Friday, March 10, 2017

Rainbow Run Trout Club

Rainbow Run Trout Club!

 After trying to fish the tumbling, gushing, falling water next to the camp I knew things looked grim for the last full day at camp. The warm weather the past few days melted the snow on the mountain tops and the run off was more than the creeks and streams could handle to make anything fishable. I walked into camp wondering what the plans were for the day. The other three were just finishing up breakfast and talking about some ideas. I took my warm plate of eggs, potatoes and venison sausage patties out of the warm oven and listened in.
 The discussion was ‘what are our options?” The water run off made stream fishing out of the question. We fished Spring Creek the day before with little success and wasn’t willing to travel 2 hours not knowing the conditions of any other trout streams. We came to the conclusion lake fishing was our last resort. Of course there were comical endless remarks why four grown men with years of trout fishing experience are deciding to go to a pay lake to fish for trout. This was something all of us frowned upon and never attempted because of public humiliation.

 Being one of the founding fathers of this club I was selected to write a brief history of how it came to be. The other three founding members requested to be anonymous therefore their names have been changed to protect their sanity.
 Before we even stepped out the door of the camp we were coming up with reasons to ease our guilt as to why we must pay-to-fish in a stocked trout lake.
1. There was no where else to fish because of conditions!
2. There are plenty of fishermen that pay to join a fishing club so they can fish over stocked trout on club property.
3. There’s many famous fly guys who pay big bucks to fish private waters where as we will be paying less than $10.00 an hour.
4. We figured people pay for a Lake Erie stamp to fish stocked steelhead waters so what’s wrong with paying to fish for farm raised trout right on the premises.

Other things were discussed to try not to make it look like we were so desperate.
1. We thought about finding a 10 year old kid to take with us.
2. Maybe if there was a handicap parking space and dock we would have one of us get out of the vehicle limping with a cane and coughing heavily.
3. We thought about covering our face with a handkerchief like KJH so we weren’t identified but we figured they might think we were going to rob the place.

After going the wrong way on Rte.6 we stopped at Sheetz in Coudersport. I got directions from a local truck driver but Basil Hayden failed to find a mother willing to give up her kid so we can take him fishing.

We pulled in under the welcome sign and drove up the gravel lane. There were already a few camo clad fly guys whipping their fly sticks like buggy whips on the upper lake.
 In the parking area Basil Hayden and Labatt covered their heads with their hoodies and pulled the strings tight so their faces weren’t openly exposed. I put on my sunglasses, camo coat and camo hat to ’fit in’ with the other guests up on the lake. On the other hand WW was wearing his high class expensive fishing gear complete with a trout net hanging from his back. With his polarized lenses on he looked like an ad model right out of a fly fishing mag. Labatt and I walked into the building entrance to find out how this pay-to-fish works. We were instructed to which ponds we could fly fish on, what the laws of releasing were and fishing rates. We conveyed this to the other two.
 In the parking lot we got our wading gear on, vests and strung up our rods. We reentered the building and signed a name on the registration form, punched a time card and picked a number. On the way back through the lot we grabbed our rods and headed up to the lake. WW, Labatt and Basil were taking two rods each as if they were going to a driving range with new irons. So there we were, two hooded gangsta lookin bros’ and I, looking like a homeless soup kitchen guy down on his luck, following a prestigious guide doing community service. Oh ya, we’re carrying custom built and $300.00+ factory rods with $250.00+ reels.
 WW and Basil walked passed the other guests and headed to the far side of the pond, looking lake, for better back-casting freedom. I looked the pond over and took to the side that looked less likely to be fished. With a row of tall pines only a few yards away from the pond I knew this would be a problem for new or amateur fly rod casters.

