Study to be Quiet

James Prosek wrote his first book, the best-selling Trout: An Illustrated History, while he was an undergraduate at Yale. He wrote his thesis at Yale under the direction of Harold Bloom, but his subject is what interests me–17th century writer and angler Izaak Walton, author of “the Compleat Angler”, the most venerable tome on fly fishing ever written. The third most re-published book in history…right after the Bible. Its on my summer reading list. In the companion film, Prosek visits Ireland and England and follows in Walton’s footsteps. Its prosaic, not much on plot or the writing, but an interesting examination nonetheless. The cinematography and score bring the film to life.

My favorite lesson of Mr. Walton’s, “Study to be quiet.”

Here is Prosek’s film, “The Complete Angler” in its entirety:

You may download Walton’s “Angler” for free here thanks to Project Gutenberg or consider owning a copy.

Suitably inspired by the film, I played hooky from writing, and spent the day continuing to shake-out the Clearwater II, this time on Rye Lake in Westchester and later on the Cross River.  While the mid-flex tip has been described as “forgiving” I can’t help but wonder if I need a stiffer tip. It was difficult casting in the wind on Rye, and I’m not sure it was my low skill-level. I think for stillwater and 10mph winds a heavier stiffer action is required. Moving into a cove, I hooked up with a mess of panfish on a tan woolly bugger. If there are Brown trout in Rye Lake, they may have already returned to the depths given the spike in temperature.

I was hoping to hit a recommendation, Bedford Sportsman in Bedford Hills, for flies and advice, but they weren’t open…probably fishing. So I moved on to the Cross River on the 4000 acres of Ward Pound Reservation about 20 min. north. I usually fish the Cross River Reservoir for bass, but the nearby Cross River is a gorgeous freestone stream with a lot more character. It has been extremely well taken care of by the park, Croton Trout Unlimited, and the local Rock Rollers organization. A great stream for beginners like me, there are several stretches with few obstructions for fly casting.

Above Kimberly Bridge I went through about a dozen flies, wet and dry and finally a black bugger brought up a panfish-sized smallie, and then a sizable bronzeback. This king of the pool had “shoulders” and broke me off after only a 30 seconds of play. About an hour later, I was able to hookup with him again on a black ant fly. What a sight–on a fly rod–there’s nothing like it…a couple of trademark smallie jumps and several runs toward the bridge and reeds. I decided I had to wear him out. Took about 5 min. to land him, but he was gorgeous. I would have taken a picture, but the camera on my phone died yesterday–but I swear it was at least 3 lbs. He was definitely king of the pool, I observed him “bullying” other smallies and trout at times, so I consider my catching and releasing him a “gentle reminder” to be a wiser more cautious king.

After a while, I began to really see the brookies. In fact, several 8-10″ brook trout were rising to lord-knows-what because they wouldn’t take ANYTHING I tossed at them. Not a parachute adams, hares ear, griffith’s gnat, I even through the Grey and Royal Wulff for good measure. Earlier, Zeke from Cross River B&T showed me a pale straw-colored mayfly and suggested that I would need at least a size 16—but all I had that came close where elk hair caddis size 12…

Well the day held many lessons:

  • Learning to walk in a small stream upright
  • Selecting flies (a lifetime’s work here has really just begun)
  • Observing trout (it took about two hours to really learn to see them)
  • Faster re-tying (tied on a least a dozen flies)
  • How to play a smallie (rod tip high, let him run a few times)
  • Avoiding big black snakes (he saw me long before I saw him)

I think the Cross will become my favorite stream, I certainly will be taking the Gowanus Noodlers there (my fishing buddies).