Last week I was lucky enough to spend a few days in the Catskills and fish the famous Delaware River. I was very excited to get away for a few days and had scheduled 1 day to fish by myself and then a full-day float trip with Ken Tutalo from the Baxter House. This was only the second trip I’ve ever taken to this system, but I really find myself loving it. Last year Ken took us out on the main stem, which was awesome, and I was eager to find out where we would hit this time. The first day of the trip I headed out on my own, checking out a few spots on the East Branch and the Beaverkill. The weather was beautiful and sunny, which spawned some sporadic hatch activity on both rivers. I didn’t see any rises on day 1, so I stuck to the 3-nymph rig that Ken recommended to me earlier in the morning. It was a beautiful day, but no luck (awesome self-portrait below):
Day 2 I met up with Ken for a full day float. The weather was…. not good. Cold and windy (really windy). We put in at East Branch and soon noticed whitecaps, which were (of course) heading in the wrong direction. Undeterred, we started off hitting the banks with a two-streamer rig on my 8 wt., which Ken had taught me to cast using the water-load method. Even though I managed not to hook any eyes or knock out Ken, we didn’t have much more luck with the streamers. We then switched over to Ken’s go-to 3-nymph rig set up on one of his 10 ft. 5 wts. (we had my 9 ft. 5 wt. teed up with a CDC Blue Winged Olive just in case we saw anything on top), which we used for the majority of the trip. I was worried about my luck from the previous day, but Ken explained that the fish had not really moved yet from where they had been all winter long, usually holding in spots that had good protection from predators and where food was easy to come by (Easy = where it would be funneled right in front of their faces). If you could find these spots, Ken said, the fish would all be hanging there and usually do not spread out to other spots on the river until there is some major hatch activity that gets them moving. Spot on advice, as usual, and we found several holding spots pretty quickly. I was able to hook up with a nice, 19″ brown and a few rainbows in the 14-18″ range. Fun stuff. I have to hand it to Ken, though. He managed to keep the boat under control in really choppy conditions and, also, displayed remarkable patience after I put countless tangles into the nymph rig (did I mention we didn’t lose any eyes?). I’ll work on my shoddy casting skills, though. Hopefully I can get back out there soon, as it looks like things are really about to pop.
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