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AzhockeydadDecember 1st, 2015, 2:49 pm
Phoenix

Posts: 11
The article below was written by NY TIMES essayist Verlyn Klinkenborg. Hope you can relate to it as I did. Tight Lines!!! Kurt

Fishing in Snow on the Madison

By Verlyn Klinkenborg

This story is featured in Montana Outdoors November-December 2011 issue

I am kneeling in the silt at the edge of the Madison River, halfway down the Madison Valley north of Yellowstone Park. The afternoon light is dropping, and the clouds hover just above the asphalt on the highway across the river. Snow is coming down hard, skidding upstream as if it were falling in horizontal threads. I am casting a trout fly no bigger than a snowflake, letting the wind carry it above the fish—rainbows and browns—that are feeding in the shallows in front of me.

Surely the brain should shut down at a time like this. My fingers stopped working a while ago. I’ve been on my knees for an hour, inching forward, catching and releasing a fish now and then. Stealth made sense when I started, when there was still light in the sky, when it was possible to imagine a creature from one element— water—being spooked by a creature from another. But now we are all one element—snow, river, me, fish, wind, cold, even the road-killed deer up on the highway, where the ravens and magpies, and a lone coyote, have settled in for a feast.

I have come again to the why moment. I suspect it may be the reason I fish. I cast, and yet I hope I won’t hook another trout, because it would mean even wetter, colder hands and the trouble of drying the fly and, probably, tying a new knot. Fly-fishing means eliminating all the variables—what fly you choose, what cast you make, how you approach—until you solve the single, irreducible event that is happening in front of you: the head of a trout taking a mayfly from the water’s surface. For me there are no variables left. I am no longer up to problem-solving. The cold has reduced me to a single hypothesis, which the trout are now rejecting.

That’s when I wonder, why am I here? Is there a more pointless act than catching a fish I intend to release as quickly as I can? I do my best, in the rest of my life, to keep the question of pointlessness at bay. But here on my knees in the mud and the snow, numb to the bone, it’s safe to let it fly. Almost safe, that is. In the afternoon light the river is as black and white as the bald eagle I saw sitting on a fence post down the road. The trout slash at the surface, big trout. And yet for a few minutes the only thing in the landscape that makes no sense is the angler. I’ve lost the thought that brought me here. There’s a vertigo in the snowstorm, and I’ve somehow let it inside me.

The snow has muffled the roar of the trucks on the highway, but the sound of the river is as clear, as liquid as ever. An hour ago, the grasses on the river’s edge were bright as lichen. The snow falls thicker and thicker still, and I remind myself that the weather could not be better for fishing. The dark sky, the snow, the time of year, the hatching mayflies—they all do a better job of explaining my presence than I can. They posit an angler and, for better or worse, that angler is me. My reasons make no difference. I am part of this irreducible event, and that will have to be reason enough.

After a while, the river does what it always does. It wears my thinking away to nothing. The vertigo lifts. I stop casting and sit back on my heels and watch the Madison fret itself to pieces and then reunite in a single flow. The angler is supposed to be one with the stream, but in my experience he never is. He is always caught in the human comedy of self-justification, always opening the philosophical space that no other creature seems to require, toting around his reasons.

I suppose I go fishing in the hopes that one day I will fish as intently as the trout that is even now rising to the mayfly. But then I am just supposing.
WbranchDecember 1st, 2015, 6:56 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2557
The angler is supposed to be one with the stream, but in my experience he never is. He is always caught in the human comedy of self-justification, always opening the philosophical space that no other creature seems to require, toting around his reasons.


