sausner ausable-river-watershedGuest Blogger: Brandon Sausner

A few years back I read an article about fishing the Ausable River in the Adirondacks. It showed a huge pool with great looking water on both ends. The article mumbled about Fran Better and explosive top water fishing. The piece talked of powerful fish smashing flies, and falling victim to a late night Sulphur hatch and spinner fall. We packed the tents and rods and a reservation was made at Wilmington Notch camp ground for four days of just fly fishing. Only one problem, the article was sort of a huge liar and focused on a very small part of fishing the Ausable. We spent the first night and morning looking for smooth water and rising fish. We switched to a failed attempt at indicator nymphing and then quit for lunch. It turns out that the pool in the article was downstream from our camp and we had seen it but it was packed with anglers. And in that pool casting to rising trout in the evening was readily available, as long as you staked your claim to the prime water at around 5:30 and stayed until dark. The majority of the water in that area had nothing to do with majestic casting and drag free drifts. After hitting a few fly shops and talking to some of the campers that were fly fishing it turned out a bunch of them had also read the article and were also clamoring to fish “Shadow Rock pool” for rising trout. We were forced to crawl in to the woods to prey on greedy little brookies that could not resist foam ants. We needed a change of venue and in the dark woods the brookies fed all day obscured from the sun. Keep that in mind if you ever go to the Adirondacks to fly fish.
Fortunately Nancy at the Hungry Trout had all the answers that we must have missed planning for this trip. Our nymphs were to light and to small, our rods were too long, our flies were a little off and we were wading the furious bolder filled river like cowards. One of the guys on the trip weighed about 145 pounds soaking wet, and often spoke of dying or drowning. Oh I almost forgot our biggest problem; we had never learned anything about fishing Adirondack pocket water. We thought wading staffs were for old men and had never even seen them in use until that trip. Yes we did do online scouting; I recall looking over some hatch charts and figuring I had it covered. And then the worst thing of all happened, we had to buy flies. Catching trout on my own flies has always been a point of pride and now that it seems I’ve bought one of everything for tying, I hate buying them. Slapping high floating flies off the water behind rocks and dragging size six Stimulators across the surface saved the trip. And the more dangerous it was to get to a section of water the more aggressive the fish were.
It’s become one of my favorite fly fishing memories, going to the Ausable and getting schooled. Having someone look at me and say “that Catskill style of fishing and tying has a hard time getting it done around here” was great. When I head off for new streams these days I get excited about prepping for the trip, and trying to be ultra-ready for the situation.

1 Comment

  1. Enjoyed this article a lot Brandon. It reminded me of other similar tales…there was a lodge on Donner Lake near Truckee California that every year used to make sure the local paper ran a report about how anglers were pulling big fish out of the lake, and that the best place strangely seemed to be right off that lodge’s dock.

    – Mike

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