Experts say that
it is usually a mistake to revisit favorite fishing spots after a lapse of
years. From the number of fish caught, I suppose it is true that the results
are disappointing, but I have found it can still be a lot of fun.
I grew up in New
York state alongside the Esopus Creek and learned my fishing there, with the
result that I am still a dyed-in-the-wool fly-fisherman. I went south to work
and fish in South Carolina nearly a quarter of a century ago, and while my fly
rod, until the past year or so, has been the source of local amusement, it has
provided me with an ample and enjoyable number of bream, bass and crappies.
Last summer I
chanced to go home to New York at the tail end of the trout season. As I drove
past the Esopus, in the vicinity of Mount Tremper, I was so overcome with the
urge to fish a stream and wade in running water that I stopped and bought an
The idea of
running water was largely wishful thinking, since it had been a hot, dry summer
and the Esopus was low and muddy. It was to be a nice change, however, for in
the South my fishing is done from a boat in farm ponds.
I went home to
assemble the necessary equipment and ran into a 15-year-old nephew who eagerly
offered to guide me to the best spots.
Now, I knew in my
mind's eye exactly where the "best" spots were to be found on the
Esopus. It is a sad truth that I never caught any spectacular fish myself in
this body of water. But I have seen some truly enormous browns displayed in
neighborhood taprooms, and I can recall exactly where these monsters have been
snared on what I strongly suspect was garden hackle.
common sense of middle age prevailed, and I admitted that a stream like the
Esopus can undergo a lot of changes in 23 years. Another factor that counted
heavily in my decision was that this boy had that very afternoon returned from
a 50-mile endurance hike with his boy scout troop on which, as I understood him
to say, he carried a heavy pack and lived on berries and mushrooms. I figured
this ought to offset the fact that I was better than three times his age and
somewhat bigger around the middle.
I had my rod and
a box of flies handy, but I needed to borrow a landing net and my nephew said I
would need waders. My recollection was that only visiting dudes from New York
City wore waders and we local folk used to just walk into the water and get
wet. But I was told times had changed.
My nephew turned
out to have a very sporty pair of plastic waders, but I could find only a pair
of ancient hip boots belonging to my father that were at least a size too