A very pleasant read through the first five paragraphs. I've never felt a need to self justify my time on the river. I've been one with the river since I was a young man of 25 casting little PMD's to selectively rising trout on Nelson's and Armstrong spring creeks. When I ever start thinking about what I'm doing on all the beautiful places that I fish it will be time to check in to the local full care facility.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
AzhockeydadDecember 2nd, 2015, 2:44 pm
Phoenix

Posts: 11
Thanks for your reply. My grandparents owned a home in Margaretville NY up on hill across from the east branch of the Delaware. I started fly fishing there at 8 years old and always had exciting adventures. At 65 yrs old I get just as excited about fishing as I did when I was 8. Kindest, KC
WiflyfisherDecember 2nd, 2015, 3:13 pm
Wisconsin

Posts: 612
I was on the Mad between the lakes 3 years ago at the end of May. Guys were all around me. Then it started to snow and it was the heavy wet snow and really coming down. I was focused on a beautiful, about 21" rainbow that I finally hooked, landed and released. After releasing the trout I looked around to see if anyone was watching. They were all gone and I had the river to myself! We got 14" of snow that day and fishing was good and I was all alone. No complaints. In the end I was all smiles when I walked back to Campfire Lodge.
John S.
https://WiFlyFisher.com
WbranchDecember 2nd, 2015, 6:57 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2557
Hello Hockeydad,

At 65 yrs old I get just as excited about fishing as I did when I was 8. Kindest, KC


Me too!, I'm 72 years old and started to fish when I was 12. I have a little cabin on the WB of the Delaware and have fished the upper EB, above Pepacton Reservoir, quite a few times in the Margaretville area. I remember once, after the season closed on September 30 (this was probably 30 years ago) there is a tributary called Dry Brook creek goes under the Route 28 and there was a pool on the upstream side of a bridge and I went in there to look and this pool about 25' long by 20' wide was just jammed full of those big spawning Pepacton brown trout. Many were 8 - 10 pounds and thee were dozens of 5 - 7 pound fish. I still get excited having a 10" wild brown eat one of my dry flies.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
SmallflyguyDecember 2nd, 2015, 9:03 pm
Posts: 17The article below was written by a Troutnut contributor. Hope you can relate to it as I did. Tight Lines!!! Smalflyguy






An early rise wasn’t necessary, the season was caught somewhere between the waning winter solstice and the waxing vernal equinox. It would be hours before the rising sun’s ascent above the horizon would cast enough of its rays to warm the icy freestone flow. That would be the time the invertebrates’ would emerge from their sleeping slumber and present themselves to the voracious appetites of my purpose. And I planned on being there, to once again, present my artificial offering to their liking.

As I lie prone to the world my eyes drew open, peaking into the surrounding reality; as the sleep was slowly swept away, giving consciousness to another fishing day. I slipped from beneath the covers and into my long johns, wool socks, wading pants and heavy flannel shirt. From bedroom to living room I stepped off the short distance to the front window and pulled back the curtains of my modest kitchenette. As I withdrew from my privacy, opening the curtains to allow daylight in, I was met face to face with the mighty roar of the March lion. On the other side of that single glass pane Mother Nature was unleashing her fury against my anticipated day. All was covered, throughout the stealth of night, with a white depth, concealing the outside world and measured better in feet than in inches. I turned grabbing the TV remote from the end table and clicked on the power button, then scrolled down the screen and entered the weather channel. I contemplated making breakfast but settled for a granola bar. Grabbing the tying material from the island counter, which separated the kitchen from the living room, and upon which I had my tying material laid out in my typical orderly fashion, I selected from the necessary material to replenish my depleting ware from the loss of the previous two days. I spent the next hour seated on the edge of the couch and bent over the coffee table tying up the two midge patterns which had taken years to perfect. I no longer felt the need to tweak the patterns, as they were producing beyond my wildest dreams. With the vise work completed I assembled my afternoon sustenance by stacking sliced chicken and cheese between two slices of rye bread complemented with a container of potato salad, a small bag of chips and a can of diet Pepsi. After packaging my lunch neatly into a small cooler half full of ice, complete with a couple squares of paper towel and plastic fork, I headed to the corner, next to the front door, were my waders and boots had spent the night drying. Normally the waders and boots would be hand carried to the Tahoe and stowed in the back for donning streamside, but this morning’s wade to the car would require some snow repelling protection.

