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2023 Fish Tales

The most recent of 2023’s adventures follow. Previous Fish Tales are at the bottom of the site.

1 - Opening Day

2 - How to fish Beat 7, Caleb Smith

3 - Bugs on the Beaverkill

4 - An evening on the Carmans

5 - Exploring the Eastern Catskills

2023 Fish Tale #5

May 18-21 Eastern Catskills with Joe Odierna

East side of the Catskills is less popular than the west with its Delaware drainage.  Both sides have famous streams with histories we all read about and have benefitted from but those in the east have suffered from man and storms more than those in the west.  So why go?  Because they are there and have mysteries of their own to be unfolded for those who look for them.

Joe and I planned this trip last winter and knew what we were signing up for.  We stayed in East Durham where I caught my first trout on Catskill Creek around 1955. It has a special place in my heart but as a memory rather than as a destination trout stream.

We started on the Esopus at the Boiceville Rail Trail Park and had rising fish greet us as soon as we walked into the river. (Bring your NYC Water Shed Permit). We didn’t run into another fisher until up toward Five Arches Bridge.  I guess we had one or more each but nothing to write home about. This is always interesting water and can hold some amazing fish, just not all the time.

At mid-afternoon we moved to a new DEC pull off upstream which is a wide section of shallow water with a troth along each bank. Upstream the water gets deep and below it trails off into a wide riffle.  Enjoyed searching the “new” water and bagging a fall fish. It was easily wadable, but the Esopus flow is moderate with the Portal closed. It’s hard to tell how good the fishing (and wading) would be with more water or during some bug activity as it was quiet at this time.

Returning the next day, we followed the Schoharie upstream to Prattsville where there is a low dam to keep the bass from the trout water.  This is also where the Batavia Kill enters the river. There are a number of good fishing spots between here and the Art Flick Monument. We followed the river all the way to Hunter where the access is on the other side (so cross over and follow the river). Certainly lots of fish holding water but you are looking up at the backside of the town buildings.

Back at Prattsville we did the same with the Batavia Kill.  Interesting river with some dramatic spots down steep banks but much of it is low gradient silted water.  At Jewett we found a long stretch of accessible water with multiple pools, but the silt gets a chance to drop out and coat the bottom.

We searched in earnest for a spot that called us into the water on both rivers, but none did.  As with most places if you spend the time, you will find the fish.  We just didn’t have enough time this trip.

A short trip over the mountain and we worked some productive water where Joe had a fat 18-inch Brown, and I had a jumping Rainbow – three times, at least 2 feet out of the water. Wow!

On the way back we investigated the West Kill driving to the terminus of the road where a short walk treats you to a waterfall.  Pretty water at the top and interesting throughout but small. It deepens a bit as it approaches the junction with the Schoharie in Lexington where we stood debating its potential.

Next day was to be the Catskill Creek and Joe suggested a walk across a farmer’s field and to the stream – about a mile in waders through tick invested un-cut hay.  I need to be honest – it is where I caught my first trout and I want to see it but not at that cost. We drove the river instead and ended up at the headwaters where we found ourselves not too far from that 18-inch brown – so we returned to have rising fish all afternoon.  They ate the March Browns and Gray Caddis.

A local with an Ugly Stick caught an unbelievable sucker – had to go 10 pounds – which he was ecstatic about and carefully released. Nice fellow.

Day 4 was clean up, pack and head for home.

It was good to see the West Kill of Art Flick fame all the way to Diamond Notch parking at its end, as well as the Schoharie and the Batavia Kill.  As everyone knows, they are industrialized and stripped by storms over the years (Hurricane Irene). It has made them less of a destination in spite of the history. Esopus was the way to go in the eastern Catskills and even it has been affected by too many storms and engineers. BUT - If you want some uncrowded fishing and don’t mind working for your fish these streams each offer plenty of water for you to explore.

Joe’s 18 inch Brown

Family and Fishing

Hunter had and released 4 bass in the triangle off Eatons Neck!

Tom’s Books

Tom authored his first book, How to Fly Fish for Trout, the first book to read, when a friend wanted to learn how to fly fish for trout and was overwhelmed by the available instruction manuals. Too much information for a beginner was the problem. It has since sold over 5000 copies.

Letters to Mack, Book One: Correspondence on a Fishing Life. Tom shares his fishing and hiking adventures with a lifelong friend named Mack. “Sometimes you have the good fortune to meet a buddy early on and get to share your life with him” says Tom. “At first it’s in school or on the ball field and later through correspondence and a few fishing trips.”

Letters to Mack 2: Correspondence from Montana to Montauk continues the series with western trout and Long Island striped bass, blues and albies.

Letters to Mack3: Correspondence from Islamorada to Pulaski includes tarpon and steelhead adventures.

How to Improve Your Fly Fishing & Catching has 30 brief and easy to read tips to remind an angler of those little things we all so often forget.

All books are available on Amazon.com in print and digital.

Fishing and Friends

Chuck Neuner presenting me with my new 7’ 5 wt. bamboo he made.  

Carmans River Rod Company

2023 Long Island Fly Fishing Expo

After a 3 year hiatus due to factors you are all aware of the LIFFExpo had their most successful show yet.  Fly Fishers and interested others flocked to the Radisson with lots of interest, questions…and cash! My presentations on Fishing the Catskills and Where to fish for trout on Long Island were well received.  

Thanks to RiverBayOutfitters(.com), Paul and Kenny as well as a great group of volunteers for pulling this wonderful show together. I am already looking forward to next year.

