Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Evening Hoppers

Evening Hoppers
 The river flowed true, now abandoned by boaters and swimmers. There was a chill in the air as the dark gray clouds blanketed any brighter clouds above. The clouds moved in bundles intertwining with each other as they appeared to wonder about. Occasionally a sun beam would lighten the river momentarily until the next bundle moved within its path. Water waved more erratic over the shallower section before calming some in the deeper water down stream. Aside from a few chirping birds and gurgles of conversion currents the river was quiet and looked peaceful. Mist still lingered down the river valley from the recent stray down pour.

 From under my raincoat I take out a Cuban Counterfeit from my shirt pocket. The 1958 figurado is firm to hold and as I take a long whiff of the outer Ecuador wrapper it has a woodsy aroma with a touch of sweetness. I cup my hand and light the end of the short stogie. A cloud of smoke appears at the end of the barrel much lighter than the gray clouds above. One puff told me this was going to be a good medium full smoke to enjoy the outing.
  I look down the bank-side and ponder how to approach the shallow water where the trout lay. The mountain creek water that empties into the warm river is much colder. As it flows along the banks, trout will inhabit this cooler water away from the warmer river temperature. These trout are wary and with the water being clear are suspicious of any uncommon water wave or shadow that is cast their way.
  I step into the water and immediately feel the cooler creek water absorb into my socks through my wading boots. My ankles and than calves feel the flow as I wet wade, keeping my distance from the bank-side flow. I stop and I move with caution as to not attract attention to my presence. I already have a length of 4x tippet knotted to my 9’ 4x tapered leader I was using for casting streamers the other day. Knowing I will be using big grass hopper patterns later on I take the chance and knot on a foam beetle, hoping that the trout are not line shy. With the darkened sky it may not be as noticeable upon the surface.
  With ease I take my first cast and the beetle drops short of a bank-side boulder that lay against the shoreline. The beetle slowly flows near an overhanging leafy bush. I watch as it drifts aimlessly beyond the bush without a taker. My next cast is just this side of the same leafy bush. It plops for recognition. There are bubbles and small debris that is also flowing with the current so I hope that the audible plop will attract some attention. Within seconds a rising swirl appears to my beetle. With a quick yank I miss the take. Three more casts, in the same area, produces another take and I feel the resistance. The water stirs with activity but within seconds the hook frees and another trout finds freedom. I tie on a small caddis pattern after a few more casts. Drifting the caddis produces a swirl but the fish doesn’t take the imitation. I leave this small area after a few more casts and wade down river to a deeper looking pool. I tie on hefty hopper pattern and proceed.
  The hopper drops onto a flowing seam, bobs with the subtle waves and slows upon the deeper pool. I see the flash just before the take and yank the rod upward. The surface water erupts with the hook set and the trout takes deep with my tight line. He pulls line as he heads for the far bank. Not worrying about my 4x snapping I keep a good grip on the cork handle and let the trout bend the top section of the rod. He turns down river and scurries with sharp tugs. He makes an arc down stream and than angles to the wavier water behind me. I take in line and soon he is within 16 feet or so from me. I coax him back into the slack water and bring in more line until my fly line reaches the tip top. I pull my net out, from under my belt, and get ready to net the trout. Raising the rod he draws nearer, pushes outward and than comes closer to my leg. I scoop him up and my first brown trout is captured in my ghost net.

I release the hopper attached to the side of its mouth and the trout hastily escapes from
my net.

  This first take gives me a good feeling that the hopper is a good imitation and being easy for me to see I continue with confidence.
  I catch another closer to the bank. The swirl was obvious as the hopper disappeared. It is as if the trout knows, once a grass hopper falls into the water, it has no way of escaping. They rise and take the hopper like a helpless insect on the water surface.

 My cast drops the hopper directly, forward, of the deep pool down stream. With a twitch backward, of my rod, puts slack in my fly line before my hopper touches water. I watch as the hopper slowly drifts upon the surface. A trout rises to take a closer look but disappears beneath. Within seconds he rises again and slurps the hopper. With the hook set he too angles towards the far bank, turns down creek when he cannot pull any further, and arcs below. He swims towards the open water. I turn and angle the rod up river. He swims within the current as my tight line follows his movement. I take in line, swing my rod towards the slower current and bring him to the net.

