I had a really nice 4 days on the delaware river. not because i caught a lot of big fish, but because i just fished. and fished. or didn't fish. and poked around and took my time. if this is what retirement is like, them i'm all for it.
I was fishing pull-offs as part of my strategy for learning more about the river -- simply driving up the two-laner alongside the river and stopping and looking at the river at every pull-off (there really aren't that many of them); if i saw anything of interest, i stayed. If not, i left. Poking around.
this is how i found a very nice spot where i found a good number of fish, more than a few of which were Big. And a nice BWO hatch about midday. Except i caught one of the bugs and there was nothing blue nor olive about it - all light gray. Made mental note to tie some for the following day.
I did manage to hook a couple small and a couple medium browns on a hodge podge of flies, none of which looked at all like a little gray mayfly. (size 20-22). The afternoon devolved into an HF afternoon's activity of watching the water hoping for some clear answer as to what to use to catch fish. Meanwhile, I kept hearing a large fish swirl, rush, suck water, and otherwise raise a commotion on a fairly regular basis. This was all happening close by, upstream of the pocket of water formed by a bit of a downed tree/snag. That particular area should be reminiscent of a nice spot that you and I fished regularly, Jim, in the back channel - the foam mat that formed on the upstream side of a downed tree trunk just below that long grass island. You, mostly, and I (at least once i think) could almost count on finding a large fish lurking just under the front lip of the foam mat, ready to suck in some trout candy if it happened by. and the candy was usually in the form of a flying ant. Am I right? (He's right. That was an epic trip.)
It was/is almost exactly like the HF situation. I figured the only thing to do was to try to drop the ant maybe a foot above the edge of the foam mat and let it drift slowly, oh so slowly (the flows were low) closer to the edge and along side it at the same time, and if necessary, let it dip just below the leading edge and not get snagged.
so, i lobbed a cast and the fly landed pretty much where i wanted it to. Immediately, and i mean immediately, the fish lunged out and grabbed the ant and the game was on. In this place, the water was about mid thigh deep, and the weeds were about knee deep. Just like the HF. So, this fish did some donuts in front of the foam mat, stayed out in front and didn't go back in, and then did some nifty moves that involved porpoising in and out of the weed bed.Then everything stopped, except that i knew the fish was still on because i could see it, and i could feel it. But i couldn't retrieve because everything was balled up in the weeds. So i approached carefully and was gradually able to free my tippet from the weeds so i had a direct line back to the fish. Except that now i had quite of load of weed having off my leader.
I was pondering. I realized that, notwithstanding the appearance of the image, i was very close to that fish, and that i might just be able to net him directly without further ado. So my move was to go for my net. I'm pretty fast, but he was faster. As soon as i reached, he bolted; more donuts, then directly between my legs, and then twice around my left leg. And then it was all over. the tension i felt on the rod was merely the fly digging deeper into my new waders.
The following day, same place, i used all four of the teeny gray mayflies i tied the night before with no luck on the fish further down the pool. They were there and they were eating. but nothing i was giving. i tried all the tiny stuff i could find, did droppers (hate those), even tried midge larvae, pupae, and adults. Then as an after thought, i tied on a partridge and orange soft hackle (LOVE them). first cast immediately hooked a smallish brown. second cast, immediately hooked a decent brown.