Back in September, I posted about a great day of fishing I shared with Casey Peltier, who had bid on the trip in a Casting for Recovery auction. CFR is an organization that holds the annual auction to raise money for their programs, which combine fly fishing, counseling, and medical information to help breast-cancer patients and survivors focus on wellness instead of illness. This year, Casey was again the high bidder for a day on southwestern Vermont waters because she wanted to share the experience with her husband, Alec. Instead of a fall trip, they’d decided to head north from their Virgina home in June.
Friday’s forecast called for scattered showers in the morning and thunderstorms in the afternoon, and it turned out that the weatherman wasn’t kidding. I met the couple at 5:30 a.m. at the Wayside Country Store, on the banks of the Battenkill, where they were enjoying breakfast and jawing with the locals at a the store’s famous round table, which once belonged to Lee Wulff. We drove to a nearby covered bridge, and as we pulled on our waders, the first raindrops started to fall.
I set Casey up at the top of a riffle, and she rigged up a three-fly setup with a Beadhead Soft Hackle on point. Alec started at the tailout with a streamer. Things started out okay, with Casey hooking up with a small brown, but then the river went quiet. After a while, Casey came down to join Alec and me, and she got a big strike from what felt like a good fish, although we never saw it. The whole early morning, the rain alternated between drizzle and downpour, which didn’t add much to the fun.
At the next spot we tried, Casey landed another small brown on the Soft Hackle, but the streamer was still not interesting any of the big fish. The rain continued.
We decided that the Battenkill just wasn’t happening, so after lunch, we started chasing brook trout on a mountain freestone stream to the south. I think Casey hooked three little native brookies on her first four casts, but Alec was having no luck. It was turning out to be one of those days in which two anglers do exactly the same thing, but only one catches fish. Even my “sure-thing” pool failed to produce, and I was getting a bit frantic. After all, these folks had made a pretty good donation to CFR in order to fish with me, so getting skunked was out of the question. Late in the afternoon, at our fourth location of the day, a fine native brookie slammed Alec’s dry fly, thus ending our frustration. Suddenly, all was right with the world. And soon after that, the skies opened up in an epic downpour that ended our angling day.
Although the fishing and the weather were far from spectacular, the day was full of interesting conversation. Alec had spent a long career as a diplomat, and the couple had lived in places such as India, England, and Egypt. Aside from hearing their great stories about their adventures abroad, I was fascinated to get their opinions on current events. We did more talking than catching, unfortunately, but they were great company.