The author with an Ausable River brown trout.
They say the early bird gets the worm. It should read: “The early riser gets the bird,” and hopefully that bird’s a turkey, but for me, I think the “bird” is all I’m getting, so to speak! Gobblers have not been in my play book so far this year. So far!
Not one to get into a state of despair, I have altered hunting strategies and tactics. I temporarily hung up the old Remington Model 11, 12-gauge shotgun I borrowed, and armed myself with an Orvis Access 6 weight fly rod. Yes, Orvis is expensive, but I have connections in all the right places, at least the right places that I think count as the right places. Thank you G.J.!
Orvis is a local company headquartered in Manchester Vt, so if I have a problem, I can go right to the source, and don’t have to deal with catalogs and sending stuff back. I have no patience for all that. Remington is also a local company for now. The governor’s so-called Safe Act may drive them out of New York. That would be a loss of more than 1,000 well-paying jobs, not so safe for the workers, and a stab in the back to the local Mohawk Valley communities. Texas is very interested in having them relocate to their area.
Anyway, I’ll go back to gobblers when the rain quits. At least that’s my thinking at the moment. I like to hunt after a rain, when the birds are out foraging.
With the warm weather and lack of spring rains, the stream temperatures are getting near perfect; the mid to upper 50’s or low 60’s. The fish are getting active and will soon be rising to mayfly, caddis and stonefly hatches.
The action is starting on the Ausable River near Wilmington now. Yes, the fish are taking some flies on the Ausable River right now. Jerry Bottcher of the Hungry Trout Inn told me: “When the apple tree out front blooms, it’s time for the dry flies.” His apple tree is just starting to bloom, along with the shadbush and hobblebush! So I guess we have at least three vegetative indicators of when dry fly fishing starts!
The Hendrickson (Ephemerella) hatch should be starting later this week. Not being one to wait, I tried my luck at a nice pool. Initially I started with a red bodied bead head nymph and started dredging the pool. I took a 9-inch brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) on that.
After an hour or so, around 3 p.m., and after trying a few flies that I thought would bring a strike, I changed tactics. No fish were rising and taking dries, but I like to throw a curve ball out once in a while and see what happens. The way I figure it, if a steak sandwich with gravy and mashed potatoes floats by, why bother with bologna. The fish took the dry fly as it was swept downstream and started to swing. By that time the dry was getting wet, so the fish may have thought it was a mayfly starting to emerge from its nymphal shuck.
I caught the fish, a beautiful 14-inch brown trout (Salmo trutta). The trout took one of my hand-tied dry flies; my own creation. I carefully released it after we both posed for a photo op of course.
While I was fishing I met three guys from Calgary Canada who were staying in Lake Placid for a veterinary medicine conference. They rented some waders and tackle from Tom Conway at the Two Fly Shop in Wilmington. They had an assortment of flies and were out whipping the water. One fellow never fly fished before so I worked with him, gave him a couple of my special home grown flies and let him whip away. He was the one who took the photo of me with the fish. Fly fishing folks swap or share flies with other fly guys. Worm guys don’t.
Being from the flat prairie country of Canada, they were impressed with the beauty of the Adirondacks. I was up in the Canadian prairies so I know what the terrain is like. Canadian wheat and flat paprika colored plains. There are miles and miles of flat, to gently rolling wheat fields and prairie. Prairie is French for grassland. Those fly fishing prairie guys hope to return to our mountains someday.
Many people don’t realize the economic importance hunting and fishing brings to our area. This is a marvelous area and we need to promote more fishing and hunting opportunities. Habitat management, whether it involves the forest, fields or streams is important, and the only place we can do that is on private land. State forest lands within the Adirondack Park are off limits for management, based on the State Constitution. This is very controversial even among the foresters and wildlife biologists who work for the state of New York. There should be a land classification of “Managed Forest” so wildlife management can be done to help with early successional diversity on state lands.
Its Mother’s Day week, so take your Mother fishing, buy her a steak sandwich with mashed potatoes and lots of gravy and enjoy life! Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there.
Rich Redman is a retired District Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and an avid outdoorsman. His column will appear regularly. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.