More on Maddie – no better friend…

Those who follow this blog know a little about Maddie. I posted a piece on our adoption of her, or perhaps I should say her adoption of my family about a year and a half ago. She was a “return”. Previous owners had adopted her as a young puppy but we believe may have found her too much to handle. So she was lovingly taken back by her wonderful shelter, Every Dog’s Dream, in Greene, NY, and after we saw her photo, it was, as they say, love at first sight…

Most people know that Labs love the water. But Hound / Lab mixes like Maddie – well, I wasn’t so sure. As near as can be guessed, Maddie is a Redbone Coonhound and Labrador Retriever cross. She has the ears of a Lab, the head of a coonhound, the coat of a Lab and the tail and deeper chest of a coonhound. She’ll bay like a coonhound, even stand up to a tree if she’s chased a squirrel, yet she also has a deep bark that warns with authority. She’s goofy, playful, wicked fast, retrieves, and loves her toys…

A dog's gotta have toys...

A dog’s gotta have toys…

Maddie first met water not long after we adopted her in March of 2013. And beautiful Jones Park, profiled here before, was the site of our first forays in field and stream. Maddie loved the snow and the woods, but ice and water took some getting used to. The first time I crossed the brook there, she paced back and forth on the other side, whining aloud before finally being coaxed across the frozen surface of the brook. From there though, she started liking water, and these days that little brook is a favorite of hers.

Beautiful Jones Park - this little brook was Maddie's intro to the wonderful world of woods and water...

Beautiful Jones Park – this little brook was Maddie’s intro to the wonderful world of woods and water…

But that was generally shallow wading with the exception of a few few plunges in chest-deep holes. It took most of this past summer before the Susquehanna River dropped low enough for easy wading and the perfect opportunity to introduce Maddie to real swimming and maybe even some river fishing. My first trial would be a “no pressure” jaunt to an area above the Campville fishing access where there was a lot of water with a gradual transition and areas shielded from river current. We took a ride there one Sunday summer afternoon. While I had my fly rod, the goal was to wet wade and fish casually, inviting Maddie to join the water and “fish” with me.

It’s never an issue getting Maddie to take a ride in the car. Open any door and she’s eager to climb in and take up position in the back seat. She’ll then plant both front feet on the center console and look forward, or roam across the back bench seat, poking her head out either open window, ears flapping in the wind. It’s a sight to see in a little Subaru Outback and reminds me that one day I really do need to get a pick-up truck…

Cruising and scoping out the countryside, Maddie style...

Cruising and scoping out the countryside, Maddie style…

So after we arrived at the large DEC access, I took a few minutes to rig up, and then set off up-river, through the woods. Maddie was all over the place in her usual land rover style; sniffing, marking, chasing chipmunks and squirrels – all good doggie stuff. We walked out to a large rocky bar on the river and there we did a little wading as I cast my line. Maddie never strays afar – possibly an attachment issue from her past. She was right by me the whole time. I waded into the river until she almost moon-walked the bottom – and that was good enough for our first adventure. I didn’t want to push it.

Maddie wades the Susquehanna shallows...

An intro – Maddie wades the Susquehanna shallows…

The following week we repeated the same exercise. Maddie was a lot friskier, chasing plovers, wading in where I fished while watching the fly line where it entered the water. We waded deeper this time but I wasn’t having much luck with the bass. Eventually we headed to a feeder creek with a very deep hole. I spied a bass in the hole and cast my olive soft hackle bugger across the pool. It was like ringing a dinner bell as 4 bass quickly emerged from the green depths. These fish had most likely been trapped in this hole all summer – the feeder creek tailed out to a slight trickle before entering the river – and as the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers in a spot like that. The biggest of the bass struck my fly aggressively, not wanting to let such a meal get by, and a good tussle began. The fish darted towards the security of a downfall and root ball. I put the brakes on while hollering for Maddie. I lipped the bass, removed the hook, gave Maddie a chance to say hello, and then released the bass. Maddie literally dove right into the hole in pursuit and soon experienced water without bottom. She came dog-paddling back, no worse for wear, and a certified swimmer!

Scoping out the faster water....

Surveying the faster water and making Dad a little nervous from afar…

I was thrilled, but never doubted she could do it. So we returned to the river the following week with a plan to explore a little more. I wondered, would she travel down to the honey hole – the one where the bass could be big – the one I loved to fish?

We got to the access and this time took a wooded path downriver. The path paralleled the river for a bit and then veered off along a river braid. As we hiked, Maddie would dash down to the river braid and then charge back up to find me, flying up 6 foot banks like they were nothing. Soon we came out where the river braid re-entered the river at a beautiful bay that I love to fish…

This is sweet water for fly fishing and fishing this spot gave Maddie the opportunity to explore the river-side and take a swim.

Loving the river...

Loving the river…

Soon after arriving, I cast and swung my olive soft hackle bugger through a chute of water from the river braid and that proved to be a little too much for one nice bass. The fish took the fly solidly and went airborne with the hook-set. Maddie rushed in deep where the bass zigged and zagged, trying to intercept it. At one point it darted between her legs!

A nice smallmouth landed with aid of a water dog - note the paw in the upper left...

A nice smallmouth landed with aid of a water dog – note the paw in the upper left…

Soon enough I had the bass lipped, then removed the fly and put it down for a picture – Maddie’s paw included. Maddie began pawing the bass as I put my camera away and that was enough to send it off in a big swag of its tail.

Soon after hook removal, an errant "pat on the back" sent this bass fleeing...

Soon after hook removal, an errant “pat on the back” sent this bass fleeing…

But as the saying goes, all good things must end. So it was for our river sojourns. Not long after enjoying these visits to the Susquehanna, the rains came, the river rose, and then the cold swept in. Summer faded to fall and then to “see you next year”. No matter, it was great to have a fishing buddy on the river with me…

Relaxing on the deck with a glass of wine after a good day on the river...

Relaxing on the deck with a glass of wine after a good day on the river…

And borrowing a prophecy picture from my original post on Maddie, I’d say she’s turned out to be quite a friend for a fly fisher…

Oh the places we'll go...

Oh the places we’ll go…

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4 Responses to “More on Maddie – no better friend…”

  1. Bob Stanton Says:

    Pretty girl! I don’t approve of dogs drinking wine, though. 😉

    • stflyfisher Says:

      She does get a lot of nice comments, goofy as she can be! She just took a sip, Bob. Said she liked water better! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. A portrait of the angler owned by a fun-loving Mix!

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