Another Fish Story

This past week I was in both VT and the Adirondacks, fly fishing.

Here’s some pics. Click them to enlarge, if you wish.

Vermont has a lot of little tributary streams that come down into the Mad and White rivers and some of them are pure and cold, good brook trout habitat. Many are seldom fished, especially in September. These are secret places and I will not divulge their names or locations.


When fishing small streams its best to go alone, which is what I did in VT. I prefer the solitary nature of it. Wading up the stream and ascending the mountain, always something new, and challenges to be confronted around each bend. Being quiet and not moving much means you see more wildlife too. A cool thing I saw was a mink on the bank of a beaver pond.

How brook trout get up these falls is beyond me. In approaching a pool you have to be very slow and quiet, sometimes crouching low to avoid giving a silhouette, or from projecting a shadow on the water. Then cast the fly, nymph or spinner up into the fall or chute, and let it drift down into the run of the pool. That’s how I do it anyway.


Brook Trout
Brook Trout

In the mid day hours both trout and fisherman take a siesta, especially if its sunny and warm. A deep pool can be a good place for a swim. At the base of the waterfall this pool (see photo below) is ice cold and at least five feet deep. Then have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a can of beer. Maybe a short nap if the bugs aren’t too bad.


After a couple days of this I left VT and went back across into the Adirondacks. This is because when the old man heard I was fishing he insisted I come over to Au Sable Forks and we could meet up. And so I did.

The old man is a purist, old school, ties his own flies and prefers to fish only in the evening hours. Strictly a dry fly guy. But he is 80 years old, and his knees aren’t good now, so he can’t get down into the rocky and difficult places or wade the rough and fast waters. Nor can he see all that well lately, I discovered. With my eyes and brawn and his knowledge and common sense we are a capable team.

I love the Adirondacks. Here’s a photo of the Sentinel Range I took early in the AM. This view, looking across the broad valley, it almost has that look of the American West.


Below is a typical Adirondack trout stream. In some streams the water is stained with tannin. I like the natural tea color of these waters.


Rainbow Trout

Here (below) is a beautiful stream in the High Peaks region. Its very cold, even in late summer.


Didn’t catch anything here, but what a great spot for a swim, consuming PB&J sandwiches, working on the tan, and the always welcome noon-day nap. Crystal clear water. The pool is about four feet deep where it cuts the bank on the far side (shaded). Nice little beach on the near side. This place is secret. I will tell no one its location, except maybe Tipping Point.

Below is a shot of the West Branch of the Au Sable River. Probably one of the best trout streams in the east. Up at the higher elevations the best reaches of the river are strictly “catch and release”.


I included the above shot because it marks the spot where I took an involuntary swim. Attempting to wade above the chute I lost my footing and got swept down into the rather chaotic mess (shown below):


The water was over my head, but I was probably underwater only for a couple seconds. The above photos were taken from a rock in the middle of the river after having successfully completed a second attempt at crossing above the chutes. Luckily the camera was sealed tight in double zip lock bags! Good call me!

Subsequently I caught this good-sized brown trout on a little Panther Martin spinner. FYI, I squish the barbs down on the hooks with pliers so as not to damage their mouth. As a result, I lose a lot of fish. But not in this case:

Brown Trout
Brown Trout

Eventually worked my way up where the old man was practicing his craft on the flat waters above the rapids. Here’s a shot of him wading the pool:


If he’s got room the old man can really work a fly rod. After all, he’s been doing it for probably at least 50 years. He can get a lot of line in the air and lay it down where he wants. I like to say that he could pick the wallet out of your pocket with his fly rod, from a block away, and you’d never know it.

I showed him the above picture and told him he look like he was in his temple. He liked the photo. He said fly fishing was what made him feel good, “ …like chicken soup”, he said. Whatever you say Pops.  So I nicknamed him “Chicken Soup” for (at least) the rest of the trip.


27 Replies to “Another Fish Story”

  1. What a great post! Such extraordinary pictures and an intuitive sense of presentation. It makes me feel almost as if I was actually there with you guys. And you know it’s a trip destined to be steeped in lore when it begets a new nickname for the old man right out of the proverbial tackle box.

  2. Gorgeous pics! Used to fish the West branch of the Au Sable in September decades ago with freshly-caught grasshoppers, a clear bobber, and spinning gear. Big browns aplenty.

  3. Excuse me for not responding quicker, Bif, but I want to savor this post, like a fine meal with cognac and cigars (Cuban) afterwards. Therefore, I will only say now that the place sure is purdy.

  4. Thanks again!

    GB, no grasshoppers allowed in the West Branch now unless they hop in there themselves. Basically, the fallout from “A River Runs Through It” was that half of America bought fishing poles and fly rods and descended upon its best trout streams with a vengeance. It seems this trend has waned somewhat but “artificial lures only” and “catch and release” is probably the best way right now to conserve the resource while accomodating the fishermen. It wouldn’t take much to love it to death.

  5. “It wouldn’t take much to love it to death.” –St. Bif

    Now there’s a truism, Bif. Speaking of “peak fly fishing,” I remember a while back when Hillary was in her first Senate term and receiving kudos for her work to cut deals that would benefit NY small businesses. One of them was this very high-end rod and reel outfit and she gifted her key colleagues on some committee with brand new kits from this place. Then the business took off.

    One of these days, I’m going to scan the old B&W photo of me (I’m about six or seven) and Gram fresh off the St. Lawrence holding up our impressive stringer of small-mouth bass. I still hold the family record–23 inches–for the biggest bass.

  6. SB, yes I’m aware of the catch and release, artificials only sections on certain major trout streams. The Battenkill river has one too. I’m sure your dad would agree that even with those protections NY trout fishing has never equaled the glory of years ago. (I’m talking 40 years ago and earlier). Still too much pressure from too many fishermen. I mainly fish in winter now for panfish, like perch, calico, and bluegill. Even those species have come under pressure recently and some effort has been made to protect them with stricter catch limits. When I visit trout streams and ponds its usually to take a swim and enjoy the beauty.

  7. Thanks for sharing that Bif. Those are awesome pics.

    I guess I should share a vacation story too, since I almost immediately thought of you, and how you got your screen name… As you know I was spending the week with my sis out in Montana and though I was thrilled to see her and her newborn, I was really hoping I would get a chance to go out one nightand have a few beers. It’s the first time since I had my girls that I went away without them for this long. So, the opportunity presented itself towards the end of the week to go out to a minor league baseball game. Not what I had in mind exactly, but it’s something to do. I was running late so against my better judgement I accepted my sister’s use of her bicycle to get there a little quicker.

    I spent the next three hours semi watching the game, drinking beers and chatting with the guys next to me. By the time I left I was feeling pretty good; I wouldn’t have driven a car with my children in it but I’ve driven myself home in worse shape (when I was younger). So I’m headed back to my sister’s friend’s house where I’ve been staying all week. It’s only a few minutes by bike but she lives on a two lane one-way street, and I’m buzzed, riding a bike I’m not familiar with, with 25lbs of crap in my backpack. You know where this is going…

    So, I make a wrong turn, realize I need to turn around but I can’t seem to decide if I should be turning or stopping and I try to do both. Im turning right, braking left, and start feeling a little squirelly. I am getting my right foot off the pedal to hop off the bike but the momentum of front wheel braking, a heavy backpack and sitting too high on a bike suited for someone a lttle taller resulted in the flight of tipping point. It would have been a total face plant except that I was wearing my cool Montana Smokejumpers hat that saved my face from serious road rash. Damn thing jammed so hard into the bridge of my nose I almost passed out. I sat there and honestly could not figure out what the hell had just happened. I haven’t fallen off a bike since I was a kid. My nose was so swollen, black eyes, all the good stuff. But my pride was wounded more- it was mortifying to have that happen. There’s already a Mrs Bif, maybe I should be bif jr.

  8. Ouch! is right. Sounds like a good old fashion yard sale.

    Yes, given that you hit the ground with your face, this certainly would be considered a “biff” in the bike messenger parlance.

    If this “smokejumper hat” is a helmet then you are lucky. If it is not a helmet then I guess you are even luckier.

    Drinking and riding a bike, especially in traffic, is a very naughty thing Tip. But I have to admit, returning from vacation with a black eye would be kind of cool though.

  9. Saint Bif said: “But I have to admit, returning from vacation with a black eye would be kind of cool though.”

    I always wondered about that sort of sentiment, until one day it happened to a guy I know who’s quite the athlete. Whenever anyone asked him about it, he just said something like, “You should see the other 3 guys”

  10. JR, I’m not sure what’s more flattering, the movie-date-for-site-babysitting thing or the torture thing. If the latter, will you take a handicap before we start? The tables can turn ;)

    Anyway, you’re in luck, I’m wicked sick now (some kind of flu or flu-like thingie) so no movie dates or torture either way. They took the culture sample .. how long have they been using the kind that goes up your nose instead of down your throat? Ticklish. Tells you how often I get sick. Anyway, if the first thing I hear tomorrow is a FEMA chopper hovering overhead as the biohazard-suited crew hauls me off to quarantine, I guess it won’t be necessary to call the doctor’s office to check the results.

  11. Get well soon Nudge. We have had some flu in my house too. Hubby has been processing it for three weeks now. He will be fine. Hydration is key. Breathing is pretty important too. :-)

  12. 3 weeks?? Wtf kind of flu is this anyway? Dear god MOU you have my sympathy. Thank you for the kind words. Anyway yes I am remaining wicked hydrated. Awaiting those test results.

    EE, thanks. Hey, don’t actors have to make car payments too? :)

    Scariest thing was learning yesterday that I’ve lost 10 lbs. Not good. This despite lots of fluids and stuff with fatty proteins.

  13. Nudge,

    “the kind that goes up your nose instead of down your throat?
    Anyway, if the first thing I hear tomorrow is a FEMA chopper hovering overhead as the biohazard-suited crew hauls me off to quarantine…”

    You’re channeling Schwarnegger again.

    Total Recall.

    The suitcase TV scene.

    “Hi dere, if yoor watching dis, dat means you have a towel wrapped around your head and dere are FEMA choppers coming to kill you.
    You need to put dis up you nose.
    Dat’s it, deeper – doh worry – it won’t hurt, trussst me”

  14. Kung fu flu is typically 3 weeks. Swine flu can be double that or much longer, assuming you don’t recover. If it goes into your lungs, it can take a month or several months to get it all out–secondary bacterial infections. See a doctor, get some Cipro or similar to kill the hanging bacterial infection towards the end.

    Mostly, take it easy and don’t overdo or it will come back with a vengence.

  15. OK, the good news is that it’s not H1N1 or standard flu .. with the bad news being that it’s some viral thing they know nothing about and basically can’t do anything about.

    Feh, spending nearly all day horizontal (and reading) is really starting to warp my take on stuff. Maybe it’s time to avoid the internets?

    As if there’s not quite enough doom at Chez Nudge, just received the first part of ‘When The Levees Broke’, the docudrama about NOLA. Disaster prep material, check.

    Back to bed.

  16. Really hooterville? I was just going to comment about the recent lack of helmsmanship and apparent interest by the blog’s author/chief editor. Jus sayin, of course.

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