Last day of Trout Season By Mark Usyk

It’s the last week of Trout season in NY, and I find myself hopping rocks on the Black River below North Lake in the Adirondacks. I’ve come here in search of small and wild Brook Trout while most everyone else I asked to come along gave the excuse of “Why would I want to go looking for those little fish while the Salmon are starting to run up in Pulaski?” Truth be told, none of them are on the Salmon River that weekend. The excuse they use for not wanting to come along on a fishing weekend is big fish that they have no intention of actually going after. They sit at home and watch reality TV. I feel bad for them, but because I’m alone it’s quiet and I can fish as long as I want, go upstream as far as I please without worrying if someone else is tired. That’s a win in my book.

I have brought to hand half a dozen of the small beauties, most around the 7 inch mark. Their fall colors as gorgeous as the falling leaves all around me, their black eyes like peering into black holes reaching all the way back to prehistoric times. The Brook Trout, unlike the Brown, was here long before us, and with any luck will still be in the Adirondacks long after we have gone.

As I stand on a boulder the size of a Volkswagen Bug with water flowing 360 degrees around me, I inspect the brown Wollybugger tied to my tippet. It looks ragged after a day of bouncing down the stream bottom, after being dragged across uncountable submerged boulders and logs, gnashed at by teeth. I open my fly box and my eyes scan across my staple of flies I never leave home without on a trip like this. Small black and brown nymphs, two rows of them. Tied in various designs, I copy none of them straight out of a tying book. I just make “buggy things”. They work now and then.

One row of dries is it, a few Mayflies and March Browns and a couple Black Ants. On a trip like this I rely mostly on the Wollybuggers. Blacks, browns, and olives, they look like a meal to me, and the fish often agree. I close the box up, why change it now. It’s still working.

The short 2/3wt rod is perfect out here and every cast just seems “right”. The rod dances as another brookie darts out from behind a small boulder in a pocket and realizes it’s been had a second too late. Such a gorgeous small wild fish in such a gorgeous place. If content could be spelled by pictures instead of letters, this would be it.

Tonight I will cook Walleye over the fire caught the weekend before specifically for this outing, and I will sleep in a tiny pup tent not a dozen feet from the river’s edge. Tomorrow morning my Father will join me on this small piece of chilly October paradise. But for now, as I hop from rock to rock on my way back down stream to my camp site, I will try a few more casts to the pockets I missed on my way up. Why indeed would I want to be here when the Salmon are running? I pray to God that no one ever figures the answer out.