Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Fishing’ category

Moving to Camping on The Battenkill

Sunday, July 6, 2019

While we were breaking camp, John Donovan came up to say goodbye. His group across the road had fished last night in the rain, but had little luck. They have a very nice group that rents a cabin here every year. John said he envied us – being able to travel and fish on a trip like this. We said you have to be old like us, but we do feel very fortunate.


It was a pretty, 3-hour drive north, past Tolland State Forrest, up I90 and Rt.7. Arriving at the campground early, we dropped the trailer at a nearby park and ran errands. We drove 12 miles south to the Bennington Walmart. It is a well-organized store, so we were pretty efficient getting what we needed. We filled up with gas, got a milkshake and went to the liquor store. By the time we had lunch and hooked up the trailer, it was time to check in. 

We found our site, set up and drove north to check out the Orvis store and Outlet. This is the Orvis home, where it all got started. They have the corporate offices, their biggest store, a fly fishing school, complete with stocked ponds, and an outlet for older items. These are all beautiful buildings in the also beautiful town of Manchester, VT. Mostly they come for the cool summer air and the Battenkill River.


We entered the store with our mouths agape. It’s huge with hunting and fishing gear on the ground floor and home and pets on the second floor. We love Orvis stuff, all of it! There is a department for shotguns – beautiful shotguns. 

Despite the distractions, we headed for the fishing department and met Sooner. No, he is not from Oklahoma. He gave us some great tips on fishing the Battenkill. He showed us places to go on Google Maps on his computer. Then he showed us what he likes to use and how he fishes them. Apparently, the average fisherman catches two trout a day on the Battenkill. The fish see a lot of fishermen. It is not stocked in Vermont, so they are wild and they are finicky. Of course we bought more flies, and I bought a braided leader. As we were heading out, Sarah also gave us some tips and a printed map. She suggested fishing Roaring Branch where native Brookies live. Maybe we would fish the Battenkill this evening in camp. Tomorrow we would fish it on the New York side, since they stock it. In the afternoon, we might try Roaring Branch. One day is not enough time!


We headed over to check out the outlet store. There were two floors of marked down items – rods, flies, clothes, home and pets. Tempting, very tempting, especially pants for $29 and half-priced fly rods. I could spend a half day here……and a lot of money.


Late in the afternoon, we went behind the trailer to the beautiful stream and fished for an hour. It was the end of 4th of July week. Between canoes, inner tubes and fishermen, these fish are laying low. 



Fishing The Farmington River

Saturday, July 6, 2019

We had one day to fish the Farmington River. After cruising the road along the river, we found a spot where there weren’t other fishermen. There is an island with a couple of small runs and the main branch. I fished the first small run for 30 minutes, changing flies a couple of times, but no luck. It’s a beautiful run though. Crossing an island, I fished the second small run that looked like a good-sized trout stream with a great run and pool. No luck. 


I walked around the end of the island and saw Kelly sitting on a rock changing flies. A fast rapid separated us, so I couldn’t hear what he was saying. He pointed behind him and yelled, “Ducks”. What? I fished the fast water for a few minutes, then walked up the side and crossed at the top of the rapid to see what he was talking about. He was now back up and casting to a shady side of the river. A hen mallard was busily feeding on moss covering rocks under water. Five of her young ones were huddled on a rock right behind where Kelly was sitting. I took pictures as I slowly approached. The mother didn’t care, and the young ones didn’t seem to either. I walked right up to the rock. They were so cute all huddled up together on a warm, sun-drenched rock in the middle of the river. 


The water was cool, maybe 55 degrees. We chose to fish without waders. It’s July, and it was going to be hot today. Maybe these little ducks didn’t have all their down yet. 

We had this nice section to ourselves. Nice houses lined the other side of the river. There was shade from trees along the bank. The current ran down that side, and it was about waist-high. I know because I had to go retrieve a fly stuck on a branch. 


Changing flies a number of times, we fished our way up to another rapid. It was pretty, with beautiful water. On a hot summer day, it’s a nice way to spend the morning. You would think some stupid, little trout would take a fly, but there was never an approach to a fly. We did see a couple rise and then disappear. 

By mid-day we were tired and hungry, so we went back to camp. We walked across the campground road to see if we could get to the river. Two guys were getting settled at a cabin, one of which had waders on. We asked how they did, and it was similar to our morning. They are from Connecticut and knew the river well, saying the time to fish is from 6:00 to 8:30, and there is always a hatch. “What do you use?” we asked. “Whatever is hatching.” he said. “Caddis, BWO’s, sulphurs, ISO’s”. 

We went over to explore the river. There is a huge pool, appropriately called The Campground Pool. A path as big as a road goes up and down the river. With renewed enthusiasm, we returned to camp and resorted flies, put boxes in our vests and adjusted our leaders. The weather report called for a thunderstorm at 4:00, but clear at 6:00, which would be perfect. It was hot and muggy without a breath of air moving, a perfect recipe for a storm. Sitting under the awning, I leaned my head back against the trailer and took a nap.

A black cloud approached with thunder in the distance. We scrambled around, putting fishing gear in the truck and the rest under the awning. Then with lightening and thunder, it started pouring rain. The wind and cooling temperatures were welcome. This could be the perfect conditions for good fishing later, but it didn’t happen. The rain continued until dark.

