A Fly Rod, a Trout Stream and a Ricola
The past 2 weeks I’ve been suffering from cold and flu symptoms. I’m sure two Sundays ago didn’t help it any by fishing in the cold weather down by State College either. The past week I was taking night time flu capsules, day time non-drowsy capsules and an occasional plop-plop fizz-fizz of Alka-Seltzer when needed every 4 hours. I was so bad Tuesday I went home early from work. When Jim called Thursday, about possibly fishing Saturday down on Spring Creek, I had to pass. I needed and wanted to get better even though the weather was to warm up some. Instead of fishing Saturday I went Winery Visiting. I am having my second annual wine sampling party this Saturday and took the chance to go out and buy some wine. I figured maybe the crushed grape juice and alcohol content might help with killing some flu germs.
After three wineries, countless samples of vino, from sweet to dry, and buying 8 bottles of wine I felt I did ok. I’m not sure if the wine killed any germs but it got me to bed early and a good night’s sleep.
Sunday I awoke to sunshine in the morning. The weather gal predicted sunshine all day with temps reaching to mid 40’s. At 8:30am it was still 20 degrees but the outside world looked inviting. Jim called about 10:30am and wanted to know about fishing. He was headed west to pick up some fly tying supplies and maybe fishing Little Sandy. I knew I wouldn’t make it all day fishing with my symptoms still present so I told him that if I go out today it would be closer to home. I bid him good luck and went back to tying.
The sun was peering through the blinds ever so brightly and my hanging trout clock was ticking and toccing to me. My trout minded brain was listening and by 11:30 I was bundling up to go fishing. I couldn’t resist!! I took two non-drowsy liquid gels, a bag of Ricola’s and headed towards Brookville.
I pulled into the half plowed, slushy wet parking lot at the fly-fishing only area. One other vehicle was parked there and the guy who owned it was walking his two snow sniffing Irish Setters. I had the complete stream to myself. The sun was shining, the creek was running clear and nearly a breeze in the air. I couldn’t smell anything because of my stuffed up nostrils but I’m sure nothing was worth smelling anyhow in the March winter weather.
I strung up my 5wt. Scott rod; Orvis reel and 444 double taper line. The most deadly trout combination I own. The trout were in trouble today, I just felt it. I put on my new trout packed fishing shirt over my four layers of clothes and into my 3mm neoprene I was ready to fish. I put a Ricola on my tongue, a handful in my sleeve pocket, and walked through the snow down to the water.
The ice shelves were a bit thinner layered than two weeks ago and they seemed to extend a little further out towards the middle of the stream. The water looked to be a couple of inches higher also, so it didn’t look like I was going to be able to wade between the extended ice shelves and deeper water. I positioned myself in the shallower water, between the rocky boulders, and contemplated my first set up.
The water before me rolled through the boulders creating a rumble and tumble of wavy water washing down stream and spreading into the wider deeper section. I knew feeding zones laid within the edges of the faster water on either side but being the clear water was only a foot or so deep, the lethargic fish might not be holding there today, at least not many. I figured most of the fish might still be hiding below the ice shelves or maybe getting some sun in the more deeper section, keeping hidden, near the two big submerged boulders I knew were below. I rigged up a tandem rig of a latex caddis on the bottom and a BWO wet above that. I twisted on a strip of lead further down from the indicator as Dennis explained to me earlier in the week on how he fishes two flies. With a roll cast and an upstream mend I started my fishing. I changed flies now and then and also depth. I was keeping a steady drift as smooth as possible with each cast and finally in the deeper, downstream water, my indicator submerged. I wristed the hook set and the fish immediately responded. We tussled a short and I brought in a nice brown trout. Alright, I had the right depth, felt confident and relaxed. I waded downstream just a bit to get a good drift outward towards the submerged boulders. Within 2 drifts I lifted and landed another brown. After releasing him I took a good look at the reddish-brown nymph I was using to make a notation in my head how to retie a few more of them in case I lose that one. Slowly working my drift further downstream I hooked up and lost a fish. I was sure there were more fish below my best drifts but I was not able to wade any further due to the large ice shelf that extended from shore.