 Time passes and fish take my hopper at any given moment. I enjoy the smooth medium bodied cigar as I fight fish on the Winston 6 weight.

  With a tight loop cast out and across from me I watch the hopper flow slowly with the current. The fly line begins to pull the hopper down creek and I watch as a trout rises and follows the hopper. The waves he creates, as he draws near just subsurface, pushes my hopper down and away. He swats his tale and lunges for the hopper before it gets any further down stream. With the rod already angled down stream I yank downstream as the trout grabs the hopper. The hook sets into its jaw and another battle begins. He splashes subsurface trying to release the hook before diving deep. I can feel he is a weighty fish and I let him take line as he aims for the far bank. He tugs line with head shakes just before darting down river. I give him more line as I swing my rod down and behind me. He rises down river and dives deep again. I cautiously bring in line as he fights for freedom. Closer I can see I hooked him by the beak. He shakes his head to free himself to no avail. The beautiful brown comes to net.

 The hopper over wing gets torn so I decide to snip it off. I also nip off the short piece of 4x tippet and knot on another longer piece. To this I pick out another hopper and knot it on. I cast about but without another take in the deeper pool I wade down river further.

  There are two boulders that sit up against the far bank. Water flows against it and wavy current appears as the water continues to flow at a faster pace. I lay the hopper just short of the boulders and watch as it enters the stream and drifts up against the boulders. The hopper drifts out from the seam and a trout swoops on it for an easy meal. I pull back the long length of line and feel the resistance. Another good battle ensues. It’s a battle of wits as he fights in the faster current. His energy weakens and I get him closer. Another fine brown trout comes to the net.

 As darkness hovers above me rain drops start to fall upon the water. I close my raincoat and cover my hat with the hood. I take out another stogie and light it. The stogie is much lighter than the last. I cast a few more times and wade back up river hoping to fool a few more trout before a big rainfall.

  I catch a couple smaller trout and decide to call it an evening. Once I get to the gravel bank I notice risers up river in the more open water out from the creek water that enters. I decide to give it a try. The rain stops and the evening brightens. I nip off the 4x and tie on a section of 5x. I knot on a caddis and cast it towards the latest rise. Without a take I short cast into the stream of water entering the river. A big swirl appears as soon as the caddis hit’s the water but I’m surprised and late on the hook set. I give the caddis a few more minutes and without a take I knot on a small parachute Adams. I cast this about and a trout takes notice. A quick rise and this time I’m ready. The frisky trout darts about causing swirls in the shallow water. I net the frisky brook trout.

 A few more casts and I hook another brook trout. One more brown takes my Adams imitation before I decide to call it a night.

 At the van I dry off and change into street clothes. Darkness closes in as I head for home. My 4 day vacation comes to a close with a big smile on my face and a smooth cigar between my lips.



Saturday, July 5, 2014

Unprepared on the Clarion River

Unprepared on the Clarion River

  I hadn’t been out fishing for awhile being I had a couple of Cycle rides planned for overnight stays. The dry fly trout fishing hasn’t been the best this year being the heavy rain during the weeks made for high water and unfavorable conditions. I’ve had been tying smallmouth patterns for a friend the past couple of weeks after work and this has been getting me anxious to fish the river for smallmouth. For myself I tied up some popular poppers and sliders I’ve used with great success in the past. The green frog poppers are a killer.
Along with these I tied up some Clouser patterns also. I don’t use Clousers as often than I probably should in the river but I splurged for some painted barbell eyes and decided to give the tying a try on my own. I didn’t think they came out too bad. With a few crawfish patterns and Hellgrammite pattern I was ready for some smallies.

With that I was anxious to get out on the river over the 4th of July.