After a dinner of pork chops, potatoes and a salad, we cleaned up and I went to bed. I was asleep in three minutes. Kelly went over to talk with the fishermen across the street.


Moving to The Farmington River

Friday, July 5, 2019

It was only a 40 minute drive to the American Legion Campground on the Farmington River in Barkhamsted, CT, so we had a relaxing start to the day. We fixed a big breakfast of eggs, sausage and blueberry pancakes. As we left the campground, dumpsters were overflowing from the 4th of July crowds. It takes about an hour to get everything ready for travel, but we still arrived at the campground at 10:15 and check-in wasn’t until 1:00. 


On the advice of the campground staff, we drove into New Hartford looking for UpCountry Sportfishing “in a big, red building. There were several big, red buildings, so we parked the truck and trailer in a construction site. Walking up the street, we couldn’t find it, so we went into the very nice Rock Shop. The nice lady/owner said she knew the fly shop well. It was a mile away. She said her husband was a famous author of trout fishing. There was a copy of his book on the table. I was flipping through it when Paul Rossman walked in. His book is Creative Salmon Fly Art. We looked around the shop as we talked. Thanking this interesting couple, we drove a mile to UpCountry Sportfishing.


Taken from their website



Is that Woodstock above the Snoopy sign??

It’s a great shop. The white board listed flies for the river as well as other rivers. We had some of these flies, but we picked out some more, along with a small fly box. I labeled it as I put flies in. A nice young man, Brayson, helped me choose some leaders. The braided leaders were all gone. He gave me some tips on where to go and what to use. It was obvious he was a fisherman and knew what he was talking about. It was July 4th weekend and the shop was busy. Serious fishermen were buying with a purpose, wanting to get on the river as soon as possible.


With flies, fly boxes and leaders in hand, Torrey came up and answered a few questions. He then proceeded to give us a ton of information about the river, how to fish it, water temperatures in different sections and what times of day to fish with different flies. Closer to the dam, the waters will be colder, which is great for fishing this time of year. Water temperature is about 50 degrees in the “kill and grill section”, he said. In the middle section it is about 60. This is all catch and release. Their website is excellent, and gives conditions and temperatures: With renewed enthusiasm, we talked about where we had been. Both Brayson and Torrey said we would have done better on the Deerfield River than the Westfield. 

We ate lunch in a pretty, little park across the street and discussed the strategy. It was still not time to check-in, so after some searching, we found the unmarked dump station that also served as a fishing parking spot. We parked the trailer at our site, but my solar system software has an irritating glitch. It keeps thinking we are fully-charged when it is not, and moves to “float” mode. #@%&#. I moved the trailer into the sun and reset the breaker.


Gearing up, a fisherman walked by. We asked him if he had any luck. “No”, he said. “It’s too hot. I think I’ll wait until later.” He is from Connecticut and knows the river well. He talked about what he uses, where we had been and where he likes to fish. He is an electrician, so we talked about that a bit. Kelly’s son, Hunter, is an electrician. We invited him for cocktails later, but he was staying somewhere else. 

We joined four other fishermen on a stretch in the campground. A party of people were sitting on the edge of the river in the shade, enjoying the scenery. We took our spot and began fishing. Nothing was rising. There was no hatch. Two fish were caught downstream and one upstream. Changing flies five times, we had no luck. Several beer cans floated by, them the tubers began floating by, apologizing as they passed. It’s a gorgeous river, but this is not my cup of tea. I went back to the trailer, moved it to a level spot, built a fire and tried to find out where the glitch in the solar software. I changed a setting from battery protect to always on, but I have no idea what I am doing. I called AM Solar, but it’s July 4th weekend. They were closed.


The Westfield River

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The East Branch of the Westfield River was too warm for fishing yesterday, so our plan was to fish the tailwaters of the Westfield River. It was July 4th, a terrible time for trout fishing, but a tailwater stream comes out of the bottom of a dam, so the water is cold. 

Driving out of Tolland State Park, there was a line of waiting cars. People were walking and talking around the cars. Slowly driving around the corner, the line continued for half a mile and judging from the animated conversations going on around us, most were Spanish speaking. The park is on a large lake, with a beach and a campground. For $5 a day, you can spend the day at the beach. A campsite is $27 a night, and they are large sites. A young man walked up the line of cars, handing out registrations. A truck came down our side of the road and seemed unwilling to back up. There was a space between cars in the long line, so I backed up so he could get in it. He was a park ranger. People came up to his truck to ask questions. We were amazed at the line as we drove out. 


Driving up the Westfield main branch, we passed a park on the river. It was packed. People were parking across the street. We turned to Wrightsville dam, but two police cars blocked the road. The officer said they couldn’t allow anyone else in, as it was full. “Are they fishing?” we asked. “No, no one is fishing.” he said with a grin. He suggested fishing below Littleville Lake nearby.

We found the very pretty lake with a small stream flowing out below. We found a parking spot on the main branch behind an old sedan. A family was cooling off in the river. The young father came up to check on his car. We told him we were going to fish upstream of them. He could see we were old, decked out in fishing gear and harmless, so he nodded with a small smile.


