Breakfast in a land without cell-phone coverage…
Towards the end of last week I was feeling the itch to get the hell out of the city for the weekend. I also really wanted to go camping. I also really wanted to go trout fishing. I called up my buddy Jinny and she was onboard, as long as we could figure out transport to getting out of Dodge. After a painful search to find a rental car from the greater New York City area for less than $100 a day, my cousin from Florida who works for Enterprise Rental Car sent me the text that meant freedom for the weekend – she said she could hook us up with a car for $24 a day.
As soon as I got this message I texted Jinny and asked her to book a campsite we’d been looking at in Roscoe, NY, near the junction of some of the best trout rivers in the country. The next morning I woke up, laced up my running shoes and ran to La Guardia airport to pick up the car. (I had get in a good run before this trip, given the menu we had planned for the campsite)
No, seriously, I ran to the airport.
After picking up the car, I drove back to my place in Queens, loaded all of my flies, rods, some delicious steaks from the Butcher Block, and all the rest of my gear for the weekend, then went and picked up Jinny. We hit up Key Foods in Greenpoint for groceries, ice, and free “Go Brooklyn” newspapers to use to start our fires at camp, and we hit the open road! Traffic was a bit of a pain in the ass until we got to the Upper West Side, but from then on it was smooth sailing all the way to the Roscoe Diner for a quick lunch.
After stopping into a few fly shops for some extra beetle patterns, we drove to the campsite and set up our tent. We had a beautiful spot, right on the banks of the Russell Brook, complete with a fire pit, and even a plug to charge our phones. (Not that we needed to, neither of us had any more than a half bar of signal and no data for the whole weekend, which was just fine by me!) Then it was time to hit the West Branch of the Delaware for the afternoon.
Jinny’s game face.
2,000 wild trout per mile.
It was a pretty quiet time on the water, neither of us hooked up, and even though there were a decent amount of little size 18/20 sulfurs coming off the water, nary a fish seemed hungry.
Hey there little guy!
We decided to head back to camp at about 8 o’clock, and you can be certain that the second we were back to the car the fish were rising like there was no tomorrow. That’s okay though, we had an important task at hand – making a fire and cooking a sweet meal.
I really called up on my 1.5 years experience in the Boy Scouts (from age about 6 to 7 and a half) this weekend. While the majority of the people at the Russell Brook Campground had fully decked out RV’s, complete with all of life’s urban niceties – Satellite TV, porches, gas grills… we had a tent, wood, and flame. And yet I’m sure our dinner blew everyone else’s at that campground out of the water – seared ribeye steaks with a red wine demi glace à la Julia Child, fire roasted vegetables, and corn on the cob.
Remember kids, get your butter and fat smoking hot, and pat your meat dry before you place it in the skillet (makes the world of difference.)
After eating until we couldn’t feel feelings anymore, we sat around the fire until very late, talking about how awesome America is, and sharing stories of our younger and wilder days. We also killed almost an entire bag of marsh mellows.
During the night in rained like a bastard, and we were a little worried that it would be too difficult to get a fire going for breakfast, but my inner Boy Scout came through yet again! Once the coffee kicked in, we were able to wrestle up a feast of bacon and eggs. Then it was time to hit the big water of the Delaware once again.
Can’t thing of a better place to spend a weekend.
We tried a different spot further downstream than the previous night, but it was tough fishing. There were hardly any sulfurs, or any other bug hatching for that matter, so I went with a hopper-dropper rig – a black and yellow wasp dry fly, with a size 18 Brassie trailing about 12 inches below it. On about the 7th or 8th cast through the head of a riffle, the wasp ducked under the surface and I set the hook. There was an almost imperceptible tug on the end the line. I thought I’d hooked a little chub, until I got most of the line stripped in, when all of the sudden the rod tip bent down and the little shit started taking line like it was his job. I decided to let him take some line in case it was a good sized fish (I had on 6x tippet) and boy did he take line. After a few minutes I’d gotten him into closer and saw that he was a small rainbow trout, maybe 10 inches, but Jesus he gave a good fight towards the end for such a little guy.
Tough fighter for his size!
So despite the muddy banks, we did not get skunked! I’m not going to bullshit you, I’m green enough at fly fishing to where I still consider one small fish over the entire weekend on the Delaware to be a great weekend. (They’re all wild on the Delaware, and they’re smart little bastards – very hard to trick even for people who know what they’re doing.)
Driving back to the city in some of the heaviest rain I’d ever driven in that evening, I felt about as relaxed as I’ve felt in a very long time. Since the radio stations kept fading out, Jinny busted out her Ukulele and we made our own tunes for most of the way back to the city. Can’t wait to get back out there.
Tight lines, everyone.