Friends and Fishing

Tom LoProto on the West Branch

Cross Current Guide Service

Friends and Fishing

Peter Dubno, co-author of Trout Fishing on Long Island’s Spring Creeks, on the Madison’s Moon Scape

Fishing Long Island Spring Creeks

Want to know where to fly fish for trout on Long Island?

This booklet, created by LITU, is a guide to the major trout fishing on long Island.



















For a copy of this guide click “Learn More” which will bring you to the LITU website. All proceeds from the book benefit trout conservation.

Friends and Fishing

Luke Baranov’s False Albacore on a fly off Eatons Neck

Some things just make me smile.

Podcast: Fly Fishing Long Island and more

Dave Stewart of www.wetflyswing.com, a podcast site with over 700 anglers from across the spectrum of fly fishing invited Tom to talk about his background, books and fishing along with his guest host Michael Barger of Art Flick TU. Listen to it at www.wetflyswing.com - Episode 275.

Family and Fishing

Shane’s first Connetquot Trout which he released!

Reviews on Amazon:


5.0 out of 5 stars

An absolute Gem!

Reviewed in the United States on May 18, 2020

I actually read this book second. I was unaware, as I am new to the world of fly fishing and all of the wonderful literature that accompanies it and read some of Mr. McCoy's later works first and he recommended this book in those. Once again, a wonderful read full of incite and introspection! I cannot wait to journey further into this man's catalogue!


5.0 out of 5 stars

Great Book for a Beginner

Reviewed in the United States on March 22, 2020

Verified Purchase

This is a beautifully written book with valuable and simple to understand basic instruction and very nice stories that illustrate the fishing lessons. It is one of the only fly-fishing books I picked up that did not make my head spin with complexities. Moreover, the stories are beautiful and of a literary quality. The author has obviously worked quite hard at his writing. For me, I live in Long Island (where the author lives) and he gives tips about where to fish in and around my area. I highly recommend the book.


5.0 out of 5 stars

Superb book

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 23, 2014

Verified Purchase

Really enjoyed this. I was really keen to find a good book that gave me a grounded introduction to fly fishing and I've found it. Thought the authors enthusiasm was really apparent and it went into just the right amount of detail.

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars with 121 global ratings

Click here

Family and Fishing

Sarah Grace’s Porgy which she released.

Favorite Fly for Stripers!

Clouser Minnow

Simple to tie and durable, I like it in a Chartreuse and White combination. I have found this to be a fly I can put on in May and take off in November and fish it with a sinking or sinking tip line. Bass can’t resist it when it’s on or near the bottom (in-shore) so be sure to let it have enough time to get down there. Cast and point the tip down and towards the fly – count to 5 or ten, whatever it takes to get it down then strip it, in jerks, stops and starts, as well as long darts. Don’t take it out too soon at boat (or beach). Make sure to strip set when they bite.

Good luck!

Letters to Mack 2 – Correspondence from Montana to Montauk

Table of Contents


1. When You Give You Get

2. April Trout

3. May Trout

4. June Trout

5. July Trout - A Western Journal

6. Putnam Pond

7. Hannah

8. Catskills in June

9. Missoula to Jackson

10. 4 AM with the Boys

11. Four Peaks

12. Twin Ponds

13. Shared Waters

14. Missoula to Yellowstone by way of the Big Hole

15. Montauk on a Fly

16. Jerry

17. Negley Farson

18. Adirondack Reprieve

19. The Walk

It’s all in Letters to Mack 2.

Click “Learn More”.

Family and Fishing

Jason’s Big Blue with Dave Flanagan -


How to tie a Joe Stack

Page from America’s Favorite Flies by John Bryan and Rob Carter.  Click on “Learn More” for Jim Misiura’s YouTube on how to tie it.

Fishing and Friends

Manny on the Willowemoc

30 Tips - just enough so you can remember them!

This is the second edition of the book and has been updated and printed in color.

Paul McCain is a friend of mine. He also owns a fly shop, RiverBay Outfitters (.com), and does a good job of marketing it with newsletters, events and videos. He promoted my book How to Fly Fish for Trout, the First Book to Read, in a YouTube video.

He asked me to write some tips for fly fishers for his newsletter. That is what got me started.

I wrote them as they occurred to me, triggered by a day on the water or after talking to some friends. They are meant to be fun to read while offering some of the information that new fly fishers need to know but may not know to ask.

I am not an expert. I am just a person who likes to fly fish and has been doing so for a while. Over that time, I have discovered and rediscovered so many things that make my fishing more enjoyable. These tips are meant to make yours more enjoyable as well.

(Please note that these are tips – only tips - a tip is a small but useful piece of information on how to do something. In places I suggest further reading and resources, sometimes suggesting my own books. Please know that my intention is not to bait you into buying a book but only to offer additional resources of which there are many.)

All of these originally appeared in a blog that was on an earlier version of my website – tomsfishingstories.com. I thought putting them all together in a book just seemed to make sense as a companion to How to Fly Fish for Trout which has over 5000 copies out there, somewhere.

For more information click “Learn More”

I hope you enjoy it – and your fly fishing!

Family and Fishing

Tom with a keeper-size Fluke that he released.

Podcast: Tom’s Greatest Tip

Podcast interview with Christian Bacasa at Fly Fishing Insider

Listen to a chat on what drew Tom to fly fishing and why he stayed, a bit about the books and some of his tips on catching more trout including, at the end, his Greatest Tip!

Podcast #164 on the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

The Black Nose Dace

The Black Nose Dace (BND) is probably the first fly I tied, acquiring the materials from Fireside Angler in Melville in the ‘70s. It has remained my favorite for streamer fishing all these years and especially on Long Island.

