Southern Tier Slam…

The “Grand Slam”, the holy grail of fishing, is the catching of a Tarpon, Permit, and Bonefish, all in the same day.  When pursued strictly with the fly rod, it tops other lofty “status” goals, like becoming a millionaire, telling your mother-in-law “I love you” with an empathetic face, or dare I say even climbing Mount Everst.

Our Southern Tier environs are certainly far different than Key West or Islamorada, but we can have our holy grails too.  With that in mind, I ventured forth Saturday from a sunny Mount Grippen down into a dense river valley fog in the quest of the “Southern Tier Slam”, or at least one version thereof.

My plan was to hit the Susquehanna River where it slips through the pastoral town of Windsor – a location that’s typically driven by via Rt 17 whilst munching on a still-hot McDonald’s Egg McMuffin, enroute to the high-falutin’ waters of the Catskills.  Just below the bridge overpass is some nice smallmouth water, first recommended by the STFF’s Staff Hydrologist, Chip.  This piece of the river has beckoned me too many times this year, but only lately has settled down to wadeable, fishable levels.

Looking downstream on the Susquehanna from the Rt 17 Windsor overpass

Looking downstream on the Susquehanna from the Rt 17 Windsor overpass

The upper Susquehanna is pretty water – not the big water of Vestal, Owego, or Nichols – but far more wadeable and unique in its many braids, side channels, pools, and runs.  I’ve caught some quality bass here on several outings over the last few years.

Not long after this pic was taken, an eagle cruised by, tree-top level and looking ten times bigger than it outh to look...

Not long after this pic was taken, an eagle cruised by at tree-top level, looking ten times bigger than it ought to look...

Maybe the eagles had been pillaging the pool downstream – the 15″+ smallmouth I was expecting were not to be found there.  Not a Murray’s #6 MadTom nor a Murray’s #6 Road Kill Nymph could call the big dogs to dinner.  I did catch a half dozen or more small, well-fed smallies, but none of their pics were blogworthy.  I fished till 9 am or so, and decided it was enough.  The first leg of the holy grail was complete – the West Branch was calling…

The West Branch Angler - forward field operations post for the Souther Tier Flyfisher...

The West Branch Angler - forward field operations base for the Souther Tier Flyfisher...

I hit the West Branch Angler to see what was brewing and got the usual friendly greeting, sound advice, and a hearty good luck.  The word was the fishing would be tough with the bright bluebird sky, so “fish big flies my man”, like the Isonychia nymph and emerger, Prince nymphs, or perhaps a pheasant tail.  I drove the river road down to Balls Eddy and ventured downstream to a gorgeous run that Staff Hydrologist Dan introduced me to last year.  It has been one hell of a true friend to me, just like Dan…

Cold, clear water, 400+ cfs flows, bluebird skies, doesn't get much better...

Cold, clear water, 400+ cfs flows, blue skies - it doesn't get much better...

I rigged a #10 Iso nymph behind some shot and tied a #12 Iso emerger on a trailer and worked the fast water at the head of the pool…

Fast water home of the fighting West Branch rainbow...

Fast water - home of the West Branch rainbow...

The West Branch is home to a McCloud River strain of rainbow trout – transported East by wealthy Catskill industrialists.  Legend is that the train carrying these fish derailed by the Delaware and, instead of one hell of a river-side shore lunch, the train engineers released the fish into the Delaware.  Us fly fisherman owe those guys a debt of gratitude.

My second cast into the fast water brought a take on the swing and the instantaneous launch of a rainbow projectile 2 feet into the air and upstream of where my rod tip was pointing. And that’s all there was of that one.  So goes it in that fast water.  I continued to work the head of the pool and caught some beautiful small-but-feisty rainbows, bright silver bullets with crimson sides and to my delight, a small heavily spotted brown.

I headed home around noon, feeling good at achieving my own version of a Grand Slam – smallmouth bass, brown trout, and rainbow trout, all in the same day – actually all in about 6 hours, travel time included.  Then I pondered another grail, another distant mountain to climb – the Susquehanna Slam.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: