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West Branch fish need to call a time out.

Posted on June 12 2019

Today I decided to gird my loins and take on the West Branch, boats and all. Started the day about 10 am on the lower WB at one of my favorite morning places. There is too much boat traffic there for me to fish late in the day but it can usually be fished early in relative solitude. It's a long walk in and out but the fishing is usually worth it. Today I was back at the car in less than two hours. Saw a few sulphur spinners, no other bugs, no fishermen, no boats, no risers and never rose a fish in over an hour of blind casting. Have no clue what the fish were doing but they weren't eating on top. Round one to the fish.

Returned to camp and took the storms off (perhaps a day early?) and after lunch, drove up to Deposit to fish the sulfurs. Saw a couple of Troutfitter regulars, one in the shop and one on the river. There were enough bugs to get the fish up but it took a better fisherman than me to get them to eat a fly with a hook in it. In two hours of fishing in a stiff breeze, I had about a dozen refusals, hooked two fish and landed one (the small one). Clearly the second round also went to the fish.

From Deposit I drove downstream to Hale Eddy where I found a pool with no fishermen in it. At 6:45 there were sulfurs still on the water (just enough to get a few fish to rise). I had targets to keep me occupied but couldn't help counting the eight boats that went by (all but one of which anchored up at the "honey hole" just above where I was fishing. The duns never stopped hatching and a modest spinner fall put enough food on the water to keep the fish feeding. Towards dark the fish rose with a little more regularity and a lot less caution. Caught enough fish to again make it a good day. Round three to the angler.

Couldn't help noticing the number of hook marks in the mouths of EVERY FISH I caught and how poorly they fought compared to those on the BR and EB. The WB fish are exhausted and badly beaten up by the onslaught of fishermen. They need a chance to recover. I don't expect to fish there again any time soon.


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