As we started up the small branch of the Westfield, Kelly fished ahead. I walked around the shallow side of a small island. I have never seen so many crayfish in my life, and there were some big ones. Crayfish, crawfish, crawdads or mountain lobsters are common in many streams, but this is a crayfish farm! Why on earth would a trout take any fly in my box when it could dine regularly on lobster? This pretty, little stream was warm – too warm, and slippery. We fished it up to the bridge and never saw a fish. 


We got out in someone’s yard to walk up to the road. I saw a lady on the porch and asked if we could walk across. She yelled for her husband. John came to greet us, saying it was fine. “Did you catch anything?” he asked. He said the water gets to warm to even swim in the summer. He had build a small dam to make a little swimming hole, but he said the water comes off the top of the lake. Sheez, the top of the lake! So this is not a tailwater stream – only the one below Wrightsville Dam. He smiled and told us about all the work he had done on this pretty house that was built in the 1800’s. We thanked him and began our long walk in the hot sun back to the car. There was a lot of traffic on this little country road. A car with a Spanish-speaking family stopped to ask directions to a park. 

As we crossed a bridge over the main Westfield, two police cars blocked the road. Traffic was backed up as far as we could see. A nice police officer told us it would be about five minutes while a worker cut a downed power line. So many people were trying to find a place to cool off. Like us, they thought they were getting away in the countryside. God knows what it was like at the ocean beaches. 


We were concerned we might not be able to get back to our campsite, but that was fine. As we drove into the park, this end of the lake was filled with boats gathered to party. We thought it would be terribly hot in the trailer, but it wasn’t. Our big, shady site was very comfortable. We showered and watched Enemy at The Gates, an excellent, riveting WWII movie. It was nice to relax a bit. After cocktails, we fixed a nice dinner of trout, new potatoes and sautéed spinach. Across the street was a big gathering of Latinos. Different people stood in the middle telling stories. Why couldn’t I make myself learn Spanish? I’m guessing the stories would have been fascinating. 

Fishing The East Branch of The Westfield River

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

It was and hour drive over to the East Branch, plus a stop for ice and a breakfast sandwich at a gas station. We took a quick look at Chesterfield Gorge, a pretty spot on the river, but we were excited to get fishing. It was already 9:30 and warming up. 


We drove down the bumpy, dirt road, passing a couple of cars a photography team and some dog-walkers. It would be a great place to walk or ride a bike. We drove down a mile or so and parked. Kelly is always geared up first and had to wait for me. I followed, waiting to put a fly on until I got a look at the river. He was fishing on top, so I put on a nymph. I hate fishing nymphs, but it was probably our best chance of catching fish. The river is gorgeous, with huge boulders, swift runs and big pools. It’s easy casting with little in the way. Big rocks make great platforms to stand on and cast. 


The water was warm – no cooler than a good smallmouth stream. This is not a good thing for trout. The river is a bit treacherous to walk in with silt covering the rocks, making it very slippery. We changed flies a lot and fished hard for two hours. No hits, no runs, no errors, so we decided to go downstream a ways. 

A nice fisherman was driving back up and stopped to chat. He hadn’t done anything either, starting where a gate blocks the road. He was going to try going upstream, so we went down. After parking, we walked down a half mile and started fishing. Nothing. I mean it’s July, and that’s not good for trout fishing. We were sitting on a big rock when I noticed a bike-rider with his shirt unzipped climbing down the bank toward us. We said hello as George approached us. “Did you lose a fishing rod? A walker found one in the road.” Kelly said it could be his. Did he set it on top of the truck toolbox and leave it there? “What color was it?” George asked. “What color line did it have on it?” Amazing how you can fish a rod for 30 years and not know what color it is. It was his father’s Orvis rod. We had noticed a group or groups of walkers along the road above us. George said the walker might leave it with the park attendant, but there was none today.

I scrambled up the bank as they were talking and walked quickly back to the truck to see if his rod was in the back. It wasn’t. By then Kelly was walking up. We got in the truck, hoping to catch this walker before he left the area. Backing up 300 yards, we found a place to turn around. A Jeep was coming down the road and had to back up to a spot we could pass each other. We passed several groups of walkers, but no fishing rod. Then a biker with two dogs stopped us. It was a bit hard to tell what he was talking about. As a dentist, I was focusing on the missing teeth. He was a fit-looking older guy with no shirt on. Apparently there was a car with a dead battery. We had only passed one parked car, a Jeep. “Was that it”, Kelly asked. “No, it’s up a side road. I remembered a road turning up the mountain. “We’ll come back, but first we need to look for a lost fishing rod.” we said. He was still talking as we hurried off. Hurried is a stretch. This road is rough, and 10mph is top speed with a lot of bouncing. We’ll probably break something in the back, we said.

One more group – no rod, but in the next group, a bearded man about our age had the rod. Kelly thanked him profusely. “Thank God”. We turned around and drove back down the road to find the car with a dead battery. Catching up to the bike-rider with two dogs. It was his truck, a new Toyota. He must have left something on, maybe a light or something. He said he would lead the way to where he was camped for several days. Shades of Deliverance went through our minds. The two of us could take him, but suppose he had a friend up there with a gun. He could ride the bike faster than we could drive the truck, but we followed him to the  turnoff. He said it got a bit narrow at one point. Looking back, he said, “Boy, that’s a big truck!” We have driven much tougher roads, but a log narrowed it at one point. It was a bit of a struggle getting by, and his directions weren’t great.