Friday morning I got my smallmouth patterns together with my last year stuff and combined them in a few fly boxes. I put some extra dry clothes in the sack and threw them in the van. I was planning on wet wading so I didn’t need any waders and left them at home. Usually the river is wadable for the most part and where it is not a weight forward line on a fast action fly rod will get to 98% of the river. I packed a cooler for the day and just in case the river would be higher than expected I threw in my float tube.
  Well, when I got down to the river it was high and brown stained. The further I drove upriver the cloudy it appeared to be. My first thought was to keep on driving and spend the next 45 minutes or so driving due north and trout fish the tail water of a dam. The problem was I didn’t bring any waders and I knew the tail water was going to be quite cold. At least I brought my float tube and not wanting to give up decided to give it a go anyway.
  I stopped at my favorite smallmouth fishing section and pumped up my float tube. I had discovered that I forgot my short flippers that help in the deeper sections. Not only that, with the stronger current it’s going to be difficult to ’steer’ the tube in the direction I may want to go! I loaded up the tube, put a fresh 3X tapered leader on my 6 weight Winston and headed down the bank.
  The water was colder than I expected as I stepped into the knee deep water. The late morning was overcast and the cool breeze didn’t help warm my upper body very much. I didn’t bring a warm long sleeve shirt so I was hoping the sun would stay out and keep me a little warmer than without it.
I started fish before the first set of fast riffles that was usually calm rolling waves. After that I sat in the float tube and away I went. I constantly searched to the river bed with an extended foot so I could stop and fish now and then. Occasionally this happened but I was never able to get to fish the opposite rocky slope. The cross wind didn’t help any when I cast across creek either. The only thing that was pleasant so far about the day was the stogie I was puffing on the whole time and even that was burning quickly in the windy conditions. It got to the point, even though my lower half got used to the water temperature, I was actually shivering at times.
  I got stopped, mid-river, just to the side of tumbling water over an uprising boulder. I planted my feet firmly on the river bed and let the float tube, roped and clasped to my belt, float down a few feet from where I stood. I attached a Clouser to my fast-snap and started to cast into the pocket water behind the boulder and slower current that followed. This looked like a nice spot to fish a weighted Hellgrammite pattern so I attached the heaviest barbell eye pattern I had. The second cast, upriver, behind the boulder the pattern didn’t tumble very far before I got a hard bump. I though maybe I had a snag but to my surprise I felt a fish fighting the line in the heavy tumbling brown stained water. I got it circled around and was surprised of the brown trout I had hooked.
This got my confidence up for sure. I continued fishing this section for some time with the current beating against my thighs and shivering half the time before I decided to continue down river. I did manage one more brown trout before I vacated the area.

 Later in the afternoon I drove down river for a place I could actually wade and fish without the float tube. Being the forth of July there were many fishermen out so the pickings were slim for a fly guy that wanted some room to cast. I came upon a milder section and parked before someone else showed up to swim or fish.
 Down in the river I started fishing Clousers, bugger and the Hellgrammite patterns. There were occasional canoes and kayaks that passed by but they kept their distance in the wide area so they weren’t a problem or a hazard. I spent a couple of hours and only caught 1 small smallmouth for my time spent with one of my Clouser patterns.
The day wasn’t the most pleasurable adventure but I did manage a few fish. Next time I’m sure I’ll be prepared for conditions or at least bring extra fishing gear for a plan C!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Warming the Kettle

Warming the Kettle

  Saturday morning looked to be the perfect kind of day. The sun was rising with warmth with only a few light clouds moving overhead. There was no sign of rain with just a hint of a breeze. Yes, a perfect day for a long motorcycle ride or sitting on a sandy beach in a straw hat, a cold tropical drink and a cigar waiting for the sun to heat up the day. Here, I was dressed to trout fish, with fly rod in hand and every fly I could think of in boxes for this days outing I was about to partake in. I had my Bonehead shirt on, my straw hat, water bottle and enough cigars to last for a few hours up creek before returning to the van.
  Along the path, within the shade, a couple of fellows were already nymph fishing the shallow riffles. As I crossed the creek, beyond the canopy of trees, I noticed yellow stoneflies fluttering towards land. I continued up creek paying attention to the water flow, cover and any Mayflies I happen to come across.
  I stood along the bank looking over the deep pool of water. Shadows still covered the surface, from the tall trees behind me, but the far bank lit up spring green color from the still rising sun.

