First leg on a three day journey brought Adam, my buddy Ben, and I to a piece of historical water I have heard a lot about but never took the time to go to. We left in the middle of the night to arrive early and then made the long hike to the river. The hike took us downhill, uphill, over a babbling brook, and down into a gorge revealing a beautiful stretch of water running through towering pines. To be honest, I had no idea where I was going as the path diverged multiple times. I followed my nose and despite some protest, we found shangri-la after almost two miles of hiking.
Something has to be said about the beauty of the tannic water flowing through dense New York forest. It carved its way downhill through boulders, slate, and large cliffs creating appealing pocket water, long glides, and deep pools. Every piece of water looked like it could hold trout, and most of it probably did. To top it off, we didn't see another angler in an entire day of fishing, we had it all to ourselves and we hiked a ways downstream.
The day started slow and gradually escalated into an all out dry fly fishing bonanza. The first few pools were left to Adam to mine with a switch rod, Rio Scandi Versi-tip, and a large streamer, while I got a few fish with a dry dropper combination in some pocket water. As we made our way downstream, I found a pod of fish in a deep seam and landed four in a row before letting it be. Farther downstream and around noon, caddis, blue winged olives, and then hendricksons took to the water causing most fish in the larger pools to start rising. It was some of the best dry fly fishing I have ever experienced. The fish were plentiful, fat, healthy, and not picky. You didn't really have to match the hatch, just deliver a good presentation. I was giddy.
I had to persuade and convince Adam to come along on the trip. He just isn't into trout much these days. He has fallen into a rabbit hole and his mind has been warped by Cyprinus carpio. To make the day interesting, he fished an 8 wt. switch to two hand cast a trout stream in drought conditions, slept on the bank, or guided Ben to several fish. After seeing me sitting on a rock, laughing, and catching trout on almost every cast, he finally gave it a shot and caught a few, including a beautiful brook trout.
Adam was most happy on the stream guiding Ben to some of his first wild brown trout. In the following series of images, you can see the emotion at play and I'll leave the pictures do the talking.
Towards the end of our march downstream, we found ourselves in a small impassable canyon. It started to rain, which caused my favorite smell in the whole wide world to waft in the air. That of fresh rain upon old growth forest. I wish I had brought my hammock because I would have set it up in the canyon and been content for at least three days. No picture I could have taken could have given the moment justice.
The day ended very close to where it all began, the exact spot we emerged from our hike and first laid eyes on perfection. We sat on thick moss and waited for a fish to rise. Two fish rose, I caught the first, and Ben the second. Ben caught a nice brown trout and once again shared a brotherly moment with Adam. Upon release, Adam stood, slipped, and came crashing down onto Ben's rod. After picking up his brand new Sage TCX rod it promptly broke into three pieces. Shit happens.
I missed the last riser of the evening. It was almost pitch black and the rain was coming down again. The big guy I waited for all night finally came out to play. He was on the opposite seam along a back eddy being spoon fed insects by the current. It was deep water and a long cast. He ate. I set the hook and pricked him. It was not to be. I gave him a bit but he never came back. It was dark out now, raining, and we had our long hike back to the truck almost entirely uphill. The first few hundred yards it sounded like we were surrounded by a pack of coyotes yelping in the distance. For the next half hour we trudged onward, tired and delirious from a day of driving, hiking, and fishing. Every minute, I let out a, "hey, bear" just in case we stumbled on a mother with cubs.