 I stepped a few feet into the water and on my second cast my bugger took a strike so hard it broke my fresh 4x tapered leader. I tied on another bugger and was more careful with my line hand tension while stripping the bugger in. I think I was on my second or third hook up when Labatt finally got his leader tied on and got his first cast in. After my second break off on another hard hit I trimmed off about a foot of the tippet section and retied another bugger on. This bugger lasted me through many a caught fish without breaking until one of my back-casts hit the metal roof on a picnic shelter.
 With my 4th or 5th hook up on the energetic 14” to 18” rainbows WW was walking towards my side of the pond. It wasn’t soon after Basil followed along. Even Labatt started to move closer to me. I started to feel as if I was being intruded upon like steelhead fishing in Erie. It wasn’t long after that before the four of us were lined up along the bank as if fishing the ’Log Jam!’
 I’m sure it didn’t take to much time for the other paying guests to see we were well educated fly fishermen. Watching our long roll casts, smooth casting strokes as well as nice shooting loops we weren’t the bums as our clothes may have depicted.
 In time we were doing the Walnut shuffle jockeying for better position. Basil was putting on a show with long circular roll cast loops off his long rod. WW was catching a few also resorting to dropping an egg pattern or streamer under an indicator. He just couldn’t resist, even in the still pond water. I was continuing to pull a trout out now and than while it seemed every time I looked over to Labatt he was tying on another fly pattern or more tippet.
 As far as the trout go the rainbows fought with good energy considering the cold conditions. A few would break the surface water with short leaps trying to shake off the barbless hooks. I’m talking about 14” to 20” bows!! Brian caught the first good size tiger trout and had a huge brook trout on but failed to net him. Basil mostly caught browns on his side of our line up. Later on Labatt got into a good school of bows. Some of the fish caught were well girthed 20” to 23” fish.
 All the while we were fishing, groups of other fisher people would come and go to try their luck. They watched us as we fished with confidence. Hooked fish splashed about, lines flew upwards with false hook ups or quick releases. Rods flexed with the fighting on the other end by the weighty fish. We were as happy as 21 year olds at their first keg party but we felt like 21 year olds at a house of ill repute. There wasn’t much of a challenge but the rewards were significantly satisfying. Yes, we were remorseful with this outing we were partaking in, hiding our true sadness of not being able to fish a local trout stream.
 Basil gave up after 2 hours with back pain. He headed to the vehicles with his two fly rods and returned with a cup of hot coffee. It wasn’t much longer when Labatt was feeling back aches and also checked out to relax with Basil. After shortly joining WW fishing the lower lake I clocked out at $25.25 worth.

 In a group there’s always a guy who just can’t get enough. By himself, last person on either pond, WW found a current flow from an underground pipe discharging water from the trout rearing ponds. Being from Erie he couldn’t resist dropping an egg pattern under an indicator drifting it through the current flow of the discharging water. He was producing hook up after hook up like an early run of steelhead. I suppose seeing us in the parking lot enjoying a beer he finally gave up and called it quits.

 Even with pictures, which I had to vow not to show faces, I can’t even prove they accompanied me. You see, when we were supposed to write our names on the registration form they did not. The office manager commented to me, as I was clocking out, that my friends had some strange names.
“Ya,” I questioned, “like what?”
They wrote their names as Jerry, doubletaper and DT!!!

So that’s how the ‘Rainbow Run Trout Club’ came about on 3/19/11.


Friday, March 3, 2017

San Juan Bi-color Worm

Beaded San Juan Bi-color Worm

 After fishing the Bi-color San Juan worm in the Bug Horn River a few years ago with great success on the wild brown trout I brought it home and started tying the bi-color worm. I added a bead to some ties to get the pattern down quicker in fast water. Both with and without the bead have been catching fish ever since.
 Here’s the way I tie my pattern and have no reason to ever change it except for adding different colors on occasion.

The Bi-Color Beaded San Juan
Hook; #10 or #12 3x long curved.  J. Stockard JS 720H
Thread; Red
Bead; brass, gold or copper
Back body; Red Ultra Chenille standard
Front body; Wine Ultra Chenille standard
Mouth and anus; Burnt ends of chenille

 1. Place bead on hook and leave behind eye of hook

 2. Thread base hook shank from behind bead to bend of hook. 

 3. Measure red Chenille so the front end will be a good distance behind eye of hook leaving room for front of body.
Tie down at bend and bring thread about ¼ distance behind eye of hook.

