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Merwin: Martinis, Rapalas, and Early Fall

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September 20, 2010

Merwin: Martinis, Rapalas, and Early Fall

By John Merwin

So last week I took my own advice (see “The Last Day” in our September print edition) and went to the West Branch of the Ausable in northern New York for some fall trout fishing. The fishing was excellent. The catching somewhat less so.

This particular river is noted for its rough pocket water, where tannic-stained currents plunge around boulders the size of cars. This makes it fun to fish, not only for me but also for the other “fisherman” in the upper right corner of the photo.

 (For those several readers who pointed out last week that Buffalo, New York, is indeed western and not northern as I described it--okay, okay. Western. The New York Ausable is indeed northern, though. I checked.)

The problem was that although it was cold up north and spitting rain, the river was still in summer mode--very low, clear, and a bit warm. The intense blue-winged olive hatches I was expecting were yet to materialize. A day’s worth of flyfishing produced little more than the chill feeling of a cold drizzle down the back of my neck. Fortunately, my wife and I were able to console ourselves that evening with an excellent martini and venison tenderloins at the riverside Hungry Trout--one of my favorite restaurants anywhere.

Thus fortified, I was determined the next morning to catch something. So I grabbed an ultralight spinning rod and a small Rapala Flat Rap (silver/orange belly) and headed back to the same pools that yesterday had produced no fish.

The difference was incredible. Sharply twitching the little plug had the brown trout giddy with excitement. From the main current tongue in the pool shown in the photo, I caught one-two-three trout. Just like that. That sort of success continued all morning, until my wife finally put down her fly rod and asked to use my spinning outfit.

“No, no,” I told her. “You’re flyfishing. That’s better. Just stick with it.”

So she did....

Comments (17)

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from Douglas wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Thanks for sharing your "formula"! If my wife asked for my rig, I probably would would say "Yes Dear" and hand it over.
By the way,your fishing in my neck of the woods. Try the Salmon River near Malone sometime. It might surprise you.

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from Sayfu wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Not my approach. Bigger attractor dries would have been my first approach if no hatch was going on. Next approach would have been a streamer, our a soft hackle swung through the pool. Turning to the spinning gear and getting a good response on a plug tells me I'm not too good with the flyrod...I should have been able to get down and attract a response the same way I did with the spinning gear..The guy casting in the photo definitely is casting good enough to catch fish using sinking, attractor flies.

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from buckhunter wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

LOL. I sense a little jab in there. All I have to say is good for you. Fishing is fishing and catching makes the day all the better.

Also what better way to get a new spinning rod outfit from your wife for Christmas than deny her use of your old one. You are very sly John. We should all learn from you.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Buckhunter...I did the same thing at golf one time...had a hard time beating this guy so I teed off from the ladies tees.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Sayfu,

Life is so much easier when it stops being a competition. I hope you get there.

-buckhunter-

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from tkbone wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

To each his own, but I think Sayfu is right in thinking that if they're hitting that Rapala, a properly-swung streamer or wet fly would have done the trick.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Buckmaster..What did I say that is competitive?...I know a lot of fly anglers..a lot of them. Guys that frequent a fly shop, and I would say that not one out of 50 would switch to spinning gear just because they couldn't catch a fish on a dry fly on a particular occasion. It ain't me, its the result of a survey of the fly angling community...trust me on that one.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

"The fishing was excellent. The catching somewhat less so."

Excellent quote. Many need to take that to heart more.

Cool picture.

Another great post. Deeter should read it ten times or so.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Sounds like a great trip. The only thing I'd have done different is start with a spinning outfit, since I've yet to delve into fly-fishing, and I'm more of a margarita guy myself.
+1 to shane for the jab at deeter.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Beautiful spot, John. Glad you and your wife enjoyed it. So, how did she do ... catching wise, that is?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wisc14 wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

in wisconsin thick alders and brush along some very good streams i fish make it very difficult to fly fish, thus keeping the flyfishing snobs away...i like it that way

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

wisc 14...A fly fisherman a snob? Why so?...you sound jealous.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Shane,

The same quote also caught my attention.