I tie it weightless and fish it on a long leader, letting it play in the current and trying to let it naturally sink to the bottom in calmer areas. Pulsing it and adding some short strips, then letting it drift back and repeat.

Black Nose Dace - My version:

• Hook – I usually tie it on a #12 streamer hook like a Gamakatsu S11s-4L2H – but suggest tying them on a variety of hook sizes both smaller and larger.

• Dressing – The key here is to go light – use half of what you think you should use:

• Thread: Black (It is called a black nose dace as it has a black thread nose)

• Tag: A red wool tag – Maybe ¼ inch or less at the top of the bend

• Body: It traditionally is wrapped in silver tinsel, sometimes with an oval silver rib, but I switched to a silver Bill’s Body Braid a few years ago and find it easier to work with and the fly spins less in fast water.

• Wing(s): There are three layers –

1. White Bucktail –Tied so the tips are not perfectly aligned and extend just beyond the Tag. I try to use hair from the middle of the tail.

2. Black Bear Hair – Just a few strands to cover the white bucktail and form a stripe on the side of the fly

3. Tan/Brown Bucktail tied such that it doesn’t hide the Bear Hair – again not too much or too aligned extending about a hook shank beyond the bend (progressively longer than the underwing layers.) I vary this, sometimes making the wing shorter on larger hooks. The splay of the tips gives it some motion when in the water and pulsing.

• Head: Black thread wrapped to secure the wing and end in a tapered nose.

• Whip finish and coat with head cement.

(This is from the Long Island Flyrodders booklet on member’s favorite flies compiled by Bill Smith.)

Family and Fishing

Sue with her first Bonefish off Key Largo

Another fly I favor

This was probably the first dry fly I tied and used.  A Royal Wulff. Over time I used it less and less although I always had one in my box.  Today it is my secret weapon when on the Beaverkill at dark.

Ah Ara Wack

Quiet. On the beach. No wind so the cold doesn’t penetrate. Sun.

Tide’s low exposing the beach with the rocks and pebbles that he detested when first introduced, brought up on the fine sands of the south shore. Now they welcome him with more color and texture than the south could offer. And treasures. Beach glass, shells, flotsam, and once in a while a fishing lure.

He hears a clammer’s rake banging against the side of his Garvey, the first sorting of what goes back and what to market. The box will be next, and he hears the clattering of the hard shells on the sorting pipes. Turns to look and the boat is easily a mile away, yet the sound carries, the Sound so still.

The winter ducks. Ah-Ara-Wack, Ah-Ara-Wack is their tune, if you can call it a tune. He is not sure of the proper name of this visitor, but they have been here a few weeks. Their song mixes with the seagulls who are dropping shells on the parking lot, screaming at their competitors to stay away from the opened mollusk.

They walk to the point without much thought to the weather or the time of year, him and his dog. Just a nice day to be outside, on the beach. He looks up from time to time to see if any other visitors are about. Sometimes a harbor seal, sometimes a snowy owl. Whales have been sighted. None show themselves today. Not yet.

Watching the last of the water draining from the sand, the tide reaching its turning point. The bright sun reveals the sparking water moving, running. A ritual that repeats itself daily, twice a day. Forever. Always. Rearranging tiny pieces of the earth, moving them along its continuum. Moving to where she wants them to go.

The town will bring sand in the spring and the bulldozer will spread it, trying to give beach goers who prefer the finer grit some to sit on, for a while. Nature will do the sorting. The moving. Always. Forever.

Ah-Ara-Wack – the birds muster and swirl in the water, some chasing, others diving. Ah-Ara-Wack. One pod forces another from its roost. Ah-Ara-Wack. They seem restless as many of us must seem to them.

Not him. Restless that is. He is at peace now, enjoying this time of retire. He has time before nature takes over and starts moving him to where she wants him to go.


Friends and Fishing

Joe in the Neversink Gorge

New Fly (for me)

Sully’s Darter by Bill Smith

January 2, 2023 – Connetquot

PHW day at the park. It was about 52 degrees, overcast, slight wind and the water was at 48 degrees. I am thinking Blue Winged Olive, Iris Caddis and Black Nose Dace and they all produced. Bill Smith stopped by and gifted me a good-looking fly suggesting I give it a try. I saved it for my destination which was lower Beat 9.

When I first saw it I thought it was a Hornberg - but it isn’t. It is a handsome fly with a well-formed body of Mallard, a collar that sparkles and a partridge hackle that sweeps back in the water. When wet it looks like a living bait fish. Later I asked him if it has a name:

“This fly is heavily based on George Maciaug’s George’s Killer. I’ve changed it a little, hopefully just enough to warrant renaming it. I call it Sully’s Darter because LIFR Vice President Shawn Sullivan was very successful using the original pattern on several group trips earlier in the year. It’s a fun pattern to tie and seems to be quite effective. “

Well, I can attest that it’s very effective, amazingly so on this day, in this place, and at this time – and I suspect it will work wherever I fish it. Well done, Bill!

Ellwood Freshwater Flies is Bill’s company and for the materials and tying instructions go to his YouTube by clicking this link:


More to fly fishing than catching fish?

Listen to my friend Steve Ehrlich!

(Click the title for podcast: “And a River Runs Through It”)

Steve also has a new website, but it is important to note:

He is more of a “life-guide” than a fishing guide - although he could be both.


