Lately I’ve had a waterscape in mind. It consists of several streams that I’ve been fishing close to home, viz., the upper sections of the Genesee River, Dyke Creek, and (in PA), Oswayo Creek. The dry fly fishing has been good; the foliage (past its color peak in many areas) has been dropping to the stream, and there are one or two consistent threads that tie the stream experiences together.
One thread is the sedge, or caddis, fly, and another is the sense of total solitude. For better or worse, hardly anyone else is fishing the waterscape I have in mind. Oh, I know, there’s football and archery season, and the Great Lakes tributaries are calling to the angler’s instinct (by next weekend, a late arrival will need a shoehorn or a sidearm to squeeze onto the Salmon River’s miles of fishable water).
Given the fact that every 4.5 days the planet’s population increases by more than a million people (think of each 4-day increase as a new city the size of Dallas), it’s odd that I can fish the caddis hatch almost any day without seeing another human, even when the weather and the scenic conditions are wonderful.
I don’t know for sure what’s going on, any more than I know for certain about the sedge fly hatches. I’m an amateur with a definite respect for science, but I don’t mind a bit of ignorance when it comes to entomology. The only thing my recent stream and river visits can be sure of is that caddis have been coming off en masse (no doubt to ensure mating success and to keep the wheel of life in motion), and the fly has added to an angler’s enjoyment of the water.
The flies I’m seeing are not the big “October Caddis,” whose place has more of a Western context, but something smaller– mostly an insect that is darker and more deeply tannish than it appears to be while flying. I’m guessing that the species belong to genus Neophylax, and one of them might have the common name of “Autumn Sedge.” Many of the insects look like juvenile moths on speed. They zip from the water and defy any mortal to come and stop them. The best I can do is tie a dark-colored #16 or #18 Elkhair Caddis to the tippet and hope it works.
Thankfully the Elkhair patterns have been working well on the surface this season. I recall several years when the autumn trout were feeding just below the surface, when browns would tail-about languidly near the top and catch emergents– a frustrating experience when it seemed the presentation had to be exact. The well-fed trout were keyed-in to a certain size and color of hatching bug, and suddenly the angling game had the face of science.
Luckily, with this season’s low, clear water, the trout have yet to grow picky. I’ve been able to relax with my casting and to soak in autumn’s beauty. Naturally, the picture could change for the worse at any moment. Knowing that, I wade along appreciatively, and wonder where everyone went.