 4. I add a layer of glue along the top of the threaded shank. This keeps the chenille from rolling over.

5. Lay the chenille on the shank, tie down as shown and cut thread.

 6. Push bead up against front of chenille. (You might want to add a bead of glue where you place the bead.)
Start a new thread base behind eye to bead and back behind eye. Keep a gap between thread and hook eye.

  7. Secure wine chenille behind eye with chenille, extending over bead, with thread wraps and bring thread back behind eye as shown.

 8. Fold chenille forward, over itself, and tie down behind eye of hook. Trim ends of chenille to desired length.

 9. Take a flame and quickly burn the tips of the chenille. This will hold the chenille from unraveling and coming apart.

 Here are a couple other Bi-color San Juan worms I tie. 

 Where else to keep those worms but in a designated worm can.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Petroleum in the 50's

Petroleum in the 50’s

 My grandpa was wise when it came to hunting and fishing. He would tell me where’s there’s one rabbit there is another. Back then I didn’t understand why but he was right most of the times that I recall. I always figured this applied to trout also in big waters. 

 After fishing in central Pa. the past couple of days I did pretty well catching trout beneath the surface with nymphs. I was hoping for a BWO hatch and rising trout but it never came about. Wednesday, being it was suppose to be in the high 50’s, I was hoping for a hatch of either BWO or stoneflies with rising trout. I gathered up my gear and warm clothes and headed over to Petroleum Center area on Oil Creek.
 When I got there I seen the water was moving at a good clip but was wadable and at a good level as far as I was concerned. It was clear but the overcast sky kept the deeper holes opaque. With the winter snow runoff I figured the water would be quite cold so I wore my neoprene chest waders for warmth as well as knowing I would most likely get into some deeper water if I wanted to fish towards the far banks.
 I must have spent a couple of hour’s nymph fishing the section of water I chose at first. I covered the area that I could reach, pretty thoroughly and never got a strike. I didn’t even feel anything that even felt like it could have been a strike. I used different nymphs, San Juan‘s, and even tried a bugger now and then. I used an indicator at times and sometimes not. I added more weight to get my imitations down but it didn’t matter I couldn’t get a fish to bite. I knew they were in there but I just didn’t have the right stuff or they weren’t around.
 The second section I tried I came up with the same results. No strikes, no fish and a couple more lost nymphs due to underwater snags. I wasn’t discouraged in the least though. The air temperature turned out into the high 50’s and I was enjoying the quietness and a good cigar now and then. I’d get out of the cold water to give my feet and legs a beak from the chill but other than that I was fine. Sooner or later I had to catch a fish?

 The last section I was to try had been a good spot where trout held earlier in the year. It wasn’t a big wide area that they were holding in back during the low water days but I figured they might just still be hanging out there like a gang guarding their turf. With the higher water they may be spread out a bit more but I had a feeling they still might be hanging around. The problem was wading across the stream far enough to cast towards the far bank.
 I slowly and cautiously waded my way out through the water. Each step was thought out and I felt for slippery, or loose, rocks before resting my weight on my forward foot before taking another step. The water crept up my legs the closer I got to the middle of the creek and soon I started to feel the coldness of the water on my thighs through my waders. The current wasn’t making the going any easier. I found a safe place, with good footing, and decided to make a stand. I would have no problem reaching the far bank with my 9’ G2 Scott rod if necessary. 

  Though I wasn’t sure a trout will chase a Woolly Bugger in the cold water conditions in February but I figured if I swung one in the current I might get at least one to strike. I use a bugger as an attractor to find out where the fish hold especially for rainbow waters. There’s usually one bow that will hit a bugger if there is a gang of them around. Once I find the gang, and they quit hitting the bugger, then I’ll resort to nymphs.