Finally we saw the new, red Toyota truck. Of course it was pointed away from us. We quickly surveyed the area for others. Dogs are usually good indicators, and these were two very nice dogs. If they were pit bulls, as so many people seem to have, we wouldn’t have followed him. 

We had to clear all his camping gear, coolers, stoves and bags out of the way. Then we pushed his truck backward so I could get my truck around a fire pit to his hood. “You want a beer?” he asked. He was constant chatter, and I wasn’t here for chatter. Steve was his name. He said, “Oh you don’t drink?” “No, we drink – just not beer”. The cute, little puppy kept jumping up my leg, looking for attention. 


Fortunately I have long jumper cables, but they’re not so easy to clamp on my battery. First try, no effect. There was just clicking. May be the starter, I suggested. “No” Steve said “They really service this truck well. I’m sure it’s the battery. It has so many electrical gadgets and technology, I’m sure it was my mistake leaving something on.” Tightening the clamps, we tried again with no effect. “Let it run a while to charge it”, he said, and the chatter kept flowing. Noticing a hanging trash bag, I asked about bears. That led to a couple of bear stories. Steve likes to camp in remote places, not that this is really remote, but if you like to bike and walk, this is a good place. “Try it again”, I said while he was still talking. Still clicking. The starter, I thought.

I checked the connections and found the one on my battery had come loose. “Try it again” I said. He said, “Leave it a few minutes and let it charge some more. Are you guys in a hurry?” He was drinking a beer, and still talking. Thankfully, on the next try, his truck started. He thanked us profusely as we wrapped up the cables and put them back in the truck. It was a bit tricky turning around, but we finally made it. Heading down the mountain, he was still talking, thanking us. Now safe, we realized not many were going to come up this road to help Steve, and we were glad we did. Not many people were going to come down to the river and ask if we had lost a fishing rod either, so we had paid if forward. The fishing wasn’t much, but it was an adventure.

We started to drive to a fly shop in Deerfield, but the bridge was out. It was 45 minutes north and we were an hour from camp. That’s enough for one day, so we turned around and headed home. Charlie had called as we left the Beaverkill. What a nice guy! He said the Deerfield was great, and gave us the name of a great guide. Looks like we aren’t going to make that one this trip. 


Fishing The Beaverkill River

Monday, July 1, 2019

We tried to organize our flies and label them. The trouble is we buy these flies, put them our fly boxes and then never can remember what they are or where we are supposed to fish them. Some are works of art. Some are classics and some are specific to a stream.


It was our last full day here, and we wanted to devote it to the Beaverkill right in front of us. We walked out our door and went fishing, Kelly going up to the pool above, while I opted to fish faster water in front of us. Wading a third of the way across, I began casting. There was nothing rising, and I could see no hatch. I had my big rod, a 6-weight, 10’ Orvis Helios 2 with a 12 foot leader. It’s a beast that I bought for steelhead, small salmon and largemouth bass. My other rod is a 7’4” 4/5 weight that is too small for this stream. Well, maybe not for the majority of fish you might catch, but there are big ones here.


On the 5th cast, the end of my rod fell in the water. I’ve never had a rod come apart on a cast. It’s a 4-piece rod and half of it was in the water. As I retrieved it, I saw it was broken and had not just come apart. Orvis rods are expensive, but they will fix or replace a broken rod. I walked upstream to tell Kelly. Jeff was on the bank watching. I held up my broken rod, and he said, “I hope that’s not going to stop you from fishing!” I said, “Which end should I use?” 


I went into Beaverkill Angler, and Orvis dealer. Matt smiled and examined the rod. He said they would send it to Orvis and they would rebuild it and send it to me. It’s the busy season so it would take three weeks. %#@*#. What is a stupid fisherman supposed to do? With two more weeks of fishing, I needed another rod. Matt showed me two 5-weight rods and took me across the street to try them. He also gave me some tips to improve my casting. Be stronger on the take up, drag it a bit going forward and release it higher. If I could just keep the vision of Matt’s easy casting stroke in my mind, maybe I would get better. I walked out with a new rod, reel and line and a lot lighter in the wallet, but I was back in the game.


We needed groceries, so while I was in town, I did some shopping. It was lunchtime by the time I got back. Kelly came up and we traded stories. He had hooked “a hog”, but after 10 minutes it got off. He said all the time he was thinking about how he would get a picture for the blog. I was gone and he doesn’t carry his phone while he is fishing. 


After a trip downstream to a recommended pool, we returned to camp and fished out our door. With my new rod, I fished the same spot I was in this morning. As the sun went behind the mountain, fish started rising and splashing – not regularly, but there were plenty of them, and I had targets. I used everything I had bought and several others and only got one fish to splash at a caddis fly. I could see teeny flies in the air, but nothing on the water. They seemed to be feeding a bit on top and a bit underneath, but I just couldn’t get anything to work. Neither could Kelly.

