We got on I80 in Bellefonte and made quick time east to pick up I81 north. Once off of I81 we took a myriad of back roads overland to West Branch Angler just outside Hancock, NY. As we pull up to the shop a thunder storm began to pour rain down on us. We ran into the shop so KG could pick up a license and ask about a place to camp that night. Me, being unprepared, helped the shops sales by plunking a couple Bennies down on a wading jacket…I needed a new one any way…I guess. That jacket never saw a drop of rain the rest of the trip…
The guys at the shop pointed us in the right direction to camp and a place to grab lunch. After a quick sandwich and a beer we went looking for Soaring Eagle Camp Ground a few clicks south of the Junction Pool on the Mainstem of the Delaware. We wound our way down along the river for quite a few miles before turning off to cross Kellams Bridge and turn into one of the best fisherman’s camp grounds we had ever seen.
We stopped in the office to pay for our site and picked one right along the river, a few feet above the high water mark. A fantastic view of the bridge and the river, and the ridge of hills leading into the heart of the Catskills. I opened the cooler to grab a before before unfolding the tent atop my little trailer. Just as I crack the top, a pair of bald eagles come flying out of the little feeder creek next to the camp ground and they head down river in search of an afternoon snack. Breath taking.
We get camp set up, rig the rods and kill some time on our neighbor, the big D. The frontage of the camp ground had several good runs and a back eddy that looked very fishy. Heavy stone flies and lots of split shot lead to a couple nice takes, and KG had a fish on for a few minutes but he came un buttoned. It was a big fish. The Delaware in these parts is another planet from the river I grew up next to in South Jersey. The beauty of this place is enveloping, and there’s a sense that yes, this really is the most western-like river on the east coast. Some cliches hold true.
As we were fishing, one of the two eagles comes flying back up the river. It appears to have something clutched in its talons. Yup, a trout. Only thing better would have been seeing that bird pluck the fish from the water.
KG and I keep fishing and enjoying our surroundings as we watch a thunder head build over what looked to be the East Branch if not the Beaverkill. We watched this storm progress into dark. The wind picked up as we tried to light a fire with wood still too green. The wind and the approaching lightening threatened right to our door step but never crossed the threshold to our camp. Within an hour, the storm moves on, never leaving a drop on us, the clouds part revealing a star lit sky the rest of the night.
The next day we will meet up with a colleague of mine whose brother has a trailer on the East Branch. KG and I scarf down a couple hot dogs each and drink a few more beers before turning in. We’re stoked that the morning will bring a solid day looking for the legendary big browns of the D.