Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Straw Hat & Basket

A straw hat and basket

with a straw hat and basket
i head for the river
with my fly rod & net
no waders, no fret

a basket of dries
spool of light tippet
the river so clear
i don't dare draw near

the beetle plops on the surface
i wait patiently on the ready
i know they're out there
but where

a swirl to the surface
quick with my wrist
she fights her best
on my 7x test

a tan fluttering caddis i tie on
skittering across the water
a slap at the tan
a brook to hand

than at dusk
blue quills fly about
a #20 parachute i select
boy, was i correct!!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Stogie Weekend

A Stogie Weekend

Along the forested lined river with my fly rod and a stogie was just the relaxation I was looking for.

 Saturday I met with Kevin at the Slippery Rock Cigars ‘Cigar BBQ Event‘. It was well worth thirty bucks. We smoked a couple cigars and drank Yuengling beer from a cold keg while listening to the live ‘Blowing Smoke’ pod cast beneath a canopy of speakers and microphone entertainers. At 5pm the food buffet was presented. Spit cooked pig and deep fried turkey was the main grub. Fresh corn on the cob with brown beans and red potatoes made for an enjoyable meal. After dinner a sealed plastic goodie bag was given to all who paid the thirty bucks. Inside were about 10 cigars of different brands and tobacco. A short time after that they filled a table with door prizes from full boxes of cigars to fancy ash trays, humidor boxes and the like. They picked names and every one there received a prize. Being there were still more prizes left, they picked names again and some of us went home with an extra something. I was going to stick around for the bonfire and nightly partying but at 8:00 pm and there after it poured down rain with thunder and lightening. It didn’t look like it was going to stop so I took my new Humidor, filled with cigars, and headed back to Clarion, enjoying another cigar of course.

Sunday, about 3:00pm, I headed down to the river for some relaxing fishen and smoken.

 The river was peaceful. No canoes, no kayaks and no swimmers. The trees stood tall and within their healthy green leaves birds chirped giving the surrounding area a wilderness calm. The forested lined river flowed easy, nearly a breeze, as the setting sunlight glistened off riffles in the shallows. Huge cumulus white clouds floated beneath the evening blue sky, such a picture perfect evening. I sat upon a stack of rocks on the pebbled shore taking it all in.
 From my wicker creel I took out a H. Upmann Vintage cigar. I just knew the Cameroon tobacco would somehow fit the occasion. I unwrapped it and laid the cigar on the creel, as to let it breath like fine wine after uncorking the bottle.

 The water flowed clear and calm. A ripple of water trickled into the river from a spring fed creek cooling the river bank shallows. I knotted a piece of 6x tippet to my 4x tapered leader making the length about 9 and half feet. I figured this would be adequate for keeping my fly line from being within sight of any trout along the bank. I tied on a #18 parachute Blue Quill. Though I saw nothing rising or a hatch of any kind, I was betting on a hungry fish being tempted by an easy meal after the long hot sunny afternoon. I wasn’t there to see how many fish I could catch or if I could catch a big one. I was there to relax, enjoy a cigar or two and do a little fly fishing.

It went something like this;
 I bring the cigar to my lips and light the end of the barrel. Smoke rises and slowly floats into the calm air like the cumulus clouds above. I stand up and walk to the shore line. The cork cigar handle feels firm in my right hand. I strip out line and cast a long smooth tight loop into the shallow ripples. The Blue Quill lands atop the ripples as my fly line lays upon the calmer water. I watch the parachute swing down below my fly line and drift atop the ripples and into the wavy tail-out. A swirl and a slurping rise arouse my relaxed limbs and I quickly pull up the rod tip. The long length of fly line lifts off the water instantly and the #18 hook sets into the fish’s jaw. The trout head-shakes above the surface as if standing on its tail. The soft tip, of my fast action Vapor rod, flexes and points directly at the commotion. He turns from the shallows and heads to deeper water leaving a wake behind. I hear the mid-arbor start to click as the last of the slack line slips through my fingers. He’s stymied from the heavier reel drag and fights from beneath. I allow him to use up more energy before I begin to take control and bring him towards me. The nice lengthy brown wallows in the shallows before me as I reach down to free him from the hook.
 With long casts and patience I bring in a few more trout as time tics by.

