Thursday, May 31, 2012

Esopus Creek May 30

It rained the night before and the river down by Mt. Tremper looked very murky when I drove by, so I didn't have very high hopes for the Esopus.

But up at the angler's parking area by the Shandaken cemetery, the water was perfectly fishable, albeit a little murky. Irene played merry hell with many areas, but so far I have to say the storm's effect on fishing has been good, to the extent that my two main streams — the Esopus and Woodland Valley — are in better shape now than before.

The initial pool that attracted a lot of spincasters is a shadow of its former self (first photo). The island between the two sections of river is also a shadow of its f.s.

But the far side of the river, which is really now the main stem, is just fine. And as you make your way upstream, the vegetation crowds the river and makes an ideal situation for fishing hoppers.

Which I did, all day. Caught brown after brown, most in the 10-14 range, but hooked into a couple significantly larger. Kept one — that's about the median size (12 and a bit).

Great success on a hot and muggy day with hoppers, big elk hair caddis, wet Light Cahill, and various soft-hackles and flymphs.

I probably caught 20 fish all told, in two sessions, morning and mid-afternoon.

The first run as you come down the path is much reduced.

View downstream from entry — left fork murky, right clear.

Kept this guy

View looking downstream about 150 yards from entry. Far right in distance is smaller gravel bar by entry. Soft-hackle wets with a Davy Wotton-style drift were very effective in here.

A little further upstream, in hopper territory. You can stand on the shore and flip them straight ahead. Lots of trout holding close to the bank. Very similar to mountain meadow streams in the Sangre de Cristo and jemez mountains in New Mexico.

Downstream view of hopper territory.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Woodland Valley, pre-stocking report

Woodland Brook 2012  — May 20-21 prestocking report

Botchford Pool — The last flood reduced this once-productive pool at the beginning of the fly-fishing only stretch to a couple of puddles and minor riffles. Now it's as if it's been given an enema. (Sorry, I had my first colonoscopy recently and the memory is vivid.)

The pool runs all the way up to the rise in gradient now, through the same sort of shelf formation as Red Rock.

The whole stretch is now a great place to give casting lessons.

I caught three browns in the 12-14 inch range. Long jaws, all their fins, with a lean and hungry look. They took stonefly dries (fished in the film) and a size 14 olive caddis emerger. I kept one for scientific purposes. It was delicious.

I did not fish the next stretch, between Botchford and Nakamoto.

Next went in at Nakamoto, where the stream is a good 150 yards from where it used to be. I was dubious but it's fine, some nice pocket water and a couple more of these rangy browns there. Also an easy drive or walk for stocking purposes.

Upstream from there, below the Roxmor pool, and just downstream of where the stream takes a high and low road, there is an actual swimmin' hole with a sandy beach. I propose it be named the Chili Allam Memorial Beach for the time being.

The low road has some deep plunge pools and will hold bigger trout. The high road has much less vegetation along the banks, which is a shame because flipping a wet fly under the trees used to be a productive endeavor.

Roxmor pool is much the same, albeit a little less cluttered, and the plunger pools running upstream are about the same. Very high, exposed banks here; when it rains hard the stream will be the color of Yoo-Hoo in no time.

The path from the road to the stream needs work — not the path, but the area where it comes out on the stream. I have a chain saw.

Upstream of that the series of boulders, eddies and deep pools that used to lend themselves to serious nymphing, or even working a small bucktail around, are all gone, and it's a straight shot, extended riffle sort of thing. With improvements on the stream side it's easy to get down (for stocking purposes).

The retaining wall pools are mostly gone, ad it's a lot easier to approach the plunge as a right-hander casting upstream from the right bank.

A sharp left turn that used to yield a fat brownie lurking under a rock is gone in fact but not in spirit. The lair isn't as good, but the trout still seem to think that hanging out on a sharp curve, like a state trooper behind on his speeding ticket quota, is a good idea.

In the approach to Red Rock, the sort of welcoming portal at the tail end of a series of plunge pools is gone. The pools themselves are consolidated into one run now.

When I got to Red Rock at about 7 p.m. Sunday three or four goodish browns were taking something off the surface with great gusto. I threw things subtle and gaudy at them for a solid hour and only hooked one, so what they were taking remains a mystery.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Haunted Stream

Furnace Brook in Cornwall Bridge, Conn., is right up the street from Housatonic River Outfitters and a logical place to duck in when the big river is too high for all but the craziest wading fishermen.

There are ruins of an old furnace here, which makes for some interesting scenery and, more important, creates some nice deep lies where fish can survive even in the dog days of summer.

In fact, the Housatonic tributaries stay relatively cool all summer, which is why come June 15 it is illegal to fish within 100 feet of where a trib empties into the big river. That reg stays in effect until Sept. 15, I think.

Furnace Brook is also on the Mohawk Trail. (I think that's the name.) It's also near the Dark Entry property, and the ghost town of Dudleytown, where Blair Witch ninnies celebrate Halloween by getting arrested.

See discussion here.

So you might not want to fish the brook at night, on the full moon, and be sure to tuck a little vial of holy water, a crucifix, and maybe a sharpened stake or two in your fishing vest.

Recent trip — got a nice brown right off, on a big fat red Humpy, size 12. Silly fish. That's how it goes on these little brooks (below).

Very close quarters here, which is why anyone interested in small stream fishing should get a L'il Streamer rod. I have the 5 1/2 foot for 5-weight line, critical to turn over heavier flies.

Yonder be spooks. Stay out of Dudleytown.

Remnants of furnace create good deep holes.

With my gentleman's C in "Rocks for Jocks," I can say with certainty that these specimens sure are purty.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rainbows and Asshats

Lots of good early season fishing this year. Hit the Farmington this morning, the Housatonic being pretty swollen with recent rain.

I was working a deep run when Mr. Andreas A. Asshat came charging out of the woods on the opposite bank. I had achieved my position by careful and arduous wading, but Mr. Asshat just sauntered to the river, head to toe Simms, and started flipping his nymph and his green bobber right where I was.

If I had cast we would have caught each other.

I moved downstream. Mr. Asshat compounded his monumental rudeness by catching two good trout in a row. Some other cluck came down to join the fun. With recent regulation changes, fly-fishermen now have 21 miles of year-round, excellent trout water to fish. I have to pick Grand Central Moron Station.

That's Mr. Asshat, above. 

Anyway, at this part of the river it is split into three parts, so I went as far from these two bozos as possible and landed this nice rainbow, which is much bigger than it looks, I swear. Probably 18-20 inches, hard to tell in the net.