Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Speckles in the Adirondaks (page 3)

PA. Fishermen in the Adirondaks (part3)

Speckles in the Adirondaks (page3)
Friday, June 12th____________

Jeff and I had our gear ready on the porch, outside of the small room we were staying at, behind the Adirondak fly shop when the guide showed up at 7:00am as planned. He said because of the rain overnight the Ausable would be unfishable and dangerous because of the fast dirty water. He also commented that he checked the Saranac River earlier and that was also dirty and felt it wasn’t fair to guide us in the present conditions and wanted to reschedule. We were staying until Sunday so we asked if he thought the rivers would be fishable Saturday. Without rain he was pretty sure the Saranac would be fishable but we would have to wait and see about the Ausable. Not wanting to sit around all day we asked him if there were any waters close by we could fish. He asked if we fish small streams. “We’re from Pennsylvania” we said, “We’ll fish any water that has fish in it.” After further conversation he drove Jeff to a nearby brook stream to make sure he’d find it. I stayed behind and reoutfitted for fishing small waters. That’s when I found out I didn’t bring my 7’6” Powel rod. I’ll have to fish with my Scott 8’6” long rod. I tried to look at the bright side and figured if there was any long rod I had to use on a small brook it would be my Scott rod. Besides, I told myself, it will be good for high sticking.
Jeff and the guide returned and explained that there were no trails along the brook. It would be tough going and we’ll have to fish pocket waters. He also told us that streamers and buggers should do well. He left us with high hopes and drove over and opened up the fly shop. Jeff changed into hip waders and put together his 7’ 6” 3wt. and we headed on down the road.

We parked alongside the road, in hard packed dirt, that looked like the city/county was going to black top for bicycling. The sky was a mix of gray bottomed cumulus clouds that looked like it might clear up for a nice day. We decided not to take rain gear and headed down through the roadside brush, branchy small trees, partial marsh and high grass. We came to a flat section of the creek with slow moving water. Trees and brush followed along the far bank with a few boulders extending out into the water. It looked like a good place to cast a beetle pattern under. To our right the water converged under overhanging trees and rolled over and around big boulders and rocks. It didn’t look too inviting from where we stood but we were going to give it a try. Jeff and I started off with buggers in the slow deep waters without any bumps. I tied on a beetle imitation, and with enough room over the high grass behind me, I was able to back-cast enough line out to lay the beetle nicely near the far bank. Slowly working down to the fast waters I got no rises from the slightly brown stained waters. Jeff continued to work the slow waters as I entered the thick forested lined, rough water brook stream

Instantly the sound of the rushing of water over boulders spilling into back narrow pools along with water splashing against downed branches and shallow rocks fully occupied my ear drums like a hard rock concert in an enclosed arena. Tree branches loomed over the water in most places shading the brook stream from the rising sun. The thought of stepping into the creek and trying to wade along its banks looked to be taken more cautiously than walking along the forested bank.
Keeping the long rod in front of me I slowly walk along dry land until I find a spot I can drop into the water. Finding this, I peer through my polarized shades to check the depth and rocky bottom before entering. Looking out over the water I find three pockets of water that looks reachable with minimum drag. I tie on a bushy march brown haystack. Pulling line out of the reel I try to side arm cast up and downstream and throw a loop cast upstream with slacked line. The stiff med-fast action rod gives little energy to the short extended fly line and the fresh 9’ tapered leader falls short of my intended target never fully straightening. Continuing trying to cast the long rod with long tapered leader gets frustrating and I have no recourse but to cut about 2-3 feet off the stiffer part of the looped end tapered 6x leader. Making a new loop, of what’s left of the leader, I loop this onto the fly line loop with a handshake knot. My first cast improves greatly and I now concentrate more on reading the creek than worrying about my failing casts.

Jeff passes behind me as I get a feel for my surroundings. He cautiously walks among the broken branches and ferns and heads downstream giving me some workable water between us. I slowly wade my way along the bank holding onto branches and roots while searching for sure-footed ground on the brooks rocky bottom. Seeing some ’good’ pockets downstream and across I stop and notice a few caddis emerging and fluttering along the waters. I tie on a #12 tan elk hair caddis and dab the body of the fly with dry fly sauce. I pull up the elk hair so it will ride high in the water and pull enough line out to roll cast down and across stream. I drop the fly nicely on the upside of a fast riffle and watch the fly ride the waves. Just before a flat submerged rock, that creates a falls on its backside, I start to bring in the caddis for another roll cast when I notice a quick rise to my retrieving fly. Hmm, I grab my fly line and reel in some line into my reel to shorten the overall length of line beyond my rod tip. Looping the line downstream in front of me I hold my fly rod as high as possible and gradually move my rod towards the fly while dropping the rod tip so the fly rides high and moves with the current caused by my own submerged legs. The fish doesn’t come up for it so I loop a roll cast in the middle of a pool before a flat exposed rock. The flow takes the fly away from me as I slowly drop my rod tip to keep my fly upright and drag free. A fish slaps quickly at my fly and I quickly react with the tip of my rod. The first fish is on and I easily direct him towards my side of the brook. Since the small speckled trout is no match for my 5wt. I let him swim below my wake as I pickpocket my camera out of my top shirt pocket. Focusing on the fish, as I hold the rod under my arm and fish in hand is a chore but I do my best. Remembering to lightly push the picture taking button, so the digital camera automatically focuses, I then press the button all the way down and the camera clicks. I unhook the caddis from the fish’s top lip and place the trout back into the water. He has no problem darting off back into his domain. Checking the screen the picture recaptures the yellow speckles with a few red dots with blueish hallows that adorn the side of the speckled trout’s body.

