for the dark. Got to have faith.

I walk out and meet Bill who had worked the water below me.  We share stories and he reveals that he too has engaged the Rainbows at the top, in the riffles, and that he hasn’t seen them lately.

“What’d you get them on?”

“Royal Wulff and 4x.”

“Here I am with all this fancy leader material and you got him on plain old 4x?”

“Yup.” (Thanks Dennis)

Dennis Skarka of Catskill Flies

(Note: Dennis unexpectantly passed a short while ago and Catskill Flies has closed. Joe Rist has opened Trout Town Flies in the same location.) 

For my Tips & Tactics on fly fishing for trout click here.


Tom's Fishing Stories

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