Monday, December 1, 2014

Worth the trip

Despite a long lapse in posting, I have managed to get in some fishing this fall. Some, not a lot- and no single outing has really been worth writing about. That's typical of fall fishing in general for me and this year my parental duties have kept me even closer to home and off the water. Not a complaint- honestly, no fish I've ever caught can compare to the endless wonder that my son provides. I've still been reading about fishing a lot though, it's ever present in my mind. The new Nick Lyons book "Fishing Stories" has been especially resonant for me. The theme of balancing the demands of being both a parent and a fishing addict runs through almost every short story in the book. I can relate.  And his self deprecating take on the subject has made me laugh and nod to myself enough times to draw looks on the Metro North. One short story in particular is about a quick (and disastrous) stop at the East Branch of the Croton while on a rainy family road trip- one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. The fact that this anecdote took place in the 1960s is also fascinating to me. Lyons writes a lot in the book about fishing the East Branch in his youth, riding up from Brooklyn on the train for every opening day. It's made me even more enthralled by this place that is so dear to my heart. It's amazing to think about how many people have fished there, for so long, and how it's served as such a training ground for anglers over the years. I'm also thankful that the stream remains in such good shape, though I doubt the fishing is as good as it used to be. And I'm now particularly interested in the section of the stream he refers to as "Big Bend", a spot that pops up again and again in the book. I can't tell if he's referring to what's known now as Phoebe Hole or Brady's Bend downstream. If anyone knows, post a comment…

Yesterday I had a very Lyons kind of fishing session. After sweating through an afternoon social commitment, with the wife's promise of an early exit to fish, I got on the road to this same stream just after 3PM. That wasn't exactly the deal I had brokered so carefully, but I still took it. A desperate man has no leverage. Factoring in these short winter days and a bit of a drive to the East Branch,  I'd maybe get in an hour of fishing at the most. The fact that this was less than my total drive time seemed irrelevant. It was already getting dark when I got on the water, but thankfully I'd had the addict's mind foresight to rig up a streamer before I left the house. I had three precise spots in mind to fish. A quick strike mission. Fittingly, one spot was right below Big Bend. I think so, anyway. The first spot came up empty and the second was taken, so I ended up at the third destination pretty quickly. After a few casts upstream I landed a rainbow with a gorgeous magenta streak (see above) on the swing. My expectations had been even lower than usual, so this was a very welcome development. Still trying to cover some ground in the fleeting light, I moved on downstream and the streamer produced a chunky brown that hit surprisingly hard. By now it was almost completely dark and getting colder by the minute. I made my way back upstream, feeling very glad I had made the drive with such limited time. I couldn't help but think about the stream itself while I walked and how many other anglers have walked this path back to the road in the dark, also feeling the trip had been worthwhile.