Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Rivers’ category

A Mess in New Hampshire

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

I didn’t sleep well and got up at 3:30 after being awake for a half hour. My head was spinning with the events. I tried not to let my mind go back to the accident. It was just too painful. I read an email from my friend, Ed, that helped put it in perspective, but it was still difficult. I tried to focus on what to do next. “The cheese had moved. Move with the cheese.”

We were staying at Lake Francis State Park in New Hampshire, right on the Canadian border. My phone said I was in Canada and charging me accordingly. I would later learn that’s where the nearest tower is. I went down to the very nice bath house and showered. As daylight came, I walked around to help clear my mind. It’s a gorgeous spot where the Connecticut River runs into Lake Francis. We were here to fish the river. All the write-ups described miles of river to fish, most of which are tailwaters from three lakes that keep the water cool. The people population isn’t so great, and it feels more like Canada.

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The campground is very pretty and well-maintained. Several guys in their 20’s came down with rods in hand, two spinning and one fly rod. They had been catching fish, mostly Brook Trout 10-12 inches and one 16″ Rainbow. The guy with the fly rod had caught the most fish. I asked what fly he was using, and he said, “A brown wet fly with white wings.” Had I felt better, I might have smiled. I wished them luck.

At the top of the hill, a young man was rigging up his fly rod. His 5-year old girl asked, “Daddy can you….”, but he said, “Wait a minute dear. Daddy has to get his fishing rod ready.” His cute wife had just come back from a one-hour bike ride at 7:00. 

I spent the morning talking and emailing Chris Burch, Airstream service advisor at Jackson Center in Ohio. I sent him all the pictures, including ones after Kelly and I had cleaned everything up. It took a long time because we are surely not the only ones that needed help. I have had service there before with our 2005 30’ Classic, and they did a great job. I think he would also go and talk with his service people and managers and ask what would need to be done. 

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It was about 11:00 when Chris said it would be a lot of work. The roof would have to be replaced, so everything on the roof has to come off. Then three of the ribs need to be replaced, which means they have to take the inside shell off and take the cabinets out. It would be expensive, but they couldn’t do it until the fall. 

I was about to throw up when Sue(?) came up in her golf cart. She is the campground supervisor and had seen the air conditioner sitting by the dumpster. “Have you reported this to the police?” We thought a guy behind us had done that, but she gave me the number of the Pittsburg police chief. I called him while she watched. John, the chief, said he would go and look, then come and talk with us.

It was a long morning of waiting. Kelly was beginning to think how he might get back home, if he could cancel his flight out of Bangor, Maine and what towns or cities we might be passing. There was no sense in driving all the way to Jackson Center, so I called Paul at Profile State Line Superstore in Lebanon, Maine. He was very nice, and said they were happy to help get us back on the road. They couldn’t do the work for three weeks though. They were four hours away, so it just made more sense to go there, and leave it to be repaired. Martha and I would have to go to Newfoundland and stay in B&B’s or something.

Where was that sheriff? We hooked up the trailer and got ready to travel. Finally John came. Big and strong, in his 30’s, John introduced himself. I told him the story as he checked my driver’s license and registrations. He took some pictures and I gave him mine. I was liable for the bridge damage. Apparently that liability falls on the truck insurance while the trailer damage is covered by a different company, but that’s another story.

Then John said I needed to pay for hauling the air conditioner away and should go down to the office and settle with Sue. Sheez! I went down and told Sue (?) we were leaving, hoping to get two nights refund to pay for removing the air conditioner, but she said she didn’t know if it could be refunded on such short notice. I was about to lose it as John left. She said I needed to contact a recommended service to pick it up. “OK, can I use your phone to call them?” “No, you have to send them a letter.” Are you kidding me? John had suggested $40 to remove it, so I put it on the counter and left. I had really liked this campground, but now I was ready to get the hell out of there.

We set the truck GPS for Lebanon, Maine and started out. It told us to turn left on a gravel road and we did. In a short distance we saw it was not a good idea. It took 15 minutes to turn the trailer around. I tried to keep calming myself, afraid I might make another mistake and damage something else. Finally back on the road, we stopped at a Y. The GPS told us to go left, but that is where the covered bridge is. There was one in front of us, but it was just a decoration now. I began thinking about suing the state for keeping these cute, but outdated bridges.

An attractive lady drove up in a golf cart pulling a lawn tractor behind. She stopped and asked if we were lost. I told her we didn’t like where the GPS was sending us. “Oh, GPS doesn’t work up here. Go straight down this road and you will get to route 3. Thanking her, we drove down the gravel road to Rt 3, turned left and saw a gas station where we refueled yesterday. Are you kidding me?! All we had to do yesterday was drive a half mile from the station, turn right on a good gravel road and go 3/4 mile to the park. The GPS couldn’t have taken us on a more convoluted route! Now I wanted to sue the GPS. I understand phones not working, and I understand GPS not working, but this was crazy, like some demonic spirit in control just to have a little fun!

Driving New Hampshire roads while pulling a trailer is not fun. Someone told us Newfoundland roads are terrible. They can’t be worse than New Hampshire roads. The countryside is gorgeous though, and driving through the White Mountains is very pretty. The adrenaline was fading now, and I was getting tired, so I asked Kelly to drive. There are few people I would let drive and he is one of them. Still, it makes me nervous.

We arrived at Profile Stateline Superstore at 4:15. Tom came out to greet us. He is the technician and pulled out a ladder, climbing up to assess the damage. I waited for the “Oh my God” to come out, or the head shaking, but neither happened. He just looked, pointed and calculated. Then he went inside. Again, no muttering or comments, just calculating. Then we went inside to see Paul. They did some talking and quick calculations, and Paul thought it might cost $10,000. The parts are expensive. Shipping from Jackson Center is expensive. Big sheets and panels, packed and shipped carefully would surely be costly. “OK, go ahead” I said.

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Kelly was eying this little 14.5′ Airstream for Rhonda

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Kelly packing up

We had no place to stay and we hadn’t had lunch today. They said we could park beside the service building. There is even a power hookup there. Well, I wasn’t going to run the air conditioner. We stayed there. It was just easier. It was hot sitting in the sun, but we opened all the windows and turned the fans on high, and soon it cooled down. Kelly searched ways to get home by plane or train. We had just bought all this food. What were we going to do with it? How would I put all this stuff in the truck? There were things I didn’t need, and thought about renting a little storage unit. We cooked a steak in the frying pan, corn on the cob and some mixed vegetables.

Kelly finally found a train to Richmond leaving from Back Bay in Boston, an hour and a half away. I didn’t like it, but the plan was now to leave the trailer here, go to Newfoundland and come back to pick up the Airstream after the trip. We probably wouldn’t stay as long, as it would be a lot more expensive, staying in hotels and eating all our meals out, but that was it. It had been a very long day and we were tired. Martha was coming to Halifax, Nova Scotia Tuesday night. I made a list of things I needed to do.

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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Taken from their website

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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.

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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: http://www.farmingtonriver.com/river-report/. 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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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?” 

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esopus_Creek: 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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

Sleepy Hollow Campground

Thursday, June 27, 2019

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Wyatt runs a very nice campground near Phoenicia, NY.