Each spring for the last 30 plus years Leif makes his annual trip to the Catskills. This year he invited me and I took the opportunity to join him. He always stays at the Buck-Horn Lodge on the East Branch. The cabins are nice but could use some updating. The pool in front is nice but I watched a father and two sons set up bait rods with bells on the tips and harvest two big browns over twenty inches on worms. That kinda kills the fly-fishing mood when you watch that.
I got up Tuesday and we fished the West Branch on foot stopping at three spots. We had early rain but had a few fish up and I froze in the upper West water trying to reach the far bank. Needless to say I didn't get it done. We wound up on the East Branch mid-afternoon and had a mix of Sulfurs, Caddis and some March Browns. It lasted until deluge #2 for the day set in just before the evening.
Leif never floated any of the Upper Delaware rivers so I brought the drift boat up and we gave it a go. It's been four years since I floated the UD, the last times were guiding in the FUDR One Bug and a nice three day stay with Theresa at The West Branch Anglers. We put in at Shehawken and floated to Buckingham. At first we had blue bird skies with no wind and fish up right out of the gate. The top picture is Leif with one of the early fish.
The river was a little up from the rain so he threw some streamers for a bit but we had no takers. We stopped for lunch at Lake Lenore and casted to small fish with the splashy emerger rises. The skies started to darken and just after getting underway it started to rain. We had fish up with a mix of trout and fall fish taking bugs between the rain drops. Below is a pic of Leif's 26" brown....kidding.
And then Mother Nature got angry.......very angry..
The rains came and came. First straight down then sideways. Thunder and boomers and lightning. Luckily during my boat check I made sure I had two bailing devices in the boat.....and boy did we use them. We rowed past a bunch, I mean a bunch, of fish that were up but I didn't know if we were ever going to get out past the weather. Then it the rains stopped for a bit and I found a couple of bank feeders that I threw flies at for 45 minutes and left them rising.
We finished the day with Sulfurs up and good rising fish. Leif caught this rainbow that looked like it spawned with a sturgeon or a dogfish. The rising fish we had most of the time were pods in the larger pools with one-and-done rises over here, there, and then right next to the boat. After taking out during yet another squall we took a lot at Junction Pool, stayed for a bit at Fishes Eddy and then at the last minute ended up at Cemetery Pool on the Beaver Kill.
On the last day started with the breakfast of champions and headed up to Motor Vehicles in Deposit so I could re-register my boat trailer. We stayed in that area and had a good time with fish up early and a strong caddis hatch in the works. The fish were rising to caddis emerges and dries and
it was possible to target one fish because they stayed in their feeding lanes and came up consistently. We enjoyed that and left fish to find fish. That's something you don't do, especially when wading, but I knew I had a timeline I had to keep. We headed back to the East Branch and had the place to
ourselves. We decided to eave the rain jackets in the truck and we made the right call as there was only a sprinkle here and there. Leif snagged a water snake and we had fish up, but spread out, taking Caddis, March Browns and Sulfurs. I caught a large Fall Fish that produced no rise bubbles during the 20 minutes I casted to him. As things slowed I knew it was time to get going. After a quick beer and a burger at the Buck Horn I was on my way. Leif went back to the East Branch at night and had
Sulfurs up. I drove home in torrential rain for 2 hours and I wondered if it would ever end. I am glad I went, glad to spend time with Leif, glad we floated, and I look forward to next year. The only thing that will be different is I will be ending Leif's long run at the Buck Horn and we will be staying at The West Branch Angler. A place I have been going to for 24 years and believe is the best place to stay when fishing the Upper Delaware Rivers.