Fishing Creek 2008
(From the Journal)
I was taking off my leather chaps and jacket when Jeff pulled up in his pickup. He told me briefly how he did down on Spring Creek. How the Drakes were falling at night and he was catching fish within rod length reach that were rising around him. And then down on the Little J’ how fishing was and the cicada’s were starting their resurgence.
Upstream we entered the water. The flat water moved slowly as our dry flies lay upon its surface. Few rises came in forms of dimples on the far side underneath drooping leafed tree limbs. We tied on a selection of different midges and dry flies in trying to get one of the picky fish to hit in the trophy trout section we were fishing. Our casts were easy, smooth and precise. Our flies fell to the water softly. The water was crystal clear so small diameter tippet and subtle landing of the flies was a must for dry fly fishing. Every time I was ready to move downstream to the faster water another fish would rise within distance of my casting ability. Time ticked away as late morning neared and with it the sun rose and shined warmer down upon us. Every once in a while a few big Green Drakes would drift by from upstream. I would watch, as motionless big Drakes would drift over earlier feeding trout. Maybe a look-see but not a picky trout would take it in. Downstream the big Drake fluttered its wings as if drying them before taking off. Wham, a hungry trout attacks and devours the Drake. A ring of small ripples extends out from the attack in the previous flat slow moving water. Trying big Drakes got to be useless though. Without the realistic fluttering wing movement the well-learned trout had no taste for the lifeless looking imitation in the clear water.
My first strike and hookup came against a small grass island near the far side. It was up from the shade trees still within sunlight as I watched my #14 dry move along the tops of a narrow fast run. A fish shot up and grabbed the dry. There’s no room for error fishing project water areas for spooky wary trout. You always have to be ready with a quick twitch of a wrist and taut line to hook into a speedy hit in fast water. You hesitate you lose and may not get another chance at the same fish. I admire my first catch, a small aggressive brook trout. He darts away as I release him from the hook.
I fish downstream as usual. I tie on a #12 dry for the faster shaded water. Drifting the fly nearest me first than out and across. At times I’d drift the fly down in front of me letting line out for the perfect drift. I neglect to enter the middle of the stream in fear of disturbing the water or giving myself away. From the bank I execute a sidearm backhand cast across my body. At the end of my forward cast I twitch the rod tip up and back. The fly arcs and lands in the slow back eddy under the laurel at the end of the fast run just below me. I know the fly would only be on the water for maybe 2 seconds before my fly line is pulled across and under. Nothing comes up after it so I quickly flip it out of the water and behind me. I cast again in the same area for assurance.
I move slowly out from the laurel feeling every obstacle beneath my wading shoes. Again, I try not to disturb the loose gravel. I cast to the far bank and hold the rod high. I drift the fly to the near side of a semi-fast run. I watch as a trout comes up out of nowhere, back finning, inspecting my fly. My line fingers holding the fly line tightly as my cork gripped right hand and wrist beg for action. In a split second I’m ready to set the hook, in a split second he disappears beneath the water without an attack.
Quarters are tight behind and above me. I must sidearm false cast up and down stream before shooting the fly across the creek. With a quick stop of the end of the rod will enable the smooth line to continue to run through the guides giving more distance. I overshoot the target to have time to loop the middle of the line upstream before the dry hits the flowing water. Watching the current start to take the fly beyond an exposed rock, I lift the rod up, moving the fly towards me and around the exposed boulder. Than I move the rod down again and forward giving line so the fly drifts naturally again. Around the boulder I anticipate a hook up in a likely lie. Nothing, I move downstream beyond the laurel. Fast water widens into a good size pool across the stream. Small waves riffle the surface water and collide upon the widen pool from the fast runs around exposed rocks above it. A soft breeze upstream brings a warm feel from the hot June sun above the overhanging shade trees from where I stand. I drift a #12 parachute dry upon the surface water a quarter way out. When it reaches the end of the outflow of the pool I roll cast it easily letting the breeze blow the fly up towards the top of the pool. Again the fly drifts erratically upon the uneven surface water.
At the far end of the pool I catch a glimpse of a shadow rise and submerge. I concentrate more on my next cast. I cast up from the shadow about half way up the pool to the far side. I loop the body of the line upstream and than feed and follow the fly with my rod for the perfect drift. Instantly within sight a fish ambushes the dry. I was already anticipating the catch. Hook set the rod bends as the trout finds room to fight towards the end of the pool. Rod high I keep the line taut between my line fingers and thumb. Moving my line hand forward letting the fish take line when I felt he needed to or pulling my line hand back behind me as he fights nearer to me. He only surfaces briefly as if to see whom fooled him. A dark yellow belly submerges and fights towards the far bank.
“I’m breaking for lunch” Jeff calls to me from downstream.
“I got a nice one,” I yell back playing the fish in the knee deep water
“I’ll get the camera” he calls back
I slowly move downstream to a flat piece of dry land. From the shade trees I step out into the sunlight. I instantly feel the hot sun upon my bare arms. I play the trout gingerly while waiting for Jeff to come over with his camera.
We eat lunch along the stream on the tailgate of his truck. Salami, capicolla, pepperoni, dried olives, a beer you know?! Light reflex off the chrome on the front springs of the Softail. The warm sun penetrates my shirt and soothes my skin. I fall asleep in the lounge chair Jeff has set out.
After lunch and the power nap Jeff headed downstream as I walk upstream beyond where we started in the morning for some fresher water. There are more guys fishing the stream than I was aware of. I stepped into the creek downstream from where a few guys are fishing. Looking downstream 3 other men are wading and fishing upstream. I take a position in the middle of the creek and fish the log along the roadside bank. I watch the three guys fishing towards me. The guy fishing the far bank moves stealthy and with purpose. Casting underneath hanging pine boughs and to likely lies behind exposed rocks.
The other two splash their way along their side of the creek. One didn’t even cast at all but watched and coached where the other should try next. Neither caught trout underneath the afternoon sun.
I slowly fished downstream casting under overhanging fir trees. Steadily I wade downstream changing flies and drifting midges. I came to the shady bend I fished earlier. I pick off two more brook trout and a small brown on #14 dry. I fished it hard with anticipating on catching more but can’t produce any.
Just before dark I met up with Jeff at the big deeper flat stretch we fished in the morning. Drakes filled the sky above us and a few appeared upon the water surface. The fish were still not excepting the imitations we had to offer but we continued trying to persuade them.
At about dusk I head to the cycle and packed up for the ride back home. I put a chew in my mouth and start the rumble of the V-twin. I beeped the horn as I passed Jeff in the stream with his L.L.Bean light up brimmed hat on. It didn’t take long as I cruised down the road to realize my adversity.
Big, big Green Drakes were flying upstream low. The road down to rte. 64 follows the stream within 20 feet in some areas. I was traveling in the opposite direction on my windshield-less cycle. Drakes literally cremated me from my leather du-rag to my leather boots. Big drakes splattered against my goggles making my vision as if looking through a stained glass window. They were so thick I was even afraid to turn and open my lips wide enough to spit!!