Tag Archives: drift boat

Spring Rises

If you live in the New York metro area, Trout fishing in the Catskills is a traditional rite of spring. Specifically, many of us head up to “Trout Town USA” or Roscoe, NY on most modern maps. Roscoe has been famous for Trout fishing since the 1800’s when the Ontario and Western Railroad brought people up here to Fly Fish. The first dry fly fishing in America happened on fabled streams in the area. I had been to Roscoe on opening day in order to attend several events including the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum’s, “Catskill Legends Dinner” along with their first cast event. The following day I attended the “Two Headed Trout Dinner,” hosted by the Roscoe Chamber of Commerce. At that event I was the winning bid on a silent auction for a weekend at a guesthouse in Roscoe. All of these events are a fine time and I recommend checking them out next year.

Mark practices casting his new Cabela's Fly Rod on the banks of the West Branch.
Mark practices casting his new Cabela’s Fly Rod on the banks of the West Branch.

The West Branch

This fine stream, starting out in Stamford, NY and running all the way to where it meets the East Branch at Junction Pool in Hancock, NY is one of the best wild Trout fisheries in the State of New York. The river was dammed in the 1960s to create the Cannonsville Reservoir, storing additional water supply for New York City. Though it cost Trout anglers many miles of stream the dam created a steady cold-water release on the Delaware. The East Branch is also dammed to create the Pepacton Reservoir however; the releases from this branch are less consistent because the clean water is more highly valued for drinking purposes.

Always use the rubber coated net to protect the fish's protective coating.
Always use the rubber coated net to protect the fish’s protective coating.

Mark and I secured guide Ray Ottulich through The Beaverkill Angler Fly Shop in Roscoe, NY. We met around 11AM at the shop and motored on up the 17 Quickway to a boat put in on the West Branch. This was the first time I floated an eastern river since my trip with dad up to the Andro in Maine a few falls back. I peaked with excitement at the prospect of floating the West Branch for Trout instead of plying the Main Stem for Smallmouth from shore. Fly Fishing from a drift boat is a superior method of fishing as far as I am concerned.

Seeking the Hatch

The Catskills are renowned for their Dry Fly Fishing; this does not mean that deploying the dry fly is the only way to prospect for Trout. This may sound sacrilege however, I remind you the reader; I convinced Mark a spin fishing only man to hang up the ole bait pole and give Fly Fishing a chance. He did, point of the story, sometimes you need to be open minded about fishing. Prime hatches occur on cloudy days or in the morning and evening, this forces us to go down deep with nymphs or fish streamers in rising water when there is no hatch.

First fish on the dry fly and Fly Rod ever!
First fish on the dry fly and Fly Rod ever!

The fishing reports all indicated March Browns and some Blue Wing Olives at dawn or dusk. Setting out a noon is standard procedure in these parts to ensure that you secure the productive water at dusk when the hatches do go off. I started plying the deepwater edges with a streamer to no avail. Then we all switched over to pheasant tail nymphs in the shallow fast water, where the Rainbow Trout stage to eat the Blue Wing Olives nymphs. Mark managed to hook one repeatedly working a stretch of fast water. This period of time did allow us all to hone in our casting for when the actual bugs started coming off of the water.

Sometimes the captain needs to back row to keep you in productive water.
Sometimes the captain needs to back row to keep you in productive water.

Pods of Fish

The sun began to cast long shadows and the noses of Trout touching the top of the water brightened our smiles. Sporadically at first, you could detect feeding Trout by a feint splash or a glint in the water. Tying on the March Brown and an emerger enticed strikes from wary Trout. A few more missed hook ups and we pulled the boat next to a trailer park, boom Mark hooks his first fish on the Dry, a 15-inch Brown Trout! While Mark was busy fighting his Trout I was busy not landing Trout. For some reason I had a major mental block to actually set a dry fly…very frustrating.

Mark's second fish on a Fly Rod, lucky guy!
Mark’s second fish on a Fly Rod, lucky guy!

We continued our leisurely float down the West Branch, picking up speed through some rapids; unfortunately the bug activity was much lighter than expected. This season has been a strange one, very warm in March followed by a snowstorm on opening weekend that has kept the water very cool and delayed the season. As our boat rounded the Hancock 191 Bridge we again were treated to intermittent rises. Again Mark hooks a 17-inch Brown Trout on the dry fly! Lets talk about beginner’s luck…

Famous Pools

The Beaverkill along with the Willowemoc are two of the only undammed major Catskill streams. All of the other’s have had some sort of influence by man, negative (the Esopus) or positive (the West Branch tail water). The Beaverkill northeast of Roscoe to its source is a pristine valley, is less populated and less industrialized than it was one hundred years ago. The public water is limited, sometimes forcing you to wait your turn, however even on a busy fishing weekend in prime season, glorious lonesome water was found.

