Time To Dust Off the Fly Rod

March was a long month here in Washington County. We had a mild winter up to late January then winter arrived and it seemed like it would never leave. I was definitely feeling the pains of cabin fever after a long few months locked in the studio painting and I couldn’t wait for warmer weather and the beginning of trout season to start. But it took a long time before I could dust off my fly rod and get on the river to do some serious fly-fishing. And even when April 1st arrived, opening day in New York State for trout, it was still too cold and the rivers too high to venture out. So I passed the time working on my watercolors and oils thinking about what the season might bring.

My first day on the Battenkill came finally on May 15th when my fishing buddy, Rich Norman, called to tell me trout were rising at the Battenville Bridge. Well it didn’t take long to grab my flies, fly-rod and gear and head to the lower stretches of the river. He was right. Trout were rising everywhere above and below the bridge. I practically jumped into my waders. Rich showed up a few minutes later and we discussed our strategy. It turned out there really was no need for strategy. The fish were feeding on Hendrickson mergers and some flies were landing on the water and ghe fish were having a feast. I added a new leader to my line and set to work chasing trout. Rich and I fished for about four hours and concluded when we finally packed it in that we had caught close to 100 trout between us. Sure they were stockies but it was fun nonetheless.

The next day I headed south to northern New Jersey to meet up with my old fishing buddy Ted Patlen, fly fishing legend Keith Fulsher and retired American Museum of Fly Fishing director Gary Tanner for a day of fly-fishing at a private fishing club. The river was once part of Edward Hewitts property and is heavily stocked with huge brown trout and rainbow and even some naturally reproducing Brookies. It was a wonderful opportunity not only to catch some very large trout but to spend time again with a few dear friends. I also brought along my camera hoping that I would have an opportunity to gather some good reference material for some future angling paintings. We not only had a great time fishing but club member Billy Tommiello treated us to a magnificent lunch on the banks of the river. It was a most memorable day. I hope to have Billy and the gang come north this summer for a day of fly-fishing on the Battenkill.

It would be a week before I got to get back out on the river. Rain on and off for a four days made the Battenkill rise and turn brown. But as is usually the case once the rains stop the river drops quickly and clears within a few days. Rich kept me posted on what was happening and I finally got the call that fish were rising again and the river was fishable. So that Thursday we both headed out for an afternoon of fly fishing again at Battenville. The trout seemed to be getting smarter and with only a week having passed we only managed about 60 fish between us. Still not a bad a few hours.

The past week brought more rain and the river spiked up again. The rain is finally gone and the river has dropped. I’m hoping that by Thursday I will be back on the Battenkill with fly rod in hand!

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