Black Flies and Trout Fishing

Black Flies and Trout Fishing

(as published in the Mountain Gazette, June 20, 2013, p. 10)
Like
baseball and football, fly fishing has its own season. The forest browns turn
into green. The days grow longer. Your senses know the trout will soon be
rising for the fly. An annual May fishing trip only adds to this normal level
of seasonal anticipation.
Snowmelt in May on the West Branch of the Ausable
Once again,
my dad, brother, and cousin met at the end of May to fish the West Branch of
the Ausable in Wilmington, NY. Unlike last year, the trout seemed better
educated this year, while our casting should probably have repeated a grade. I
shouldn’t include my cousin, Jim Boucher, in that statement. Jim is a good fly
fisherman and has guided us to some nice fish the last couple of years.
Normally the
West Branch of the Ausable runs about 700 cubic feet per second. When we hit
the river on Friday morning, the river was running at over 2,000 cubic feet per
second. That’s a lot of water, but not as much as earlier in the week when the
river was running at almost 10,000 cubic feet per second. Why so much water?
You’ll recall that with the big storm the end of May
that ruined
so many local roads and driveways also dumped over 13 inches of snow on Mount
Mansfield. Well the same storm dumped 3 feet of snow on Whiteface Mountain. The
Ausable is right beneath Whiteface, hence the increased flow.
When I first
stepped in the river, my first thought was that if my 10-year old nephew Jack
had come…whoosh, there’d go Jack down the river. As it was, wading was tough.
The water was a refreshing 54 degrees, but would heat up to a boiling 57
degrees by the end of the weekend.
Our
compensation for the high, fast water was that the black flies were out in full
force. When I go fly fishing I can usually outfit several people. I will bring
extra waders, an extra rod, reel; you get the idea. You’d think I would have
brought at least one mesh head net, but nope. Luckily, the black flies liked
chewing on my brother Kirk much more than they liked me. Poor Kirk. It
certainly adds flavor to the experience. (Jim said that the black flies didn’t
bother him. A day later, with bite welts on both sides of his neck, Jim
clarified. He reiterated that the flies did not bother him, but added that he
never said they didn’t bite him.) Basically, Friday beat us up. No wonder that
my dad and Kirk didn’t want to go out fishing again after dinner.
Jim and I
were game to return to the river to fish at dusk. We stepped out of the truck
after arriving at a likely spot…and the black flies attacked. At Jim’s
suggestion, I tied on a “usual” fly. It’s called a usual because it usually
works. As the flies feasted we fished. It’s funny, the flies don’t bother you as
much when you catch some fish. 
Jim had put
me in a good spot where we could see at least two trout rising. I managed to
catch (and release) them both. The “usual” did not disappoint – and I probably
would not have selected it without Jim’s suggestion.
So where’s
the picture? I knew my dad and brother would not believe I caught anything, so
the first thing I did upon bringing my first fish to net was to take a picture
with my iPhone, which was in a zip-lock baggie. You can see the fish, but the
photo won’t win any awards.
Sherdan and Jim trying to find less educated trout
Saturday
started out with more of the same, biting black flies and no fish. Jim loves to
fish, but he always tries to put us each in a good position to catch fish. I
had my opportunity Friday night and that was it for me catching fish. Dad
caught his fish Saturday morning.
Kirk almost
hung it up after that morning. His waders were leaking and his feet were wet
and cold. The black flies continued to torment him and he wasn’t getting as
much as a strike. It is amazing how much better the world looks when you are
well fed and back in dry clothes. Kirk’s second effort in the afternoon (in
new, waterproof waders) got him his trout.
Kirk lands a nice rainbow trout
Once we had
our fish, Jim went to work. He caught 5 or 6 nice rainbows. I believe they were
trained fish who recognized him, recently released hatchery fish, or otherwise
gullible, easy fish left over from last year. Jim certainly highlighted the
fact that there were fish in the river, high water or not, and they could be
caught.
  
While trout
fishing comes each year to the North Country, no two seasons are the same. My
dad and I told my brother, “You should have been here last year.” “You should
be here next year” also applies. The only way to make sure you are on the river
when the conditions are perfect is to make sure you are on the river
consistently. This is true even when “consistently” means the one family trip
each year. Happy days afield.
Send me your
best game camera photos with some background information – general area the
picture taken (unless it is a trophy animal), time of year, etc. I’ll include
the best ones in to the Mountain Gazette over the next several issues.

Please visit www.sportingafield.blogspot.com for
more news, musings, and interviews or to leave questions or comments.

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