We came back in, took off the gear and fixed a drink. We borrowed two chairs from our neighbor and took them to the edge of the stream to watch. Now we could see #12 size brown or tan flies floating on the water. There were plenty of those teeny flies flying around too. We watched the brown ones float down, and every now and then a fish would take one. It was a beautiful, cool evening. Kelly, a non-technology guy, said he wanted to FaceTime his son, Kelly, searching his phone for the app. Finally he got it to work and Kelly answered. He was probably at dinner when we called. He couldn’t see any video, but we could talk, describing the scene. After a while, he said, “Hey I can see it! I just saw a fish jump!” We had seen that fish rising with some regularity all evening, just 15 feet from shore. 

Fishing Upper Willowemoc Creek

Sunday, June 30, 2019

It’s amazing how it cools off here at night. At some time during the night, with the windows open, I pull up the blanket. The only sound is the flow of the Beaverkill 15 feet away.

Charlie, who we met on the East Fork of the Delaware River, recommended fishing the top of Willowemoc Creek if we wanted to catch a lot of small Brook Trout. We stopped into Dette Flies in Livingston Manor. Of course we bought more flies. Most of the interest is in the lower Willowemoc, where the fish are bigger. A nice young lady told us where to go and what to fish with. A young man brought in a broken rod he had rented while others were asking about where to go and what to fish with. This is a nice store with everything you need. As Kelly talked to her, I looked at their rod collection. 


We took a short drive to “The Power Lines Pool” and checked it out. It was Sunday and 5 cars were in the parking lot, one with a camper. We explored the pool and downstream. It’s a beautiful river, but the wind was blowing hard. The combination of a lot of fishermen and wind makes it pretty tough, so we opted to go way upstream.

It’s a pretty good drive to the upper Willowemoc. The river is beautiful in its entire length. We missed a turn and passed a sign for fishing Fir Brook. It’s a gorgeous, little creek that looks like a spring creek with crystal clear water with beautiful vegetation surrounding it. That wasn’t our destination, but why not give it a quick try. It was obviously fished and walked a lot. We had no immediate luck, so after 30 minutes we got back on track for Willowemoc Creek.


As Charlie suggested, we drove as far as we could and parked. He didn’t say whether to fish up or down. We fished a few nice pools down before deciding to fish up. It’s a small stream and a bit difficult to fish, but we did OK. We caught about 15 small Brook Trout and probably lost 15 more, several of which were nice ones. Finally we ran out of stream and got out. 


We knew the road was on our right, so we started walking that way, but couldn’t find a road. Walking back down the stream would be difficult and time-consuming, so we plodded through the woods. Of course thoughts of being lost enters your mind, but we reminded ourselves we were between the stream and the road. Finding a woodland road, we followed it. It was probably a 4-wheeler road used for hunting, so who knows where it might go. Fortunately, it came out on our road. Then it was probably a 2-mile walk back to the truck. We were tired when we got there.

As we drove back, we thought about all the flies we have bought and haven’t even fished many of them. We keep falling back to what we know best – small streams.

Fishing Trout Brook

Several have said all the feeder streams in this area have native Brook Trout. We chose Trout Brook. We didn’t know where to fish it or what the regulations were, so we just parked at a pull-off, geared up and started fishing. It’s a beautiful little creek. With plenty of logs and vegetation, we had the usual problem of getting the fly caught in them. We leapfrogged all day. Sometimes we will split up on a small stream, keeping in contact with radios or phones. Since we didn’t know the stream or what might work, we decided to stay together. If nothing was biting, or a fisherman was ahead of us, we might quit and go to another stream. We could also try two different flies and see what worked. If someone gets caught in a tree or changes a fly, the other goes ahead, so the fishing stays steady.


We didn’t do much at first, but then we began catching some, or at least there was enough action to keep it interesting. I hooked three, but they all came off the barbless hook. Kelly caught three nice ones, lost two big ones and lost a few others. Our best luck was at the top. We didn’t know until we got out that we were on posted, private property.


We ate a granola bar, drank some water and went back to the bottom. Just as we were about to get out, another fisherman drove up. Kelly got out to talk to him. He said he didn’t need much room, so we went up to the next pull-over. The gentleman said planned to fish a BWO (Blue Wing Olive) upstream, then walk back while fishing a nymph (an underwater fly).

It was a nice day, and we got our exercise. We were tired, but needed to do laundry. It’s nice to have a laundry in the campground, but with sheets, towels and a week’s worth of fishing clothes, it took a while. Waiting for the dryer to finish, we noticed a gentleman sitting outside his 30′ Airstream, so we walked toward him. Before I got there, he pulled out a folding chair and put it beside him. It was 84 degrees and hot, but he was in the shade of some trees and had his awning out. I told him I liked his Airstream and introduced myself. He had met Kelly yesterday. His name is Dennis. The Airstream is a 2002 Classic. I told him about our 2005 30′ Classic we used to have. I think it is the prettiest and most energy-efficient model.