 There wasn’t a Mayfly, caddis or stonefly anywhere to be found. As I fished a Woolly Bugger I glanced around and couldn’t spot a rise anywhere. After about 20 minutes of streamer fishing I headed up creek to the narrower wavy current and decided to work my way down. The sun was heating things up and finally shown signs of brightness on the water between the leafy tree tops. I started to nymph fish but kept my eyes and ears open to any sign of a rise.

  I dropped the tandem nymph rig just shy of the tree branches that overhung from the bank. It looked like a good holding place for a trout with cover and shade beneath. As the line drifted down creek it arced outward and I gave a sharp upward tug. The line straightened and drew tight. My first trout was on and running down creek in haste. The current helped his cause as I let line out of the reel through tightened finger pressure. He turned towards midstream and I lifted the rod higher and towards my side of the bank. With a head jerk, that jolted the rod tip, he cut across creek and headed back up to where we began the battle. I took in line while keeping pressure on him. When he got to the overhanging branches I tilted the rod down and backed up towards dry land. He tussled a bit more and than took to the current and swam down creek. I got him turned around and soon had him coming my way in defiance.

I continued to nymph my way down creek without another take until I came to the deep pool again. My drift was just at the back end when I noticed the line stop briefly. I pulled up creek and felt a heavy load. The fight just wasn’t too frisky but the tugs and pulls put a strain on the line and rod. I wrestled the heavy weight towards me and was surprised by my catch. A big scaled sucker gave me a notice that not only trout feed on nymphs.

I continued to fish alone enjoying the morning though I never noticed any trout feeding on top. On my return to the van I stopped now and then and fished in likely lies. I caught a couple more trout before returning to the parking lot and prepare for the evening.

  I left the project area and drove down stream where I fished the evening before. It was going on 2:00 and the sun was high and mighty. I opened a bottle of cold brew and made myself some lunch. I had plenty of time on my hand and to relax and let the sun dip lower to cause some shade on the long stretch of water. Friday evening I had refusals to my coffin flies and was running low on the shade and size of my March Browns. I took out my Renzetti Travelers 2200, hooks, and fly tying material and tied up a half dozen of each.
After cleaning up I grabbed my 4wt fast action fly rod and gear and headed to the creek. Crossing towards the other side I didn’t notice any risers or Mayflies about. I waded up creek, along the bank, ¾ the way towards the fast tumbling water. My plan was to take my time, as the sun began to set and dry fly fish my way down creek.
The sun was still up high and I could feel the heat on my exposed body. It cast some shade upon the water along the tree lined bank across creek. I rolled up my sleeves and looked down creek at the long flat stretch. I know this section well with deep runs and submerged boulders with some shallower sections with rocks strewn out beneath. I never walked the far side but have seen many sippers and risers enough to know it was deep and good places for trout to keep out of the blazing sun. Most of the fish on that side were safe. With tree and brush hazards behind me and deeper water mid-creek it was nearly impossible to get a long cast out there let alone a good drift. I put my rod under my armpit and pulled out a cigar while looking down creek for risers again. I just had a good feeling I was going to have some fun dry fly fishing even if I didn’t see many risers…yet!

 There has been controversy about line shy trout ever since I could remember. In one of W. Tapply’s books I remember something he wrote that I always keep in mind. Before there was fluorocarbon or light tippet, such as 5x or 6x line shy trout were still caught. The trick, if that’s what you call it, he explained is that he just used longer leader and tippet. Knowing I’ll be casting #12 and possibly #10 flies if the Drakes appear, I knotted on another foot and a half of 5x tippet to my tapered leader. I knotted on a Para-March Brown and lit my cigar.
My cast was out midstream. The dry fly drifted over the deepest part of the creek with the white calf tail parachute sticking up like a sore thumb. From the depth a fish rose, flashed and grabbed my dry. I had the rod lifting on his take as I caught him red handed trying to steal my enticing imitation. He was a frisky fighter but was no match for the 4 weight. I brought him in handily.

