Sunday, March 31, 2013

Old Man Winter Holding Tight

Yesterday a friend and I got out to do some fishing. We had this plan in the works since the new year. Originally we were going to drive to Orvis to pick up his new Helios 2 rod and reel and fish on the way back. He chose to order his rod and reel package and we were just going to fish all day.

We decided to meet at the Chesterfield Gorge parking area at 6:30 am. I packed my car the night before so I could just roll out of bed and into my car, that’s pretty much what happened. I was on the road at 5:00 am because I wanted to stop to get some food and I needed gas. The drive took both of us just over an hour. Once I got off the Northampton exit and drove farther north through the hill towns I noticed a substantial drop in temperature. The weather in the lower valley was in the 50s for a week, I misjudge the weather in the hill towns tremendously. I didn’t bring a jacket because of the warms temps so I had to make due with an orange fleece from Cabela’s that was in my car. What a terrible color choice of clothing to fish with, the fish can see you from a mile away. One always wants to wear drab or bland colors. I did have a wool sweater underneath, which is what I planned to wear. When we pulled into the parking lot we noticed a foot of snow and a 22 degree morning waiting for us. We suited up and walked down the ice covered trail. There is 9 miles from the Chesterfield Gorge parking lot to the Knightville Dam, all of which is a catch and release area of the East Branch of the Westfield River.

The water was gin clear and we decided to walk a couple miles to the entrance of the Gilbert Bliss State Forest gate and fish upstream. When we broke off the trail and came upon the water it was a glorious site. Something about a flowing river makes everything in the world stop. So many sights, sounds, and smells to take in it overwhelms the senses. I chose to walk down 100’ or so from Sean and fish a deep pool between two rocks that drew my attention. I waded out on the rock and fished behind a large rock and in the deep pool. I didn’t see a fish spook and I didn’t get any hits. I walked back up to Sean and we started to fish upstream. We fished every nook and cranny of those few miles and didn’t see or catch a fish.

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Once we got to the gorge we decided to walk down much farther and fish back upstream. We walked another 6 miles down and fished upstream until an access point. We saw lots of great fishable water without a fin in sight. There was 1 particular area of fast water that looked great to me. In the summer it might be a fantastic spot, in the winter not so much. I attacked the pool with the stealth of a mountain lion.

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At that point and time the sun really came out and the temps picked up. I’d say it was around 40, so off came the top layer. I moved upriver to the head of that fast water to see if I could entice a trout of some sort, but could not. I thought if there was a trout in that pool the fast water would make them have to react fast instead of inspecting my fly and catching any improper presentation. Yes these are the things that run through my head while trying to catch fish.

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After walking and hiking through the snow for 15 miles we didn’t find any evidence of fish. At that point we talked about our options to stay or fish another river. Since we both took it personal we decided to walk farther downstream. That didn’t help the fish catching situation though. We still saw zero fish and caught zero fish. To me the option of catching a fish was over and it turned into casting practice. I tried different methods and practiced my aiming. A few more miles down I collapsed the rod as we tried to maneuver up and over massive snow banks.

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The snowbanks on the side of the river we were on were 6’ tall. I am a little over 6’ and I was a little taller than them. Across the river they were in the 7’ range. Sean waded across to fish the other side, poor guy couldn’t accept defeat, and it was a foot or so taller than him.

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When it was all said and done we had walked and waded 20 miles. In those short 20 miles we saw zero fish and caught zero fish. We saw hundreds of stoneflies, but no fish. We didn’t even spook a fish. On the plus side those 20 miles were a great break-in period for my new LL Bean Grey Ghost wading boots.

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