Sayfu,

Stay off the ladies tee. lol

wisc14,

The fly rod is a deadly weapon on small brush covered streams. You should give it a try.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Buck, I may have said that wrong, or, I said the tee thing as a joke. My point was really anti-competition. Many dedicated fly anglers stay with the fly rod because they have chosen it as the tool of choice they enjoy the most. They realize there are good days, and bad days. Matter of fact, I probably talk about the bad days more than the good days, as not being able to solve the riddle. Just makes me wanna get back out there again. Catching can get too good. At my age it does for sure...catch a few, and I want to take a break. When catchin comes easy, I don't go for the numbers,I actually go the other way.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Sayfu,
I understand where you are coming from. Especially the part where you say "catching can get too good."

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

i'm gonna have to make a trip up there before the snow starts flying. i've just been so busy with all the water in my area. upstate is definately on my list.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

I've looked over that guy casting and the water again....is that fly water, or what?!!!! Those bubble lines get the fly rod juices flowing just looking at it!!! Shame on that guy for even thinking about using a spinning rod!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from buckhunter wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Sayfu,

Life is so much easier when it stops being a competition. I hope you get there.

-buckhunter-

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

"The fishing was excellent. The catching somewhat less so."

Excellent quote. Many need to take that to heart more.

Cool picture.

Another great post. Deeter should read it ten times or so.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

LOL. I sense a little jab in there. All I have to say is good for you. Fishing is fishing and catching makes the day all the better.

Also what better way to get a new spinning rod outfit from your wife for Christmas than deny her use of your old one. You are very sly John. We should all learn from you.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Sounds like a great trip. The only thing I'd have done different is start with a spinning outfit, since I've yet to delve into fly-fishing, and I'm more of a margarita guy myself.
+1 to shane for the jab at deeter.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Shane,

The same quote also caught my attention.

Sayfu,

Stay off the ladies tee. lol

wisc14,

The fly rod is a deadly weapon on small brush covered streams. You should give it a try.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Thanks for sharing your "formula"! If my wife asked for my rig, I probably would would say "Yes Dear" and hand it over.
By the way,your fishing in my neck of the woods. Try the Salmon River near Malone sometime. It might surprise you.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Not my approach. Bigger attractor dries would have been my first approach if no hatch was going on. Next approach would have been a streamer, our a soft hackle swung through the pool. Turning to the spinning gear and getting a good response on a plug tells me I'm not too good with the flyrod...I should have been able to get down and attract a response the same way I did with the spinning gear..The guy casting in the photo definitely is casting good enough to catch fish using sinking, attractor flies.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Buckhunter...I did the same thing at golf one time...had a hard time beating this guy so I teed off from the ladies tees.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tkbone wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

To each his own, but I think Sayfu is right in thinking that if they're hitting that Rapala, a properly-swung streamer or wet fly would have done the trick.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Buckmaster..What did I say that is competitive?...I know a lot of fly anglers..a lot of them. Guys that frequent a fly shop, and I would say that not one out of 50 would switch to spinning gear just because they couldn't catch a fish on a dry fly on a particular occasion. It ain't me, its the result of a survey of the fly angling community...trust me on that one.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Beautiful spot, John. Glad you and your wife enjoyed it. So, how did she do ... catching wise, that is?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wisc14 wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

in wisconsin thick alders and brush along some very good streams i fish make it very difficult to fly fish, thus keeping the flyfishing snobs away...i like it that way

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

wisc 14...A fly fisherman a snob? Why so?...you sound jealous.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Buck, I may have said that wrong, or, I said the tee thing as a joke. My point was really anti-competition. Many dedicated fly anglers stay with the fly rod because they have chosen it as the tool of choice they enjoy the most. They realize there are good days, and bad days. Matter of fact, I probably talk about the bad days more than the good days, as not being able to solve the riddle. Just makes me wanna get back out there again. Catching can get too good. At my age it does for sure...catch a few, and I want to take a break. When catchin comes easy, I don't go for the numbers,I actually go the other way.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Sayfu,
I understand where you are coming from. Especially the part where you say "catching can get too good."

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

i'm gonna have to make a trip up there before the snow starts flying. i've just been so busy with all the water in my area. upstate is definately on my list.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

I've looked over that guy casting and the water again....is that fly water, or what?!!!! Those bubble lines get the fly rod juices flowing just looking at it!!! Shame on that guy for even thinking about using a spinning rod!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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