Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cool Spring with the Demon

Cool Spring with the Demon

 After my grandson’s soccer game on Sunday I decided to take the new Hardy Demon rod for a walk on Cool Spring Creek in Mercer. It was near 70 degrees with the sun fully exposed shining down on this years fresh spring green leaves giving off a summer sun-shining day. The delayed harvest area was sure to be a good challenge to get to know the rod. With brushy bank-sides, narrow riffles and some wide sections for good casting distance I should know weather the rod is what I was looking for.
 I had used the new Demon rod briefly at a local stream up in Clarion and caught trout but the only 3wt line I had available was the doubletaper Sylk line I use for my Diamondglass rod. The Sylk line is a very soft limp line that works great with the fiberglass rod but was too wimpy for the graphite Demon. I got the 7’ Demon for the small narrow brushy creeks here in PA. I don’t know why but it seems most small rod manufacturer’s are geared to western streams or open forest casting without rearward hazards. Full flexed rods need a full forearm movement casting stroke and roll casting a weighted bugger with them isn’t easy or fun. I wanted a medium to medium/action rod with a quick recovery tip. One I can quick wrist cast but still have enough stiffness to roll cast a heavier bugger or nymph. The Demon seemed to fit the rod profile I was looking for but now I needed to get the right line for it.
 After talking to a couple of small rod owners they suggested on over-lining the 3wt with a 4wt line. This should give a little extra weight to flex the tip for quick, short wrist casts. Who am I to argue? I was about to give it a try with the Cortland 444 Fdt4 line I already owned.

 Standing in the creek, at the ‘Glory Hole’, the wide flat section of surface water reflects the full sunshine above. Bubbles, from the riffling water up creek, slowly flows with the slow surface current. I knot on a nymph to the end of the 7 ½’ tapered leader and roll cast it out towards the middle of the creek. After a few casts I tie on a dry fly and give it a whirl. I sidearm a beetle under the overhanging pine branches and finally flip out a bugger. The rod performs well enough, now it’s time to go upstream and catch some fish.

Cool Spring Creek has many downed tree trunks and branches for the trout to hide in and around. The creek has its deep holes but mostly runs shallow and narrow. Rainbows are the most dominate fish in the water, that I recall, and I figure the riffles, in this hot weather, are where to find them. The local Trout Unlimited has strategically placed stream diversions to keep the creek well oxygenated and good pools for the trout to hold over during the warmer months.

 I dip into the creek, down a muddy bank, up-creek from a nice flow of riffling water. Tying on an olive woolly bugger and casting out, I let it swing below and hang in the riffling current as I put a quid of tobacco in my lower left cheek. I bring in the line and add a strip of lead about 8” from the bugger. I slowly work my way downstream getting a feel for the rod with each cast. Across creek I spot a low hanging branch that covers its bank and shoreline. A limb is partly submerged and water threads its way through the thin branches and green leaves.
“A perfect place for a trout to hang out” I figure.

 I sidearm backhand the bugger towards the shallow far bank-side. I keep the rod tip up, not wanting to let the belly of the fly line to swing just yet. The bugger slides along the pebbles about 3 feet upstream from the branchy looking hideout. I watch the bugger as it starts to sink in the deeper slower moving water. I drop the rod tip and let the faster current start swinging the fly line and in turn the bugger begins to drift towards the branchy cover. As the bugger, beneath, starts to swing towards the faster current, following the belly of the fly line, I watch the line tighten and feel the tug. I side arm set the hook and the trout slices through the swift shallower water, downstream, towards my side of the creek. The Demon bends towards the middle from the fish’s struggle through the swifter current. Just below me the rainbow leaps and upon returning to the water darts towards the far bank. I lift the rod to keep the fish from entering the branchy snag. The pressure forces the fish to skim the far bank upstream. The rod tip flexes up and down as I play the rainbow to my net.

 I see down below the riffles it empties into a deeper pool along my side of the bank. I cross the creek and begin to work the longer stretch of deeper water along the bank. As the bugger drifts through I can feel hits but not a full take. Another swing through and I feel the light bump and set the hook. I handle the bugger caught perch for a picture. Another species on the fly rod for the PA. contest a few of us have going.

