April 18 – Monday – Long Island Flyrodders day at Connetquot River State Park –
I joined LIFR when I retired and had time for another organization. The Flyrodders are all about fishing – trips and events as well as guest speakers at the meetings which are on the first Tuesday of every month. I have met so many great folks, gone on a few trips, and fished some new rivers.
Richie asked if I would mind being a river helper for the new members on the April day at Connetquot State Park. They reserve the entire place for the day each month. I met Ed who had tried fly fishing years ago but is just getting back to it now. He had equipment and experience at the Orvis School, on the Beaverkill as well as with a guide. He was recently on the upper Beaverkill while staying at the Beaverkill Valley Inn, a place that I have fond memories of. We even share a love for Ogden Pleissner’s art and have Hendrickson’s Pool hanging in our homes.
Ed and I trailed the morning group, most of them raced down to their favorite spots, leaving 16 open. I showed him the swirling pool and we tried to fish it. Saw a fish but no connections. We worked our way downstream. I offered suggestions and gave him a fly or two but he is a competent and self-motivated guy who took to the water without much help from me.
Ted was fishing just downstream of us and was having a great day. I was able to take this photo of him releasing one of his big Rainbows.
As the morning ended, Ed hooked a good sized Rainbow on a Prince Nymph, but just missed setting the hook. It was a beautiful day and nice to make a new friend.
In the afternoon I decided to fish Bunces Bridge. The tree work they are doing has the riverside path closed so I had to walk the long way around. I didn’t remember it being as long as it was, or maybe I am just getting older. When I arrived I had it to myself, except for a few birdwatchers, hikers and horse riders.
It is a nice part of the river even if you can’t wade it. There are 4 stations to fish from: 3 piers downstream and one bank-side spot upstream of the bridge. They don’t allow fishing beyond this point anymore but I recall it as being a beautiful small stream with good cover and challenging fish.
I took a look in the deep pool below the bridge and did not see any activity. It would have been smart to nymph it, as deep as it was, but I was in a dry fly mood. I pulled out my box and could not resist putting a Joe-Stack on. Tied by Joe Odierna, it has never let me down, even though there was nothing on the water that looked even remotely like it.
I had to roll cast off my left side between the pier and a bush. That was the only option other than a bow and arrow. It worked. I was able to move the fly from near to far, into the wash and even made it to the eddy on the other side. It was at the end of that drift that I saw the first fish wiggle his way up from the depths, suck in the fly and head back down. It was such a beautiful sight that I forgot I was fishing and didn’t set the hook. He quickly spit it out and that one did not come back up, even after resting the pool a while.
The next was a small guy that hit like a chub on the Beaverkill. Splashed the fly and spiked my adrenaline, but that was it. The third was the largest and most promising. He was just below the wash and in the center of the stream. He rose like a submarine and grabbed the fly. He furiously shook his head from side to side on his way to the bottom and the fly came out. Whew.
I rested myself and the pool, trying the other spots for a while with no response. I came back for one more attempt to raise him but he was not looking up.
I walked back along the river as there was no sign saying not to. I passed all the logging activity, although the workers were off for the day. Many large pines are laying in the river, some backing up the flow such that it is inundating the path and spilling toward the ponds.
In places the path is under water and in others, deeply rutted. I can see why they closed it on the lower end. The pine beetle must be a pretty bad dude to cause all this commotion.
I hope there is a plan to restore the area and return it to an active fishing destination. I was thinking about the fish that are in here, getting a year or two of undisturbed growth – could be very interesting fishing down the line.
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