Limestoning in February
I called Brad Saturday evening on the conditions at Spring Creek down by State College. He said four of them caught about 30 trout. Mostly on nymphs but a few were caught on the surface. A few times throughout the day blue wing olives would emerge and they got a few trout to rise for them. I told him Jim and I should be down there Sunday morn about 9:00am. As soon as I got off the phone with Brad I called Jim and gave him the news. We were both pretty excited about possibly having some dry fly action on the last day of Feb.
We left my house at 7:00am. We figured we’d get down to Bellefonte about 9. We left 30 degree weather with mounds of snow covering the ground. On our journey across the interstate we went through white outs of blizzard like snow. When finally heading south we couldn’t believe the lack of snow in this south central part of PA. We met the group of guys at Dave’s camp. By the time Dan showed up we were all ready itchen to get a line wet, especially us who only came down for the day.
Dennis and Dan started from camp and would fish downstream. Later on they would be joined by Dave. Jim and I followed Brad and two of his pals to fish Spring Creek below Bellefonte.
We all walked down to the long stretch of rolling water. An inch or two of snow lay upon the ground out from the waters edge. The banks were void of snow and the limestone cold clear water flowed with ease, welcoming any anxious fisherman to wet a line early in the year. Upstate, February is still frozen still water, blankets of snow and ice lined creeks. In South central PA the limestone creeks run with an inviting gesture. The fishermen that have read or studied these streams know there’s an abundance of aquatic food sources for these stream bred and stocked trout.
Jim takes a water temperature reading at 48 degrees. The outside temperature high is to reach 38 degrees but the cold morning and gray overcast skies doesn’t give any clue of this as the day is to progress.
Jim and I head up to the long channel run of rolling water as the other three fish the more widened deeper pool of the opening channeled water flow. I tie on a tandem nymph/latex caddis rig and attach an indicator. Jim starts out with his favorite triple threat and we begin our Sunday fishing.
After an hour, and switching imitations, no one is able to produce any fish. Brad had a few bumps downstream but Jim and I haven’t had any nudges at all to get excited about but just being out, loosening up the arm and shoulder joints, is a great feeling in itself from being cooped up for the past month or so.
Everyone sort of moves from their own little area and we shuffle along the bank and reposition ourselves for another drift. Brad and his pals move upstream where Jim and I started and will continue upstream from there. Jim moves into the deep outflow of channeled water where Brad was getting bumps now and then as I drop down below to fish calmer water. Time tics by and the sun peers out occasionally to brighten up the dullness of winter. I constantly look for the first sign of a blue wing olive fluttering about or a sure sign of a rising trout. Jim claims he had a hit and a grab from a trout in the deep pool but he didn’t get a good hook set. I switch positions with Jim as he continues drifting his triple threat downstream. I try my tandem set up but I get bored with the constant cast upstream, drift through, pick up and recast upstream routine. Brad and Jim both claim to have had trout bump their offering in this pool so I have at least a little more encouragement where I’m now fishing than where I was before.
I tie on a triple threat streamer and add a little weight. Casting upstream a bit, I mend line upstream so the fly will sink deeper before swinging. I continue to work the pool and then decide to cast over the pool into the shallower stony area beyond.
The sun peers out a little longer through the openings of the clouds and the warmth, how little it is, is welcomed.
Knowing that hungry trout like to lie in shallow areas sometimes to ambush a minnow for an easy meal I cast across the deeper pool and my triple threat lands well into the shallow waters. I keep my rod tip up and flex it back now and then to put a little more action to my streamer. Starting at the shallow water up near the channel I work my streamer down little by little with each cast. With each drop of my triple threat I twitch the rod, let the streamer come towards me and than drop the line some so it catches the faster current of the main run and watch the fly line swing out of the shallows and into the deeper backside of the pool. Three quarters of the way down my streamer lands easily with my overhand casting stroke. As I twitch the rod tip up the fly line starts its movement towards me than stops before swinging downstream. I lift the rod higher and feel the weight on the other end. I quick set the hook with a sharper tug. Water boils upon the surface and a wave moves into the deeper pool with my fly line attached.
“I got one” I exclaim to Jim
The trout fights below the surface like an angry trout and not the lethargic ones usually caught this time of year. He almost surfaces below me and I can see he’s a good size rainbow.
“Get the camera out” I say to Jim “he’s a good one!”
The rainbow than shoots out of the water displaying his lateral pinkish red hues. He splashes back into the water and gives me a little tussle as I bring him in on my 6X tippet. With a little hand coaxing he agrees to take a picture with me without any more arguments before I release him back into his home water.
It's fun sharing a drift with friends you haven't seen for a while. here's a couple of pics of other trout caught throughout the day.
Dennis caught this 'bow' on his new fly rod built by Dave
Jim's wild brown