A Fall Fly Fishing Trip to Upstate New York

October 29, 2019

While most of the Gould community was taking a well-deserved break after Family Weekend, a handful of faculty members and students fed their passion for fly fishing with a trip to the renowned Douglaston Salmon Run.

Fly Fishing on the Salmon River in Pulaski New York
The whole crew on the Salmon River in Pulaski, New York

Onboard for the adventure was the Director of the Academic Skills Program and river ecology instructor Laurin Parker ’94, Director of Experiential Learning Chris Hayward, English teacher Caroline Murphy, and former faculty and all-around Gould legend John Wight. The students were outnumbered by faculty, but seniors Gil Norcross ’20, Myles Barrett ’20, and Tanner Matza ’20 were equally amped for the journey.

Below is Murphy’s first-hand account of the trip, and an inside look at Gould students connecting with the natural world on a trip of a lifetime.

Day One

On the ferry across Lake Champlain
Excitement builds taking the ferry across Lake Champlain

At 5 am, rising early in the fall wind, the conversation drifted from excitement to discussions of which route we’d be taking, and as the last members drifted in, with wheels were pointed West, the adventure began. 

Consuming hot coffee and bacon in great haste, the group traded tales of first trips to the Salmon River, snug in a small booth as the sun rose over the Green Mountains. 

As the ferry took the team across the great Lake Champlain toward the Adirondacks peaks, the reality of the trip set in. Sleepy passengers began to stir as the village of Pulaski came into view. Big fish awaited our arrival.

Pop tying flies
Pop tying flies

Pop (aka John Wight) and Nate Wight ’95 provided flies and the team unloaded all the gear. We spent the afternoon on the back porch of the guide house getting ready for the start of a new journey. Tomorrow would be the big day!

Day Two

The team’s first full day fly fishing on the water, and what a day!

The students are all geared up.
Geared up and ready to roll

The team woke up at Jerry’s house, a “you gotta know a guy” type of guide house. Jerry has been housing fishing guides and anglers since 1972 and has the stories to show for it.

Morning came early with a dark walk into the world-famous Douglaston Salmon Run (DSR) at 6:15. The run lays on the Salmon River, a river that’s bottom ranges from slate rock to sand and not much in between. Wading can be tricky and done best with a wading staff. Together, the bottom and the big fights make the DSR a famous fishery.

I lost it to a quick run and a dive under a log, but not before seeing the fish in action and realizing its power, UNREAL.

Pop and Nate had the team revving to go with the right gear and the right attitude. Chris Hayward was the first to hook on and had an epic fight with a king salmon, the first bite took Chris on a chase forty yards downriver. The fish won, but on the DSR, a fight is sometimes just as good as a netted fish.

Me and Pop on the river

I had the next bite and was taken back by the fight in the King. I lost it to a quick run and a dive under a log, but not before seeing the fish in action and realizing its power, UNREAL.

Laurin Parker hooked and landed two steelhead as the sun began to hit the river.

After a long, but great first day on the water we turned in, knowing the alarm will sound early, and tomorrow means another day to fight fish!

Tanner with one of the many steelhead we landed

Day Three

The action on day three was consistent throughout the morning and into the afternoon.

Myles with a beautiful steelhead

Tanner, Gil, and Myles were guided by Rick Moscarello, an experienced fly fishing guide with over thirty years of experience working with clients on the Salmon River. Rick knows where the fish are and how to hook ’em. The boys didn’t stop all day. By the time we were done, everyone had a fish in hand.

Is this your dream fly fishing trip?

The boys learned so much from Rick and couldn’t be more thankful for his time. The group enjoyed continued stories and a big meal prior to packing up for the final day of the trip.

The only thing larger than the fish were the smiles.

Day Four

Beautiful scene fly fishing on the Salmon River on a fall day.
Myles mid-fight

We were all excited for one last shot at the river. The steelhead were tenacious. They went on swift downriver runs down the river while breaking the water and making impressive flights into the air.

The steelhead were tenacious. They went on swift downriver runs down the river while breaking the water and making impressive flights into the air.

Any time spent on a river, learning from those who know it best, is beneficial. Spending nearly forty hours in the current, focusing on a single task, laughing with those who are teaching you. We learned much more than how to present a fly. It’s an impactful learning environment.

Thanks to all those who made this experience possible. Special thank you to John Wight, Nate Wight, and Rick Moscarello for all their guidance.

Like what you’ve seen?

Caroline Fly Fishing

About Caroline Murphy

Ms. Murphy teaches 9th Grade World Literature, 10th Grade European Literature, and 12th Grade electives. She is an avid outdoorswoman and has guided trips for Gould and served as a co-leader on the Junior Four Point winter camping experience. When not in the classroom or dorm, she can be found exploring the beauty of Western Maine on skis, her bike, or one of the area’s many rivers. She loves showing Gould students the amazing wild and natural environments right outside Gould’s doors just as much as she loves showing students the power of language and prose.


One Response

  1. Avatar John Wight says:

    My fear at age 74 is that there is no way to pass on what I know. Then I watch my son Nate fish and the faces of these 6 Gould Faculty and students and I get the message that, in a small way, some of it lives on in the people with whom I spend time.

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