On Saturday, in spite of the cold, I decided to go to a freestone: the Westfield East Branch (our river guide here).
It’s not a river that was stocked in the fall, and a regular angler there said that the stocking was meager in the spring.
But, I wanted to see it before the snows hit. I think the Chesterfield Gorge area is the prettiest stretch of water in New England, and I was fine with not catching anything. Just being in that area is a fun time for me. Also, when I started regularly fly fishing four years ago, that area is the one on which I focused for the first few months. So, many good memories re-surge when I’m there.
I drove south along the dirt trail, parked at the gate, and walked down river. It’s a pilgrimage I do every now and again, which I’ll explain.
The air was 23 °F, and the water was 34 °F. Ice was forming along some of the banks. The grass was dead, and the deciduous trees stripped bare.
I walked for a bit until I hit my destination.
I fished the riffles and bubbly water, knowing that I wouldn’t get a strike. I fished the deep parts of the pool, hoping for a take that never came.
Then, it was time to reel up, cross the river and find the memorial.
I didn’t know Les. I stumbled on this sign four years ago. Sometime later, I met Gary Metras, who told me that Les was a good friend of his. When Les passed away suddenly, Gary and some other fishing buddies built the memorial.
I said a few quiet words to Les, and I thought about Gary. I thought about how amazing Les must have been; his friends constructed an amazing memorial, replete with a painting of a trout and some favorite flies.
I also thought about all the work that Gary and his friends did to build the memorial. Then, they had to wade with it, and some heavy tools, across the river to do the installation. Quite an undertaking. The power of friendship. Ever true.
I walked upriver and started to hit some more of my favorite spots. Blanked.
But, I was fine with not catching fish in the morning. I planned to swing by the Swift on the way home. And, I felt that my heart was aright after again seeing the East Branch and the memorial.