I grew up fishing the Otego, Charlotte, Schenevus and Cherry Valley creeks. It was absolutely wonderful. They were all filled with trout, and there wasn’t a posted sign.
It’s different today. Floods have changed the courses of these creeks. Fertilizers and chemicals have killed some of the insect life and smaller fish, while access to the streams has been drastically limited. When I return to some of my old favorite spots, it’s not the same. But realistically, what is today?
The other day, I got an email from a reader. He attached a picture of a 26-inch brown trout he had taken from one of the creeks I just mentioned. After catching it and getting a picture, he returned it to the stream so it could live and spawn and be caught another day.
I remember catching a fish like that one day on the Charlotte Creek. A friend of mine and I went over beyond Davenport and parked near Fergusonville. As we walked down across a small meadow, I saw a fish roll and take a fly in the pool ahead. He went downstream a bit, and I approached the deep water with caution.
Using a Gold-ribbed Hare’s Ear, I cast upstream and let the current take the fly over the feeding trout. Instantly, the water erupted as the large trout hit. As I set the hook, the leader snapped, and the monster returned to the depths of the pool.
I tied on a new fly, but I knew she wouldn’t hit again that afternoon. It took me two more trips out there before I hooked that fish a second time. That time, the line got wrapped around a submerged branch. A week later, I landed that fish. She was about two feet long and weighed better than three or four pounds. I released her back into the stream and although I didn’t have a camera, she’ll remain in my mind forever.