Dennis lives in it full time. This is his home, along with his cute, little dog. He fishes, moving around with the seasons. He stays here for four or five months, then moves south, fishing the coast of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. He loves to fish salt water with a fly rod, showing pictures of some big sea trout. He is a retired gun dealer with a lifetime of knowledge fishing this area. Reluctantly, I excused myself to finish the laundry and take a shower.

At about 6:30 people gather for the “Liar’s Meeting”. Butternut Grove is mostly a fishing campground, right on the Beaverkill River, so the like to meet on top of a bank in the middle of the campground to exchange stories of the day. As we walked up, we struck up an easy conversation with Jeff, a retired policeman from NYC. He too has a camper he is keeping here for a month. He had fished the West Branch. That translates to West Branch of the Delaware where he caught 8 fish, “no big ones” he said, but all nice.

I was dying to sit down in one of the eight Adirondack chairs overlooking the river, but these two veterans were talking fish, what to do and where to go. I was all ears and questions. Jeff said most visitors pound the water with dry flies, but “you have to go underneath”. He uses a 11’6″ Spey rod, a two-handed rod that throws the fly a long way. He was using a Leadwing  Coachman, a Caddis female imitation. I asked how they know what to fish and when. ” We just know what usually hatches this time of year, so that narrows it down to five flies”, said Dennis “Then you change those until you see what works. We’re not quite into nymphs yet”. I asked how they know it’s nymph time, and they said to look under rocks in the water. Once they have come out, they will leave their shells along the banks.

They talked about guides using strike indicators that bob when a fish strikes under water, but they didn’t like that. It inhibits the way the fly swims. “OK” I said, “How do you tell when a fish strikes?” “Tightlining”, Dennis said. Keeping the line taught, without drag. “You MUST have at least a 14′ leader. These fish are line-shy”, Dennis said. Then there was a 20-minute discussion of leaders, poo-pooing Euro-nymphing, which I had recently read up on. I was wishing I had recorded the conversation. They used to use Maxima line to make their own leaders, which I had just done, but now they use something else they love. Of course I promptly forgot as they moved on to another topic. My head was swimming with new ideas.

The Question Everyone Wants to Ask

Our friend, Ed Brownfield, asked the question many want to know the answer to, and he wrote it perfectly:

Greg and Kelly

Love reading your blog although I am not a fisherman.  It seems to be an expert fisherman you have to have lots, like years of experience!  In addition to that you have to spend lots of $’s on equipment, flies, waders, tackle, licenses…..   After investing lots of time and money in learning the sport and acquiring the equipment you have to travel the world seeking the best place to find the fish and then try to out smart them.  I get it, but what I don’t understand is how two very bright guys (that’s you two) keep getting outsmarted by the fish????  I keep reading your blog and following your travels ……you meet nice people, enjoy wine and camp fires at beautiful campsites in the evening, eat great food, and fish for hours BUT you don’t catch fish.  Ummmmmm just trying to understand the lure of failure (lack of bring home the bacon…or fish) or is fishing a way to celebrate a wonderful and long term friendship of two good guys and a way to enjoy the absolute beauty of nature?  I am just trying to get a handle (understand) on  a sport that’s unknown to me.

Your devoted follower

Thanks for the question Ed. We are hardly expert, although we have been fishing off and on throughout our lives. We grew up trout fishing Virginia’s small streams for Brook Trout, still my favorite fish. Ounce for ounce, the best fighting fish I have seen. They pounce on a fly, jump up in the air three or four times in a tiny pool, run upstream, downstream, duck under sticks, logs and rocks trying to get off the hook. A seven or eight-inch trout is a keeper in those streams and you could keep five of them a day. A native Brook Trout is still the best eating fish I know with a convenient handle on each end for eating and they are easy to clean.

We are as good as anyone fishing smallmouth bass on the Shenandoah or the James River.  We are pretty good with largemouth bass. Fishing across Canada in 2013 we had to learn very different things. Many of the rivers were huge, deep, wild and scary. Over four months we learned we could catch Cutthroat Trout, but they are similar to Brook Trout. They will jump on most anything. We got better with Rainbow and Bull Trout, but it was a whole new game. You have to fish deep, and we like to fish the surface. It’s just more exciting to see a trout jump on a dry fly on the surface, but if you want to catch them, you have to do different things. We found Brown Trout to be even more finicky.

We are amateurs. A professional guide may fish the same stream every day. They talk with each other about what works and where it works. They guide people of all skills. It is often good to fish with a good guide on a river that is new to you. Then you can see what they use, how they use it and where they go. Trouble is that can $300-500 a day or even half day. Some guides are well-worth it. I met a man last night with a 30′ Airstream Classic who fishes all the time. He is here in Butternut Grove for the season. Then he will move south, fishing South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, fly fishing all the time. About 50% is salt water fly fishing. He ties his own flies and makes his leaders. That puts him in a pretty elite group.

These professionals have the best gear, and they also know how to throw a fly. Like watching Ernie Els swing a golf club, it is beautiful to watch. Effortlessly, they throw a fly twice as far as I can. With a flick they “mend the line” so there is no drag on the fly. They can target a rising fish and throw with pinpoint accuracy. I might try to swing my golf club like Ernie Els, but it’s never going to happen. However, the image of a great fly caster is a good thing to have in your mind. Kelly’s father was both a great golfer and a great trout fisherman. He did both effortlessly. Sometimes you get in the zone and for a while you are the master and you begin catching fish.

