For many fishermen, suckers aren’t something that you purposely go out and target. Especially not on a river that’s famous for big, wild, brown trout. But not too long ago on the Delaware river, that’s exactly what happened. We had made the drive from our place to the Catskills with all the usual ‘trout fishing’ intentions you would expect to find in a truck loaded down with gear. Two of us day dreaming about huge trout spooling line off of our screaming reels as we sorted our fly boxes the night before.
Then again, as proves to be true with many last minute decisions which cause you to arrive late in a popular fishing hole, we were far from alone. Combat fishing. There were guys hiding in the bushes waiting for risers, others giving us the death stare just for existing, So we stood there. We stood there with blank looks on our faces, finishing up a half eaten bag of Doritos and making an unenthusiastic attempt on deciding where to go now. Upriver or not, to avoid the now growing crowd of spectators who were eyeballing us in the chance we left so they could move on in.
Without a thought in my head aside from wondering what kind of moron wears flip flops when I know damn well there are plenty of spiders running full speed over these rocks. ::Puke:: As I glanced upwards and out of the corner of my eye, about to make a comment, I caught a glimpse of the dark shadows moving in the pool at the bottom of the riffle.
“What the hell are those..”
They were suckers. Hovering over the river bed like fat little manatees.
And just like that, I forgot we were there for trout. 😂
The two of us started laughing as one held the spot while the other ran to get the gear, having to let down the line of guys on the bank who had waited to patiently to see if we were leaving.
Once we had everything we needed, we tied on a weighted nymph and had the time of our lives sight fishing for them. Keep in mind, just because they are easy to spot they aren’t easy to catch as their mouths are much more sensitive than other fish, and it takes only a fraction of a second for them to feel a hook point and back off. Once we got into the groove of timing our hook sets, it became almost like a carnival game. One of us would be pointing, laughing, and yelling “drift it left.. He’s chasing it! wait, stop.. Never mind..”
We then spent a good hour repeatedly missing hook sets at each cast, laughing like hyenas as each missed fish.
Some suckers were taking the flies without hesitation but with us laughing too hard to set the hook in time, or maybe it was simply “operator error” we were coming up empty handed. We would then take turns with one of us trying to land one and the other cheering us on.
At one point we had on a monster, line screaming off the reel, rod completely bent as it fought it’s way down stream. Two fishermen below us caught sight of the action and backed up towards the bank as I fought it. “That’s a big one!! We’ve been here all morning and haven’t hooked into one that size. What did you get em on? Is that a brown or rainbow?!”
I yelled back, “Neither sir! We’re fishing for suckers!”
And right there.. The look of disgust on his face spoke volumes without saying another word, and before he even opened his mouth to respond; I knew exactly what was coming:
He turned up his nose, looked at us with leery eyes and replied, “Suckers?? Suckers! On purpose?! Jesus Christ. This is the Delaware river!!! What a waste of time! Goddamn kids.. ”
I love trout fishing, but I also love to fish in general. So when the opportunity arose to catch these things, I wasn’t going to turn it down. So As I held onto that sucker, continuing to be shunned by a stranger who was silently nominating me for an imaginary 1st place award to become ‘the worst fisher-woman to grace the Delaware River with her presence”.. I internally shook with all the pent up excitement of a 5 year old who drank a can of Mountain Dew. And just like that; the uncontrollable laughter began.
Now, If you have ever fished with me there’s a good chance that you have seen this in action. I couldn’t even guess what triggers it half the time but its usually something that’s slightly funny, in which becomes hilarious quickly for no apparent reason. Needless to say I lost that big one thanks to the combined efforts of a few poor-life-decisions that included me wearing flip-flops, half slipping on a wet rock and dropping my rod while my laughter boomed down the Delaware, in the direction of one clearly disgusted fisherman.
Nevertheless, the next day we went back out. Except this time we were armed with a couple of lawn chairs and a cooler full of lunch.
But we didn’t look for rising fish.
Nor did we look to see what was hatching.
We made a beeline for the rocky bank, Doritos in hand, with the high hopes of catching a few more suckers, so that I could hold my reigning position as the “Worst fisher-woman on the Delaware River” that holiday weekend.