Opening Day. The words opening day mean different things to different people. For example if you’re a Yankees fan, it means opening day at the ball park. But if you are a trout fisherman, fly fisher, or otherwise, it means only one thing: winter is over, and it’s time to load the car and head to the river.
Ramblings of a Catskill Flyfisher
It’s early March, soft snow falling, a fire in the wood stove. Molly is snoring at the hearth. It’s been an abnormally cold winter here in the Catskills, with below zero nights and brisk, windy days. There is a lot of snow too, much more than normal.
In 2015, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued permits to two corporations that own portions of New York’s upper Beaverkill River. Those permits allowed contractors to place multiple structures in the river.
As far back as the 1800s, private fishing clubs began to buy sections of Catskill rivers to protect their fisheries, because indiscriminate logging and overfishing were taking their toll on native trout populations.
For anglers living in central and western New York, fall is the time to fish tributaries of the Finger Lakes and the Great Lakes. This is the time of year when runs a pacific salmon, brown trout and land-locked Atlantic salmon begin their spawning migrations.
It seems like just the other day that we were grumbling about a late spring, cold water temperatures, high flows and lack of rising trout, and here we are, in September. One has to wonder where May, June, July and August went.
The Old Man phoned that day. He called me “ToTo.” I don’t know why, but hope it was out of some semblance of affection. He could be warm and charming at times, more often, short tempered and difficult. Probably related to his constant hip pain, medicated with various whiskies.
Those of us who have been around long enough to remember the abysmal releases of water from the Delaware System reservoirs prior to the implementation of the water releases legislation are mostly delighted with the new flow regimens. There are detractors off course, those that want more.
Willie chased flies. I went with him a few times and it was not at all productive. Willie was William Dorato, inventor of the Dorato Hares Ear, a fly he designed a long time ago, to imitate early-season mating caddis. Years ago we shared a camp on the East Branch, and if things were quiet on that river, he would get twitchy and off we’d go.
It happens each spring at the onset of the first mayfly emergences, right around mid-April. Anglers go forth with high expectations, hoping for large hatches and rising trout. And each year, there are the same tales of woe from friends who have been on Catskill rivers and observed large hatches of flies, but few or no rising trout.