Past His Prime

We made it to Roscoe in time for breakfast, then headed for the fly shop. Dennis was on the quarried stone stoop having a smoke and greeted us with “Uh oh, look who’s here.”

“What’s happening?” says Jerry.

“Not much. The rivers are high.”

“Any action?”

“A little yesterday, more the day before, hard to tell with this water.”

Action means flies and sometimes you hit them and sometimes you don’t. It doesn’t alter the joy of being here, at least not much. We come every year and every year it is different. Moving inside, Dennis takes his place at the tying bench where he greets all, whether buying or not. Jerry watches as sulfur emergers fill a cup next to the vise.

He tells Dennis what he has been torturing me with for the last few weeks. “First time since 1952 I missed the Hendrickson hatch.” It is already June. Drakes, Isos and Sulfurs, maybe a left over March Brown. June. “1952. Damn.” Dennis admires his tenure. “You must know every rock in this stream by now.” I countered, glancing over my shoulder, “He’s past his prime.”

It blurted out. I didn’t mean it harshly, just jousting with him as we often do, but the words struck me as unintentionally cutting, probably because there was truth in them. This man who taught me so much, my mentor and friend, has lost his edge. He can’t see the drag of the fly, his tremulous hands keep him from tying a blood knot, and tying on even a size 12 is difficult.

He doesn’t react to my words. We buy some weighted stoneflies for the high water and say our good-byes. As we are leaving I ask “Where should we start?” We both know the answer.

Earlier this year Jerry was in the ICU bedridden, attached to more machines for monitoring, elimination and nutrition than I care to think about. Nothing was working. He looked me in the eye and said “I don’t think I’m going to walk again.” A plain statement. No real emotion or search for sympathy. Just his professional assessment of the situation, being the clinician that he was. I stumbled for words. “You need to think of a place you want to walk to, get the image and hold on to it.” He looked at me as his wife listened to the plan. One word came out of our mouths at the same time, “Barnhart’s.”

Sometimes people go suddenly, unexpectedly. That is more difficult as you are left with this wretched void, totally unprepared. Watching someone go through the later stages of life, the decline, is difficult in a different way. It is better than the alternative but you find yourself marking how close the nearest medical facility is and thinking about how you would get him there. He gave up river crossings some time ago. I knot on a fly or add some tippet, give him the first shot at a rise. All of us who fish with him quietly do whatever we can to make it easier without being obvious about it – but he knows.

We play out the roles.

Just last spring the two of us worked Barnhart’s from the riffle at the head, down past the portal, all the way to the big bend toward Horse Brook Run. He quit when we hit Hendrickson’s and made it on his hands and knees up the steep bank. No small feat. Leaning on the guard rail, watching, he cheered the catches and misses as I fished the other side. That was just a year ago.

Later that summer, on Slough Creek, he got upset with himself like never before, frustrated and cursing at hanging a fly in a tree on the first cast after struggling to tie it on. I turned and made like I didn’t see. That image haunts me.

Barnhart’s is where we went after leaving Dennis and he walked in with no assistance. It is something we have done a hundred times over our 30-year partnership but this time it was a big deal, his walk in, manifesting the image he had conjured. He cast his last fly on the Beaverkill the fall of that year and caught his last Catskill trout, falling as he swooped it into the net on Sunoco Pool.

Once home he drove himself to the Nissequogue where we usually close out the season together. He called that evening making it clear that regardless of what he was about to tell me, I need to know that he thoroughly enjoyed the day. He had walked to the lower beats, the path not in sight of the river, and got turned around. “Stumbling through the woods, I broke the tip of the Granger, suffered a few significant scratches from the underbrush, and once I found the river couldn’t even fish.” Sure, he enjoyed it. He was in his element.

That was over a decade ago.

Last year a buddy used a walker to cross the West Branch at Stilesville. Another lost his balance at Ferdon’s and feared he might drown, not being able to get up. Manny didn’t remember the wild Delaware rainbow that broke him off a few hours before, he too is gone now. My legs don’t feel like they used to. Stamina no longer allows for more than a few hours on the stream. The hike into the Neversink Gorge is out of the question. Rock hopping, once a natural act, is suicidal.

We know when we pass our prime. It is obvious. What is difficult is knowing when to hang up the boots. Like the cowboys of old, most of us hope to go out with our boots on. Friend and short story writer Richard Dokey and I were planning a trip to Silver Creek when his son called. They found him in his waders. He had just published his final work – Fly Fishing the River Styx.

So keep those boots on as long as you can, even if only to be in your element, like Jerry on the Nissequogue. After all, being in one’s prime is not the point, being there is.


I have followed this path before

And know to where it leads.

Friends try to intervene,

Life continuing to recede.

The time of life, our future fate,

Is not to be denied.

Though if we embrace this very day,

We can all enjoy the ride.

August on the Salt

Close to home, fishing the beach with poppers after sunset. Joy in just being here watching the moon rise with friends Walt and Dennis. A fish of unknown species provides my first action, ran a bit of line out, tugged and turned soon freeing himself as I shouted “fish on” with glee.

Made my day!

2023 Fish Tales

A collection of stories about days on the water

1 - Opening Day

2 - How to fish Beat 7, Caleb Smith

3 - Bugs on the Beaverkill

4 - An evening on the Carmans

2023 Fish Tale #1

April 3, 2023 – Closest I could get to opening day…

not that there is an opening day anymore. This generation wants what they want, when they want it, so year-round open season for trout has been in place for a few years. April 1 – October 15 is a better solution - for the trout’s sake and the rivers, not to mention the fish eggs being stomped on before they have a chance to hatch - but I am just an old fart who doesn’t like change. I fished in most months of the year so my grump is a bit hypocritical, but it is the way I feel about it, my actions aside.

