Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kettle & Cross Fork

No Buggers
Part 2

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.
  After fishing for another 15 minutes I was ready for a power nap. By this time my flats shirt was damp with sweat so after changing into shorts I took a quick dip in the creek before napping.

 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.


Fishnets and chaps

Fishnets and Chaps

My Harley stood among Harley’s
On this fishless weekend
When not wetting a line
I party with friends

T & A and leathers
Fishless perhaps?
I was reminded frequently
by fishnets and chaps


Throughout the hot day
my thirst quenched with beer
The wet ‘T’ contest
made us all cheer
As evening approached
still, there was no lapse
of the continuous sight
of fishnets and chaps

A hand rolled cigar
and Gentleman Jack
kept me content
though fishing I lacked

The band played into darkness
as beer flowed from 12 taps
I frolicked and I partied
among fishnets and chaps
Bemused in my van
on the blanket I laid
and dreamt I was fishing
for a leather clad mermaid


Friday, June 25, 2010

Plan 'B' 6/19/10

Plan ‘B’ 6/19/10

“The sun was so hot I froze to death….”

Well I didn’t actually freeze but the consensus was the temp. on Saturday rose to almost 90 degrees, high humidity and no breeze to cool things off here in PA. Early Saturday Jim and I met Ken along the Clarion River to fish for trout and smallmouth later on. At around 6:15am there were already 6 bait fishermen slinging minnows where we wanted to fish. As we were contemplating a Plan ‘B’ two more bait casters showed up in the parking lot and got their gear together. We decided to head up river, way up river, to find some more desolate waters.

We ended up fishing in 49 degree water, no annoying bugs and the cool air off the cold water never had us breaking a sweat. Though there were no major hatches, trout rose all day for small midges and for some of our own deceiving patterns. Jim fished beneath and above the water where as Ken and I stuck to dry flies. We all caught some nice fish.
Here's a few pics of our all day outing;

Ken and Jim working the shady areas

Ken with a tight line

splash, it's gone

Dr. Jim in surgery mode

one of the 49 degree rainbows

another bow

a brook trout that likes beetles

Thursday, June 17, 2010

'No Bugger' 6/11/10

No Buggers
part 1

 Anyone that has fished with me knows I love to fish woolly buggers when fish aren’t on the rise. I don’t mind nymph fishing but swinging, drifting or stripping a bugger is definitely more exciting than the constant boring rhythm of nymph fishing in my opinion. Be it trout, bass, pike or steelhead I’ll always have my bugger box. I carry them like a cigarette addict carries packs of cancer sticks. Well, the past weekend I met up with Jeff up in Potter County for some north central PA. trout fishing. I was up there to dry fly fish. Though I did fish a couple of nymphs for only a short time, I intentionally left the bugger box in the van. I knew if I used one bugger and caught one fish it would have ruined my dry fly outing. It would have eaten at my brain cells to continue using it like a rehabilitated alcoholic breaking the rule and sneaking his first drink since quitting.

Friday’s Warm Up

 I pulled in behind Jeff’s truck about 3:30pm. He already had camp set up under a tarp cover with stove, water and such on a fold out table. As I got out of my van I could see him rising from his air mattress in the back of his pick-up. He had left Pittsburgh around 4:30am and finally took a break after fishing all morning and some in the afternoon. He said he did well on the Kettle catching rising trout until things died down around 1:30 so he returned to eat lunch and get some rest before the evening rise. I was a little tired myself, having worked until noon, but was ready for some trout action before the evening hatch. He threw his stuff in my van and we headed for Cross Fork Creek for some warm-ups.

It was hot even under the shady foliage of Cross Fork. The afternoon sun shined down like a Florida beach vacation. At times my shades even fogged up when concentrating tying a fly on. The black flies were out in full force. Once one found me it was like he radioed in for reinforcements to bug the living crap out of ya. They weren’t the biting kind but crawling on my hands, arms and buzzing around were annoying. Jeff said ‘there was no use trying to fight them!‘
 I had to get used to it. They weren’t as bad in the shade for some reason but there were still some hang’n around to suck the sweat seeping through my pores from the muggy conditions.
 Jeff gave me first choice so I decided to fish my way downstream for an hour or so before heading to Kettle Creek. There is no use of us following each other along a small stream as we are both accomplished fly fishermen with our own techniques. If we’re both fishing dry flies we don’t leave much for the guy following!
 I saw the first rise near a bank undercut. He was sipping now and then just beneath a leafy branch overhanging a slow flow of water. I already had a #14 Gray Fox pattern on and cast it upstream from the fish. The current moved the fly out further than what I liked. I was getting ready to back cast when I seen a swirl at my fly. I lifted the rod to no avail. I missed him or he was just eyeing my imitation. Either way he didn’t rise again after a few casts so I continued on.
 Down around the bend the water deepened some in a stretch of wavy water, seams and riffling runs around bank-side exposed boulders. I tied on a #12 March Brown for better visibility. I slowly waded and fished my way in the shadows of the tall shade trees. Casting in pocket waters, I’d let my fly waver, than dance around in the cross currents as I let line out for a drag free drift. My fly bobbed atop a rush of water mid-stream and a fish rose aggressively and slapped at the moving fly. I was ready and set the hook quickly with an upward movement with the rod tip. The 7’ 3wt. Hardy flexed from the resistance as the fish scurried and fought beneath the wavy water. After getting the rainbow calmed down I found he inhaled the big March Brown as it was stuck in the roof of its mouth. A quick bit of painless surgery and I set the fish free. The fly was soaked so i switched to the Gray Fox. Casting out again I let the Gray Fox swing and than drift again just downstream from my previous caught fish. Wham! Another quick rise and hook set. The frisky rainbow came to net.

 Downstream a bit I worked the far bank in slower current flow from the main stem. My fly slowly drifted inches from the far bank. As it drifted closer to a bank-side boulder I saw a fish rise just before the take. As he mouthed it I set the hook and the surprised brook trout darted upstream across from me. I played him across the deeper mid-section to my net. He was jumpy and slippery. Too frisky to lay still enough for a picture, I let him go free into the flow without proof. No matter, I’d rather the fish be safe than me be sorry.
 This was only a warm up so I headed back upstream to meet up with Jeff until he felt it was time to hit the Kettle. We fished a bit in a clear slow wide section of skittish almost impossible to catch spooky occasionally rising trout. I got one to rise for a #20 midge and completed the trifecta with a nice brown before heading out.

 I dropped Jeff off along Kettle creek and drove downstream to park the van in a grassy parking area. I chose my 8’6” Scott rod for the wide section of creek we’d be fishing in. I crossed the creek and waded my way upstream towards Jeff keeping an eye out for any early risers. Jeff already made his stand where the last riffling of water, from the faster run above, slowed and settled into open flat water. He had good position to cover both types of water. I continued upstream to just below a wide section of shallow, stony bed, part of the stream. Here it narrowed and deepened into good wavy cover and some gradual current flow behind sub-surface flat rocks. A good section of slower current flowed mid-stream giving any sluggish trout time to see a slower moving fly and still have time to nab it before the next section of fast wavy water. Across stream looked to be almost still water that gradually whirl pooled and flowed in the opposite direction. I positioned myself with good back-casting clearance between two tall trees just in case I needed to get some distance.
 As time drew on fish started to rise sporadically but I didn’t see any mayflies they may have been rising to. I tied on the big March Brown that I knew had made fish rise earlier and will be big enough to see in the fast wavy water. It didn’t take long before I made fish rise but missed the first two so I quickened my hook set. The third riser I actually caught casting upstream and drifting down towards me. When I saw him rise to my fly for a look see I was already prepared with my rod held high. He gulped it in and I set the hook. He circled downstream after being hooked and after a little coaxing I got him to the net.