 I decide to fish for smallmouth in the warmer river and turn towards the open waters. I cut the 6x tippet and let it hang, connected to the fly, as I hook the fly onto my fly patch. I knot on a fast-snap to the 4x leader. This will make changing streamers and big dries quick and easy without all the tying. I fit an olive woolly bugger to the snap and wet wade knee deep into the warm water. With conscious smooth strokes I fling line and bugger out into the mass of water. The bugger sinks and the fly line swings with the current. I slowly make my way downriver swinging and stripping a bugger. Occasionally I clip on a Humpy or Wulff pattern and watch it wattle upon the surface in hopes of a fish will rise to it. Along the deep rocky shoreline I toss in a Styrofoam frog popper. With short strips it gurgles. Though relaxed I watch and anticipate a strike at anytime. An hour or so goes by and I’m left without a take or follow of my offerings. Nearer the van I walk across rocks and reach dry land. Walking up the hill, to the road, I contemplate on leaving or returning to the trout hold. I lift up my polarized lenses and see there is still plenty of daylight. Up on the road I light up my last Don Tomas Coronita. The smooth small cigar burns quick with each draw.
 I walk through the weeds again leading to the riverbank. The rippling water is now shaded by the mountain of trees that hide the setting sun. A slight warm breeze now waffles the surface water so that I can no longer see the dark area of fish in the shallow ripples, but I know they are still there. I knot on the 6x tippet and tie on a #14 Clarion Caddis dry. My first drift along the ripples produces a quick rise but I and surprised and miss the hook set. I am determined to hook a fish on the caddis and continue to use it. With a further cast, over the nearer ripples, I stop the rod tip so the caddis falls into a slow moving pocket of water. I see a dark object swiftly rise to the dropping caddis. I’m quick on the take and a nice size rainbow leaps for freedom but the hook set is good. I force him out of the main body of would-be trout and let him swim in the warmer river water as I bring him in.
  Next I tie on a gray body Adams parachute. On one cast the Adam falls into the middle of the rippling water. Instantly a fish rises above the surface for the take and I’m there to greet the thief. With a quick rod lift I feel the rod tip bend without feeling the fish react in my direction. Instead he turns upon the surface and splashes his way towards the tail end of the ripples; his long red lateral line tells me who I’m dealing with. He darts with force away and my reel clicks off line. I swing the rod to my right and he turns and fights the direction I dictate. In the foot of water before me he struggles to leap but fails to get air born. His quick force of energy in the first few seconds of the fight fatigues him in the warmer water. I take hold of the thick rainbow and let him relax within my loose grip. After unhooking him I lay him in the cooler water, near the bank, while holding his tail until he has the strength to pull away. He swims slowly at first, than, as if knowing I no longer have a hold of him, darts out towards freedom. I continue and catch one more trout before calling it quits. 

 Back at the day-tripper van I pop open a Penn’s Dark beer. The cold dark brew quenches my thirst and I take a few more swigs before changing into dry clothes. I take my time putting my rod and reel away while downing the brew. The darkness of the night falls fast once the sun drops below the mountain tops. In darkness I empty the last drops of sudsy beer onto the gravel and put the empty bottle back in the cooler.
 I start the engine and the dome light brightens up the interior once again. I reach in a plastic zip lock and take from it an O.O.O. Maduro Torpedo. The dark tobacco smokes well on the ride home…..


Tuesday, July 13, 2010


 I met with Jim and Dano in North-Western PA. over the weekend. Jim said he had a dream so real, of us catching big trout, that he checked his camera for pics when he woke up before meeting with us.
 In the morning i caught about a couple a dozen dinks (trout ranging from 6" to 9") on my caddis pattern and Dano did well also. We'll just say Jim was on the wrong side of the river.
 In the afternoon and evening we engaged in some pounder's. Our reels were screamimg and our shoulder and forearm muscles got a work out. Pictures are worth a thousand words so i'll let the pics tell the rest of the story.
 All fish were caught on dries. Dano found out what Jim already knew about me. Though there may not be any major hatch or maybe only a few risers i still fish dries and make'm rise. We made them rise all right!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Longest Day