Went to Connetquot with the Project Healing Waters group. No new folks showed up, so my volunteer guiding was not needed. Had the day to fish myself. I had decided to wear waders today before I arrived which worked out as they had a project underway on the upper river. I rigged the GLoomis 9-foot 4 wt. which I truly enjoy. Ted Bany pulled in next to me. Good to see him out and fishing. He is in the middle of a medical treatment but looks good. Dave, Dan, Bill, Ed and others were there, a good group.

I walked down-river first fishing upper #12 which rewarded me and my Black Nose Dace with a strong fish who must have been hiding among the recent stockies. Gave me a ride and ended up freeing himself. Next was an even tougher fish – at least I thought so – but I had snagged his fin. Was able to release him without the net.

I wanted to fish dry and headed downstream to #11 with a size 20 black midge with white wing, the proper fly name unknown to me. No one cared. At the top of #9 I put on a size 18 CDC winged BWO and got a nice splash but no hook up. Then a second hit but no hook up. I stayed with it too long as it seemed to attract them. Took a break and ate half of my PBJ. (Did you know that today is National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day?)

The river is full of visible fish laying on the bottom, mid-stream, as the osprey shadows pass over. A mop fly would mop them up but that is not my game. I went through my box and took out a size 18 Renegade – that is a Bi-visible with a peacock hurl middle and a gold tag. Again, an immediate big splash making me think it will work but it didn’t. Moved up and back twice before I put on the reliable Iris Caddis in a size 16 – probably too big but another splash. I guess those that do choose to rise are hold overs who know what a real fly looks like.

Well, I gave in and put on what I always put on when nothing else is working – A Joe Stack. This one was well worn but I straightened out the hair and greased it. It is tied in a Sparkle Dun style, but I thought the tail (shuck) too long so trimmed it. There was a fish rising at the bottom of #10 near the right bank, under the bushes. I had put the Caddis in there with no reaction. I side armed the Joe Stack in and on the third attempt got it close to the bank. Bam! A spunky fish took it in and out of the bushes and then around the log I found when I went up to see if I could find the fly he broke off.

No fly to be found, must be in his lip. I only had one Joe Stack left in the box. This one was even more beat up with the dubbing frayed and the hair splayed in every direction. Did what I could to dress it up and hooked a mid-stream fish and then a tree as he released it under pressure.

Time to move down below the sluice which I consider a sure thing, but it wasn’t. They have cleaned up the river from top to bottom and took the brush pile that held my fish. With no response to the Joe Stack, I put on a Dace and fiddled with it, but my heart wasn’t in it. The other half of the PBJ helped once the sugar kicked in. My alarm went off meaning 30 minutes left and I am 15 minutes from the car. With the Joe Stack once again attached, I walked up to find Bill on lower #15. We chatted. I told him I had lost the original Sully’s Darter he gave me to a bad knot. It’s a great fly and have 6 more but that was the original and I felt bad about it.

At #16A Dave was untangling his line. Bill headed out and I took a few drifts on lower #16A with no response. Time to go. I thanked Dave and headed out.

It was a beautiful day with daffodils, geese and mallards, swans and deer, all crossing my path as well as a muskrat or two. One swan got very territorial chasing two geese all the way downstream before stopping to groom himself. Most encouraging were all the bait fish (or were they young of the year stream-bred rainbows?) that were schooling around my feet as I dangled them off the dock on #9, hundreds of them. More were to be found as I moved up and down. I had not noticed any of these miracles on the other beats. I recall back in the day there were muddlers all over the bottom on every beat. They are few and far between now. Nice to see these little fellows.

I had enough fish on the hook and more than adequate opportunities, making me smile while reminding myself not to get too intense on days like this. Opening Days, that is.

2023 Fish Tale #2

April 6, 2023 – Caleb Smith Beat 7

I signed up when at the LITU casting clinic at Caleb 2 weeks ago. Lisa was nice enough to encourage me to grab a spot and I did – Beat 7 was not a default, but my first choice. There are so many memories on beats 6 and 7 – with Clark in the 1970s, with Jerry, Joe and of course with me, solo. Last year Sue came with me, adding to those memories.

It was forecasted to rain all day, showers at least and temperatures in the low 50’s. I dressed to avoid getting a chill but once again the weatherman was wrong. I was way over dressed. Left my fleece vest in the car but wore my rain jacket over my wool shirt and Patagonia long johns. Too much, especially because it wasn’t raining – it was sunny. I took off the jacket but still was too warm.

There was a guy on 6 as I walked in and he hailed me to say hello. “Are you Tom?” he said. “The Tom with the Blog?” That’s me I replied. He complemented the stories and said his name is Jay. I thanked him and continued on my way to the top of 7. They have rebuilt the board walk and the water seems to have infiltrated the whole area where I once thought there was bank. I guess when they cut back the brush it exposed what was there all along. At the end there is a step down and then the stream.

Following my own advice, I fished the water before stepping into it but no hits. I took my time working the top section although I seldom if ever get hits here. Always possible to learn something new. There were flies emerging, small black stone flies, but no fish on them.

It took about an hour to go the short distance to the bushes on the right just above the weir. There was a rise some time ago making me extra quiet on my approach. I had on a Dace upstream but switched to an Iris Caddis using the 6.5’ cane rod Chuck made me. It’s a 4 weight and casts well. I had streamlined my leader connections a month ago so the long leader could be taken into the tiptop without risk of breaking the tip when a fish surges. Turned out not to be such a smooth transition. Back to the work bench tomorrow.