 There were still a few trout rising and, with no more liking my March Brown, I figured a brown spinner should get their attention. The sun was setting below the mountainous tree line but still brightened up the blue sky so the brown body should stand out from the trout’s point of view. It was hard to see the spinner in the fast moving current but I did have a couple trout rise to it but missed them. When I keyed on a riser within fair casting distance, that I could see my spinner, I nailed him on his take. I finally switched to a brown poly wing emerger for better visibility. Fish rose to this more often than the spinner and with some quick sets I hooked two more. I noticed big light color flies coming off the water so I decided to switch to a #10 Yellow Drake. Now I know some of you might question a #10 Yellow Drake pattern on Kettle Creek but I found, through experience, that when fishing in fast wavy and riffling water the fish can see the fly easier and doesn’t have time to measure the fly to the right length!!!
 I saw one rising near the slow whirlpool of water so I was going to give it a try. I waded a few more steps towards the center of the stream and began false casting pulling out line. My first cast was short and landed in the fast but smooth mid-section of the creek. I waited out the drift and sure enough a fish rose and slammed the fly like it was the first hearty meal of the day. I lifted the hook set.

“Got’m” “Yellow Drake” I called out to Jeff as I was sure the splash was within hearing range of him being downstream. There is nothing like fighting a frisky trout across fast flowing current. As I was playing the fish I noticed Jeff with his line in and looking through a fly box. As I netted the fish I looked up and seen Jeff tying a fly on. After a picture I released the trout and was straightening out my line for my next cast when I heard “thanks!”

 As I looked up I saw his rod flexing towards a tight line. It happened that quick that
I didn’t have to ask him what he caught it on.

 My next cast towards the whirlpool trout again came up short but I was counting on this. As my line straightened out downstream I lifted the rod and single hauled line with my line hand. The friction of the pulling water and pulling down on my fly line flexed the rod downward and once the fly cleared the water surface slingshot the line and fly rearward with my backstroke. Beginning my forward cast I tried to double haul the line by again pulling the line down with my line hand short and sharply. I must have done it right because the line shot out over the mid-section of stream and the fly was headed to the whirlpool. I flipped my wrist gently back as the fly was reaching the end of the line. This put a few ’S’ bends in the fly line giving the fly a little more time to stay put before the fast current tightens an arc in the line. The fly fell just this side of the pool and slowly started to drift with the current which was moving upstream from the main body of water. I figured the trout had about 2 seconds to make up its mind whether he wanted it or not. Well he wanted it and made enough of a splash when he slurped it in I was able to see the surface disturbance. I lifted the long outreaching line and felt him on the other end.
“Another one!” I called out in a laugh.
 This one fought well, also across the current. I was having trouble getting the net out of the holster as the frisky rainbow jerked and pulled on the line. I tried giving him more line using one hand but he pulled hard enough that he got loose. I quickly brought in my tippet and sure enough he broke me off, my only Yellow Drake was gone. The light was dimming quickly by now and I knew I had to get a fly in the water fast. I opened my fly box and picked out a #12 light Cahill parachute with the yellowiest body I could find. It was still light but I turned on my headlamp for more direct light on my fly tying.
 I began to cast out to the risers. I found the parachute was easier to see atop the rolling current but not that easy to see within the wavy waters. I know I missed a few but did end up hooking into a nice long brown trout before nightfall.

 I continued to fish a little past dark but started back down along the bank as I got frustrated not being able to see my dry fly at night and not knowing where it was in the swift current. I knew I was missing risers but couldn’t swear to it. I passed Jeff on my way downstream and in the darkness heard him splashing towards shore.
 He reached the van before I did since he went up the hillside and walked down the road. He lit his headlamp when I called out to him so I knew where to cross the creek towards the van.

