Each of the my last 10 or so summers have included a trip to the Finger Lakes region in New York to spend some time with family. Mostly we just hang-out together but I also find some time to get out to some of the local creeks. By necessity, these times on the water are of a limited duration so I have found myself fishing the closest water, only 15 mins. from town. Generally, I fish in the morning until about 10 or 11. By that time my granddaughters are awake and ready for whatever activities they or grandma have planned. This stream is not great fishing if fishing is measured by numbers or size of fish but it is great scenery. Here's a few photos from some earlier reports.
This stream is in a popular state park so while I seldom run into other fisher folks, I almost always end up with some sort of audience as the morning warms up and the hikers start to show up. It is not a productive fishery. In fact the fishing wouldn't be much at all without annual stocking. Occasionally, a few fish survive the summer onslaught and the winter but not many. Most of the fish are concentrated in pools below waterfalls, making them easy targets for bait and spin fisher folks. By about July the water is usually getting on the warm side and most of the trout are gone. I don't know if they re-stock in the fall, but by mid-July the fishing is pretty tough in this park.
Over the last couple of years I've found all the fishing to be tough. There is a bit of a walk into the gorge and I was finding that coming up with even one or two fish took quite a bit of effort. Since not all pools are created equal (or perhaps not stocked equally) finding fish involves some searching. I'll almost always try to convince the fish to check out a caddis or an adams but this is not classic dry fly waters. Nymphing is much more consistent and over the last couple of years I've just about abandoned the dry on this creek. I didn't end up catching more fish but I would at least get a take now and then which let me know there were still fish in the pools. Frankly, I began to get a bit discouraged with this water, though not the scenery, thinking that perhaps the New York Dept. of Natural Resources had to make budget decisions that left out fishing in this stream.
This week, things were different. While I haven't been able to fish a dry fly yet, I was able to catch one or two fish per pool which is the way this stream used to fish. Even better, for some unknown reason, I was able to hook and land each of the first six strikes on the nymph in pretty high water flows. It seems that most years I'm lucky to hook and land one out of four strikes. Something was different--me or the fish or the tackle--so many variables to consider. Trying to solve these conundrums keeps me engaged in the game trying to improve. By the middle of the morning, I felt like I was reacquainted with a long lost friend.
As I said earlier, you are often fishing in front of an audience in this stream since there is a trail on either side of it. As I was finishing up fishing a pool, I had a party of about six ask, "Is there were any fish in this creek. Are you flyfishing?" I said. "Sure, I am flyfishing.---Didn't you see the one I just caught?" The eldest member of the party seemed particularly disappointed that he hadn't seen the catch. I half-jokingly told him that I was going to fish one more pool below the next water fall up the trail if he really wanted to watch me catch a fish. I didn't think anymore about it but on the first cast into a current seam below the next fall I hooked into one of the rare holdover browns. I could see the size and took my time bringing it in. As I was taking a quick photo, I was startled by a loud and enthusiastic, "That is a beautiful fish and that really looked like fun." I looked up and on the bank above me was the guy that had just asked about fly fishing and fish this stream. He had watched the entire process from my approach to my cast to the hook-up to landing and release of the biggest fish I have caught on this stream.
He told me, later he was fascinated with fly fishing but had never tried it and probably wouldn't at his age but he sure did enjoy watching a beautiful trout, landed and released. He emphasized the release. This fish touched two of us this day.