No matter what happens on a trout stream, it’s always good. Trout do not live in ugly places. Yes, we want to catch fish, the more the merrier, but when you stop and look around, it’s always pretty. I wouldn’t do well playing Pebble Beach golf course, but it sure is a beautiful place to be. I’d rather be on a trout stream, win, lose or draw. The challenge here is to get out of our comfort zone, stretch our abilities and learn new things, see new places, and meet new people.

The esthetics of trout fishing is great, but so too is the exercise. Maybe that’s why we like Brook Trout fishing. You continually walk the stream, fishing up the mountain all day. Then you have to walk back down to the car. Do that every day, and you will become very fit. Wading bigger streams and rivers in deep water is weight-lifting for the legs.

Every river is different. Often different sections of the same river are different. Fishing Penns Creek is vastly different than fishing the East Branch of the Delaware. So on a trip like this one, we are fishing a different river system every two or three days. Thank God for fly shops like Catskill Flies that tell us what to do and what to use. The people we have met on the streams and in campgrounds have been incredible. They readily share their knowledge of the area and in their fishing techniques. I need to take more pictures of them, but their images are forever etched in my brain.

An issue we were well-aware of is pressure. A book and a movie changed everything and brought millions of people to trout fishing – “A River Runs Through it”. On Virginia’s little streams, the pressure was too much, and many streams were fished out. Gradually things changed so you can no longer keep wild trout, and there are very few “natives” any more. Stocking is a necessity. Warming climates didn’t help, and acid rain changed the ph of the streams.

These famous streams we are pursuing get tremendous pressure. Every hole on the Beaverkill has a name and most have parking places. Access is easy, just drive your car to the hole and fish, get back in and drive to the next hole. These are well-educated fish, and you have to do everything just right.

Timing: the damned problem we have issue with may speak to our weakness. We need to be fishing at the same time as cocktail hour. The Golden Hour is just before sunset. I get up early, and by sunset I want to be fed and in bed. Summer is not the best time for trout fishing, as the waters warm. However, I am pleasantly surprised that the opportunities are still good.

We want to catch fish and show pictures of these beautiful fish. Hopefully we will be able to do that. Today is another opportunity. Thanks for the great question Ed.

Moving to Roscoe, NY

Friday, June 28, 2019

I told Kelly to go fishing for a couple of hours while I caught up on posting. We didn’t know what to expect for WIFI at our next campsite. It didn’t take much convincing and he was off.

I finished posting, straightened and swept the Airstream. Then I loaded up, cleaned and put the awnings up. I took the trash to the dumpster and saw Wyatt weed-eating around his house, so I went up and thanked him for running such a nice campground. He is an understated, hard worker. Few take care of a place as well as this.

Some might think I was doing the work while Kelly was playing, but that is not the case. It’s my Airstream and I enjoy making sure everything is taken care of and in its place. It’s also a team-effort. If we both did all that, we would have left an hour earlier, but we are here to fish the famous trout streams, and this is surely one of them, and it’s right at our front door. He is also by far the better fisherman.

from Esopus Creek /ɪˈsoʊpəs/ is a 65.4-mile-long (105.3 km)[1] tributary of the Hudson River. Originally known as the Esopus Kill, it takes its name from the Esopus tribe of the Lenape Indians when the Dutch settled here. In Dutch a “kill” is a stream bed or body of water, so many streams have “Kill” after the name.

As I finished up, Kelly came up and asked if I was leaving him. He was smiling and had caught six fish, no great size, but six fish. He used mayfly imitations. OK, maybe we were gaining on this northeast fishing.

We were about to head out as our new neighbor, Bud, came up with his cute, little boy, Jacob. The boy was maybe four and stood shyly between his father’s legs. Bud is an electrician and lives in the mountains an hour or so from here. He loves New York and is proud of its beauty, “if you just ignore the city”. Kelly talked about his son, Hunter, also an electrician. We had a nice chat for 30 minutes.

As we turned to put the steps up, we noticed they were coming apart and about to fall off. Was that the big bang we heard when we hit that big hole on the interstate? We got out the rivet gun and rivets. One rivet had broken, so we had to drill it out. After several size trials, we found the right ones and had them replaced in short order. Before I left on this trip, I thought I could lighten up my toolbox. This was just a reminder of why you need to be prepared. 


On to the Beaver Kill. It wasn’t a long drive to Roscoe, NY – about an hour and a half. The route took us west on 28 along the East Branch of the Delaware River, then 30 across the huge, beautiful Pepacton Reservoir. Martha and I had driven this a couple of years ago when it was precariously low. Now it is full, pristine and beautiful. There doesn’t appear to be a house on it. No wonder NYC has such good drinking water! We turned south on 208 and needed gas and something to eat. 


We arrived in Roscoe, a thriving, little town with five fly shops. It felt like arriving in Fernie, British Columbia, “where the fishing starts”, as our guide, Dean, told us in Calgary in 2013. We filled up with diesel, but couldn’t find a place to park the trailer for lunch. The campground, Butternut Grove, was only 10 minutes away, so we went there and checked in with Lauren.