 Back at camp Jeff warmed up Venison BBQ he made from a deer roast. He also heated up some baked beans and we washed it all down with a couple of cold brewskies!
 After a little conversation, bringing each other up to date in our less personal lives, and another beer, it was time for me to crawl in the van for some shut-eye.
 5:30am comes bright and early up in these parts!!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sponged DT, Underwader Pants

Sponged DT, Underwader Pants

 I woke up this morning around 5:30am. I ate a cold pop-tart and what was left of a 20 oz. Mountain Dew from the night before. It wasn’t because I was in a hurry to fish but because I forgot to buy donuts and I couldn’t find any tea bags in my storage picnic basket in my van. When I opened the door of the van it looked like rain so I wore my fishing gear raincoat so it wouldn’t rain. It was already filled with my fishing gear anyhow being that I got caught in the rain the past Thursday chasing rainbows.
 When the sun finally came out and warmed things up I went back to my van and exchanged my gear into my regular fishing vest. Wading out is when I discovered that the cool water that was flowing around my breathable waders was also seeping through a seam of my hip waders. This made my underwading pants and socks wet but I was at least dry from the waist up.
 When Donny showed up at 10:00am, with a beer in his hand, we fished together until noon. This is when it started to sprinkle and luckily we were only 20 feet from our vehicles before it down poured on us non-rain-coated fishermen.
 After a good lunch at the Blue Jay Bar we headed to Donny’s camp in Mayburg. We fished under the sun for an hour or so. We were about 10 minutes downstream from his camp when a dark cloud blew in over the mountain and poured down rain upon us. Of course we didn’t have our raincoats on so we got drenched wading and walking back up to his camp. I was glad the rain water wasn’t any colder than the creek water that had been leaking through my waders that I felt sloshing around in my neoprene booties.
 At camp we waited the storm out. I changed into a pair of dry shorts and was getting bored and sleepy, being I was up at 5:30am, waiting for the rain to stop. I climbed into one of the top bunks and the last I remembered Donny was sitting at the table with a tall mug of Beam and Coke. I wasn’t sure if he was talking to me or Jimmy B. as I nodded off.
 It was about 4:30pm when I awoke and climbed down from the bunk. I looked out of the opened camp door and the rain slowed to a drizzle. It looked as if it was going to clear up for a nice evening of fishing. I nudged Donny, who was sleeping in a bottom bunk, and let him know I was taking off and driving upstream to fish. I thanked him for his company and headed out on rte. 666.

I guess I didn’t mention it but I had caught a few trout during this ordeal but not many. I only have a few morning pics before the rains. My camera isn’t waterproof and there always seemed to be a chance of rain later in the day so i didn't take it along.

