Thursday, March 17, 2016

March Fishing

Year round catch and release angling can be found on
many Catskill streams, including the Beaverkill (photograph by John Rowen
As spring approaches, so do opportunities to start trout fishing.

In California, intrepid Pasadena Casting Club members have been catching trout in the Owens River, hard by the eastern Sierras.

New York’s statewide trout season does not open until Friday April 1, 2016.  But across the State, many catch and release opportunities are a comfortable drive from cities and suburbs.

On March 2nd, I found myself at Ben Gray Pool, in a catch and release segment of the Beaverkill.  Ed Van Put, the Catskill angling historian, advises that this pool was likely named after a nineteenth century river rafting captain.  Ben Gray would take log rafts down the Beaverkill, to the East Branch of the Delaware, where small rafts were consolidated into larger ones and floated to Philadelphia. 

It’s nearly 200 river miles on the Delaware, from East Branch, New York to Philadelphia.  If people could make money moving logs from this far away, it gives an idea of how quickly nineteenth century American cities were building up!

Even though it was after work, enough sun was left to fish the Pool.  But that was about the only thing the trip had going for it at this point.

A stiff, cold wind dominated the pool.  The wind speed was a step away from making whitecaps - - or enticing surfers in wet suits to catch a wave.

With the wind, I lost interest in wading and decided to fish with roll casts from the bank.  However, the reel had a thin leader from fall dry fly fishing and the leader would not separate from the fly line.  After what seemed an eternity of fumbling with the whistling wind for a soundtrack, I decided to forget the leader change and tied a size 10 Woolly Bugger on a leader more suited to gin clear waters and size 20 flies.

Then the roll cast fell apart as wind grabbed line at every step of the cast.

With all these problems, the reader would figure the trip was a failure.

However, on the second cast, a fish emphatically struck the Woolly Bugger.  A minute later, I reeled in a 10 ½ inch rainbow trout.

Wind, troubles with roll casting, and the arrival of dusk, chased me to the car.

It would have been better to be prepared, to have double-checked the leader, or to have donned waders to get away from the brushy stream bank for more fluid casting and the chance to reach larger fish.

These are great ideas for the next trip -- or the first trip in 2017.  In the meantime, it’s great to keep replaying the experience of catching the first fish of the season.


  1. Yes, it might also look annoyed.

  2. I read with full attention! I enjoy fish stories, as you know. I felt that bit about "fumbling with the whistling wind" to be quite elegiac.

  3. Congrats on the catch and what a beautiful fish!! Yayy!! Also I like the historical info about Ben Gray too! Fascinating!

  4. Thanks for reading and for noticing the history and "fumbling with the whistling wind."