A Wild Brown Trout from the Beaverkill River.
A Wild Brown Trout from the Beaverkill River.

Saturday was a cloudy day with a bit of humidity and intermittent sprinkles. Perfect weather for a Blue Wing Olive hatch and we were treated to one. Arriving at a secluded though popular pool in the upper Beaverkil we were treated to an empty parking area. I quickly tied on some Blue Wing Olives I had purchases twenty minutes before and the fish were keyed on. Again, I had a lot of action but they fish kept getting a clean release.

Things to Do

Combined the towns of Roscoe and Rockland have plenty of entertainment for anglers when they are not on the river. Rockland has three great establishments we stopped in the Trout Town Brewery, the Rockland House and the Courtyard Tavern. Roscoe has a the popular diner aptly named the Roscoe Diner along with a bistro and a Pizza place. There are five fishing outfitters (fly or spin) in this town and some nice cabins for rent throughout. We are looking forward to the next summer adventure up this way, which will likely be a camping trip.

The Trout Town Brewery in all of her glory.
The Trout Town Brewery in all of her glory.

 

The Sporting Lifestyle

Turning 30

Last week, I turned 30; it is a point in life that I never believed would occur, especially looking back to the college years when I was eagerly awaiting my 21st birthday. These days, 30 years is indicative of actual adulthood. Much like boiling a frog, the number creeps up slowly and all of the sudden its there.

Taking it all in and surveying the water.
Taking it all in and surveying the water.

Be that as it may, up to this point I have had a great run and I am going to hammer down for an even better decade to follow it up. In the last ten years, I learned to fly fish, went pheasant hunting for the first time, bought a piece of land, graduated from Business School, landed a job I enjoy, won my first municipal election, travelled around the USA, met countless new friends and shared quality time with my family.

Family ski pic, Brenton, father and myself.
Family ski pic, Brenton, father and myself.

Anyway, my brother, father and the crew assembled in Park City, Utah to celebrate this milestone with me. Park City is one of my favorite places in the world: great skiing, fly-fishing, good bars and friendly people. There is no better way to spend your birthday than with family, friends and doing the sports you love.

Last night group pic, Mark, Tawnie, me, Jourdan, Brandon, Brenton and father.
Last night group pic, Mark, Tawnie, me, Jourdan, Brandon, Brenton and father.

30th Birthday Party

The actual date was Thursday, January 23rd. Like the adult that I now am, I worked and attended a township budget meeting. Another indicator of turning 30 is that you don’t need to go out on your birthday. We saved all the energy for the Friday evening plane ride out to Salt Lake and the bars in Park City. Adding fuel to the fire, we arrived just prior to the last night of the Sundance Film Festival. This was to be a multi-night event of whiskey-fueled entertainment.

Its like Luke Bryan says, "Drink a beer."
Its like Luke Bryan says, “Drink a beer.”

Skiing/ Snowboarding

Saturday we skied the Canyons. It was Nicole’s official first time skiing. Due to the previous evening’s festivities, it took the crew a while to get moving. Once up and about, I gave skiing a whirl, something I have not done since my college days. To my excitement, skiing is much like riding a bike; it is not something that is easily forgotten. After ten runs, Nicole and Mark had had enough and Brandon had a pitcher of hoppy goodness waiting at the warming station. I would have preferred to ski more but I was out voted. We went home, made delicious baked Ziti and headed out to Main Street for the last day of the film festival.

Nicole contemplates the mountain.
Nicole contemplates the mountain.

Sunday we switched up and skied Park City Mountain Resort. It was another clear, warm January day. I set Nicole up on some nice groomers off of King Con lift and gave some quick pointers. As Brenton said, “What’s the difference between a ski instructor and a student; one day.” After finishing up at Park City, Brenton drove us out to Dutch John for the second part of the festivities.

Carving some turns at the Canyons.
Carving some turns at the Canyons.

 Green River Float

The cold scenery
The cold scenery

Brenton presented me with a guided fishing trip with Doug Robert’s Old Moe Guide Service as a gift for the big three zero. On Sunday evening, we packed up the Yukon XLT, hitched up to the Clacka, and proceeded to drive the three plus hours out to Dutch John. Due to the change of management at Spring Creek Guest Ranch, we were unable to stay at our normal location. Instead we camped out at the Shire Lite Units at Flaming Gorge Recreation Services (The old Conoco at the corner of UT 191 and South Boulevard).

Drift boat packed and ready to go for next time.
Drift boat packed and ready to go for next time.