 So here I am at about 7:00pm. I’m in the Tionesta Creek and feel like Sponge Bob in wet underwader pants. My legs are wet and my socks are soaked. I don’t know why I even put my wet hip waders on again. At least I wasn’t intoxicated enough to put on dry socks!! I got my rain jacket on so it won’t rain anymore and the heat rises from my body, inside my rain jacket, fogging up my bifocal sunglasses every time I try to tie a new fly on my tippet
 I already caught 2 risers but they had to be coaxed by skating the dry across the top of the surface. I see a few more risers but they have refused to take my caddis, light Cahill or anything else thus far that I tried. The fisherman down below isn’t catching anything on his spinning gear so I don’t feel as bad. (Actually I wouldn’t care anyhow!)
 I remember Jeff telling me a while back about 2 guys watching me fly fish while they were standing on the Lynch Bridge. After Jeff told them he knew me they told him that I change flies enough to try and start my own hatch. Well, I get persistent some times and determined to find that magical fly that gets fish to rise more consistently. This is one of those moments.
 To make me feel good and confident about my next selection I process the conditions and known facts of my immediate situation. The fish in the shallows have been sipping occasionally on dun midges. Brown Drakes have been showing up, according to Jeff’s report, during the week. If the fish are taking spinner falls I want the body of my fly to sit on the surface water and not above. I select an Adam’s Parachute dry with a moose hair tail to represent the dark long Drake tails.
 There has been a trout about 15 feet in front of me that rises occasionally and sometimes inspects my fly without ever taking it. I cast upstream from him and let the para-Adams drift into his feeding zone. He rises and inspects my fly. He back-fins a little longer than before, before he retreats back to his hold.
“Maybe he sees my tippet?” I question myself.
“The fish in the somewhat faster flow might not.”
 I cast out and make’em rise. I start picking off rainbows and wary brown trout that wouldn’t rise to any of my flies earlier. The guy, downstream from me, sees me catching fish often enough that soon I see him with a fiberglass fly rod in his hands. I’m having a good time catching most of the fish that rise to my Adams. After an hour the fiberglass rod young man finally takes off as the light dims and evening shadows fall upon the water. I notice a few Brown Drakes, moths and Light Cahill’s flying around. There are only two risers I see out into the water that wouldn’t take my dry. I turn on my headlamp, to give me a little more light, and tie on one of my Brown Drake patterns. My second cast out into ‘nowhere in particular’ produces a hearty rise and I set the hook on a nice brown trout.
 The darkness is closing in fast but I’m able to see a couple of risers in the slower water, downstream, out from my side of the bank. I loop cast my big Drake and let it drift towards them, flickering it to give it some motion in the dimming light. 4 drifts through and I connect with two 2 small rainbows. It’s pretty dark by now and only the wavy rippling of water can be seen from the reflection of light of a cloud hidden moon.
 I cast out into the darkness and wait. A reflection of water rises out in the darkness with a surface splash, audible in the quietness of the night. I pull back the rod tip and I see my fly skittering, reflecting water about three feet up from the rise. I chuckle but am determined to catch a trout before I leave tonight.
 I continue to cast the Brown Drake dry into the darkness to any nighttime feeding trout. I finally feel resistance as I rear back the rod after a surface splash. I blindly play the fighting fish within sight of my now lighted headlamp. A nice 13” or so brown trout enters my net. The dark burnish belly and haloed spots tells me that this trout has been here for some time. After two more hook ups in the darkness, in 20 minutes, I call it a night.

 Back at the van I strip off my wet hip waders, wet underwader pants and soaked socks and change into dry clothes. I wipe the Scott rod off and slide it into the 2 piece rod tube. In the drivers seat I start the engine and search for my three pocket cigar case between the captain chairs. I pull out an Arturo Fuente Curly Head. The rich Cameroon wrapper gives off a nice pungent cigar aroma even before I light it up.

The lit cigar illuminates a lustrous red glow in the darkness of my van as I head for Ray’s Hot Spot.

“Boy, it’s good to be dry again!!”


Friday, June 4, 2010

Calm Before the Storm

It was about 7:30, Sunday evening, when I backed up my Springer Softail in front of the Kelly Hotel. I put the kickstand down and turned off the ‘V’-twin.
 “Nice day for riding” A guy next to his Heritage commented
I got off my bike and spat a wad of tobacco juice out in the street.
“ Sure is” I replied, “I got some riding in, got to do some fishing and now I’m going to get wings and beer.”
“Doesn’t get much better than that” I added.

Calm Before the Storm

The weather people called for possible scattered thundershowers for Monday but Saturday and Sunday was such beautiful weather I decided to take my chances and rode the cycle up north for the picnics I was invited to. While I was up this way I brought along the fishing gear to do some fishing also on this Memorial Day weekend.

 Monday, I woke up by dawn’s early light. I was to meet Jeff at a designated area along the Tionesta Creek that I felt fish might be raising to this morn. I got out of the sleeping bag and unzipped the tent. My Springer Softail leaned on it’s kickstand in the dew of the grass. I had already packed the tombstone saddlebags with extra clothes and my leather storage bag, on the fender rack, with my fishing vest and other gear. All I had to do was to bungee my Loomis backpack onto the short back rest and I would be on my way. I fitted the 5pce 5wt. Kettle Creek Stream rod tube in one of the side rod pockets and put my 4wt. short Powel in the other. I brought along the Powel rod just in case we decide to fish the cooler waters of Blue Jay Creek in the heat of the afternoon. I put my reels in the small front pockets and my packable Orvis wading shoes, lightweight hip waders and net in the main compartment and bungeed the pack to the back rest.

