Last Trout of 2010?
After scouting out the area and checking my deer stand, the day before deer season opened, I had time to do a little trout fishing. I was in the vicinity of a small Fly Fishing Only creek I knew well but don’t get out that way much to fish it. It’s just a small narrow creek mostly and if there are other vehicles in the area I consider it crowded and look elsewhere.
I drove down the semi-secluded lane and found myself alone in the parking area. I felt like a young teenager with a pocket full of tokens in a vacant mall arcade. I had the creek to myself and the time spent fishing would only be limited by the darkness to come.
I put together my 7’ 3wt. Hardy Demon rod, being I was planning on using streamer type flies. I attached my Quest reel with 15 yards of DT3F line. I had cut the line in half being that I would not be casting very far in small streams and put the other half of line back in its original box for future use. To the 7 ½’ of tapered leader I knotted on a short piece of fluorocarbon tippet and a small Quick-Snap so I can change streamers with ease in the coldness.
At the creek I noticed it was flowing higher than normal this time of year which made it perfect. From the bridge I looked down into the cold clear water and already noticed skittish fish moving from my presence to take cover elsewhere. I walked downstream to the first long stretch of mild moving water. A small school of trout caught my movement and darted upstream. From the bank I graciously cast a triple threat out towards the far side, not wanting to draw attention to any quick arm movements. I let the streamer swing and slowly stripped it in keeping it from snagging the stony and now leafy bottom. Though the water was clear the overhanging shade trees kept my vision, through dark polarized lenses, limited. Nothing wanted my offering in the long stretch so I continued working my way down creek casting quite a distance in front of me.
Fishing downstream I immediately noticed stream improvements made by the Oil Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited. The placement of logs and boulders, protruding from the banks, made for good cover and deep pockets of the once shallow sections of the creek. Behind one of the barriers I surprised an unwary trout as much as he surprised me at taking my phantom triple threat pattern. I had him hooked but he darted straight for me and, with my pinched barbed hook, I didn’t keep enough tension on the line and he got himself freed. After that I fished a long stretch of water without any takers or followers. I wasn’t sure if someone had fished the area earlier but I would have thought I would have caught at least one more throughout.
I came to a good pool of water around a bend off the beaten trail. If there were hungry unsuspicious trout, this should be where to find them. A stream of water riffled from midstream flowing with good force towards the far bank and beyond. It leveled out in a large pool that eventually flowed over a wider, shallower, stony section below. I wasn’t sure how deep the pool was because of the shadows of the pines and hardwood tree cover. I kept a low profile, though, upstream from where I was planning on casting.
My first roll cast was to the middle of the creek and I short mended the line upstream to give the triple threat time to sink some before traveling down. I continued working my streamer towards the far bank with each consecutive roll cast. I got a quick strike as the streamer swung just shy of the far bank in the headwater of the pool. I pinched my fly line and tipped up the rod for a quick hook set. The fish fought towards the tail end and after feeling him tire I forced him to my side of the creek with the bent 3 weight. At my hip boots I bent down, unhooked the streamer from the rainbow and watched him dart out of vision. I missed another on the next cast but just after that it was like the area went dead. I knew there had to be more trout in the water before me so I selected a different triple threat pattern. With a sparse black top layer, orange sides and a white belly I felt this pattern should produce since they didn’t want the lighter shade pattern I was using.
The first cast towards the far bank produced a violent strike but I was unprepared with the suddenness of it all. It took only three more casts and short strips to entice another trout and a good hook set. The rainbow shook the 3 weight with good action as I brought him to hand.
I hooked into 2 or three more and missed some short strikes before moving on down creek for newer scenery.
Down below the tunnel water rushed over the cement wall, churning and bubbling as it entered the widened pool. Dead center, of the creek, was where the main current of water combined to make a nice riffling effect, smoothing out the further it flowed. On each edge the water turned back towards the bank and wall in slow, almost dead current topside. I climbed down the rocky ledge and stood in ankle deep water that suddenly dropped within a few feet off shore. The sloping dirt bank behind me and a few extended drooping branches made it difficult to cast. Roll casting the triple threat with a short rod wasn’t very easy to get much distance out but I did my best. Time and again I tried to get the triple out into the rippling water but it fell short. I found that the undercurrent, in the calmer water before me, was tricky and forced my streamer back, upstream, towards the falls in a slow drift. I worked the pool, from the bank, but couldn’t buy a bite in the slower back eddy. Finally, and forcefully, I false cast parallel with the creek flow and arced my rod tip above me and then wrist it towards the middle. The triple threat followed, in the tight arc, and shot above the water into the riffling surface water. I thought the triple would sink sharply and swing downstream with the creek flow but it didn’t. Instead, after sinking some and drifting shortly downstream, it again turned beneath and followed the undercurrent towards the falls.
Somehow I had to get the streamer deeper and beneath the faster run of water. I added a little weight about 12” or so above my streamer in hopes of not hampering its action in the water. I knew the sandy bottom was covered with boulders and snags and knew enough not to let the streamer, or lead weight, drag the creek bed. I thought about the cross-current beneath and pictured what I wanted to accomplish in my head.
Casting out again, into the middle of the rough riffling water, I quickly threw a loop of fly line down stream. This gave time for the streamer to sink some as it drifted while the fly line was atop the calmer water. Once my fly line was pulled under some, I lifted the rod and moved my rod tip in front of me to take up as much slack a possible in the arced fly line as the triple threat changed direction below, now drifting upstream. It was if the triple got hung up for a second below when I noticed the arc in the fly line straighten from a tight leader. I yanked a good hook set to get the arced fly line to pull sharply and I felt the resistance of a tug on the other end. I knew big fish lurked in the deep pool so I played him carefully as the 3 weight flexed, dampening the quick sudden pulls, with each turn of the hooked fish below. Fishing with a pinched barb I knew I had to keep good tension and a flexed rod on the fish as he took on different depths. I managed to get the rainbow to my hand safely after a wily battle. It wasn’t a lunker but any frisky fish in double digit length are always quite exciting on the short 3 weight.
With the same technique I managed two more trout, one being a brown, before calling it a day due to the fading natural light source.
I now sit here, before my computer, typing this past outing. Glancing out the window, into the moonlit night, white flakes swirl and eventually accumulate on the few inches of snow, on the ground already. The wooden attic door flutters with each heavy gust of wind that blows against the old house. Occasionally I hear the Penn Dot truck roaring down the road like a heavy blacktop roller trucking at 30 MPH, with its blade scraping against dry pavement. I sip on a glass of Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum and Coke mix as the aroma of deer jerky enters the room from the downstairs kitchen dehydrator. I heard that the creeks up in Erie are slushing up and the forecasters predict more snow and the freezing weather to continue. Looks like this past journey to a trout stream might be my last one for the year.
Might be time to start my Christmas shopping being I’ll have more time on my hands ‘till Christmas.