Hendricksons on the Main Stem of the Delaware


Nothing shakes off the cold of winter more than sun shining and trout rising to mayflies.  The vision of trout slurping down early springtime mayflies is a thing of beauty.  If you are dry fly fisherman and you target trout, it’s only a matter of time before anticipation builds.  Excitement for that first quality hatch and fish feeding on the surface fuels us during cooler months.  Tossing mayfly imitations offers the promises of hope and change for Spring.

IMG_4963Recently, I enjoyed a chance to float the Main Stem of the Delaware River with talented guide Andy Cappotelli.  Andy operates Trout Snobs Guide Service and Outfitters.  For some time, he’s been encouraging me to fish the Main Stem in early April.  I jumped at the chance to fish with him and float the Main Stem.  It didn’t disappoint!  We timed our arrival with the first week of the hendrickson hatch and it was delightful.  What’s not to enjoy when Spring presents a glorious hatch on a sunny day?  It’s even better when you’re in a drift boat with a good guide, enjoying the company of friends and targeting quality, surface sipping brown trout.

IMG_4966On this trip there was little wind, no clouds and we didn’t see another angler on the river during our 11 mile float.  Except for the squirrels, muskrats, random deer and odd eagle, we enjoyed the river to ourselves.  Well, not exactly to ourselves, as there were also hungry trout consuming hendricksons.  For a two plus hour period, we enjoyed watching these #14 mayflies as they sailed downstream.  There were just enough trout feeding to keep us occupied.  It was an idyllic way to start a new season of dry fly fishing.  Although we only managed one rainbow, there were several cooperative, chunky browns.  They fought hard in that current.  If you presented a good drift on 5x fluorocarbon with a hendrickson emerger, fish intercepted it. Main Stem fish are less pressured and more cooperative than their West Branch brethren.  It’s also a more remote, scenic float.  Count me in as a believer of the merits for the Main Stem!

IMG_4968Although the bright sun diminished our streamer fishing and nymphing was tougher than expected, the afternoon hendrickson hatch was thoroughly fun.  Employing a drift boat when the river is at 3,400 cfs provides numerous options.  There’s so much water that can’t be waded/accessed on Main Stem.  At the same time, there were wading possibilities.  A highlight was when we got out of the drift boat, to work our own section of water and individual pods of fish.  It’s a treat to land your own fish, then glance downstream to observe that your friend is also hooked up.

The hendrickson hatch is going on now and will pick up steam over the next two weeks or so.  Get on a trout stream and take advantage of this alluring afternoon hatch.  Or, if you’re looking to float the Delaware System, give Andy Cappotelli a call.  It’s a tough river to wade at 3,000 plus cfs, unless  you know specific access spots and are willing to hike.  Personally, it’s always nice to learn new water and you’re in capable hands when Andy floats the Main Stem.  Thanks to Andy, (and another local guide- Brett Jackson) for encouraging me to spend early season fishing time on the Main Stem.  There’s plenty more to the Delaware System than the beloved West Branch and I can’t wait to fish there again.

Lastly, before that greenery gets dense, let’s all chip in and pick up stream side trash.  It’s easy to pack a plastic bag and retrieve trash as you walk back to the car.  Trash stands out right now and pollutes our fishery!  Removing trash is a small time expense that pays dividends to our environment.  Thanks for your help and go float a dry fly!




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Craig Dennison

This is Craig and I host Fly Fisher's Workshop. My fly fishing experiences include plenty of travel (Montana/Florida/North Carolina/Maine) and a few years part time guiding for trout. While I primarily target trout and steelhead, I still manage to chase warm water species and enjoy chasing stripers and bluefish. I'm a 3rd generation fly fisher trying to share the passion with my two sons!

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