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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. Maybe to the West Branch to check for tricos or the Beaverkill to see if the sulphurs were hatching. We didn’t do much fishing.
Anyway, chasing flies is a game that anglers play, with hope of finding hatching insects and rising trout, without leaving their iPhones. Years ago, it was done by word of mouth and telephone. These days it is much easier and faster, because of smart phones and the Internet. Websites have daily updates on stream flow, water temperature, fishing conditions, and yup, what is hatching and where.
“Chasin’ flies” means that anglers monitor those reports and drive from river to river, looking for activity. If reports indicate that March browns are hatching on the Beaverkill, anglers flock there. If sulphurs are out on the West Bench, anglers go there. More often than not, they don’t find the kind of activity expected, because the reports are a day old, inaccurate, or the weather has changed.
This kind of behavior can create frustrated anglers and cause overuse of public parking areas. While there are miles of New York State public fishing rights along Catskill Rivers, access to these areas is limited in some sections of some rivers.
Here is an example of overuse. The other day some friends drove along the East Branch and reported that there were 12 cars at one of the access points. I know the reach and wonder how anglers can fish like that. With just one person per car, it meant at least 12 anglers in a pool capable of supporting maybe four. Why? According to the websites, the green drakes were hatching in that part of the river.
Here is another example. Three of us were scheduled to go fishing in early June. At lunch I got a call, and one of the party indicted that he heard the green drakes were on the Beaverkill, and he and another man decided to go there. So another friend and I fished a different river, well away from the hullabaloo. There we found no fishermen, a nice peaceful night, a very good hatch of pale evening duns and excellent fishing.
The others reported back next morning. Guess what? No green drakes and no rising trout.
Another thing that happens to folks who adopt the chasin’ flies way of fishing is they never really learn about a river, how to read water and the patience required to become a really good angler. When chasin’ flies folks check a spot, if there are too many fishermen, or no rising fish, they go somewhere else.
When I speak to friends, it not uncommon to learn that they started at the Willowemoc, then checked the Beaverkill, finally the East Branch and reported no flies. They never fished! All of this hi-tech fishing information is part of the “instant gratification” world that we now live in.
Anglers who can stay out of it and just go to the river and take what it has to offer, and are willing to learn about it, will find in the long run they will do a lot better than chasin’ flies.