The Ausable River is hard to miss when visiting the Adirondacks. The river winds and moves through our many mountain towns. The famed West Branch flows through Lake Placid and Wilmington and the East Branch through Keene and Upper Jay until the two meet in Ausable. From there you can follow the Ausable River right into Lake Champlain where it is fed into.
For me, the Ausable River's beauty is most notable through the Wilmington Notch, where on an early summer morning or just before nightfall, fly fishers wade in, hopeful of catching a brook trout. Those same fly fishers caught my eye when I moved to the Adirondacks a few years ago, and I was certain one day I would join them.
While most of my interests are fast paced and more intense — like skiing, mountain biking, and running — the mesmerizing rhythm of the cast and the therapeutic-like atmosphere that these fly fishers seemed to be experiencing was exactly what I was missing.
The West Branch of the Ausable River's deep undercut banks and large amounts of pocket water provide ideal living conditions for trout, making it a popular fishing location for anglers. Living just minutes from here, and unsure how to dive into this new adventure, I decided to book a guided trip with Hungry Trout Fly Shop.
A phone call later and I had plans to hit the water with Sean Platt, a local guide at the Hungry Trout Fly Shop. After getting outfitted in my waders and getting a quick lesson on assembling the fly rod, Sean took me to a grassy section near the shop for a casting lesson. After learning the back-and-forth rhythm, the appropriate amount of line to let out, and how to position myself, we headed to a section of the West Branch reserved for Hungry Trout customers.
As the sun dropped and the flies came out, seeing the fish rise for their feast had us captivated. Every day I am amazed that I get to call this place my home, where all kinds of life collides with all kinds of nature and my opportunities of exploration are endless. Feeling more comfortable in the water and with my cast, the night quickly went from learning something new from a local guide to a night of fishing with a new friend. My night didn't end with a fish to hold, but I promise I hooked one, and that feeling was good enough.
As we continued fishing, Sean and I also began talking about women's representation in the sport. Fly fishing has always been a male dominated sport, but women's fly fishing has been facing rapid growth over the last few years. Being an advocate for more women in the outdoors, this push for more women representation in fly fishing was another big draw for my guided trip. I want to be a part of the change in the outdoors community, and I'm thankful for guides like Sean who help to inspire that.
Last year The Orvis company launched 50/50 on the water, an initiative to get more women fly fishing. For me, this campaign isn't just about growth in one aspect. More women fishing means more people fishing and more people into the outdoors in general. A guided experience was the perfect way to grow my confidence in a new activity, and it provided me with information I look forward to passing on to others. I love that our local guides feel more like mentors, excited to teach and share their passions with everyone they meet. No matter your reason for visiting and exploring the Adirondacks, having the knowledge to do so safely, responsibly, and with an open mind is the first step to a good experience.
If fly fishing has caught your interest I highly recommend booking a trip with The Hungry Trout. You will experience peace, frustration, and nature in a whole new way, and I promise it won't be your last fishing trip. It certainly wasn't mine.