I drifted the fly in front of the bush, let it swing across the face and then fall back underneath eventually sinking. Same technique I used a year ago. It works if you’re patient and don’t mind getting snagged once in a while. It took some time and several attempts but a nice Brookie ‘took the bait’, as they say. I walked him over to the weir and released him over the falls. My own way of stocking the lower river.

I asked why they don’t stock below the weir. They tried but the fish didn’t hold. They feed these fish pellets as there is barely enough food in this stream to support more than a few of them. Usually, they throw a handful and the fish go crazy like piranhas on a pig. When they threw pellets in the lower river, there was no reaction. They tried it more than once. Could be they headed downstream to the pond and White’s Falls but that doesn’t seem likely. Perhaps poachers got them or otters or osprey…hard to figure as they always held before. Suggested they try Browns, but they are limited to what Connetquot can offer and that’s Brookies and Rainbows. Anyway, they don’t bother to stock 8 and 9 although there is every reason to believe some stream bred Brookies as well as fish from below could be residing there.

I took a rest, waiting for the hole to settle down, then repeated the process. This time it took longer and snagged a few sticks having to reset a few times. I was thinking I may have spooked whatever was left in the hole, if anything was there at all. I let the fly drift longer and deeper and eventually had a nice rainbow on the line.

Again, I walked her over to the weir but when I went to take out the fly it was deep in the throat. I cut the line and flipped her into the lower river. There goes my Iris Caddis. I searched the pouch to look for another and found one hiding under a Joe Stack. It was pretty worn but that isn’t always a bad thing. As I walked back up, a big fish spooked that was in the far corner of the dam on the upstream side. Went back to the bench to rest the hole a while and was wondering if there could be a third fish in there. Maybe the one I spooked moved in. I repeated the process and again, it took a while. Lots of patience and faith but was rewarded with what was a fish as big as the one I spooked. He slashed back and forth trying to free himself but I got him out into the stream. Thought I was handling him well when the line went limp. Checked the fly – he had opened the hook.

I chatted with a fellow who was doing water testing and was suddenly aware of the spinners with egg sacks hovering over the water down from the weir. Lots of them. They were working their way to the smooth water above and dropping the eggs. Spinners on the Nissequogue! I don’t think I have seen this in all the years. I assumed they did their procreation at night when we were not here. This was going on in broad day light. I stood in the water with my hat in hand trying to capture one for a photo so I could ID it. Caught one and folded the hat to avoid an escape. Got the camera out. As soon as I opened the hat it took off. Continued the hunt and got another with a quick but not very clear photo. They look like Quill Gordons but may be a Dark Hendrickson; seemed too large to be Blue Duns. I put on a fly that might pass for a spinner and went downstream. No one was interested. I needed to go down further to give the flies a chance to die and splay their wings. I worked all of lower 7.

When on 7, I almost always wander down to 8 and 9 since nobody ever reserves them. I started but was just too hot. I didn’t want the sweating that would accompany the long walk back. Out of the river, I walked to the weir. Tried the bush one more time and then decided to call it a day. Actually, I was thinking if no one was on 6 I would give it a try, but there was a guy working it. I let him know that I was leaving, and he could go down to 7 if he wanted. He thanked me and immediately reeled in and started down. I waited a few minutes, looking at the water, and almost got in but thought better of it. I went up to Vail Pond and watched for a bit. No rises or anything else that made me think there were any active fish but cast anyway. Here and there. Let it sit, gave it a twitch, pulled it a little. Nothing.

I headed to the car carrying my rain jacket and wanting to take off my wool shirt. Damn that weatherman.

2023Fish Tale #3

April 20-22 – Bugs on the Beaverkill

I heard the Hendricksons were hatching, and the weather was going to be nice, so I jumped in the car Thursday. When I got there the water temperatures were below 50 degrees, low 40s upstream. I stopped in at Trouttown Flies (aka Catskill Flies) and Joe was very helpful giving me an overview of the hatches when and where. There are some mid-day, as expected, but others later, after 5 until dark. Can surprise you given our crazy weather patterns! They also just finished stocking the lower river with rainbows, but he was looking for holdover browns. Me too.

I planned on upstream fishing but having learned to follow the advice I ask for I headed to the big Beaverkill. Drove old 17 checking the pools. The river is low, especially for this time of year. Piano Rock is well out of the water which doesn’t bode well for the coming season. We need some rain. At Cairns two guys are sitting on the tailgate of a car from NJ waiting for something to happen.

I stop at one of my favorite pools and am leisurely suiting up with a fellow fisher on each side of me. The one on the right came over and said he was looking for a particular pool and I assured him that this was it. He said thanks and drove on.

I made my way to the top and started searching the edge of the eddy and then the rushing riffle above, just to get started. After a short while a rise, a good one, just downstream. I watch and he comes again. I shuffle down 20 feet and get ready while checking for my box of spring flies - but it is not there. I select something from my day pack that might work. A fly comes off, then another. The fish get active. Next a heavy hatch develops, between 2-4 o’clock (Water temperature near 50).

Lots of rises...I could go get my Spring fly box in car but didn’t want to give up my spot at top of pool. There are three guys eyeballing the action in front of me. Tried a number of flies and varied presentations and finally got one on a pair of wets. (Afterwards I made sure to put my Hendricksons in my pocket.) As it quieted down, I headed further downstream, for warmer water and, hopefully, more active fish - but it was over. Had one small brown on. Back to the motel for a shower and dinner at Raimundos which is still Raimundos.