As the sun started to set a bit behind the tree tops, still leaving some parts of the creek in direct sunshine, a few trout started to rise. I seen a few Light Cahills fluttering upwards now and again but I stuck with my march Brown.

  My dry fly landed towards the far side of midstream. I could tell there was a quicker current just beyond where the dry fell. The current drifted the dry flawlessly along the seam where the tree line shadows met with the sunny water surface. It teetered with the small waves of current as if it was struggling upon the surface. The rise was a quick slurp that almost brought the trout clear out of the water surface. I yanked back the rod tip and felt the line tighten from the hooked fish. I could feel he wasn’t very big but another gallant fight by a frisky rainbow gave me a just reward.
 Along my side of the bank a fish rose as I was freeing my last catch. I brought in the long length of line and looped a cast ahead of the bank side rise. I let the extra slack drift the fly towards the fish and waited for the take. Sure enough he took the parachute March Brown with a swirl as if it was a spinner just drifting along the bank. Once hooked he shot out away from the bank like a scared rabbit jumped from its set. He stayed beneath, unlike the rainbows, and fought with headshakes as he tested the 5x tippet. Getting him closer he rose and I could see he was a fine brown trout with lots of energy to spare.

 There was a fish, within the shade of a tall overhanging branchy tree, feeding regularly near the far bank. It would be a long cast but with the brush behind me I couldn’t get enough line out on my back cast to get my fly nearer to him. “If only I could get out towards the middle I’d have a chance.
  Down stream the water smoothed out mid creek as if it was shallower. I waded down creek some and a fish rose to something on top. I pulled line out and side armed a cast down and across letting the fly drop with my leader behind. It passed the spot he rose beforehand but I seen him rise and turn on the fly. Within seconds he caught up with it and grabbed it before it drifted any further. Another trout came to the net.

 I found a way across the shallower water to get myself mid creek to make a play for the feeder beneath the overhanging tall tree across creek. Standing on a flat boulder I let a cast go up creek a ways from the riser. The dry fly fluttered down to the surface and it wasn’t on the water more than a short drift before a fish rose with quickness before the dry could drift any further. I wasn’t expecting the quick rise but my natural reaction pulled the rod tip backward which led to another tight line. The fish fought exuberantly as I was able to get him towards me without him coming loose.

 I was having a good time picking off rising trout but my eyes still keyed on the feeder across creek. With a long back cast, with a single hull, I let the long length of line shoot forward across creek. It looked as if the dry would drift within the sight of the feeder. He rose with an uncommon splash and I yanked the long length of line up creek. Another tight line, with a flexed rod tip, told me I had him. He fought with tugs but, though he felt heavy, he didn’t fight with darting pulls or swift turns. Getting him closer I knew something was different about this fish. To my surprise he turned out to be a big chub.

 I caught a couple more as I continued to wade and fish down creek to the much slower water that I fished Friday evening. There were a few fish rising but I had a hard time getting them to take my parachute dry.
  I noticed a good splashing rise nearer the bank but it wouldn’t rise to my imitation March Brown. Up creek, there was another fish feeding pretty regularly. I cast upstream and sure enough he took the dry with a quick turn as he rose. Another trout came to the net.
 By now the sun was well below the tree tops and the surface water was in complete shade from the sun. Nearer to me I watched a fish rise to my dry, inspecting it, and swam beneath refusing my imitation. I decided to switch to a full body Catskill tied March Brown.
My cast was in the direction of the heavy splashes of the occasional trout rising nearer the far bank. I mended up creek for more slack in the line for a longer drift. The far bank current was a lot slower and I needed the extra slack as to not let the bulky dry drag in the current.
  Wham, the trout rose with a tumbling take. I lifted the rod instantly and the battle began. He shot out from the bank down creek with force and hatred. We tussled as he wouldn’t give in getting nearer to me. He pulled line through my fingers and turned toward the far bank again. I swung the rod upstream with a tight grip on the cork handle. He swam parallel with the bank till he was straight across from me. I took in line, keeping the line taunt and rod tip flexed downward. He gave a swift tug and than headed towards me. I took line in quickly and soon he was only a few feet in front of me. I had my left hand holding the net in the water when he shot up creek when he seen me. I had to let line slip between my right fingers against the cork as his escape was stronger than I expected. I got him turned around and splashing towards my net. My last trout of the day looked to be a hold over brown trout that had been able to elude many other fishermen.

