What is the difference between a river and a creek? I saw creeks that were three hundred feet wide, miles and miles long, full of trout and completely wadable. I saw rivers that were the same but I do not know why one is called a river and the other is called a creek?
I discovered that is always best to empty your bladder before you embark on a long deep wade over stones and rocks in swift current to reach the far bank where the, just a bit too deep, water stops your forward progress. Taking a pee becomes a major life decision and of course that,Â¡Â¨ Should I wade back,Â¡Â¨ decision comes just at the moment when a fish decides to start doing back flips in the air after caddisÂ¡Â¦s twenty feet beyond your longest cast . Should you wade twenty more feet or retrace your steps for three hundred and do the deed and then come back? Decisions, decisions.Â
For a flatlander like me it was stunning to see these beautiful rivers. Wide complex sometimes gentle sometimes intimidating. I never knew what they looked like and now I do and I am very pleased. I fished in the West Branch and the East Branch and the Willowemoc and the Esopus. Two creeks and three rivers. The Beaverkill was the third river. I ate at The Riverside and met the regulars and Dan the owner and the food was outstanding. I got to spend time with Mike Canazon and cast his beautiful handmade Catskill style Bamboo rods and see how he makes them. Wonderful stuff. The great Bamboo rod maker Bob Taylor came over to visit Mike and stayed the night and we all ended up at a special secret Beaverkill hideaway.Â
Ken Kobayashi opened his home and showed Denise and I around and made sure we saw all the rivers, ate well and took us to his favorite pools and special hidden Catskill treasures. I got to drink some single malt out of his tin flask. Æ’ÂºÂ
Bamboo was everywhere and dry flies and silk lines and peach 444Â¡Â¦s the old standby, Blue winged olives and Carnutas and March browns and CaddisÂ¡Â¦s and I did not see people catching fish. I did not see any hatches with fish on them but I did see fish rise and I did see bugs in the air but I am visually challenged.Â
I can cast further than I can see. At a certain point I canÂ¡Â¦t tell if I have a rise unless the fish gives me a tug.Â
I am embarking on a new challenge at my age. Re-learning how to trout fish without good vision and I am enjoying the re-education process. I have to get some of those little Binoculars to see risers past forty feet and a fine mesh landing net so I can catch the bugs and see what the hell they actually are. This is a great place to go to renew ones first fervor for trout fishing at least it was for me. I loved every minute of it. I may even order up one or two of those handmade Catskill bamboos at some point. I want the old fashioned full slower action the way bamboo rods used to be. I like them to sing sweetly with the weight of the line without a DH or SH assist.
The rivers are gorgeous and wide and clean and clear and the pools have names like Hendrickson and Wagon Wheel and Cairns and Â¡K Little brass plaques that say something like, Â¡Â§Theodore Gordon slept here the night before he invented the Quill Gordon.Â¡Â¨ There is no plaque that says that but there could be. I did see one that said it was his favorite pool. Everybody that I met there is familiar with fly fishing history and has an opinion on everything. I ran into Dave Brant at the Riverside restaurant who is still teaching at the Wulff School and he reminded me that I had not signed his book yet. I reminded him that he never has it with him.Â
No one asked me a single question about Striped Bass. It was great.
I did get to talk about the tiny crabs that hatch in July with Ken K as he saw them with me one night in R.I. and was amazed at how a great big striper could be so interested in those tiny little crabs, size 16Â¡Â¦s the size of wood ticks. It is incredible to actually see and this amazement was from a guy who uses size 28Â¡Â¦s on an 18Â¡Â¦ leader all the time.Â
It was great to be around people who love fly fishing lore and bugs and trout and still practice all the traditions and hear those ongoing debates and Â¡V it made my soul smile.
Denise took me to her secret spot on the East branch of the Delaware and it was a secret spot. She kicked in her four wheel drive and headed out across a meadow and into the woods beyond and told me not to look at the signs - I said what signs. What a beautiful place. A river as smooth as silk with little stones from bank to bank and the banks were two hundred feet apart from each other. NO people.
Just endless river and wild trout - no stocking. I did not know places like this existed in the East but they do. The next day Ken K took us to his favorite place on the West branch it was a carbon copy of the East Branch in terms of beauty. I was in Pennsylvania!Â
What a place. Rivers everywhere and if you were not at a famous pool on the Beaverkill or the Willowemoc there were no people. Just like home.Â
Parking lot - and - fishermen. No Parking lot Â¡V no fishermen. People will not walk.
Little clumps of them having a ball and just up the river - no one - and that seemed to be true everywhere we went. It is a trout fishermanÂ¡Â¦s paradise. Trout fisher-womenÂ¡Â¦s too.
I was very lucky to have Denise to show me around as she has been fishing there all of her angling life and knows her way around and knows about the fishing too. Ken was great and very knowledgeable about all the flies and the places to fish and the timing and the history s between the two of them and their friends I was treated very well for a tyro.