Hockey playoffs on the dish TV and I was good for the night.

Saturday, I knew the fishing would be later, so I had some Roscoe Diner breakfast as all the other places were empty and I hate eating from a cold grill in an empty room. Mid-April which is usually cold with high water doesn’t usually draw crowds. Next, I toured the shops – Trout Town was first to report my findings to Joe Rist and thank him for the tips. Next Dettes, and then Fur Fin and Feather. Sue Post has retired, and a fellow named Ryan now owns it. All new signs on the highway and entrance. It is back to selling used hunting rifles as well as flies and tackle.

I drove up to De Bruce to check my favorite spots and stopped in at the newly re-opened Davidson’s General Store. Originally opened in the 1940s, you can get all kinds of stuff there including farm fresh eggs. There is also a small display honoring the original owner -fly tyer Mahlon Davidson – one of the good old boys you may not have heard about. The Rose Cottage is next door and next to it the shell of the original DeBruce Club of George LaBranche fame. He was said to be the first to float a dry fly, the Pink Lady, in the Willow where the Mongaup comes in.

Time to go fishing.

I went to the Beaverkill Campsite for ole time’s sake knowing the colder water will have delayed the hatches I left down river. I fished the downstream water, crossing over and walking to the bend. Easy cross by the way. Lots of midges and BWO’s but no fish on them. I could count the number of Hendricksons and other large May flies on one hand, but I have it to myself and it is just beautiful.

On the way out I fished upstream of the covered bridge to significant rises. These fish tease you and are difficult to fool but I hooked a monster - that broke me off. Had to be a wind knot as my casting had gotten a little sloppy, it being the end of the day, although I had just checked the tippet. Hmmm? – maybe it was one of those sharp-edged rock shelves that keep the big fish there that cut it. The act of fooling one of those trout with PhDs in Covered Bridge Pool made the whole trip worthwhile, even if he did get off.

My buddy Mack calls Roscoe one of those charming towns with all you need when upstate fishing and he is right –almost. It has managed to avoid the gentrification some other upstate villages have gone through, especially with all the NYC folks moving up there during the pandemic. It still has a bit of a sad demeanor despite the hard work of the Chamber of Commerce, mostly due to The Little Store, which I loved. They went out of business years ago yet it sits there like a dead corpse. The motels still have that 1950s charm and all that goes with it. New owners are working on the Roscoe Motel bit by bit. It’s Roscoe. It has it’s highlights like the new breweries, upgraded camping (glamping?), Creek-Side Cabins and, of course, fly shops with friendly people to guide you.

Rough sleeping due to all the water I drank, as well as the Rockland House prime rib I couldn’t even finish and the room heater which went on and off all night with the temperatures falling. Anyway, I awoke at 6. Had some in-room coffee that was good and packed the car breaking down the rod. Weather went from high 70s yesterday to 40s, rain and wind this morning so I just got going.

Next trip is to the east side of the Catskills. Stay tuned.

2023 Fish Tales #4

An evening on the Carmans with friends

May 11 – Fishing the evening hatch with Joe and Scott on the Carmans.  I got there about 4:00 and bought a season pass for $38.  I doubt I will come enough times for it to cover the cost - at $4 a day I need 10 days on the river to break-even, but it relieves the guilt of not paying for evenings as well as eliminates the hassle of going to the office on each trip.

The Carmans is like fishing a real river, although it is stocked.  Unlike the state parks, the fish are of modest size and number, with some hold overs and natural brookies to fish to. What attracted us today is the opportunity to experience a March Brown or Slate Drake blizzard hatch.  When they occur the river is filled with rising fish beyond what you can imagine – but it doesn’t happen often.  The only way to catch it is to show up in May, in the evening, and stay until dark.

Joe and Scott arrive shortly after me, parking the cars at Gate A.  We walk up to B, with me shooting video and taking photos to build my Carmans River catalog. There were some folks on C Dam spinning and catching so we worked B before going above the Dam to fish the west side where we are treated to rising fish that are pretty picky.  Scott has 2 sunnies on black caddis, twitching it seems to draw their attention. Joe let him know that they won’t count toward his being the high man for the day.

I went through a variety of flies with hits on the Iris Caddis but none in the net. About 7:00 we headed back to A to set up for the potential hatch.  All was quiet.  Heron cruise gracefully overhead, and a turkey is calling from the woods. No deer in sight although we know they are here. Swallows begin reconnaissance, looking for the same flies we are hoping for – large May Flies be they Hendricksons, March Browns or Drakes. 

I see some small sulfurs, some large spinners dropping eggs, and a few emergers.  I put on a March Brown parachute which draws a good splash but no hook up.  Rises were few and far between but patiently, quietly, waiting for them increases the opportunity to connect. 

A mid-stream riser took my March Brown emerger; a nice brookie of 8 or 10 inches makes my night.  Scott has one on a blind cast and Joe keeps changing flies. At dark the river went quiet – no blizzard tonight.

Maybe next time.

Fall Fishing the North Fork

Paul of RiverBay Outfitters often organizes trips to rivers and beaches in the tri state area. He also does Alaska, Montana and more. I have gone with him to Connecticut’s Housatonic and Farmington. Maybe a few others. I like supporting him and his shop as he’s a good guy who donated years of service to our clubs before he opened his shop. Quality guy.