 I continue fishing my way down creek. After each bend of the creek, it opens to a new configuration of challenging narrow water. I pick off a few more rainbows hidden under bank-side debris on smack dab in the middle of a riffled run.

Around one bend I surprise two mallards swimming together. They quack a warning and take flight leaving a disturbed watery surface below. I catch movement from the corner of my eye. I turn and see a rabbit, sneak hopping through the underbrush. In the distance I hear training beagles start to yap breaking the silence of the otherwise quietness of the running creek.
 Around the last bend before the ‘Glory Hole’ the water looks to be running deep mid stream. Riffles start along the far bank and empties into the deeper running waves of water. This cross current causes a push of water to slap up against a partially submerged tree trunk that parallels the bank below me. I can see the bottom of the pebbled section of creek and stay close to the submerged tree trunk in knee deep water. I roll cast the bugger just below the shallow run and mend upstream. The bugger slows its drift until the fly line swings the bugger through the middle section of faster water. I let the bugger swing below me along the downed tree trunk but the water is too fast and the bugger rides higher in the current than my liking. I bring in the line and decide to tie on a white bunny leech for better visibility. I add an extra split shot to the 6x tippet I have knotted to the 5x tapered leader and roll cast out again. I let more line out, on the swing, to let it drift further down stream. After each swing I let the white leech hold up in the current, aside the trunk, before stripping the leech in. I cautiously move along the downed trunk casting out as before as I feel the water bouncing around my hip boots just above my knees.
 Heavy branches extend out of the water at the end of the main trunk of tree. A good amount of water channels between the middle section of the stream and the extended trunk branches. I cast outward and down and guide the leech into the channel of water. I let it hang there than start to slowly strip it in along the downed trunk. I feel a hard strike, the Demon rod arcs beyond mid-point and the fight is on.
 I hold the short 7’ rod to my left trying to get the trout away from the tree trunk and out of the faster current. The rod isn’t long enough to pull the trout more from its side than from straight on. He’s got the advantage and fights with vengeance beneath the strong current. My rod flexes with the fighting fish until the trout finally surfaces. His long maroon lateral line catches my eyes briefly before he rolls back beneath the wavering water.
 I know I have to keep him from going beneath the tree trunk but the rod just doesn’t have enough length to fight the fish towards the other side of the creek. I cautiously but hurriedly move into the deeper water towards the middle of the creek. I can feel the cool water rise above my knees and travel up my thighs through the light weight hip boots. With the fish still angrily fighting in the current below, I keep the rod tip up as not to put any more pressure on the knotted tippet due to the strong current. Still moving to my left the fish refuses to swim out into the slower water flow. He rises again, I suspect he is tiring under the rod pressure. Instead he surges beneath flexing the rod deep towards the butt. His intentions are for one last lunge beneath the tree trunk. I decide not to give him any more line for fear that if he goes beneath the trunk he’ll tangle me up for sure in any unseen branches.
 I hold onto the rod with two hands and angle the rod towards the far bank trying to subdue his rage. His will, his weight and the force of the current is too much for my 6x knotted tippet. The line snaps and the fish’s fight is no longer pulling on the end of my line. I reel in the line and find my lead strip is still attached but the split shot and the rest of my tippet is gone.
“That’s fishing” I shrug.
 I continue on towards the ‘Glory Hole’ in hopes of catching a few risers in the last hour of daylight. Two fellows have already taken a stance in the flat wide pool before I get there. I don’t notice any risers to any of the small midges flying around or dropping to the water. After a few tosses and strips of the bunny leech I call it quits and head for the van.

 I Turn off of  route 19 South onto the ramp leading up to I80 East. I get the van up to interstate speed and pull out a 5 ¾ X 50 Celebramos Macanudo. The mild tobacco should be a relaxing smoke for the rest of the drive home. I lite the end with my new double torch lighter that came in the 6 pack of cigars rippinlip had sent me.

Ya, I think, the Demon is just what I was searching for. It’s a keeper! A fine, brushy creek, short Eastern rod at that!!!


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