I got to land and noticed a notch of water between the middle of the ice shelf and shore line. I stepped into the knee high water and broke off a bigger chunk of ice to make a nice notched out area for me to make my stand. Looping a cast over the ice in front of me I got the indicator to drop just before the submerged boulders. A quick mend upstream and my indicator slowly drifted my flies beneath. About the fourth or fifth drift through, sure enough, the indicator tilted upstream enough to tell me something was on the other end. Another quick wrist set and fish on. Holding the rod out beyond the ice shelf I played the fish trying to keep him from swimming beneath the ice in front and downstream. As the fish headed upstream, out from the ice, I timed it and got the appx. 12” trout onto the ice shelf. The sun shined down on the browns irregular pattern of dark patches and haloed spots. I unhooked the fish and let him swim from my hand into the notched area I was standing in.
I looked out and noticed a fish rise downstream some, but within casting distance, to some midges. I started to retie my line and set up for some dry fly action. A guy and a boy walked down from the parking lot with fly rods in hand. They evidently had seen the fish rising also. They splashed into the water and positioned themselves within 6 yards of the few rising trout. 6 YARDS TO RISING TROUT in clear water!!! The guy waded to the other side of the stream while his son stayed in the shallow water below the trout. There is no way they hadn’t of seen me already drifting my indicator in the area. Well, I guess that’s part of fishing. They started to splash down their fly lines towards the risers. I finally got set up and tied on a BWO #20 midge dry. Within 5 or 6 casts, nearer to the extended ice shelf downstream towards the boy, a fish rose to my fly. With a short quick wrist I tried to set the hook but the point evidently missed its mark. The boy looked up at me seeing and knowing I missed the riser. We all continued to cast to the few risers off and on. The guy across stream would move around trying to position himself for a better cast, I guess, but I didn’t notice any sudden movements as if he had missed one. I missed one more riser but it might have been going after another fly where I thought mine was at. After I felt the two spooked the fish enough I got out of the water and headed downstream.
Down below I continued to drift the same two flies under the indicator and picked up a few more and lost one. The sun felt good upon my skin and actually started to penetrate the layers of clothes I was wearing. I kept a Ricola in my mouth when I felt a deep cough coming on. The water started to feel cold through my booted feet and I needed to move out of the water.
I walked along the shore line and reentered into a slow shallow area out from the bank. I casted into a slow section of water, upstream, I knew fish usually hung out in away from the faster current near the middle of the creek.. The indicator just sat atop the water almost motionless. I thought I may have hit bottom. I let it sit there a bit and then the indicator, I swear, winked at me! I sniffled and then lifted a hook set and sure enough felt the resistance and than movement of a fish. The trout seemed as if he didn’t know which way to fight to get away from me. He spun around under the water until I got more rod tension on the line before he realized he was had. I brought him to hand in the water and was able to release him quickly. I casted to the exact area and let the indicator sit just like before. I almost couldn’t believe it when the indicator started to drift slightly. Another wrist set and another brown came to hand.
I casted a few more times out into the waters before me and then went back up to where I started. The one boy fished over the area where fish were rising earlier but I was able to see there were no rising trout. Two fellows leaned up against the wooden railed fence at the parking lot watching the boy and me fish. I figured I’d display a little casting entertainment. Even with the indicator I’d roll cast so my fly would drop just shy of the far ice shelf. I’d overhand cast further down stream letting the indicator drop easily upon the water instead of a big splash. I’d get that perfect drift flowing with the current. I was hoping for a fish but it never happened. I guess this time I wasn’t able to show off with a hooked fish.
Oh well, I was feeling the cold through my boots and I figured by now the Pen’s hockey game would have started and be in the first period. I took a couple of pictures of the stream and headed to the van.
Driving through Brookville I stopped to get gas. Back on the road I took the ramp and entered onto I80 going west. I turned on the hockey game and couldn’t resist. I wrapped the small piece of Ricola back into its original wrapper. I opened the hinged cigar tin. I took out one of the four Macanudo Ascots laying in the tin and unwrapped it. I lit the end and watched a small bellow of smoke discolor the air. I then creased opened the front windows of the van, relaxed, listened to the game and smoked the cigar heading for home. I didn’t smell a thing!