 It was getting too dark to see my fly and it was evident there wasn’t going to be a Green Drake spinner fall. I hooked the March Brown to my hook keeper and waded towards the bank to exit the water for the evening.
At the van I cooked up some venison chops in BBQ sauce and quenched my thirst with another cooler cold brew.




Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Priming the Kettle

Priming the Kettle

  Arriving around 5:00 pm Friday there were two vehicles parked where I wanted to park along the stretch of Kettle Creek in which I wanted to fish. I pulled the van in leaving room for the two Ohio vehicles. Standing on the sloped bank I found the Kettle flowing peaceably. The sun rays glistened off the wavy surface water and exposed the creek bed of rocks and stones. Birds flew across the creek and chirped to each other in their pleasant way. The only fellows I seen were pretty far up creek and well away from the area I wanted to fish for the few hours before dark.
  I hurriedly changed into my fishing wear of chest waders and new wading boots. I exchanged some dry fly boxes for more appropriate flies for Kettle Creek. There was only a slight breeze so I uncased the Scott G2 rod and fitted it with my Allen large arbor reel with new WF5F Dyna tip line.

After stepping off the bank, into the creek, I waded down creek and towards mid stream. My hearing became acclimatized with the sounds of my surroundings. Besides the birds I subconsciously listened to the sound of the flowing water. I listened for any suspicious noises like a sudden splash. My eyes became accustomed to the flowing waves of the surface water. I kept watch for any disturbance or any swirls in the calmer water along the bank. Not wanting to disturb the quiet setting with a splashing weighted streamer I elected to nymph fish until I seen a rise. I knotted on a Sulphur nymph below a Dark Hares Ear. It didn’t take long for my first strike and real frisky fighting rainbow. He tugged and pulled at the medium action 9’ rod as the shaft flexed with each tug and pull.
 It wasn’t much time had passed before I was tussling with a brown trout that stayed well below the surface. He scurried away from the net a couple of times before I was able to get him netted.

 I kept to nymph fishing casting about towards the bank and under a tall shade tree. I seen a swirl just out from the shadow of the tree and let my offerings drift through. The take was quick as was my hook set. This trout darted in quick turns and scurried about until I got it tired enough to get him close enough. I was surprised to see this trout was a brook trout.

 I was beginning to think this was a good omen for what I had coming this weekend with my first three trout were three different types.
  As the sun lazily dropped behind the trees upon the mountain top, it cast a long shadow across the bank and outward toward mid creek. I noticed a few big May flies about it the air. I also noticed a few trout feeding occasionally near the bank.
  I couldn’t resist and tied on a March Brown. While I was casting this out the wind began to pick up. I wasn’t impressed with the new weight forward line casting from my medium action rod. I just couldn’t get the distance and accuracy I wanted with the cross breeze. I moved around a bit until I got in a position I had more control. As the sun lowered more fish started to sip or splash the surface. Dark caddis was starting a hatch but I knew it would be too hard to see should I have decided to try an imitation. With the breeze and inconsistency of my casts, I wouldn’t even been able to estimate very well where my dark caddis would of fell. I stuck with a Para-March Brown.
 My cast was near the bank and the dry fly and line drifted as one without much drag on the fly that I was able to tell. A fish rose, as if turning on the dry, and took it with a swirling splash. I pulled the rod back and felt the resistance. We had a good battle going on as the trout stayed low and swam with strong pulls keeping his distance from the net. I finally got him settled down a bit and got him within distance to be netted. My first dry fly catch of the weekend was a fine looking brown trout. 

