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Fly fishing is an art.

There’s an anticipation in getting a fish to feed on an artificial fly. Wading out early in the morning, not yet knowing how the river will act that day, but being ready for that moment when it all lines up. The early morning start, the walk to the river, and the hours of peace and quiet lead to a single moment of pure joy. The fish bites, and you reel like your life depends on it.

Evan Bottcher prepares his net as he reels in a fish on a misty morning in the Ausable River.

There’s something primal about the thrill of catching a fish: a feeling rooted in generations of fishing for sustenance. For thousands of years, humans have fished for their survival, making it an activity that connects us with the past. The same can be said for native population of brook trout and the Ausable River itself. Those fish, the river, and the rocks and boulders it cuts through were there before we were, and they’ll remain long after we are gone. As fishing guide at The Hungry Trout in Wilmington, NY, Evan Bottcher has experienced his own lineage through the Ausable.

“A lot of activities can be created…but you can’t create a river.”

From close to the water, we see Bottcher standing in the river preparing to cast in the early morning light

Standing in their go-to spot, Bottcher recalls his first catch on a fly rod. At 10-years-old, he stood in the river. Propped between his father’s legs to fight the current, the Green Drakes hatching all around them. In this short, fleeting moment, with millions of bugs buzzing about, he caught his first trout. Bottcher grew up in that river, but the uniqueness of this particular experience had him hooked.

“When I fish [that spot] now, it's as much about those memories as it is about the actual act of fishing,” Bottcher says.

From behind, Bottcher stands in the river waiting for a fish to feed.

Now a father himself, Bottcher takes his son Drake out on the river to witness the same rocks and currents that he and his father frequented years ago. Three generations have stood in that spot, brought together by a timeless activity. The Ausable River has seen it all.

Barely visible in the early morning light, Bottcher stands by a large boulder in the stream.

The Ausable has a history and legacy that spans across generations. Bottcher points out that “there’s so much more to a river than the fish. You’re fishing the river. You’re not fishing the fish.” As a result, he finds himself drawn back to this place, no matter where he’s been. “From Labrador to Argentina, all over the west, and all over the east coast, the Ausable continues to be a very special stream for a lot of reasons that are just hard to put your finger on.”

The fisherman casts. You can see the river gently flowing all around him.

Being out on the river early in the morning might be the most peaceful place you’ll ever have the privilege of experiencing. 

“You’ll notice the birds waking up. You’ll see the deer crossing the stream. You’ll see the insects starting to hatch out of the river. You’ll see the beavers and the otters. You’re there witnessing that, and you’re a part of it.”

A close up of Bottcher's gloved hands as they slowly reel in his line.

To him, “sharing that with everybody is what it’s all about.” That’s why the responsibility falls on each of us to recognize our place in the environment and to protect it. That way, more people can fish, play, and experience the river for generations to come.

A fish laying in the gloved hand of the fisherman, his net in the background.

Create your own fishing memories this season with a fly fishing vacation in the Whiteface Region! Every person, every fish has a story to tell. What will yours be?

This story is a feature of Dawn Patrol, a series of videos created by Adirondacks, USA, highlighting incredible locals as they share their passion for their favorite outdoor activity and the Adirondacks.

The Dawn Patrol series:

Season 2

Episode 1: David

Episode 2: Sarah

Episode 3: Dan and Willie

Episode 4: Bobby

Episode 5: Taylor and Josh

Episode 6: Brian

Season 1

Episode 1: Mark

Episode 2: John

Episode 3: Beth

Episode 4: Mitchell and Bethany

Episode 5: Ali

Episode 6: Amanda

Episode 7: Erin

Episode 8: Keith

Episode 9: Stacy


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