Lately, when I spend time in the water fly-fishing, I find myself looking more at the wildlife surrounding the river than the fish and insects. Then I remember they are one in the same. I just happen to notice the raccoon tracks in the mud along the shoreline while walking to and from the river. Once, I glanced up to see from one of my favorite pools on the Farmington River to see a beautiful doe and her fawn come down the riverbank to get a long cool sip of water. I remember another day, several years back, when I watched my caddis dry fly float down a strong current and suddenly had a Peregrine falcon come out of nowhere to swoop down right in front of me. Last year I witnessed a mother Merganser with 12 little ducklings swimming behind her, when suddenly a snapping turtle came up from the bottom and snatch one of the babies up in its mouth. I happened to have my camera out and did get a before photo of the happy family. I have met up with a mink as it dodged in and out of the stones along a riverbank and enjoyed the flick of a red fox’s tail as it strut away in the opposite direction of my noisy waders. Then there are the run-ins with snakes as I walk through the grasses. I still let them go first, but at least I do not scream anymore. Finally, the most important wildlife you need to track when fly-fishing is the insects, technically called the “hatch”. This is an art in itself; you have to get in the water, roll over some rocks and check which macro invertebrates are living there and at what stage they are. In retrospect, Fly-fishing is not just about fishing it’s a chance to do some tracking, some birding, view some native plants and flowers and identify insects and as I said in the beginning of my article, it is one in the same: nature.
Till next time, watch for animal signs wherever you may roam.
Karen Karlberg resides in Becket MA with her menagerie of rescued barnyard & domestic animals and her husband Mark. She is actively involved in conservation efforts as a citizen scientist, town official, and an accomplished artisan and nature photographer www.kattailphoto.com