 The ’V’-twin came to life as the rumble broke the early morning quietness of songbirds and nothingness. I drove through the grass, down the gravel drive and onto the hard top under the light blue cumulus cloudy sky. I’m sure there were some campers that awoke to the rumble and couldn’t wait until I got out of earshot range. Others probably wished they could have joined me as they listened to me shifting through each gear and the rumble of the Harley as I rolled down the highway.

Jeff had the tailgate down and already fish oriented clothed. His rod was lying on the roof of his truck when I pulled the Harley up in front of his truck. We exchanged greetings and he told me about the dry fly action he had the night before as I was dressing in my fishing gear. He was anxious to get down to the creek so I told him to go ahead and I’ll catch up.

 I stood on the bank and overlooked the long stretch of creek. The water was clear and calm. Blossoms and a few green leaves slowly flowed with the surface current. This gave me a good indication of the faster seems and slower eddies out into the wide creek that lie before me. A spin fisherman was upstream a ways but other than him, Jeff and I had this stretch to ourselves. Jeff was already in the water casting into the middle of the creek.

 The sun was still low behind the mountain backdrop. This kept the complete section shaded. It would take a few hours for the sun to finally rise above the tree line so we should have good fishing at least until then.
 I didn’t see any risers yet but it was still early. I tied on an olive bugger and waded out towards the center of the creek to fish the far side. I covered my casting area pretty well so I decided to switch to a white bunny leech. I was tying it on when I looked downstream and Jeff was netting his second fish.
“Are you catching them on top?” I questioned.
The morning was quiet and still so I didn’t have to raise my voice much for him to hear me.
“Yeah” he said. I wasn’t sure what fly he said he was using but I did hear him say something with an olive/brown body.
 I cast the bunny leech out into a slightly faster seam a few times when I glanced down stream and sure enough Jeff had another fish on. I went to cast the leech again when I seen my first rise at the end of the faster run where it slows just beneath a tree limb. That was enough to turn me to dry fly fishing.
 I knotted on a smoky caddis, #16, with a brown/olive body ribbed with brown hackle. It’s one I tie with gray deer hair. Stripping out line I started to false cast and kept my concentration on the surface water for any subtle rise before me. The fish that rose earlier rose again and I false cast out one last time to let more line out to reach the fish some 50 feet away. My first cast came up short and nearer to the rise than I wanted it. What this cast did do was to give me an indication on how the light wind would affect my air born fly. As my fly line slowly drifted with the current I studied the flow and watched each curvature of the line and how the fly reacted to the fly line flow. It didn’t look as though there would be much drag on the leader as the cross current was pretty much steady across the surface water.
 I waited until the fly drifted beyond the area so there was no doubt the fish would see me lift the fly and line off the water for my back cast. My rod bowed towards the friction and weight of the fly and line as the line rose off the water. I pulled line down with my line hand to generate more line speed and my rod tip reacted accordingly. I waited for the long length of line to draw backward loading my rod. Feeling the rod flex rearwards and load I picked my imaginary target area and forwarded my rod. Above me the loop widened but gradually narrowed as the arc rolled out before me to the end. I didn’t need to back up the rod tip to lay more slack in the line because the surface flow was pretty constant across the water. At the end of the roll out I dropped the rod tip horizontal and the caddis dry fluttered to the water about 4 feet from the riser. I watched the upright deer hair drift with the current. A surface splash and I lifted the rod and length of fly line to set the hook. A second later a rainbow exploded out of the water. His lengthy slender body became fully exposed, in a rocket propulsion, in a twisting and turning motion. He fell to the water and within a few seconds later was air-born, his lateral line showing his colors. After netting and releasing him, within three more casts, I had my second acrobatic rainbow coming to the net.

 My third hooked fish came directly at me. He went air-born, dropped into the water and torpedoed towards me. I hurriedly brought in line. I had the rod tip high as possible and throwing slack line behind me trying to keep up with the fish. He finally held up and I got the slack line drawn back. When I felt tension again he half surfaced in front of me for the last time before I netted him.