My Longest Day

“I had enough, simply had enough of what my fly tying room looked like”
 I was just finishing up tying Ginger Quill patterns on Friday when I looked at the tying desk and carpet. It looked as if there was an all out cock fight with plumage and scraps of hackle everywhere. It looked like a peacock and pheasant, at some point, got into a skirmish with a muskrat, a rabbit and a calico cat wearing a beaded collar. My fly tying desk and carpet were covered with the outcome.
 I brushed the scraps on the carpet and went downstairs and got the upright vacuum cleaner. I wasn’t in the mood for searching for any keepsakes and just started sucking up everything that was on the carpet floor. Hard items tinked and rattled around the beater bar before entering the vac bag. A few CDC feathers went air born before they finally fell, succumbing to the inhaling of the vacuum cleaner. When it finally looked bearable I took the vacuum cleaner downstairs and returned with my last cold bourbon cask ale.
 I’ve been tying for three days straight getting ready to fish the Little ‘j’ with Dan (thedrake). I know I probably had every pattern tied somewhere for this time of year but I always got to tie a few more for the new stream I’ll encounter just before going. #20 dark Blue Quills, #18 tan caddis, Light Cahill’s, beetles, yeah, I got them all in 6 different fly boxes in my 12 pocket fishing vest somewhere! A few more wouldn’t hurt would it?
 My last pattern before bedtime is #12 Humpy’s. I’ll tie these in yellow, orange and red. Monday I plan on fishing the Clarion River with Jim and Ken and these patterns come in handy in the swifter current. Heck, I might just toss one of these out on the Little ’j’ and be surprised. Who know?...
 …..After an egg, bacon, English muffin at 4:30am Saturday morning, and finished packing the van, I was soon heading East on I80. White clouds ribboned the early morning blue sky. A burnt orange glow reflected off the lower layer of these clouds from the sun rising somewhere below the horizon. A cup of hot tea, along with Merle on the radio, kept me awake during my near 2 hour drive as I cruised down the interstate in my day tripper mini-van.

 It was about 7:50am when Dan met me at the church across from the Spruce Creek shop. 270wbmag, kingtrout and two other fellows met us about a half hour later. We greeted each other and headed up Spruce Creek for an early dose of Dan’s choosing.
 Dan put the nympher’s in a long tail out while Mike went with Dan and me as we worked our way upstream. Mike worked a nymph under an indicator. Though Dan started with a beetle he switched to nymph fishing also. I was still tying my first beetle imitation to a new strip of tippet when I heard Mike and Dan mentioning one of them had caught a trout already.
 The dark shadows under the tree canopy made it impossible for me to see the beetle drifting in the moving current along the bank. Normally when trout take a terrestrial in slower current it’s with a slurp and don’t usually slap at the bug. Without seeing the black foam beetle in the wavy water I wouldn’t know if a trout struck it or not.
 I was tying a CDC winged #18 BWO on when Dan walked behind me to see how the nympher’s were doing downstream. I guess once a guide always a guide, even though he was fishing for fun today.

 Midstream, hi-sticking in front of me, I watched the BWO bob atop the wavy current into the tail-out. I saw a fish rise and just like that I had my first trout, a little 6” brown. Not much of a trout but a trout no-less and on a dry!
 After a few more casts I switched to a #16 tan caddis for better visibility. I worked my way upstream and at one section, after missing the same trout 4 times, I finally hooked up and landed another.
 After an hour or so, while the nympher’s were in the parking area waiting for Dan to return, I fished the narrow section of water next to where we parked. While working upstream I missed a quick take in the slow current on a beetle. The next rise I wristed my 7 foot Hardy rod and I felt the hook set in the small trout’s mouth. He darted towards me and some how maneuvered the barbless hook free. They do that sometimes, more often than what I’d like.
 Back at the vehicles 270wbmag made a 10:30am ham sandwich lunch for the group of guys while I strung up my Scott rod for the Little ’j’.

 At the Little ’J’ the water was clear and, according to Dan, a little on the low side. The sun was present and hot which may have kept any hatches from happening or fish to feed. Either way after about an hour no one had caught a thing. The nympher’s were anxious to move to a different spot. They let us know that they were headed to the project area that they felt more fish could be found. I elected to hang with Dan for the remainder of the day. He suggested we fish some wild brown trout waters and I was all in. I put my gear in his vehicle and he drove us to….

 After parking Dan pieced together his 3wt Diamondglass rod he strung up with Triangle Taper line. I didn’t bring my Diamondglass so I stuck with my 3wt Hardy Demon. Being a great host, as he is, he let me make the first casts into the narrow waters of the small creek. On my third cast, upstream, my foam beetle fell just shy of the bridge shadow upon the water surface. Whoomp!! And I mean Whoomp! A trout attacked the beetle like it was the biggest mayfly meal emerging from this small creek. The fish dove beneath, after the take, as my 3wt flexed deep into the midsection. As I gripped the rod line peeled from my quest reel and through my tensioning line fingers. We both knew the wild trout was a good one and from the feel I knew he wasn’t going to cooperate with me proper. He shot away from us under the bridge and exploded out of the water on the far side. I had my rod out over creek pointing towards the opposite bank. I never saw a brown trout clear water like this boy. Upon returning into the water he fought back and forth before settling near the right abutment on my side of the creek. The trout head shook beneath as my three weight rod tip flexed with each thrust. I kept pressure on, trying to move him from beneath the bridge, but didn’t want to force the hook out or over test my 6x tippet or knot strength. He finally turned and came unwillingly towards me. I brought in line accordingly trying to keep every bit of tension pressure on him. He turned a few yards from me and fought beneath a second or two enough making the water surface stir.