I never went to Truman’s Beach, as many times as I have been to Southold, Greenport and Orient. It’s a two-hour drive; going out isn’t bad but coming home is tough after a day in the fresh air and salt. Luke called and invited me to come with him, his treat! I checked with Sue, and it was a go. We met at McDonalds in Northport so he could save the 11.5 miles x 2 picking me up at home would entail.

I brought plenty of gear, both fly and surfcasting, as well as clothes to keep warm. Temps were to be in the 50’s with 12 mph winds west-northwest. Turned out sunny and very comfortable.

The beach is a big half-moon stretching for 3 miles or so with off season access not a problem (summer is in season). We met at the DEC Oyster Ponds Boat launch as Truman is a private Town beach. Down the road are the Oyster Ponds (a local told us it was really called Mud Pond), and Orient State Park is just up the road - and there is more in the area. Jerry and I had fished Hallock Bay with Rob Thompson years ago and had a 10-striper day on the fly, from a boat. Working the beaches takes a bit more effort.

Luke and I took a look and fished the Pond first as the tide was just coming in and barely a bait fish in sight. After exploring we looked at the bay side which entails a repel down some pretty scary jetty like rocks. Truman’s was looking good. We went to lunch.

That’s the glue for Paul’s trips – food. He cooks anything from hamburgers and hot dogs to chicken to chili, and today - Sloppy Joes. Drinks, salads, and fruit with cookies as well as chips. All you need to fuel up for a day on the water. No one had caught anything yet and everyone was making plans to go to their spots – Paul was an open book, which is the other benefit of his trips, and gave us all the options. We decided to stay at Truman’s and perhaps meet him at the Pond at dark.

Luke and I walked west and worked the water, he with a fly rod and me with my surfcaster. My shoulder tires less with this pole vs the 9-wt. fly rod. It is beautiful and uncrowded (its Tuesday). We came to a huge rock about 30 yards off the water line and I pretty much set up there. Luke likes to wander and went way to the east. We stayed in touch by phone. He ran into some inshore Albies that rocketed by before he could react.

I had a few guys walk past me and set up at respectable distances. We all worked our patch hoping Luke’s Albies would come streaming past. I had two significant fish boils well within casting range, which kept me interested, not that I wasn’t already. There is something very mesmerizing about casting and watching the lure work the water. Your subconscious reminds you of the time when an explosion you didn’t expect came. You always think it will happen again. And it will, eventually.

I needed a bio break and the porta-potty is by the car, so I abandoned my rock (and someone quickly moved in). When I returned, I found a nice spot closer to the car with a large, stranded driftwood to relax on. As with any fishing, it is good to give it a break. To take some time to both rest and observe - always looking for the birds to get organized and the Albies to break.

At Sundown and high tide, which came together, Mark joined me. He doesn’t usually fish this area although he lives near-by. He showed me an Albie Whore he tied, pink and well made, as all of his flies are. All he needs now is for an Albie to come by. He moved down beach.

Another 50 casts and it was getting dark. Luke reappeared with both his fly and surf rod loaded with a Deadly Dick, still waiting for those Albies. We fished a bit more and called it a day. By the time we got to the car I needed my head lamp to break down my gear. Mark went to see if Paul was at the Pond and later reported he wasn’t, but a nice size Schoolie Bass was.

Paul pulled in to show us photos ofthe 2 nice stripers he had on the other side but mentioned it was a long walk, had multiple Bass and then had to start back, while the Bass were still hitting. Beautiful fish.

It was a most pleasant day, especially for me who has not been out and about much for a year (or 2). Just being here made my day. No fish on the hook required (although it would have been nice.) Luke and I had a pleasant drive home listening to the scratchy AM radio voice of John Sterling calling game 5 between the Yankees and Guardians, winner moves on. Yanks won!

If you are not on Paul’s mailing list, go to www.riverbayoutfitters.com and sign up for the newsletter. Lots of information, YouTubes, Trips and more.

Fly Fishing and Spirituality

There are books written on the subject like Jerry Kustich’s At the Rivers Edge and Fly-Fishing - The Sacred Art by Eisenkramer and Attas. I have not addressed it directly in my fishing writing although I believe it is apparent throughout.  I have compiled a book that helps me stay focused in all aspects of my life, including fishing. If you are seeking a more peaceful life, you may find it helpful as well.

On Amazon.

Tom McCoy is a lifelong fisherman

He caught his first trout before he was 10 in Catskill Creek. He camped at the Beaverkill as a boy, fishing with bait and lures before attaching a fly reel to his spinning rod and flailing away hoping against hope to hook a trout.

In the 1970’s he attended a Trout Unlimited casting clinic and bought a $15 rod and $20 reel, beginning his pursuit of this sport in earnest.

Since then he has fished mountain streams north, east, south and west. He also loves the saltwater and has fished it from his home base on the Long Island Sound to the Florida Keys and beyond. Thanks to a travelling career, he has been fortunate to fish in 21 states and 5 countries – so far.

He recently was co-editor for a team responsible for updating Trout Fishing on Long Island’s Spring Creeks, a Long Island TU publication, and has been included in the beautiful book America’s Favorite Flies, as well as TU’s Trout Tips, Florida Fly Fishing Magazine, the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum’s An Anthology of Angling Experiences along with other regional publications. In addition, he has written five books, 2 “How to” and 3 which comprise a trilogy fishing memoir.

A lifetime member of TU, he also supports Theodore Gordon Fly Fishers, The American Museum of Fly Fishing, The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), The Peconic Land Trust and other conservation-oriented organizations. He is a member of the Long Island Flyrodders and Friends of Connetquot River State Park.

He is fortunate to be surrounded by his family and many friends.

Hope to see you on the river!

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