Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Touch of the Ausable (second page)

PA. Fishermen in the Adirondaks (part 2)

...About a foot or so, shy of the submerged rock, an elongated figure b-lines straight towards my fly. In an instant he takes my caddis with a surface splash. Already keeping my rod high, and anticipating the take, I yank back hard enough to lift enough slacked line off the water to set the hook. My rod bends good.....
_________________A Touch of the Ausable_________
5:00pm Thursday Jeff and I are in the Ausable wearing raincoats as the unstable sky cursed us with upstream thunder and periods of rain. We headed down the bank, in a drizzle, towards the lightly brown tea stained colored water. Jeff headed downstream to fish a straight stretch of rocky, fast moving water, with pockets of back eddies behind exposed boulders. I elected to fish the tail end of a large pool area and the beginning of the rockier mass of the straight stretch.

After getting over the distraction of the fine figured fly fisherwoman, upstream fishing the middle of the pool, in dark blue spandex that covered her bottom half and long legs, I looked over the rest of the pool to check for any risers. I noticed her thin ankles showed above her blue pair of wading shoes she was wearing as I looked over the water and noticed caddis about. If I hadn’t seen her at the vehicles, as Jeff and I were gearing up, I would had never known how thin she was under her oversized blue raincoat she was now wearing as her bucket hat sat on her wavy sandy colored hair.

Being that the water was a little choppy I tied on a haystack March Brown and cast upstream just shy of a small falls below the big pool. High-sticking, I followed the March Brown with my rod tip as it drifted to the end of the pool. On the third drift, a little further out, I watched the March Brown waver up and down with the small riffles. I seen an oval shadowy fish rise, inspect it, and slurped it in. I immediately raised my rod higher and set the hook. Ya, I called out to let Jeff know I caught my first Ausable trout. The little brown was no match for my 5wt. Scott rod even in the fast current. After letting the little guy go I continued to fish the bottom end of the pool, in the rain, until the fisher-babe gave up her spot covering the large pool area. She headed back across the shallow rocks towards the short incline that lead to the vehicles cautiously tip-toeing as she made her way.

I slowly moved along the large pool studying the waters. Moving further out, from the branchy incline behind me, gave me ample room for a decent back-cast to reach ¾ of the way across river. One trout surfaced along the far bank but wasn’t reachable with my double-taper line. I continued to work the pool over, casting across, mending upstream and letting a caddis dry drift upon the slower rolling water. At the end of one drift, out a ways, I saw a disturbance in the water where I figured my fly to be. I yanked back the long length of fly line quick enough to feel the resistance on the other end and FISH ON! As the fish headed towards me I stripped in line quickly while holding the rod tip up. The fish than took off upstream, but when I had enough line in to put tension on the escaping fish, I turned the trout around. He headed towards the bottom of the pool and closer to me. Getting line and leader under control I brought the 10” brown to my feet. Ok, I thought, this is getting fun and my own hand tied flies work in New York as well!!

I moved down the pool area and squared myself, facing the opposite bank, in an attempt at the rising trout across the river. With my rod at a slight angle I false casted twice, in-line with the water flow. On my last back-cast I swung my rod in an arc high above and behind me creating a big arc in the retreating fly line. I than sharply forward casted towards the far bank with my rod tip still high above me. As my fly line followed the arc and started forward I brought my arm down to a 10:00 position. My fly line, leader and fly followed in a wide loop in the direction my rod tip was pointing. From the 10:00 position I laid the rod tip horizontal and watched the fly fall onto the moving water across the pool. Within seconds the unsuspected fish splashed in an attempt to take my fly but with all the line out, water drag, my hook-set was late,,,, but I did fool the trout!
After a few more casts Jeff’s voice called out behind me that we should move to flatter water for the evening spinner fall should there be one.

We drove downstream to a wide flatter section of good current moving water. We waded out in shin deep water and checked over the situation. Jeff headed upstream for a narrow section that opened up into the flat water we were standing in. I spotted a big huge boulder, up against the far bank, over shadowed by leafy tree branches. Just below this I could see a nice ripple run caused by the jutting out boulder.
I fished my way over missing one small trout that came up after my dry while I was bringing it in. I finally anchored myself, in thigh high water, where I could cast 360 degrees with plenty of room for my back-cast. There were noticeable swirls of water about that was caused by submerged rocks. This is where I figured the trout to be hiding until they came out to feed in the evening just before dark. I took notes of the water, near the far bank, flowing into the jutting out boulder creating a whirlpool. From there the water creased around the boulder with a fast flow but still a smooth surface. At the end of the boulder the water got choppy flowing downstream a ways before settling down in a wide section and then narrowing back into a mass of exposed, strewn out river rocks.

About 12yards across stream I catch a noticeable swirl in between the sprinkle of raindrops. I notice caddis hovering with a few diving onto the water surface. After tying on a #12 tan caddis I lean left and throw a cast that puts my fly upstream from the rise with my loop across current. Taking in line, to shorten the loop, the unsuspected fish rises and takes my caddis. I sharply lift my rod up and back across my body and set the hook on the sipper. The fish darts downstream as I feel the weight of the small trout. I release a 9” brown.
Continuing casting I notice a good leaping rise below the big boulder in the choppy flowing water. I take a few steps closer, but feeling there are hidden fish around me, I don’t want to disturb the waters and again plant my feet. I take more line out of my reel as my fly and line flow downstream. I make a couple false casts to get line out for my long forward cast towards the choppy water. The caddis falls upstream of the choppy water and I watch the caddis bob over a flat submerged rock, where the rise was, but not even a look see as my caddis drifts by. I know it’s not easy for me to cast again with all the line out but I try anyhow. With the rod tip near the water I lift my rod high, stiff armed, while pulling line in with my line hand. This gives me extra line speed. Just before I pause at 2:00 I move my wrist backwards. As I feel the line load behind me I drop my elbow some. Waiting long enough for my rod to fully load, I start my arm forward in the 90 degree position and than forward cast to the 10:00 position and power my wrist forward. I watch the fly line unfold in the air and at the right time, by feel, I let the extra fly line slip thru my line hand fingers and through the rod guides. As the fly falls to the water I tug the rod tip to my left quickly enough to send the fly towards me before it touches down. This puts slack in my line and the fly drifts drag free. About a foot or so, shy of the submerged rock, an elongated figure b-lines straight towards my fly. In an instant he takes my caddis with a surface splash. Already keeping my rod high, and anticipating the take, I yank back hard enough to lift enough slacked line off the water to set the hook. My rod bends good!