  As darkness started to close in I tried a couple different Coffin Fly Dries to match the ones about but the trout didn’t want anything to do with them. I even got to see a nearby trout turn away from my imitation after carefully inspecting it as it slowly drifted along the surface. Soon it was too dark to see anything on the surface at any distance so I waded out and made my way up to the van.

 This was just a primer of what to expect to come Saturday and Sunday on Kettle Creek.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Birthday Monday

Birthday Monday

  I awoke to daylight. Sunbeams filtered through the bare branched trees across the way and lightened the inside of my van where I lay. It wasn’t this that woke me up though. It was the sound of a few vehicles motoring along the roadway, it’s Monday and the early souls were on their way to work. I, on the other hand, lay within my sleeping bag with a smile. It’s my birthday and this Monday I have all day to fish, hopefully alone in the Allegheny National Forest.

I got up and started the van for warmth and peered out the windshield down towards the creek. The quiet water looked tempting but I wasn’t in any hurry. The Coleman stove was on the table outside just as I left it the night before. I filled the tea kettle with water, put a coat on and met the outside chill with a grin. After putting the kettle on I walked down to the creek and observed the conditions. It was the same creek I fished the day before but this section the flow was quite slower.

Back at the van I decided to make myself some breakfast. Getting out a pan I laid strips of bacon in it and placed two eggs on the table. The kettle whistled and I poured myself a cup of tea. While the bacon was sizzling I checked my vest and knotted a fresh piece of tippet to my existing tapered leader. After a filling breakfast I got my gear on and headed upstream along the path.

 To my surprise the two other camping spots, along the creek, were occupied and there was a lone soul fisherman already casting spinners toward the far bank into the deeper water. I stopped short, giving him lots of room, and knotted on a Woolly Bugger. The third cast I felt a swiping nudge but missed the hook set. Within the next hour I fished buggers and nymphs without a bump. I didn’t figure I’d have as good of a day as the day before but I was expecting some action this morning. I knotted on a Woolly Bugger and decided to slowly fish my way back to where I parked.
The long cast plopped my Bugger straight across creek under an overhanging tree. I mended line slightly to let my offering sink further before the current took my line down creek followed by me bugger along the far side. The take was a hard hit and my wrist reacted in quickness. The line tightened and the fly rod bowed under the pressure. The first trout on was aggressive with pulling tugs and short quick darts trying to free himself. I played him well, across stream, and was able to sweep him up in my net. My first birthday catch was a nice size brook trout, firm and frisky.
I took a few more casts near the tree before moving on.

 Slowly fishing my way down creek, in the slow moving current, the hook ups and bumps were spotty. It was like trying to find Easter eggs in an open field while blindfolded. I knew the trout were there somewhere, i just had to find them by feel, knowing which bumps were the real thing or rocks ar snags. Most strikes were subtle and if I didn’t hook them they didn’t give me another chance. A good area that I caught many trout before produced nothing. The sun hadn’t spilled its rays onto the shaded water yet so I thought maybe the trout were still lethargic in the morning chill. I lit a cigar and waited a bit for the sun to beam down upon the water. Resuming, the bumps were becoming more frequent and I was able to tussle with a couple more.

  It wasn’t long after this, down creek, I found the honey hole. It was a bit by accident. I cast out three quarters of the way across creek. The white Woolly Bugger sank a little deeper as I mended line up creek. There was a stretch of submerged rocks and boulders that ran in a jagged line out towards midstream. When my bugger reached the end of the stretch of rocks I felt a swipe and reared back to set the hook. I felt the hook set and the fish turned down creek. I’m not sure what exactly happened but the hook let loose and I was left with a limp line. After a couple of more drifts through the same area I came to a conclusion it may be deeper than what I had thought. I added a slit shot to my leader and cast out again. The bugger sank deeper and I seen my line dip down just as I felt the bump. With a quick upward yank of the fly rod it flexed with a tight line. This time I had a good hook set and the trout tugged and thwarted a bit before trying to head down creek like the other. I had the rod swung down creek and than put some pressure on him as I moved the rod toward my side of the bank. This made him swim down creek almost directly below me before he turned upstream. I brought in line as he aimed mid creek directly away. With the rod tip up, he surfaced, splashed top water and than tried to dive deep. He didn’t get very far before I had him turned again heading my way. I led him into the net and he squabbled a bit before calming down.
With slow drifts through I’d get a bump now and than. I continued to cast and work the bugger in the general area and was rewarded with fighting fish which of coarse deserved another cigar.