 The bugger fell about 3 feet short of the far bank. As the bugger sank the rest of the line arced on the surface water and started to swing the bugger beneath. I kept my eye on the fly line for any sudden drop in the tip and held the fly line between my thumb and fingers in my left hand so I could feel any sudden tug. I saw the fly line dip and felt the light pull of the fly line as the arc narrowed on the surface. I quickly set the hook with a swift backhand of the fly rod keeping the fly line tight between my fingers. The line shot up from the water surface and tightened from the hooked fish. The trout pulled and tugged as it swam with the current near the far bank. As the rod shaft flexed deeper the trout swam and tugged in an arc down creek. Because of the swift current I kept the rod tip near the surface not wanting to bring the trout up into the swift surface water. I kept a tight grip on the cork as the fish played in the current and tired itself out. It decided to swim away towards the far bank again and because of the pressure of the trout and force of the current I let it have some line yet kept the reel drag tight enough to add that extra resistance of the wayward trout. Once I felt the trout didn’t have the fight in him, as when we started, I started to reel in bringing him towards me. Usually I will hand line him in but in water to my thighs and the strong current this would leave a lot of floating line in the water. There would be a good chance these erratic trout could get caught in the line when trying to net it or playing him out near me. Close enough, down stream, I took my net out and drew him closer moving the rod upstream. A last little splashing about, after exhausting any of his exuberant energy, I was able to cradle him in my net.

 I continued swinging the bugger and managed a couple more trout before the action ceased.

  Being that black stoneflies and Blue Wing Olives are the first hatches here in PA. I decided to nymph fish a lil black stonefly. For some reason I found a Picket Pin with a stonefly dropper works well together. With a little extra split shot on the leader I was ready to go deep.
 With the indicator attached I didn’t feel my offerings were getting down deep enough. I tried big looping mends but I felt the indicator was moving faster on the surface and not keeping the nymphs near the bottom long enough. I took off the indicator and it took big continuous mends and proper rod positions to get a likeable drift beneath the swift current. Once I managed this, the strikes started to come again. Fighting the fat rainbows in the current flow to net wasn’t always successful. The ones I hooked into that took the wet fly, instead of the nymph, were more energetic with skyward acrobatic twists and turns even in the cold water conditions. 

  The rainbows were nice and fat and gave me some good battles. Things finally died down and the cold water upon my lower body was starting to be extremely uncomfortable. I tried wading down creek to cover a different section but the water was too deep and I didn’t feel comfortable wading the slippery bottom with the swift current. I cautiously turned and waded back towards the shoreline.

 Not wanting to quit just yet I decided to pitch and swing a Woolly Bugger while wading down creek, along the bank, in safer water. Occasionally I would nymph fish in certain areas but kept coming up empty. The sun never came out and there never was a hatch to speak of. I hooked the bugger in the hook keeper and headed to the truck. It was about 3 when I got to the truck. I was satisfied with my catch and decided to head home.
 The day didn’t turn out like I wanted but I caught some fatty rainbows that gave me some good battles. I didn’t fall in and didn’t lose too many flies so it did turn out to be a pleasant outing. Maybe I can luck out and get into a hatch soon with some good dry fly action.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Quiet Waters

Quiet Waters

Far from road noise
Away from the sounds of construction vehicles
Absent from garden and lawn tractors
Distant from passing locomotives

Beyond the crowds that
are enjoying the warm February weather
Absent from local fishermen
I come to the remoteness of the forest

The small creek flows with the sound of gentle riffles
Birds rustle about the dry forest foliage
A lone leaf can be heard tipping bare branches
as if falls from an aged oak

The smell of forest pines
The coolness of the forest breeze
The presence of laurel
The calmness that is felt

The lightness of the 3 weight fly rod
I roll cast into the mountain stream
My hand tied nymph drifts within the dark waters

The line hesitates
and with a swift but gentle set
the line tightens
The rod flexes with activity

A wild trout tugs and darts
A small brown comes to hand
Its beauty is unmatched
Its release is unharmed

A smile forms between my cheeks
Excitement flows through my veins
Confidence is assured
I search for another

 As the sun lowers, evening draws near
Shadows form beneath the bank side laurel
The coolness of the temperature becomes more noticeable
Another wild trout struggles at the end of the line

 The day comes to a close
The journey home begins
A fire cured stogie awaits
Memories of this day comes to ponder


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Olive Scud Tute

Dave’s Olive Scud

  Fishing a limestone stream in central PA. a friend of mine gave me a similar olive scud pattern that worked well. I took his scud and tied it on a pupa hook. Here is Dave’s Olive Scud.

