Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘New York’ category

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.

Fishing Esopus Creek

Thursday, June 27, 2019

We drove upstream where our friend in the hardware store told us to go and fished for several hours. Kelly went to a big hole where a feeder stream enters. I went up the feeder stream.

The feeder stream begs for a dry fly, and I tried several with no effect. This was a beautiful stream I could have fished all morning, but we had no cell service, so we were unable to communicate. Should anything happen, there would be no help, so I decided to go back. Climbing up the rocky bank with lots of vegetation, it was a prime spot for snakes and I chose my steps carefully. My last one was not good. I slipped on a slanted boulder, fell hard backward, smashing my rod on a rock and tumbled head over heel back down the bank. All I could think of was to keep my head up. Finally stopping, sprawled out on what I thought was a snake-infested bank, I assessed the damage. Just a few bruises and a smashed reel. Luckily, I didn’t break anything – myself or the rod. I limped back to the big pool.

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Kelly hadn’t caught anything, so I went up to another big pool ahead. An hour of fishing different things produced nothing. Defeated again, we headed back to camp. We were tired. We have been fishing every day for a week with little luck, but more than that, we were not accustomed to 9 hours of exercise every day. Lunch and a nap helped ….. some.

When we got going again, I noticed a bug on the window screen. Kelly said it was a mayfly. There was another on the door. OK, new strategy. We rummaged through our fly boxes, pulling out mayfly patterns. I opted for dry fly while Kelly chose a nymph. Walking upstream to a big pool, a fish struck on the first cast, but missed the fly in fast water. A second hit the second cast and missed, and I was suddenly energized. There would be one more hit and miss before I got a wind knot in my line. Kelly had been a couple hundred yards downstream, but was now walking up. He had caught three brown trout and lost a nice one. Things were looking up. By 5:00 and no more hits, I was tired and headed back to camp. 

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After a shower I felt better. We fixed a salad, rice and Cordon Blue from Omaha Steaks. It was excellent. 

Fishing Esopus Creek

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Tags: Phoenicia Hardware Store, Phoenicia, NY, Esopus Creek. 

It was a clear, beautiful morning at our campsite on Esopus Creek. We could see no hatch or fish rising, so we decided to go to the hardware store in Phoenicia which also sells trout flies. A lady at the counter said good morning and went on mumbling to herself – something about her brother not being there this morning. We found the fly counter, and it was a good selection. Once again, we bought flies, this time stonefly imitations. We hadn’t seen a stonefly, but that is what is supposed to be hatching at this time of year. the nice lady helped us, and told us a couple of places to fish. She works as a bartender also. You have to be versatile to get by in Phoenicia. Kelly asked where we could get a coffee, and she said Brio’s. 

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Once in Brio’s Pizzeria, we decided breakfast might be a good idea. Kelly asked the nice waitress which of two selections would be best. She said, “Well, that’s hard, but judging from your southern accent, you would like the eggs with sausage gravy biscuits.” I chose the breakfast burrito. Both were good.

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Esopus Creek is a beautiful stream with clear, rushing waters. We fished it hard for a couple of hours in front of camp. We had a couple of flashes, but nothing else. Surely this stream is fished a lot throughout its length. We were tired and hot when we quit. 

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After a rest and lunch, we went back out with the same result. This is such a pleasant spot, it’s fun just to sit in the shade of big trees and watch as others try their luck. People have different techniques. We could only guess what they were using. A few small fish were caught. If fish are there, they are well-educated.

Grueling Moving Day

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

With rain last night, stream conditions weren’t going to get any better, so we decided to move on a day early. Once we got on a main road, we would call Sleep Hollow Campground and see if we could get an extra day. We packed up, hooked up and headed out. With no cell service, we used the truck GPS to set the course for Phoenicia, New York. As we headed up the gravel road, I took a left turn. Kelly said we had come in from straight ahead, so I pulled over. It’s hard to turn a trailer around on a gravel, mountain road, but we probably could have done it in this spot. I was on the GPS route, and after some discussion, we opted to stay on it. Wrong decision! It was a long, curvy route up and over a mountain for 45 minutes until we finally found a narrow paved road. It was a pretty drive, but not what we were looking for, and we were low on fuel. Surely there would be a gas station somewhere. Wrong again.

By the time we got to the pretty town of Mifflinburg, the route took us right through downtown on a narrow, busy street. I wasn’t sure I could get the trailer through, but there were tractor trailers coming the other way – right through downtown! there were no gas stations still! We were headed toward I80, so there had to be something ahead, but there wasn’t. We got on the interstate figuring we would find a station at the next stop, but the interstate was blocked! It was shut down with two trucks with flashing lights blocking both lanes. We had to get off and go right back through town.

In a circuitous route, we finally found a crowded Sheetz station. There were only two diesel pumps and at one of them, a big truck was camped out with no nozzle in its tank. A passenger was walking his pit bull. Kelly went up and asked him to move, which he reluctantly did. I circled around the busy lot to get a straight shot to the tank while Kelly stood in the lane. 

Finally, we found our way back to I80 and it was open. Later we heard on the news there was a bomb threat. Could that have been the reason it was closed? We traveled east on 80 to I84 and then I87 past New York. These roads are in terrible condition! Ruts and jarring holes bounced the trailer around. Hitting a big bump and hole on a bridge, there was a loud bang. I thought we had broken a stabilizing bar, but we never found a problem. With heavy traffic and jarring bumps, it was a long, all-day drive to get about 300 miles. Geez! Kelly called Sleepy Hollow campground, but no one answered, so he left a message. A few hours later a man called back, saying he had a place. 

It was 6:00 when we finally checked into the 100-site campground beside Esopus Creek. Wyatt checked us in. We had requested a stream-side site, and he had on for us 😊. Then he guided us into the site. At the end of a hard day, I was very happy for the help. Wyatt was a UPS driver, and he runs a great campground. For such a big campground, it is very pretty and well-maintained. The year-round campers maintain their trailers and sites nicely. 

All the days tensions subsided as we sat beside beautiful Esopus Creek outside Phoenicia, NY. This supplies Ashokan Reservoir, which is the water supply for New York.

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