For the next hour or so different flies started to emerge or hover over the water. A few fish would rise to them but it wasn’t like a major hatch free for all. Jeff and I worked the surrounding area pretty good picking off a few of the risers. As the sun came up over the mountain it gave plenty of clarity on most of the creek. The foliage and trees along the far bank kept the water surface in the shade and we concentrated on these areas. Jeff worked his way downstream looking for more risers or ones that would take a nymph or wet fly. I slowly followed, using a caddis dry near the banks.

 My biggest brown trout came just out from a group of bank-side boulders. I seen his rises and some times subtle dimples just at the end of a narrow run caused by the boulders. It would be another 50 foot cast or so but this time I hadn’t the back-cast room as I did before. I pulled line out of the reel and false cast with the flow of the creek. On my back-cast I sung my rod tip behind me and force cast forward breaking my wrist sharply with a quick stop. The loop swung and shot forward and the loose slack line now rose off the water, through my curled finger and through the rod eyes. Perfect, only about two feet from his last rise where I was sure he would see it land. He attacked it without much of a drift at all as if he was expecting the caddis to take flight after depositing eggs. It was a good splash of a rise and I set the hook in time. He fought as if he was only caught once before and learned his lesson never to be fooled again. He thwarted deep and gave me a good run for my money for not being a huge weighty brown.

 Jeff was pretty far down creek by now so I worked my way down towards him a little faster. I cast along the shadows near the bank, whether I seen risers or not, and was rewarded frequently. Sometimes I hooked them, sometimes not but it was fun all the same. The noon time sun finally made its way above us and all hatches and activity above the water stopped. Jeff broke for lunch and being on the bike, without food, he asked if I wanted a sandwich. I took him up on his offer and we went to his truck for a roast beef sandwich.

 After lunch we decided on some cooler water and took off towards the Lynch Bridge. At the bridge we noticed darker gray skies way off downstream, figuring around the Mayburg area. Jeff gave me the option of calling it quits before we got hit with rain. It looked to be a small cloud at first with brighter skies still showing around this patch. We parked the vehicles and went fishing.
 Jeff walked down the trail and I worked the riffling water with an olive woolly bugger. I seen Jeff wade into the water below the stretch of riffles and started to cast into the slower flat water. I continued towards him casting into the slower deeper water, nearer to the shore, and let the bugger swing back into the faster riffling water. I felt the swinging line tension more and then a tug. I strip set the hook and lifted the rod and fly line. The fish fought too weighty for a slender trout in the deeper water and even less than a trout in the riffles. The fish finally swam topside and I had me a Tionesta Smallmouth. (Another fish for the species book for 2010)

 Jeff was a ways downstream and I was working the tail out of the riffles when the first roar of thunder was heard. Sprinkles began to litter the slow water surface but the sky still didn’t get all that dark above. It looked as if the gray clouds were going to swing around us and miss us. Soon I seen Jeff sitting upon the bank taking a rest and it wasn’t too much after that we seen the first lightening bolt in the distance. I wasn’t chancing it any longer. We went back to the vehicles and I loaded my fishing gear on the cycle. It started to sprinkle a little heavier so I kept my waders on, better that than wet jeans! We said our good-byes and Jeff headed to his campsite at Kelly Pines and I headed towards my friends house where I was camped out in his big yard just north of Marienville.

Blue Jay road was covered with wetness but my waders kept me dry. When I got to rte 66 the road was all dry leading south to my tent. 45 minutes after I got there the sky let loose with rain, winds, thunder and lightning. I sat with my friends drinking a beer or two and smoked a Don Tomas Maduro Coronita until my ride showed up.

Thanks to my grandfather who fought in WWI, my uncles who fought in WWII and all those who served in the armed forces who fought for this country to allow me to fish and live in freedom. Hopefully this government won’t take away this freedom that so many have fought for!!


a few more pics: