Basking in the angler’s apricity

To counter boring photos of fish in nets, I offer this exciting photo of a fish waiting for me to get my act together and release it.

Patrick L. Sullivan

Basking in the angler’s apricity

This time of year the angler has to be alert. Because America needs more lerts. Hahaha.

The preceding joke is courtesy of James Fenimore Cooper Middle School, McLean, Virginia, ca. 1975.

Between Thursday, Feb. 15, and Saturday, Feb. 17, the weather warmed up considerably. This coincided with a lack of rainfall.

So I shifted the schedule around to allow for a couple hours’ worth of fishing on those days.

Thursday at the Blackberry was a bust. It was a bust mostly because I forgot things and had to trudge back to the car. Twice. Also the fish didn’t get the memo.

Friday I trundled down to Macedonia State Park in Kent. This stream gets stocked pretty heavily by the state in the spring, meaning April or May. Maybe March if conditions allow.

There are two distinct sections of interest and accessibility. The first is below a series of boulders and rock shelf that’s not quite a waterfall but is definitely more than a bunch of big rocks. There is a big inviting pool that is just a short scramble from the small parking area right by the sign announcing you are in the park.

As far as I can tell, you can fish downstream of here for maybe 200 yards before posting appears. The stream just above this formation is posted for a little bit.

This too was a bust, although I gave it a good going over.

Undeterred, I proceeded upstream into the area that is unambiguously open for fishing. It was also open for hiking and for day-tripping.

So I had company as I prowled the dirt road that runs right by the stream.

On the first pass, my shadow fell on the water just below this bridge, and dark shapes darted for cover. On the way back, I low-crawled up to it and horsed up a brown trout.Patrick L. Sullivan

I used a Tenkara rod, the Dragontail Mizuchi if you care. A dry-dropper technique proved effective, in this case a Chubby Chernobyl up top and a series of weighted nymphs below.

I lost the Chubby to a tree branch that snuck up on me. Cunning creatures, those bare tree branches.

So I deployed a Parachute Adams, which generated a couple of strikes and one hook-up.

All told, in two hours, four extremely skinny brown trout in the 10-12 inch range came to the net, except I forgot the net.

I went back Saturday and used an old bamboo fly rod instead, a 7-foot five weight Phillipson I’ve had for 40 years.

Same thing, pretty much, except I had more company.

The strategy is to look for soft water, as opposed to roiled up, foamy white water. This means covering a lot of ground fast, and not pausing to beat a particular run or lie to death.

An old adage: If they haven’t taken your fly after three tries, you’re just boring them.

The tricky part at Macedonia, especially on Friday, was that at between noon and 2 p.m. standard time, the sun was right behind me as I worked up the stream from the roadside. Two or three times, my shadow sent fish scurrying for cover.

Keeping a low profile was critical.

This means kneeling, often on rocks.

This never used to bother me, but I am old and creaky now.

I went to Herrington’s the recently and described what I was looking for — a lightweight, non-bulky set of knee pads with Velcro fasteners for choice that would fit over waders.

The young man who helped listened intelligently and supplied the desired item.

They are sturdy, easy to put on and take off, and cost $30 and change.

The only catch is that it looks goofy, somewhere between Mad Max and Yogi Berra.

“Game-changer” is an overused term, but it applies here.

As I type this, the temperature outside has plummeted and there is snow in the forecast.

So the lesson is to be ready to take advantage of these opportunities.

A brief aside: I was asked recently, and not for the first time, about how I decide whether or not to name a stream.

It’s worth repeating, so here goes.

If a stream is listed in the state Angler’s Guide, I will name it. It is public information, easily found, and I am not giving away any secrets.

If a stream is not listed, I do not name it. The curious will have to find it the way I did — by word of mouth, by looking at maps and by getting out there and trudging around.

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