Suited up, in fishing fashion, I grabbed the cooler and retracted the dead bolt, then gave the door knob a twist and pulled open the door. The first step outside was met with a knee-deep cresting wave of snow trying to enter through the doorway, so I quickly pulled the door shut. I trudged my way to the stair and looked down at the long steep slope to the parking lot from the second story tier. Firmly grasping the handrail I descended in short sidesteps trying to avoid taking a disastrous tumble while working my way to the base. With both feet finally planted on Terra Firma I made my way to the white mound concealing my ride. I cleared the white stuff from the driver side door, hoping to avoid an ensuing avalanche to the interior as best I could. Leaning in I inserted the key and twisted life into the 350, while confirming oil pressure as it settled into a steady idle. I cranked the heat to high, while grabbing the combination snowbrush and ice scraper, and commenced to dispersing the fallen foe to the discretion of the wind. I backed out leaving the only patch of visible asphalt in the parking lot.

Luckily the snowplow had my eleven mile trek up the canyon at least suitable for four-wheel drive. I hugged the sinuous river bank road with the same awe as the first time I traveled it, only now it was as familiar to me as the back of my hand. My destination was fixed as I past by the many memories of both yesterday and yesteryear's. I had come to love this place through an invitation of a close friend, and had worked hard at revealing its secrets. It was here that the midge bit me and became the irrepressible itch so many years ago.

I pulled off the main road and set virgin tracks to the depth of the belly pan hoping to establish my return route from my parking spot, knowing that it might be required in reverse. I exited the vehicle relishing the first breath of exhilaration from on high, and listened to the profound quietness that was left to the canyon breeze. From the rear swinging doors of the Tahoe I swung the heavy vest onto my shoulders as the clanging hemostats, clippers, and plastic flyboxes sang their familiar song. With shirtsleeve cuffs tucked between fingertips and palm, I slid my arms into the sleeves of my wading jacket and zipped up against the late morning cold. The wool hat was pulled over my head and down around my ears, and the fingerless wool gloves were forced into the intersections of thumb and fingers as I intertwined both hands into a tight clasp. From the case I extracted my polarized spectacles, with the light enhancing yellow lens, and I slid the bows into a snug fit behind the ears. Today they would double as goggles. I pulled the hood over my hat and drew just enough string to secure it from the wind but not so much as to become a hindrance. Grabbing the cork handle of the assembled nine foot four weight Scott I back stepped just enough to clear the tip from the door frame and closed the doors, free at last.

Gaining ground to the riverbank, through the knee-deep snow, I keep a close eye on the water surface. The large heavy snowflakes appeared to be hitting the water with such force as to leave rippling dimples, but the closer I got the more the optical illusion started to reveal itself. I wasn’t struck with the reality of the situation like it was a sudden revelation; it was more of a slow building manifestation that increased with each repeating heartbeat. My ticker rate, anxiety and forward progress peaked at the moment the reality dawned on me. They say that only fools rush in, and like a fool my hurried pace had me stumbling to my knees in an attempt to get to the water faster. The trout had the surface covered with dimples from bank to bank, as they slurped the shuck hindered adult midges from their watery bonds.

I slipped my anxious hold and relaxed into a steady confidence by accepting “what will be, will be” and started to cast my fate upon the whim of the, often times, finicky feeders. What had started out in “March Madness” had quelled itself into a passive lamb, as the fish offered to the sacrifice. And a day of thanks will, forever, be remembered.



Deception is my art
AzhockeydadDecember 3rd, 2015, 3:41 pm
Phoenix

Posts: 11
Hey there..I have lots of found memories of riding past the Pepacton on the way to my Uncle Ike's farm in Walton. I've not heard of dry brook.

Thought I'd share a poem I wrote about Neversink River. Really miss that place. I've prefaced the poem with a little background as to why I wrote it. Hope you enjoy it.....

In 1958 I was 8 Yrs Old and starting that summer and for summers to come my parents would plant my ass on a Greyhound bus bound for my Grandma Bessie Carman's house in Margaretville NY for the next two weeks...

Bessie was a special person with a big heart and a few stubbly whiskers on her upper lip that would stick me when she kissed me. Bessie had been a widow since 1940 when my Grandfather passed suddenly of a heart attack. I always would think about what type of person he was and would daydream of my Grandfather and I fishing together. I loved Bessie, but the two weeks at her house in the Catskills were like watching paint dry. Beside the amazing molasses cookies she made....The next best thing about Bessie's house was it was situated right across the street from the East Branch of the Delaware River.

