Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Angling away from deer hunting

Steve PiattI really can't remember ever plodding along in the middle of deer season and wanting to grab the fly rod and head out to a Lake Champlain tributary or even road trip it out to Oak Orchard Creek for some Chinook salmon and brown trout. I've done just that in the past, but not because I actually needed to, which seems to be the case right now.

Usually I transition from one season to the next with no problem, having satisfied my craving for trout, bass, pheasants and even deer. The lone exception is spring gobbler season, which I'm always sorry to see end and am already thinking about setups, roost sites, scouting missions and new calls for next year.

But that's me. This craving is a bit unusual, especially given that Paula and I did quite a bit of fishing this year. We were in the backcountry on April 1, the opening day of the state's trout season, which usually passes without a second thought on a normal year when snow and ice still cover the brook trout ponds. In fact, this year we fished four times in April; we'd never fished for backcountry brookies ever during that month in our 15 springs up here.

After that, we jumped out fairly regularly to the West Branch of the Ausable as well as some brook trout trickles where the fish always cooperate. We did get chased off the water a few evenings by thunderstorms, but by then we'd made at least a few casts and even picked up a couple fish.

And in September, we played the role of trout bums with gusto, spending 10 days in Montana at Kelly Galloup's Slide Inn, floating the Madison a few times and fishing Yellowstone's scenic Firehole River as well as Soda Butte Creek, one of our personal favorites.

So it's not like I've been held hostage by work or other duties. But there I was the other morning, high on a ridge a few miles from home, watching daylight slowly open the curtain on a favorite watch, knowing the temperatures had dipped and reports were rampant that the bucks were "cranking up."

And I was thinking about fishing. About grabbing my 10-4 High Stick Drifter and swinging nymphs or stripping streamers on a lesser-known Champlain tributary – one I don't even know the name of – I know holds Atlantic salmon right about now. And with the rains from Hurricane Sandy, chances are more fish funneled their way upstream.

Whether I scratch this fishing itch remains to be seen. But Paula, on the heels of a hugely successful trip out West where she landed some big browns and also vacuumed the Firehole of its rainbows one morning, is talking about it, too. And she doesn't hunt deer.

Maybe one morning I won't either.

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