We had to parallel park in a 27’ spot for a 25’ trailer, but we did OK. Well, the back end hung over the line a couple of feet. Lauren said her husband might move it later. Apparently the state inspectors say you must have 15 feet between trailers. We were right next to the Beaver Kill river, our target stream.


Hunger was making us a bit grumpy, so we went back to town and had a nice lunch at The Courtyard restaurant. Feeling better, we drove back downtown and went into Catskill Flies. Two men were busy tying flies as we looked around. Joe started talking to us as he tied. A board behind him listed nearby streams, water temperature and the flies that should work. 


A friendly, easy talking gentleman, Joe continued feeding us valuable information at a pace I couldn’t keep up with. Hell, I wouldn’t remember the listed flies on the Beaver Kill, much less all the others, so I took a picture of the board. Kelly and I looked at the assorted flies. There were hundreds of different flies in assorted sizes, all of which are beautiful works of art. If I were a fish, I would eat any of them. I always think bigger is better. I mean why would I eat an ant when I could have a big, juicy grasshopper? But I am not a fish, and a trout might choose to “sip” on hundreds of midges, which are 1/30th the size of an ant. I can’t see an ant when I throw it, much less a midge or a sulphur. Then of course you have to be able to tie it on your line, which has to be about half the size of a human hair. I have a hard time even when I use my dental loupes.


Joe was busy talking about flies, as we busily picked out some. Caddis, we were fixated on caddis. Then caddis come in probably 8-10 different forms. Sheez! My head was swimming as Joe kept talking. I started recording. What a nice guy! He would be a great guide for a day, but he was going home for a wedding. Coincidently, he was camped in the same campground.


We decided to scout the East Branch of the Delaware River that comes out of the bottom of Pepacton Reservoir at 49 degrees today. We parked where Joe told us to and walked over to the stream – a river really, crystal clear with a steady flow. We walked upstream a bit and met a tall, handsome gentleman coming out from fishing. He carried two seemingly identical rods. We asked if he had any luck. He said he couldn’t quite cast far enough to get to feeding fish on the other side of the river. Funny, it didn’t look very deep. He said it takes a lifetime to learn how to catch these fish. Charlie was his name, and he was great about telling us where to go and what to use. He carried two rods, one rigged for dry flies and one rigged for nymphs. He had all the right gear and obviously knew what he was talking about. We chatted for 30 minutes. I wish I had recorded that. We thanked him and walked down to the stream.

Hundreds of caddis flies floated down the stream, flopping and flapping to get off the water. They emerge from the bottom at they hatch. Books are written on this stuff. Charlie said they weren’t taking the flies off the surface, so he was fishing an “emerger”. We didn’t buy any of those – Sheez! You can see why these fish get big and fat. These are big, juicy bugs by the thousands. In crystal clear water the fish can see you walking about. They can see the fly line, and you have to figure out what form of the mayfly they are eating. Fish were slapping the water all over the river from halfway across to the other side. 



Kelly fishing upstream


Like a deer hunter getting “buck fever”, we got excited and decided to give it an hour and see what we could do. We hurried back to the truck. Charlie was taking his gear off. We asked if we should wear waders. What kind of people were these from Virginia? Yes, the water is 49 degrees coming off the bottom of the reservoir. We had been wading without waders for a week, but those waters were about 62 degrees. We put on our waders. It was a very hot 78 degrees, and I looked forward to cooling off in the water. I had left my good chest waders at home. There was just too much stuff for this 4-month trip. Kelly put on his chest waders while I put on my waist-waders. I had on a thin short-sleeve shirt. Three more cars pulled up as we headed out, from New Jersey, Florida and Delaware, and ours from Virginia. One car from New York was already parked.

Excited, we slowly waded into the cold water and started casting to rising fish. I brought my small rod because it is lighter and presents the fly more gently – wrong choice. I couldn’t quite get to the fish. Stalking a big fish near the opposite bank, I slowly crept closer, trying not to let the line spook him. Two guys came across to my left, and two guys were above Kelly on my right. We might have been put off by this, but there were plenty of fish, and some big fish.

I needed to get a few yards closer. It was easy walking in this river, but it was deeper than it looked. I was there, just in range when the water seeped over the top of my waist-waders. Suddenly I was cold as the sun went behind the mountain. My short-sleeve thin shirt was no longer the right dress. 

The guy to my left was good, very good, maybe a guide. He and his buddy were talking as they fished. As I backed out, he headed toward the big fish under a tree. He asked my permission to go there! A bit tired of unproductive casting, I watched him a while. He threw it nicely. I wondered what kind of rod it was, what kind of line was on it,how long his tippet was and what fly he was using. No one was catching anything, but he said we would all have fish. I asked when that would be, and he said 8:45. It was 6:30 now, and I was cold. I would never make it two hours longer. 


Kelly was casting to a fish that never moved. Why would it? Food was being delivered to it steadily, and he was ignoring anything Kelly put in front of it.  He changed flies for the forth time and threw again. Later, as we drove home, we wondered what they were eating. We realized even if you had the live fly and threw it perfectly, the fish has hundreds to choose from and might not choose yours. You just have to keep throwing and hope he finally chooses yours.