Kettle & Cross Fork
It was 5:45am. I had bacon frying in the black iron skillet to go with the home made berry muffins I brought from home. Jeff had coffee perking and the tea kettle was just about to whistle Dixie as steam shot up from the spout. We sat long enough to enjoy our outdoors breakfast than broke camp and headed for the project area of the Kettle.
We were the first two vehicles in the parking area. I pieced together my 7 ½’ Powell rod and put on my neoprene hip waders being the new breathables I had ordered didn’t make it through the mail in time for this trip. The sky was overcast and the cloud cover looked like rain. The sun hadn’t made it over the mountains yet so we weren’t sure what to expect. I put on my drab olive trench coat and Jeff put his rain coat in the back pouch of his fishing vest. Down at the waters edge Jeff elected to work his way up creek and I began wading down creek about 20 yards before wetting a line.
A few caddis were already fluttering around but I wasn’t able to catch any to see if they had olive or tan bodies. The water was cider color clear from my point of view due to the silt brown creek bed. Even when I stepped softly the silt didn’t flow very far in the lazy water along the bank. Mid-stream a fast flow of water wrinkled the water surface for a good 30 yards or so downstream. The far side of the creek was wider but also flowed slowly in the few feet of water that moved above the more flat rocky bottom of creek. Having fished this before I knew the trout laid low along the mid-section of water flow.
I was still contemplating what to tie on when I seen my first rise down stream and within casting distance. I tied on a #16 BWO, no wings, and cast out towards the rise. He didn’t take notice but I continued to drift this through the area in hopes of causing a rise. I noticed another fish rise about 20 feet upstream from where I stood. He was holding low in a riffle of water caused by the stony shallow run of water upstream. When he didn’t even inspect my fly, when it drifted by, I decided to try another. A few more caddis was fluttering around so I tied on a #18 brown elk hair caddis. Still no fish rose to inspect this fly. I stood still and again viewed my situation.
The sun was still coming up behind me as the far bank shadows gave way to the direct sunlight. A few more trout rose sporadically but I couldn’t see any major hatch that I felt caused their rise. I took a few steps downstream to get a better drift to a fish rising just across stream. I showed him three more different patterns that failed to cause him to stir. I reached in my fly box and took out a #18 badger spider I tie on a short small gold salmon egg hook. With its black center and creamy yellow hackle I felt was a good combination that looked buggy enough to maybe show some interest. On one cast, upstream to the fish holding in the shallow riffle, I let the spider drift towards me taking in line to keep as much slack off the water as possible. I saw a flash of the trout turn, swim up to my spider and sip it in.
“Got’m” I spoke to myself as I felt the hook set and watched him turn away.
The trout darted under the mid-stream current and after a short tug of war I netted the spotted brown trout. I was more confident with the spider and worked it methodically but no other trout cared to taste my pattern. I finally got tired of concentrating on the few uninteresting rising trout. I tied on a Para-Adams and began my way down creek.
On a long cast and drift of the Adam’s, into very calm clear water, I was surprised by a porpoise like rise to my fly. I set the hook and the line tightened and the rod bowed good towards the fish. The fish had to be sitting in broad daylight in view of any bird of prey. There was absolutely no cover in the slow flat water where the fish came from. Even so he was now on my 7x tippet and I had a good set on him. There was no current to help his fight, it was simply him and I. he swam with good weighted force across stream and I had to give him line because of the light tippet. He stayed low and put up a good fight as he toured the area attached to my 7x tippet. I stood my ground and got the biggest fish of the day to my net.
Down around the bend the creek narrowed and flowed into a deep pool. Against the bank a run of water flowed along a half submerged log than waffled beneath hanging tree limbs and gradually riffled into the tail out. From there it banked before dropping over a flat stoned wall creating a large deep pool before dropping over another man made stone wall into another deep pool of water. I knew this section holds trout and usually plenty of fishermen throughout the day.
I started with an Adam’s parachute in the first deep pool and from there switched off as I made my way downstream. The sun was now visible and this brought out the pesky black flies. Traffic picked up along the roadway and soon I heard car doors slamming. Under the limb of the tree I was able to coax one brown trout to the surface on a gray body midge. By now I was boiling under the trench coat so I hurriedly walked back up to the van to discard it. I also quenched my thirst with a can of Busch and doused myself with bug spray.
When I got back to the creek there were more fish rising in the slow run I was fishing earlier. I spent another hour tossing small midges on 7x tippet. Continuing down stream I mixed in with the small group of fishermen that had gathered along with more black flies. I caught a couple of trout below the first set of stone walls before heading back to the van for lunch and to meet up with Jeff.
Back at the van Jeff said he had a great morning with rises to spinners and March Browns. He mentioned he knew a good shady location along Cross Fork Creek where we could eat lunch and relax some.
After a sandwich lunch Jeff took to the creek to cool off. I checked my fly boxes and drained another bottle of beer before Jeff returned. While he decided to relax I went back out fishing.
There were a group of guys down below so I stayed upstream and found some risers beneath a shade tree and along a downed tree trunk. I was switching flies often and was picking off a few browns and bows all on dries. A guy, who was watching, came up towards me and sat along the bank. We talked a bit as I kept fishing. I was drifting a Light Cahill Parachute 3 feet from the bank-side log when a nice size trout rose and sipped it in. A quick hook-set and the big rainbow gave me a run for my money. I kept him from the downed limbs, below, and fought with him across the creek to my side of the bank. Another good rainbow was netted and released.
Jeff was reading a book when I finally awoke. I got out my portable camp table and my fly tying stuff. I tied up some Para-Yellow Drakes and Para-Light Cahill’s for the night. I asked Jeff what shade of rusty brown dubbing he wanted me to use for the spinners. He picked out some beaver dubbing and I tied a half dozen. He normally uses fibetts for tails but I generally use moose hair. He commented and questioned why I use two tails on each side instead of one as normally seen on a spinner fall. I assured him that the trout couldn’t count.
After that we cleaned up and headed for the Kettle. We elected to fish the same section as the night before. There weren’t as many risers but I did manage to catch a few on the Yellow Drake and Light Cahill Patterns before nightfall. Jeff caught a few also but it was slow going.
Back at camp I sizzled up some deer tenderloins, in the cast iron skillet, I had marinated in Soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce mixed with Montreal steak seasoning. With a side order of heated zucchini and summer squash washed down with a beer or two made for a great dinner before smoking the day’s last cigar.