Tips & Tactics #24 – How long do we stay here?

Some of us are lucky enough to have access to multiple rivers within a few miles. When we drive up NY Route 17 we pass the Neversink, cross over the Willowemoc and Beaverkill, East and West Branches of the Delaware. Then there is the Main Stem and over the mountain the Esopus, Schoharie, Rondout and more, as well as the creeks that feed them all.

Take any one of these rivers, divide it up into its named and yet to be named pools, and you have just too many choices.

Where to start?

2016 - 04-28 neversink (8)

If you only have a few days a year to be on the water, you can try to plan to be in the right place at the right time, but there are no guarantees.  You can study the charts, listen to the reports, call your buddies, ask the fly shops.  You can hit it just right or drive yourself nuts trying.

So you pick a spot that feels good based on your research and experience, and drive over to see if there are any cars in the pull off.  If it looks crowded you go to the back up plan, and so on until you finally get on the water.

As you begin to fish you just may have some early luck which reassures you that you made the right decision.

Spotted Beauty
Spotted Beauty

Sometimes, however, you don’t make contact, at least not right away.  You change flies, check your leader, switch from drys to wet, put on a Woolly Bugger and nothing.  Now you are thinking that you chose the wrong spot.  Those crowded pull offs are crowded for a reason, they are where all the fish are!

Wrong. Well, probably wrong.

2015 -06 Upper Beaverkill1

In my experience, there are fish throughout these river systems.  Hatches occur in some places today and other places tomorrow; same with spinner falls. Its all good, just not all of the time.

(Let’s assume you are on the water in a season when there is the possibility of action all day.)

If you are not hitting fish, how long do you stay? My advice is to relax.  You cannot be everywhere at once. It is just not possible, and if you move to 4-5 different spots you will never really know how the spot you first picked will develop over the course of a day. Also keep in mind that if you just beat the water to death, a short rest may be all it needs to get active.

I like to explore the water I am on, to see its different faces and places. Spend time there.  It is nice to catch fish, and I always think that I will, but sometimes I have to wait for the right time in this place. I try to avoid thinking that I am in the wrong place at the right time.

I see a couple of fisherpersons come on the river, fish for an hour and tell each other “Nothing here” and move to the next spot. Then some more come and do the same thing.  I was on a river the other day for the duration, no matter what.  If it got crazy, great.  If it didn’t, so be it. I walked it up and down, got some exercise and met a bunch of fish. The point is I relaxed into the pool, the beauty of the area, the search for the quarry and enjoyed the suspense and challenge.

2015 -05 DeBruce 12

It feels good to get to know a place more thoroughly than you can in an hour or two. To see it in the morning, noon and at night. To see bugs come and go and, once in a while, to smile to yourself as the big boys come up, right after the other guys leave.

Sure, its okay to want to visit a few places, to scope them out, get a feel for them. Over time you should experience all that these mountains have to offer, just don’t try to do it all in one trip.

Here is the Tip: Once you pick a spot, give it the time it deserves.  Know that if you spend the whole day there, even the whole week, you will still not get to know all of its secrets.

To read about more of my favorite fishing spots check out Letters to Mack

You can also explore spots through my Fishing Journals and pick the ones that appeal to you.

Tom's Fishing Stories

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