Then, surprising me, he all of a sudden surged towards the middle of the creek. I let tensioned line slip through my fingers keeping the rod high and at an upstream angle. He tugged and pulled from across creek like he had help trying to get free. I kept my cool, excitedly, and waited him out with the bending force of the rod. He finally submitted to the pressure and swam towards us.

 We weren’t expecting to catch anything quite this big so neither of us had a net. I got him near enough to the bank and cradled the beautiful wild brown trout firmly with my hands for a good picture. After the photo I unhooked the point from his jaw and gently let him swim out of my hands. He settled down to the bottom for a few seconds before swimming off.
 The action was fast and furious so I couldn’t remember all the details but I’m sure Dan got an eyeful of the whole ordeal.
 Dan had the next go round and soon hooked into a smaller wild brown on a crow beetle. We continued, taking turns, while wading upstream casting our beetle imitations. I hooked into another nice brown after we watched him turn and slap at the dropped beetle. I had him fighting towards me before the hook let loose and he turned free. Dan picked up two more but soon after that no trout wanted anything to do with our beetles or fishing skills.

 Dan drove me back to my van and we sat awhile and talked, over a beer, while I ate a sandwich. It was about 6:00pm when he took off. I had been up since 4:20am, fished in the hot sun all day and was planning on taking a short snooze before maybe fishing the Little ’j’ just before dark. I drove downstream and parked off the side of the road I was familiar with from years ago. I figured I’d check out the water before napping. Down over the bank I stood upon the green bank and peered out over the water. Sure enough I saw three rises in three different locations on the slow moving flat water. The sun was setting low but its rays shed direct sunlight upon the open water. I knew catching these risers would be difficult but I couldn’t resist. I think this is where my second wind kicked in!

 I hurriedly assembled my Scott rod and took to the river. I soon found the slow water risers didn’t want anything to do with any of my imitations no matter how small a pattern I offered to them. I elected to wade upriver to more fast moving water that the fish wouldn’t have time to thoroughly examine my offerings as they drifted by. It took some time, in the daylight I had left, before finding out that a few trout were willing to rise to a #12 Drake pattern bobbing in the quick wavy current. I finally kept a hold and got a small frisky brown trout to the net and after that I hooked two others that released sooner than I expected. When no other trout seemed interested I switched to a #14 Light Cahill. The action was quick in the fast current and I had to be ready at all times for the sudden rises to my fly. I hooked into two more before complete darkness. Almost ready to leave, I cast out the fly a few yards in front of me as I stood, knee deep, mid-stream in the riffling current. A fish rose to the fly and I set the hook. The brown trout dove beneath the wavy water and fought with vigor before I got him netted.

 After releasing him I couldn’t resist but to fish into the darkness as I heard other fish feeding top-water. I cast out into the water with eyes wide open. After missing a couple without quick enough reactions, I told myself to forcefully set the hook. Because of the darkness I didn’t know how much slack line lay atop the water after the fly touched down. On one cast, towards a slower run, I heard and saw the white water splash beneath the star lit sky. I forced my rod back quickly like setting the hook into a steelhead. I felt the fish instantly, I felt the line tension in my fingers and the rod flex in my grip. I felt the rod tip swing back and all tension lost. I was too forceful and the tippet broke somewhere between my knotted tapered leader and fly.
 With my headlamp on I picked out the biggest parachute fly in my box and tied on the tan bodied #12 2x March Brown. Within five casts I hooked into another fish but after that came to the realization that I should be calling it quits.

 After changing into driving clothes I drove towards Tyrone and rte. 99. Heading north, I pulled out an Arturo Fuente Lonsdale-size cigar with a Candela wrapper. The jade color outer leaf gave off a fresh sweet grassy smell as I call it. Wetting the outer leaf with wet lips I took in the aroma. I nipped off the end with my cigar cutter and held the cigar between my lips a second or two before lighting up.
 Another just reward for another successful, entertaining fishing expedition with new acquaintances and past fishing buddies.

 I put the van in cruise control and glanced over at the fireworks exploding and sprinkling color into the dark sky from Del Grosso’s Amusement Park.

 I looked at the radio clock and figured I’d be home around 11:30pm or so.
I was off by 15 minutes.


little 'j' brown

Dan with another release