It took some fast talking but Bessie finally agreed to walk me by the hand across Route 28 and down to river side. I would spend days exploring every riffle and bend of that river. One day in the summer of 59 as I was exploring the River, I stumbled upon an old man fly fishing a calm stretch of the river. I loved fishing but knew nothing about fly fishing. And as I watched him catch these amazing brown Trout on hand tied dry flies and I thought to myself "this is for me".

It wasn't long after that I acquired my first fly rod and taught myself with the help of a Garcia Martin fly casting step by step booklet and I learned to master all the casts, roll, hauling and double haul. I practiced every spare moment I had. I have fond memories of fly fishing with Kinderhooks Mayor Lou Leggett for small mouth bass on Kinderhook Creek. Those were days! RIP Lou!

And my Fly fishing know how would be kicked up a notch when in 1961 I would read the notes and letters of Theodore Gordon in a book called "The Complete Fly fisherman". Mr. Gordon was the founding father of American dry fly fishing. The preceding summer I fly fished some of the great Catskill Rivers and Streams but none better than the Neversink River. The Neversink was a 55 mile tributary of the Delaware River and some of the best trout fishing in Northeast.


Flash forward to 1998 and I started thinking about a poem that told a story of a young boy and his Grandfather fishing the Neversink. The boy in this poem is given encouragement by the spirit of Theodore Gordon who speaks to the boy through the wind, water and trees and helps the boy gain the confidence that will help him in his pursuit of the big brown!

Enjoy!

A RISE ON NEVERSINK

We head upstream past fallen Hemlocks,
Crawling recumbent through advancing grass.
Wetness prevails from the night before,
And the Groundhog shakes his head in disbelief.

Sun perched on Doubletop Mountain,
Shown the rising Brown sip his prey.
I wait, another rise boils the riffle.
My eyes question when, Grandpa gives the nod.
The shooting line breaks the wind path,
Invisible leader curls resisting gravity.
The Skater finds its mark, spinning without authority,
Setting a course through the waters force.

Emerald moss, dripping wet jewels,
Deepens the blue green pool,
Theodore Gordon's reflection shown now,
He smiles, and the breeze whispers tight lines.

Scrambling from my knees I find
The Brown makes his approach, only to show his back.
My heart pounds and only my gut tightens.
Disappointment whelms over, an encouraging nudge, prods from behind.

Gordens voice once again calls,
Performed by the spruce needles murmur,
Patience s s s s s s
My hands begin to steady, premise clear.

Double hauling as if my life depended.
As beautiful an object of lavish nature produces,
From underneath he assaults, Skater devoured, groping,
Grasped with bent snout, out manuevering his prey.

Tippet strained, whining fervent praise,
Moving for swift water, he surfaces briefly
Seeking the currents leverage.
He educates his pupil with magical ploy.

A broken tippet hangs down in contempt, against the tendor Payne,
The evening hatch finds sanctuary,
And only the Catskills angling legend lingers in the air.
This lesson complete, the boy dreams.......
And Theodore awaits the mourning encore.

AzhockeydadDecember 3rd, 2015, 4:36 pm
Phoenix

Posts: 11
Great Story! Really enjoyed it!
CtgeneDecember 4th, 2015, 7:24 am
connecticut

Posts: 9
Thanks, I love all things about the Madison!
AzhockeydadDecember 4th, 2015, 11:54 am
Phoenix

Posts: 11
I never been a fair weather fisherman. I fished the upper Provo river for 4 days about two years ago and it rained the entire time. Never had a better time.
MartinlfDecember 5th, 2015, 1:40 am
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2958
Enjoyed the story and poem, Kurt. Thanks. One of my best olive days was in a snowstorm. Fish rose the whole day. Some good days in the rain too. I'm with you on the bad weather--love it.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
AzhockeydadDecember 10th, 2015, 11:13 am
Phoenix

Posts: 11
I thought I'd share a wonderful story by one of my favorite writers John Burroughs. He was Born in 1837 and raised in Roxbury NY just up the road from Margaretville. This story is call "Pepacton - A Summer Voyage". I know you'll enjoy it.

Here's the link: http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/21410/

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