Friday, April 30, 2010

04.28-29.10 On the West Branch, and my first float in my new boat!

Well I spent the last two days up on the West Branch of the Delaware fishing with two ex-co-workers from a long ago past. I hooked the drift boat up early Wednesday morning and started the 3 1/2 hour trip up to Deposit. Outside of a few extra dollars for the tolls and a little more in gas money the trip went smooth. I stopped in Roscoe and hit Catskill Flies and The Beaverkill Angler as I do each trip. I always like to support the local fly shops. This trip was a little different. My fishing partner of nearly twenty years, Tom Buel, decided to take this year off. He's on a every-other-year cycle right now. I picked up a new vest and some flies and leader material and started the drive to the West Branch Anglers Resort where we're staying. I am only up for the two days, fish day one, and float those two guys day two.
The early word is, well, early. Probably a week to two weeks. The quill gordons are gone and the hendricksons and blue quills are in full, maybe a little past, full blast. The West Branch is running around 650 so it's a good amount of water, temps 46-52 depending where and when you're on the water. I met up with Andy Glasgow at the new fly shop at the resort and dropped another 20.00 on flies. After dropping our gear and clothes at the room Andy and I headed up to Stilesville to fish. Just as we got to the parking access a guy was netting a nice 20 inch
brown. I got out to get a few shots of him and his prize fish before he released it. Oh yeah, the other word of the day besides early was, WIND!!! The northeast has been hit with wind everyday for a week, here steady up to 40 mph winds. We didn't move a fish there and headed down to fish above the sewage plant. We jumped into the riffs below the train bridge and waited. Soon fish were rising to the hendricksons and blue quills that were trying to come off the water. I hooked into a huge rainbow and lost him just as it came to net. I also lost a good brown on a 6x tippet in the fast water, so 0 for 2 on hooked fish for me. That night we met up with Paul and we geared up and went out into the long run at the resort and waited for a spinner fall that never came. We had dinner and drinks at the River Run restaurant and listened in as the guides discussed the game plans for the next day.
The next morning was a tad warmer but the wind was even worse then yesterday. After some breakfast we started getting the drift boat ready for the maiden voyage. We decided to float from the West Branch Angler's Resort to Balls Eddy. Just as I backed in the boat to the access ramp, John Dembeck, a guide whose license number is 6,000 less then mine- he's 0189 and mine is 6226, was getting ready for his own trip. Gulp. I tried to look like I knew what I was doing. Mike and I slid the boat off the trailer into the water and when we did the front of the

trailer stood straight up in the air. I forgot to lock the ball. Dumbass. Then we put the boat in and pulled it out of the water and headed down to Ball Eddy to drop my truck and get some lunch for the trip. I stopped in to Border Water Outfitters redone shop and The Beaverkill Angler's new shop on the first floor of the Hancock House. There was no more time top stall, it was time to go. Back at the resort we eased the boat in the water and started the trip. I started to row my way down river before I remembered I was in a drift boat, with 40 mph winds behind me, and we were headed downstream-I DON'T HAVE TO ROW! Just steer, which was hard enough at times. We flew through the Upper Gamelands and stopped at the Monument Pool and fished the riffs below with no luck. It was hard to cast, but luckily we were just nymphing and Mike was throwing a big streamer to the banks. Oh yeah, I forgot, before we got
out here I had the boat a little sideways and we hit a huge rock towards the back of the boat and almost flipped. See between me and Andy in the back of the boat, that's about 500 pounds and Mike in the front goes about 130 wet. The water came right up to the top of the rail after we crashed over the rock but then luckily straightened out fine. Thank goodness everyone was seated. We drifted down to the Lower Gamelands and found a few guys in the water waiting. It was around 2pm and we had just got stuck on the shallow riffs, so we decided to stay there. I left the guys out and took the boat myself down around the islands. I had to stay left because there were guys in the water and by the time I got over to the other bank I was about 3,000 feet from my "clients", who had to walk down to get to me and the boat. It was also at that time
I realized we were talking on water. So we had some lunch and got the boat out of the water to drain it. We then hit the heaviest hendrickson hatch I have ever seen, even though the wind was still gusting at some rediculous speed. We found a pod of fish rising to the emergers and Mike waded out next to me and I tried to get him to get one to take. It continued heavy for about 45 minutes and then I decided to get in the boat and drift and try to find some bank feeders on the way down. There were no steady targets so we just enjoyed the ride and scenery, including a

large bald eagle in it's nest. Soon we made the sharp bend and we were at the Balls Eddy access. WHEW, we were done. I had a great time, learned how much I need to learn, and was lucky to have two great test clients. Since it was around 4pm we decided to fish above the Hale Eddy bridge, above the riffs. Andy and I stood and waited for about two hours before he left. I warned him we were going to get some degree of a spinner fall and to wait, but he left. Mike found his way up and fish started to rise. I put a few down but at 8 o'clock found a nice 20 inch brown working steady just off the bank. I casted 3/4 downstream and just short to size the cast and the drift and a few casts later he took my size 12 rusty spinner. After he made his runs up and down river we got him to net and after a quick pic he was back in the water. That made my day just a bit better. I said my goodbyes and headed down to Roscoe to drop the drift boat at our families home there. It was a quick trip but a good one!