Monday, September 27, 2010

One last visit

A familiar trail showing some fall color
 With the close of trout season in New York approaching, I wanted to make one last visit to a favorite mountain brook.  I had not been up to the Adirondacks in quite some time so we made the trip this past weekend.  I had lots of chores to get out of the way but with some help everything was in order by early afternoon.

It was a cool, raw, fall day with overcasting and threating skies and the temperature barely 60.  The mountain sides were full of fall oranges and reds mixed in the green of some holdouts and the dark green of fir stands.  The hike in was still and pleasant and I enjoyed the quite solitude of the afternoon.  A qiuck check of the water temperature showed a nice cool 60 but the water level was quite low.  With the overcast skies and the approach of fall, I was anticipating catching a lot of brook trout eager to take in calories for the long winter.

The first few pools I fished didn't even produce a strike on the Ausable bomber or a Royal Wulff.  In fact, today would be very similar to the last time I fished this brook, only a handful of smaller fish as opposed to the larger brook trout I've caught in this brook earlier this year leaving me wondering about the health of this stream.  Had the long dry summer taken it toll ?  The answer will have to wait until next spring

A very dry brook

the same area at the end of June 2010

One of few pools with some depth

One of the larger fish of the day

Monday, September 13, 2010

An Afternoon in Belgium

The day began as most days had here in Brussels, light rain and overcast. I walked from my hotel to the train station and purchased a ticket to travel from Brussels to the small town of Ciney near the border with Luxemburg. It was a bit confusing to figure out what trains were leaving since the queue was being altered as trains arrived at different times. I was beginning to think I had missed the train when the correct one came into the station. I arrived in Ciney after a little more than an hour.

I met up with my guide and his companion and headed first to a tributary of the Meuse. The streams we fished were small in terms of their width with lots of cover that made casting difficult.  The water was surprizingly deep for these small streams, sometime waist deep and chalky green/gray in color.  I asked the guide if there had been rain but it didn't sound like there had been a lot recently so I guess this was the normal color and clarity of the water there.

We started fishing streamers and I hooked two but lost both. I was surprised by how subtly the fish took the streamers, just a stop and then the weight of the fish, later experience would indicated these might have been grayling. Neither were brought close enough to see. We moved a bit upstream and switched to nymphs. In the next deep hole I caught the first and largest wild brown trout of the day. In this same location a massive grayling was hooked and brought to the surface briefly. Grayling fight in an unusual way in that they shake their head so that they almost touch their tails giving the appearance of a large eel or snake in the water. Wanting to bring the fish in too quickly, I pulled the hook out. By the way the guide was still shaking you could tell that I had lost a large fish. We continued upstream and hooked several more browns. At one point a brown came out of the water and landed in a bush growing on the bank chasing a sedge (caddis). We switched to a local caddis pattern and had one turn on the fly along the bank but I failed to hooked it.

First Belgian brown
In search of grayling we briefly fish another river before heading to the Le Bocq. We headed down a dirt road past a beautiful castle to a section of private water running along a pasture. The river looked very much like the pictures I have seen of English chalk streams.  We stopped briefly for a late lunch of local sausage, cheese, sandwiches, a chocolate (it wouldn't be Belgium with it !)

Castle on the Le Bocq

As showers moved in, we fished upriver with very little success but in some slow deep water I finally hooked what I had hope for and soon a nice grayling was brought to net. It was very plain in its markings but beautiful in shape and form with the characteristically large dorsal fin. In some faster current, a nicely colored wild brown was taken on a nymph. As showers continued to come and go, and the sun began to go down behind the hills, the evening the olives started appearing. With the tight conditions casting was challenging, but with a few casts placed under an overhanging tree the last two browns of the day were caught on a local olive pattern. We quickly headed back to the car to hustle to the station and catch the train back to Brussels. What a fantastic way to spend my last day of my first trip to Europe.

Le Bocq brown
The first Grayling, mission accomplished
One final look back