The both of them have amazing eyes for seeing tiny flies and hatching flies and naming the bugs and for seeing risers two hundred feet away under a bank next to a rock under a tree that almost broke the surface. The fish are always two hundred feet away by the way. At one point I was in the head of a pool on the Beaverkill, my first time fishing the river and I saw Denise way down stream sitting on the bank. Mike and Bob came out of the woods and she moved a bit further down. Then Ken came across the river from the far bank and the two of them proceeded across the river, wading up to their armpits it seemed and moved closer and closer to that far bank. Finally they were so close that it was hard to distinguish them from the trees. I waded out and moved down and started across to see what was going on. I had not seen a rising fish and I moved slowly across the river the water tugging and pushing and navigated over the big rocks and the small rocks using the eyes in my toes and gradually got closer and closer and then I saw a fish rise right there in front of them, Denise was casting and drifting her fly over him and then right when I got there she hooked him.
They told me later that she had raised that fish several times on several different patterns until finally she had put on a little reddish colored spinner at KenÂ¡Â¦s suggestion and he took it solidly. That was the first fish I saw hooked. He saw the fish and came and got herÂ
That is friendship.
The next morning Denise and I took the long way home driving past the whole of the East branch past the reservoir and into Margaretville and stopped at the Esopus.
There was this incredible little town where we stopped and ate. I think it was called Phoenix or something similar. It reminded me of that old TV show called Northern Exposure. It is worth a visit. Stop in the Mexican restaurant and sign up for fly-fishing lessons at the hardware store.
We were driving along and she pulled into a supermarket parking lot, drove around back and got out of the car. The river was right there. I mean the creek was right there all 300 foot wide of it, shallow and a tinge discolored. She said, Â¡Â§Did you see thatÂ¡Â¨? What? Â¡Â§Look over at the far bank right by that path next that rock next to that tree. LetÂ¡Â¦s get suited up.Â¡Â¨ It was raining.Â
It seemed like it rained on and off all weekend and the rivers doubled in size overnight near Roscoe and this Esopus Creek was high and moving fast but it was fishable.Â
I looked and looked and then, damn, I saw a fish rise beyond my normal non vision, vision but I saw it! Then I saw another one and another.Â
The whole far bank was full of rising fish and I could actually see them. She asked me if I saw the flies.
My eyesight miracle was a bit limited not big enough to see the Size 24 BWO that she thought might be hatching at least not at that point.Â
I turned around to talk and she had her waders on, her rain Jacket and hat on and I suddenly found myself at the edge of the river boots on rod in hand wanting to pee but Â¡K
Across the river we did go.Â
Took about ten to fifteen minutes to get across but we got there and the fish were there and they were rising.Â
She tried a spinner first and then a BWO and I tried a March brown as I could see some floating down.Â
She looked over and said, Â¡Â§I know what to useÂ¡Â¨!Â
She then pulled out a fly that her friend Dick Smith who guides up there and works in the Beaverkill fly shop told her to use as it was hot right now and she tied it on and made a cast.Â
She tilted her head and knowingly said;
Â¡Â§This is it, Dick knows his stuffÂ¡Â¨.Â
There were two fish right in front of her about twenty feet away and another one was just a tad further down stream and about four feet further out.Â
She loves her little bamboo rod and she made the sweetest little quartering cast and the fly landed perfectly. It drifted about a foot when a fish rocketed out and took it. Big splashy rise and she tightened on him and he bolted and headed across and down and the hook pulled. She flinched and pulled up on her line to check and see if the fly was gone and as it hit the surface, the four feet down and further out trout grabbed it and held on.
She had managed two fish on one cast and this one was a good one and he was in big trouble.
She fought him for a while and finally he gave up and she got him in and he was a good two pounds and pure gold with great big spots and was a fine, strong, fat brown. A very beautiful fish.
She rose her eyebrow and said,Â¡Â¨ You want one of these Dick Smith Specials? I have one more and I will give it to you if you want.Â
I want to see you catch a fishÂ¡Â¨.
I took it and thanked her.Â
I tied it on.Â
There was a fish rising in front of me.Â
He was slashing too.
The fly Dick had given her was a Henryville special with a different type of wing configuration than I was familiar with and I made a cast and Bang. I missed him. Hmmmmm.
I could not raise him again.Â
A little further down there was another fish rising and I waded down and Denise followed and I got to where I could cover him and made a couple of casts and nothing; then I made another and gave it a little skate and bang.Â
Missed him too.Â
That was it.Â
I could not get that fish up again andÂ
I was quite happy.Â
Then a big hatch of CahillÂ¡Â¦s started and the fish stopped rising.
They may have gone down to feed on the nymphs and it was raining and I had raised the two fish I had a shot at and I had been witness to Denise hooking the only three fish I had seen hooked in four days and I was very sad to have to leave.Â
I heard fish stories butÂ¡K
I didnÂ¡Â¦t see any fish hooked and caught except by Denise all weekend.Â
She is deadly.
It was time to go.
I had to pee.