Hook; #16-#20 pupa hook
Thread; 6/0 BWO thread
Rib; Fl. Chartreuse small wire
Shell Back; Olive scud back. ¼” wide cut in half
Body; Golden Olive rabbit dubbing with guard hairs
Head; BWO Thread

 1. Pupa Hook #18

 2. Thread hook shank to back of bend

 3. Secure Chartreuse wire to bend
I extend wire to top of bend to add a little more weight.

4. Secure olive scud back material at bend on top of wire and bring thread behind eye of hook leaving room for head.

 5. Add dubbing loosely to thread and wrap back to bend as shown

 6. Wind more loose dubbing to behind eye of hook as shown.

 7. Bring scud back over body, secure and trim.

 8. Wind wire in open wraps, over scud back, towards front of hook.

9. Break off wire and make thread head.
Trim off any unruly guard hairs and if necessary pick out dubbing to make legs.
I add a dab of head cement on thread head.

 On #20 pupa hooks I only dub body from back to front and I use olive dubbing with guard hairs.


Monday, January 23, 2017

January Rainbows

January Rainbows

 50+ degrees in January? No rain and calm outside? Seemed like a good day to take advantage and go trout fishing.

 From the parking lot I could see the water level was on the high side. It had good flow and the color was a tint on the green side which was about perfect color as far as I was concerned. Knowing the water would be deep along the banks I put on my chest waders. I put together my 2 piece SAS Scott fly rod and lined it with 5wt double taper line. I grabbed some stogies and headed to the water.

 With the chill of the water I didn’t think any trout would be too active wanting to exert much energy chasing a bugger so I decided to concentrate on nymph fishing. I knotted on a Beaded San Juan worm and dropped a brown Hares ear from the hook bend. I added weight to the leader and stepped into the water along the bank.
 I worked the seam along the fasted current just in front of me hoping the trout would be near the softer water and not out in the main flow. It was maybe my 5th drift along the seam that the indicator dropped momentarily and lifted up with my wrist to set the hook. I felt a little wiggle of a struggling fish on the other end of the line. He wiggled and tried swimming away but the 5wt rod was way to stiff to give the little guy any give.

 Back in the fall a few local Boy Scout Troops had a camp out along the North Fork Red Bank Creek in the park. They were gathered together to learn how to tie flies, learn about how to fly fish and the equipment used as well as stream entomology. I’m not sure what the number of kids and scout masters were but there was a large group of them with tents strung out along the park lawn. They were all there to receive their merit badge for fly fishing and had asked the local Trout Unlimited Chapter if we would help them achieve this. I was contacted by the head of the Iron Furnace Chapter and of course made time to volunteer. It was well organized with plenty of instructors. The young men were well behaved and respected us in a manner I haven’t seen a group of kids, this size, act in a very long time. To add to their benefit the TU chapter got the creek stocked with rainbows for the Boy Scout Troop. From what I heard was there wasn’t many fish to be had and the place they were able to buy the fish were in the size 6” to 8” range. I figured this little guy was one of these last fall stocked fish.
 After about an hour I looked down creek and the early morning sun broke through the cloud cover and was shining on the water down creek. I was hoping for a stonefly hatch. Seeing the sunshine I waded out and headed towards the sun.

 I spent an hour or so without any takes. The stonefly hatch never occurred. It might have been because of the high water level. Once the sun shown upon the water upstream I went back up creek.
 I fished San Juan worms in the faster water and nymphs as a dropper most of the time. I found with a little extra weight and eliminating the indicator got my nymphs down where the fish were and was more successful. I caught a few more small rainbows, that were pretty frisky, on an assortment of Hares Ears and little Black Stoneflies. I even caught one on a swinging picket pin. Later in the afternoon the sun disappeared and the air started to get colder. My lower extremities were really feeling the cold water by then and my feet were close to being numb. I felt I had enough fun and waded out of the chilled water towards my truck.
 While changing clothes I finished off the stogie I had been smoking and quenched my thirst.
 It turned out to be a fine January day to trout fish.