After failing to call in, the answering, gobblers for my 11 year old grandson, we headed out at 9:30am to do some first day trout fishing. Driving down rte. 62 we passed campers and 20 some cars parked along the 2 bridges that cross over Cool Spring Creek. We continued on south through Mercer. When we got to Little Neshannock, at around 10am, there wasn't a soul there.
The fish commission claimed to have stocked the creek according to their web sight but first impression was that they hadn't. We visually looked over the bridge and we walked downstream a short ways only to see chubs and suckers in the shallower waters. We decided to give it a try anyhow but after an hour of only catching chubs and suckers we headed back to the van.
The sun was shining high and the air was warm which is uncommon for the first day of trout in PA. Considering the circumstances i felt the Big Neshannock, along rte. 956, might be a good choice for afternoon fishing. By now most of the fishermen should have their limits or breaking for lunch. Damon never fished in fast water for trout before, and since he remembered his hip boots, today would be a good day to teach him.
We passed the line of vehicles parked on each side of the bridge that crossed over the mouth of Little Neshannock. Continuing on we passed 'lunching' fishermen at their vehicles with still a few fishermen strewn out along the banks of the Big 'N'. Down the road i found a pull off just around a bend with only 1 truck parked off the side of the road. Damon took his bait casting fishing pole while i took my 4wt. fly rod with DT line.
At the creek i helped Damon and showed him how to fish fast water casting a meal worm and letting it drift into slower water. As i stood watching Damon fishing, a caddis hatch started to esculate and fish started to rise on the other side of the fast water and downstream within casting distance. I let Damon know I was going to try for a riser underneath a pine bough. I tied on a brown deer hair caddis and we watched as it drifted under the bough. On the third drift through we watched the fish rise and take the fly as I set the hook. The fish went deep as I handed the rod to Damon and I took his bait caster.
Damon already knew how to bring in trout on a fly rod from previous outings. He fought the fish calmly through the fast water and raised the rod high as I netted the fat 12" brown.
"Alright" I said "let me try again"
I casted some more and hooked into another trout within a few casts and handed the rod back to Damon. This time we netted a 10" rainbow.
"What do you think?" I asked "you want to use your pole or use the fly rod?"
"The fly rod pa-pa jerry!" he replied with a serious smile.
I took his pole to shore, leaned it up against a tree and returned back beside him. The next 20 minutes or so I taught him how to 'feel the rod'. Casting with my hand holding his so he got the feel of far to move his hand and arm as we back cast and forward cast. I showed him the proper hand positioning and how to mend line upstream to drift the fly correctly. It took him a while until he got a feel for casting. Of course i had to correct him occasionally because he wanted to forward cast too soon.
With a good cast and a good drift of the dry caddis we watched the caddis flow within distance of a feeding trout. As soon as Damon saw the splash he set the hook. The rod bent and he got excited hooking his first trout on a dry fly. He started to excitedly bring the trout in, in a hurry when i slowed him down, explaining to bring in his fish like the other two. He was so eager to get 'his fish' in I had to keep assuring him that this one wouldn't get away if he plays him correctly. I waded downstream from him as he brought the fish towards him with the rod held high. He then drifted the fighting rainbow into the net. The rainbow had to go at least 15". It slashed in the net as I showed him his catch. Damon's smile almost engulfed his ears as i unhooked the caddis from the 'bow's top lip. He clipped the rainbow on his stringer with the other two trout.
"I'm eating him tonight pa-pa" he exclaimed with proud joy!
He continued to dry fly fish the caddis to rising trout. At one point the fast water took his fly under and as it drifted downstream I saw the arc in the fly line tighten up. I quickly told Damon to set the hook and with a quick yank back he felt the fish on the other end.
"But I didn't see him take the fly" he said while fighting the fish in the current.
"He took the fly thinking it was an emerger"
I explained the emerger thing and how the fly line will tighten and quit its swing when a fish takes the fly.
Another rainbow was on his stringer for tonight's dinner.
The hatch died down so I began to teach him roll-casting and nymph fishing with a caddis larva imitation. Damon ended up catching and releasing two more smaller rainbows and finished filling his stringer with one 11" rainbow. As he rested on shore i continued to cast a dry caddis to rising trout. I kept 3 out of the 5 rainbows I caught and we called it a day.
Back at the van my grandson asked me what kind of fly rod we were using?!!
A few years ago Santa had left him with an 8'6" 5wt. rod. I think I'll be giving up my 4wt. 7'6" Powell rod soon if we continue to fish together!!!