When the bite slowed to a stop I decided to take a drive down creek. I had a spot picked out that usually holds lots of trout. I wasn’t sure how fast the water conditions were but I decided to drive down and take a look.   It was near 1:30pm when I got to where I wanted to fish. The water was a lot faster and higher. I couldn’t wade too far away from the bank as the water deepened quickly with a pretty strong current pull. I knew the trout usually hugged the upside of the long stretch of rocks and boulders that extended across the wide section of creek before the water poured or found its way seeping through their crevices. I added another split shot and worked a dark bugger, letting it swing towards the submerged rocky formation. The black bugger got the first strike and I had the trout coming in before the hook let loose in the strong current. It was the brown Woolly Bugger that I found the trout hit harder and more often. The trout appeared to be holding in the far end, where it shallowed a bit, before the water dropped deeper and than spilled over the submerged rocks. The wrestling matches were good struggles with trying to get the trout towards me across the strong current. Some of the fighting rainbows got free but others made it to the net!!

 The sun shined down on me as I continued to cast out while smoke’n a stogie on my birthday afternoon. The sun felt good as it penetrated my shirt and chest waders. I was enjoying myself.

  As strikes came to a halt I made my way down below in the more wavy shallower current. Casting here and there I couldn’t get a strike anywhere. I even took the chance and waded the current across creek and cast towards the far bank without success. I finally had enough and headed to the van. I kept my waders on hoping to maybe see some risers where the road came close to the creek as I drove. After I turned right and crossed the creek, one last time, I stopped the van on the bridge and overlooked the water for some kind of rise. It wasn’t going to happen today so I drove off.

  I came to a small brook trout creek and pulled down the dirt lane that led to the creek. Just for giggles, in my chest waders, I decided to give it one more try to maybe pick off a brook trout in the no more than knee deep water. I grabbed the shorter Powell rod and made my way to the creek.

 It started out a little frustrating. For the past day and a half I’ve been fishing a river sized creek without worrying about bank side or much overhanging hazards. Here I was trying to cast my way within the narrow passage that the water flowed. My back casts were getting caught up in overgrown thickets along the creeks edge or over hanging limbs. It took a different kind of concentration to get used to my immediate surroundings.
  I knew this creek gets fished pretty hard with the line of camps along its banks and being so close to the road in many areas. I wasn’t sure if I was going to catch a trout or not but it was relaxing once I got a feel for knowing my limitations of casting and aware of the hazards around me. I was down creek from my van when I came to a deep pool. I made my way around a big tree blow down. I stooped down along the bank to get a better line of a cast below the pine boughs and also keeping a low profile near the clear water.

  My Woolly Bugger fell way short of the far bank but I let it drift down creek. As it started to swing towards my side of the bank a fish, from out of nowhere, darted out to investigate. It was as if he was hungry enough to take a bite but just wasn’t sure if it was edible or a fake. I had to keep the rod tip up as I was slowly stripping the bugger towards me so it wouldn’t fall to the creek bed. I didn’t want to get the trout too close to me so within a short distance I twitched the rod tip and let it fall. The trout gave up and turned away.
 I didn’t cast right off but let a minute or so pass by as I puffed on my cigar before my next cast. The bugger fell, this time, just short of the far bank. I gave a small twitch, for some action, and let it drift down creek. Just before it started to swing I pulled line towards me with a short jolt, let the line go and let the current pull the bugger down creek again before tightening the line in my hand again. I felt the trout swipe hard at the bugger as if he wasn’t going to let it get away! Well, I got a good hook set that led to a good frisky battle with my last birthday trout of the day. 

 A cold beer quenched my thirst as I changed clothes before heading homeward… with a Rocky Patel Toro.