For breakfast we met up with Rachel, AJ and their family at the breakfast counter.  You may recall Rachel, AJ and family from our summer adventures at Spring Creek Guest Ranch. We have been out to Dutch John so many times now, you develop a core group of people you drop in and say hello to.

German Brown fish mouth
German Brown fish mouth

Doug arrived at the agreed time, 9AM, to get out on the water, however, we were not yet finished with breakfast. A “large” crowd during the offseason is unexpected in this remote part of the USA, so we weren’t too worried about a later start time. We finally finished eating around 10AM and drove over to the Flaming Gorge Dam boat launch. Father and I hopped in the boat with Doug; Brenton piloted the Clacka for Mark and Tall Boy (Matt). Doug’s boat launched first, followed by Brenton and AJ’s Hyde boat pulled up the rear.

Drifting, Brenton, Matt and Mark
Drifting, Brenton, Matt and Mark

Tale of Two Boats

Father and son with the Old Moe boat.
Father and son with the Old Moe boat.

Immediately upon getting the boat in the water, I cast out the egg pattern with thingamabobber rigged up. Doug was readying a nymph rig for father; suddenly my indicator was sucked under the water. I pulled back and set the hook, line tore off of the reel until I regained control. The fight was on! The fish flashed its broad side to us; a crisp red line crossed it laterally, indicating it was a Rainbow. As I coerced the bow to come toward the boat, its size became apparent. As all things in life, the moment was ephemeral. As fast as this fish hit, as hard as it fought, it unbuttoned from the hook as Doug was reaching for the net. I remain unable to break the 20-inch Trout mark on Utah’s Green River.

The Rainbow that did not get away.
The Rainbow that did not get away.

After this boat ramp excitement, we pushed off, amped for a day of fishing, notwithstanding the cold and slight snowfall. The takes were subtle and required an eagle eye on the indicator even going as far as to follow your egg pattern in the water by eye. The hungry Trout rose slowly to the egg pattern if you placed the indicator a tad out of the fast water. Becoming familiar with the slow takes and action required to set the hook resulted in consistent Trout to the boat.

German Brown hanging out in my hands.
German Brown hanging out in my hands.

The fishing tapered off around the lunch hour and we pulled aside for some delicious chicken sandwiches. A thing to keep in mind while winter drift boat fishing, there is no such thing as too many clothes. The wind kicks up hard, especially in the bottom of the A section.

Dark Rainbow
Dark Rainbow

The Others

Pushing down the Green about half an hour behind us was the second part of the group. Every now and again we glanced back and viewed the Clacka about a hole behind us. This was Mark’s maiden voyage on a drift boat; he has been regaled with tales of Utah’s Green river but never fished it himself.  Reports of moderate success flowed from the boat though not fishing the egg pattern worked as a handicap.

Colorful Rainbow
Colorful Rainbow

Final Fish

Father's final Bow Monster.
Father’s final Bow Monster.

As anticipated, while the day wound down, the wind intensity picked up. Even so, at the bottom of the A section, it always pays to keep your hook in the water. Big fish reside in these parts and as they say, “Can’t catch a fish if your hook is not in the water.” Sure enough, as we drifted Catwalk Shoals, the action heated up. Father put his largest German Brown and Rainbow on the board for the day!

Father's Final German
The Last German
Packing up the boat, me, father, Brenton and Mark.
Packing up the boat, me, father, Brenton and Mark.

Bluebird Final Day

The last full day is always the most fun, after getting all the rust off my winter sports skill set; I only had one day left! The team had partied, skied, fished, partied some more and now the epic time was drawing to a close. Mark, Brandon and Nicole opted to take the Yukon out to Antelope Island. This freed Brenton, father and myself to spend the whole day snowboarding on the mountain!

View from the chairlift.
View from the chairlift.

We hit most of the groomers at Park City that I like and even got into some trees. The snow conditions remained the same as previous week so the only available coverage was a bit icy in the shade and all right in the sun. Dad was able to do a few mogul runs. Thus far this year Utah’s snow cover was at 60% +/- of normal (they have since received snow). Anyway, for the sake of better fishing this summer, I hope they get some substantial snowfall in February.

Father got tight with the tree.
Father got tight with the tree.

We concluded the sporting lifestyle birthday with dinner and beers at Red Rocks Brewery in New Park by our condo. The next day we boarded the plane and flew uneventfully, and unwillingly, back to New Jersey.

Rod bending action.
Rod bending action.

Coming Up: More Ice Fishing

Summer 2013

This past summer I was fortunate enough to get a drift boat. If you have never fished from one before, it’s a whole new addiction. Just seeing the river standing on a boat is incredible. Rowing the boat down the river and putting your friends into fish is just as good as hooking into the fish yourself. These are the highlights of my summer in photographs.

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The world is a wonderful place and this is some kind of life.