The fish runs a course downstream as my 5 wt. flexes with its weight. Turning my body downstream the fish heads to my right towards the shallower shin high water. As I’m bringing in slack line, he turns quickly, causing a surface swirl, and torpedoes back towards where he started. I regain tension on him and let him use his energy fighting downstream against my bent rod. He finally turns and makes a run towards the big boulder creasing the fast flow. I hurriedly take in slack with quick strips and catch up putting tension from his left side as he tries to hold out in front of me. Reluctantly he swims my way as my 5x leader and rod are too much for him to continue his fight. Cradling the fish against my leg I lift the 14” football brown against my belly. Rain water runs off my hat onto the spotted brown as I grab for my hemostats. I take a quick gander at the fish and notice the dark burnt orange that covers most of his whitish belly. I release the hook from the side of the trout’s thick jaw and put him back into the water. I feel him slither but hold onto the neck of his tail until he thwarts with force before letting him swim free.

My caddis dry is tore up and falling apart. In the dimming evening sky I look up and notice spinners moving upstream in the drizzle. Some are hovering and I try to catch one or at least knock one down. This is like trying to hit a humming bird, with their quickness it is useless. I try to make out the body color against the fading light and decide there are white spinners and brown spinners.

I tie on one of my coffin flies and search for rises. Seeing none I cast out aimlessly across stream. Being able to see the white spinner against the darker waters you would think I should catch any strikes. The first strike came quick and missing I figured I was late on the take. When I missed another I brought the big #10 extended body fly in to make sure the point was still on. I tied my coffin flies on swimming hooks that I got from a friend. It’s a gold fine hook with a short bend. It’s the first time I’ve used these and I got to thinking maybe there just not right for this kind of dry pattern. After casting it out again and missing another rise I decided to clip it off and tie on a mahogany spinner.

I look up skyward and see less spinners above. I am sure the rain has held them up. Looking into the water though I see more rises around me. Casting out in front of a rise, I mend line upstream and let my spinner float with the current. A fish rises aggressively and I set the hook with a quick wrist jerk. The trout takes off in an instant and my rod bends quick enough and with force I’m forced to let line shoot through my line hand fingers. He takes me to the spool as he heads to the boulder and than turns and heads downstream into the choppy water. I palm the reel and move my bent rod at an angle to my right to try to force him out of the choppy water and not cross it to the other side. He swings down and crosses the river below me and heads for the shallower water as the previous brown did. I turn my body, keeping the rod high and at an angle, while reeling the line as he continues his circle around me. I now know why a large arbor would come in handy as I wind in line like crazy onto my standard Battenkill reel. He passes me so quickly, heading upstream, my bent rod is now behind him. Swirls of water surface marking his path through the shallows. Once upstream he hesitates as if waiting for me to make the next move. Heck, I just continue swinging my rod around and try to motion him into the deeper part of the river. He nudges with either a head shake or tail swat and tries to head upstream towards the motion of my previous swing. The current and rod strength are now too much for his fatiguing body and he cannot force me to give him any slack to head upstream. He heads for deeper water at a slower pace. Now that I turned a complete 360 degrees, kept my composure and wit, I’m ready to bring him in. putting more tension on the reel drag, I start to reel him in. After a few more bursts, trying to have me give him more line, he quits in exhaustion and holds tight just beyond a rod length. My fly line and leader, under tension, vibrates like a banjo string with each wave of his tail as he tries not to come any closer. I lift my rod back and he strolls over like a helpless pup on a leash. His dark brown olive thick upper body gives way to his dark burnish tan belly. Not a spot of white is visible underneath. Cradling the solid handfull against my fly vest, I unhook my mahogany spinner from his top lip. I position the end of my rod butt up to his tail and notice where his bottom jaw reaches upon the rod shaft. About a couple inches beyond the first single wind. Measuring later came to about 16”.
The heavy brown slips through my wet hand and falls into the water. I move with him to make sure he doesn’t float. He sits on the bottom as I reach down to help him recover. He nonchalantly swats my ankle with his tail as he slowly moves along the bottom towards the deep.

Looking up, the spinners are gone. Upon the water there are still a few risers as I cast to each of them within reach. I Catch a few nice 10“-12”ers but none give me a fight like the two big browns. Jeff finally calls out from upstream and I wave in acknowledgment. The rain starts to fall harder and I head to the vehicle. We converse with accomplishment under the darkness and raindrops as we fit our sectioned rods in the back of the Escape. We find that it is a little past 9:00pm and we hurry back to the room to change and hopefully find a restaurant still open to serve dinner.

That evening we sat at the bar of the Hungry Trout eating ribs and wings and washing them down with cold draft beer. Three gentlemen, to my left, were talking about fly fishing around the area. One brought up about the way Fran Betters flies hold up compared to others he has used.

Hmm, we’ll be getting a box of flies with the guided trip Jeff and I are taking tomorrow…if the river is fishable!!!


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