In a crazy whirlwind of activity, I fished Virginia’s famous Mossy Creek then drove homeward to western New York. My daughter, Alyssa, and her boyfriend, Adam, stayed with us overnight, but next day needed to return to New York City, so Leighanne and I drove them to the Catskills where they caught a bus at Liberty. Undaunted, I took the opportunity to drop in on the Beaverkill at Roscoe for a couple of hours. This is what I found…
Fishing the Virginia spring creek and the Catskill river in the span of a single day made a nice transition northward for me, even though the stream conditions weren’t the best for catching trout. I couldn’t wade Mossy Creek because it’s like an English chalk stream and should not be waded. I couldn’t much wade the larger Beaverkill because of early spring conditions down below Roscoe. Both streams saw my “Founders’ rod” in action, but other than that, there was little to compare on these disparate waters.
I fished Mossy Creek for two lovely hours while the others left me for a tour of Natural Chimneys in Mt. Solon. Fishing this “Trophy Waters” stream really puts the pasture back into the word “pastoral.” This limestone creek (with special regulations and fishing permit required) flows through quiet farmlands where, unfortunately, cattle still loll about the edges like vacationers in Cancun. I’m not sure how big wild brown trout coexist with such stream bank degradation, but they do, as witnessed by incredible angler catches every year.
The stream was muddy from recent rains, but fishable. Mossy is renowned for its dry fly fishing with tiny imitations, but because of water conditions I decided to fish with streamers, despite the weeds and moss that often catch the hook. I caught no fish on this visit to Mossy, although I saw one brown attack (and miss) my streamer. Other than that, I enjoyed the wonderful scenery (even with dumb beast cattle everywhere) and the birdsong contributed by cardinal, mockingbird, titmouse, Carolina wren, eastern bluebird, in addition to the sight of great blue heron, turkey vulture, and belted kingfisher.
I wasn’t used to fishing this kind of landscape. Some of the upstream water seemed highly unlikely for trout, especially when considering that hefty browns lurked on the beds of silt and sinuous weeds. In some ways the stream reminded me of the Rio Penasco in southern New Mexico, except where the Penasco flows through desert, Mossy flows through open farmland.
In comparison, the Beaverkill seemed huge. Is there a more recognized river in American trout fishing consciousness than the Beaverkill? I doubt it, but I hadn’t walked its banks in at least a year or two, so I felt a little disconnected. The sky was overcast and the air was chill and colorless, and hardly anyone was on the water, for reasons soon to be discovered.
The famous Cairns Pool was oddly vacated by anglers, and I could see why. Although the water was basically clear, it was cold at 45 degrees F., and intimidating with its depth and difficult wading conditions. Leighanne dropped me off at the Junction Pool, where the waters of the Willowemoc and Beaverkill intermix, and where I suited up and was able to do some basic wading and maneuvering. A few spin anglers were at the site, and I felt a tad freakish with a bamboo rod in hand, but it was good to be a part of the historic trout fraternity associated with this river.
“High-sticking” with a tandem nymph rig (beaded Stonefly and Hare’s Ear patterns), I was able to avoid a skunk by landing a standard hatchery trout before calling it a day. Leighanne soon arrived to pick me up, and we headed out for a quick meal. Sampling the micro-brews, chomping on a custom burger, testing the littleneck clam linguini (I just had to say that), we were almost home.