A Spring Adirondack Scouting Expedition by Mark Usyk
All winter I waited for spring. All winter I tied flies for better days. Warmer days. Fly fishing open water days. All winter I peered through curtains of icicles out the windows of my fishing room, beyond the icicles a frozen over Trout and Small Mouth creek. All winter I moaned and groaned about ice and snow and below zero temperatures. I mused at ideas of living in the Florida Keys and poured over internet photos of sunny days and wading the salt flats for Permit and Bonefish, or swinging huge streamers for ice out Pike, or exploring dense Adirondack forest streams in search of 6 inch wild Brook trout with crisp white trimmed fins while fighting off the biting black flies.
Then spring arrived and winter clung to the earth and refused to let go of the water. And finally as the first day of Trout season approached only days away, warmer temperatures won the battle and the snow and ice opened up our local creeks and rivers. I’m not much for heading out on the first day, simply because five cars parked at every bridge and seeing ten fishermen in any direction you look up or downstream isn’t what fishing is about for me, so I wait. And as a cruel joke, like a delayed April Fools trick, a 60 degree day turned clear and low creek flows into Willy Wonka’s chocolate river, flooding yards and corn fields with the run off of the melting snow. Nothing close to home was fishable once I was ready to fish.
A text was sent to a fishing bud asking him if he wanted to go north on Saturday and scout out an Adirondack Brook Trout stream with me. I wanted to know how long it would be before the lower Adirondacks were fishable. The text returned asked if I was taking my fly rod or just scouting. “I’m taking my gear. If there is an opening and I can get to it…I’m casting. I don’t care anymore.”
Home was muddy, brown, flattened lawns, and a winters worth of dog poop that needed picked up. With any luck it would pick itself up before I came back. Fishing rods and waders in the back seat, we passed flooded creek upon flooded creek as we left home.
43 miles north into the Adirondacks, a fresh snow fall covered the seasonal road as I pushed the 4 wheel drive button and we took in a view of white fluff covered trees. We strung up rods, put on our waders, and trudged through knee deep snow, tree limbs grabbing at our rod tips as we pushed to the stream.
The stream was open. Clear and cold, snow covered the banks and the tops of rocks and boulders that protruded above the water. Winter jackets and gloves. The green of the moss and under water fauna a sharp and welcome contrast to the stark white covering all around. The cast never felt so good. Finally. All winter I had painfully waited on spring. All winter I had imagined green and wished for the rapid melt of the snow. And once spring finally arrived, what did I do? I headed north. Back to winter. Not a fish was caught, but the cast felt good. The drift of the Wollybugger was just right. As we stumbled up the snow covered boulder strewn stream, falling between and slipping into crevices hidden under the white, we laughed and joked and told stories like fishing buddies do. All winter we waited for spring. And suddenly, we were perfectly fine with winter. Go figure.