Something had to be done. My waning interest in trout fishing the last two years made it difficult to get excited for an extended outing. Bonefish, carp, and steelhead have a way of putting trout on the backburner. I needed something special to reinvigorate my long lost love for trout.
I found what I was looking for on the fabled waters of the Upper Delaware. Oblivious to the pot of gold up north, I spent a large portion of my youth prowling small streams for wild trout. Meanwhile, a scenic river full of large wild browns, bows, and the prolific insect life of a western river flowed two hours north. I knew of what awaited me there, I just never got around to exploring it. This Spring, I was able to put a few weekends on the water up there and awaken my soul in the process.
During my last outing, I decided to float portions of the West Branch using my Diablo Paddlesports Chupacabra SUP Yak. It was Memorial Day weekend, which isn't the best time, but I embarked nonetheless for my first ever float down a river. I quickly learned the dangers of anchoring and maneuvering in fast water and the proper etiquette with other floating anglers and waders. It was a great way to see and learn the river and I discovered a lot of what it has to offer.
One major draw that has awoken my inner trout, is the pure difficultly of the river. Having a multitude of bugs on the water at the same time and fishing over educated, pressured, and wild fish can be frustrating. I can't remember any other body of water where I was consistently schooled by pods of small trout. Its a perplexing riddle that is made even more difficult by the changing mood of the river and its hatches. Some days can be a melting pot of insect activity while others can leave you scratching your head and patiently awaiting for the river's many fish to rise.
My last outing was one of those days. Clear blue skies, intense heat, and not a whole lot of rising fish. It was sporadic to say the least. One moment stood out. I came out of series of islands into a beautiful section of pocket water. The deep pockets became a long section of fast water that had a good depth to it. By the time my anchor found something to grab onto, I had wasted a large portion of the run. A particular section caught my eye and I hopped out of the Yak and into the water to gain proper positioning. There was a seam of slow water about twenty yards long at the base of some bushes along the bank. It looked prime. I casted down and across, gave a good reach cast, and allowed my parachute adams a few feet of dead drift on the seam. A medium sized trout rose and sipped my fly. At least I thought it was a medium sized fish, but what I saw was merely its head to its dorsal fin. Things were about to go down.
After the initial head shakes and deep rolls along the bottom, the large trout (still don't know how big he is) careened into the current and my reel began to sing a song usually reserved for a carp. I was faced with the immediate decision to lose the fish, or travel back upstream to my anchored yak. With the deeper water downstream, I had to go get the yak. I was deep into my backing by the time I unanchored, hopped in, and began floating downstream. As I reeled in line, the fish turned and ran back upstream leaving a hundred feet of slack fly line on the water and strewn over my yak. I dropped the anchor and finally it caught. I had a lot of catching up to do. Miraculously, the fish was still on and when I came tight again, he took off. When I got him back a second time, I finally saw the size of the fish at the end of my line. Net worthy, I hopped out and landed him. The first trout to ever show me my backing was just the ticket to reinvigorate my inner trout bum.
Not many rivers on the east coast afford the opportunity of catching wild browns approaching two feet in length on dry flies. The kicker here, it happens on a regular basis. Combine that with the beautiful scenery and a town of people and anglers that gets it and you have quite the destination. Turns out, I can't wait to go back and explore the area further. I felt at home there, like it was a place I needed to be. I haven't felt that way about trout in a long time.
Thank you Upper Delaware.