Merwin: Martinis, Rapalas, and Early Fall

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](http://www.hungrytrout.com /)--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....