speckle on a tan caddis dry

Across creek, towards the far bank, a small rock creates a pocket of slower water just up from a huge round-topped boulder. Smoother flowing water is on my side of the smaller rock. The odds of me getting a fish across the rushing fast water and boulders, should I so hook up with one, would be almost impossible. I go for it anyhow. I get a good cast upstream from my expected target. My fly line catches on an exposed rock three quarters of the way across stream. This in turn straightens out my leader and drifts my caddis just this side of the smaller exposed rock. I watch the caddis drift towards the big rounded boulder and a fish slaps at the caddis. I backhand set the hook and I can feel the fish’s weight after my fly line lifts off the previous exposed rock. He splashes above the surface with my quick rising hook-set. He heads downstream along the big boulder as my fly line gets caught up in a rush of choppy water midstream. The tip of the rod straightens as the weight of the fish is no longer at the end of the line. I laugh at myself for the attempt and actually hooking up. Jeff appears behind me as I reel in my line to move downstream. In short conversation I tell him my two quick catches and show him the picture of the speckle trout. It seems to boost his confidence as we walk downstream some for more pocket water fishing.

Later on I come to some fast choppy water that has small pockets behind the exposed boulders. I tie on and sauce up one of my own bushy, extra hackled, #12 March Brown patterns. Casting downstream, with ‘S’ bends behind my leader and fly, I watch my fly flow with the waves above the surface current. A fish slaps at the fly just at the end of the straightened leader swing. I’m jerry-on-the-spot and tug lightly on the rod tip. The fish dives behind some swirling water as I lift the rod tip and slowly get onto the bank above a flat rock just below me. I walk slowly down the bank as the fish fights in circles in the swirling water. I reel in line and take out my camera. Lifting the fish onto the moss and green floral bank-side I do my best again to get a quick picture of the active, flopping small speckle.

speckle on my march brown dry

Fishing the stream continues to be aggravating the further downstream we move. I continue to catch and miss trout as Jeff catches and misses a few also but we‘re fishing, learning and enjoying ourselves. We find a good long run with less exposed boulders out in the middle of the stream. I was getting too comfortable casting into the uneven flowing water and my one cast got caught up on a branch over hanging the middle of the brook. Pulling on the line, in an attempt to either break the branch or the leader, the line snapped and there hung my fly, full leader and braided loop. Jeff heard my outburst of disapproval and asked “what's the matter?”
I pointed to the hanging leader with my rod tip just out of reach.

Not letting the forest trees get the best of me I scavenged around until I found a long dead tree branch that would reach the hanging leader. I was unsuccessful trying to latch on to the leader somehow when Jeff suggested on swinging the branch into the leader in hopes of twisting the leader around the branch. So there I was, a 50+ year old man, alongside a brook stream, swinging a long dead branch, like a small kid, trying to get a fishing line out of a tree branch. It worked!!

Getting the line in I clipped off the braided loop and shrink tubing. Picking up a thin stick I nail-knotted the leader back onto my fly line and I was back in business. Noticing more yellow stoneflies coming off the water I clipped off the fly I was using and tied on one of my own yellow sally patterns. First cast, behind a huge boulder, I watched a fish rise and take in the drifting fly. Hook set, fish on, I was back in the game.

fooled by my yellow sally

We fished until about 11:00am and then headed back up to the fly shop. There we talked to our guide and I thanked Fran Betters for the opportunities we had thus far in providing us with information to get us onto fish despite the unfavorable conditions. We headed up towards Lake Placid in hopes of finding decent waters to fly fish in but that wasn’t going to happen. The water was raging between the flooded banks. Water roared and crashed thru narrow passages and the flumes. Where we fished Thursday evening was now a white water hazard. We went back to our small room and after eating lunch, I took a much needed nap. About 3:00 we headed back out to the small brook and our attempts to make fish rise wasn’t very convincing. We each caught or missed very few. We ended fishing the slower flat section near the road without any hits.

Back at our ’humble abode’ I took a box shower and we got ready to watch the Pen’s play for the Stanley Cup at the nearby sports bar. Of course we were the only enthusiastic Pen’s fans in the New York tavern. After our $9.00 burgers and onion rings, beers, second period cigars and a few power shots after a well deserved win, we headed back across the street to our room.

In no time I was asleep as visions of Green Drakes and spinner falls danced in my head in hopes that Saturday fishing the Ausable would soon be here!


our 'box shower'

Jeff with another cast

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