Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Exercising the Bamboo Stick
Jim and I stood on the bank with our hands in our pockets watching Dan drift a stonefly for trout. It was about 8:30am and I’m not sure if it was 25 degrees in the shade yet. Dan came over from Ohio with my sister, Anna, and wanted to know if I can take him trout fishing. They had a party to later on so he would only have a few hours to fish. I planned on meeting him at the Big N creek, it was the closest delayed harvest area. They also stocked it a couple of weeks ago and it should be in great condition for fishing than the previous rainy high water weekends. He suggested meeting at 8:00am. I told him it will be cold but fishable! Being Dan had to leave at 11:30 he wanted to get in as much fishing as possible. He has fished for steelhead before with a fly rod but I wasn’t sure if he ever fished with one for trout. Though the water was cold I was hoping to get him to catch his first PA. trout.
I met Jim at the truck stop as he wanted to come along also. When I picked him up he jokingly asked if I thought the ice would be off the Big N? He said it was 18 degrees when he left his house.
“Weren’t my idea to meet Dan at 8:00am” I answered!
We met Dan in the parking lot, near the creek, and put on our gear. I strung up my SAS Scott 5wt for him to use with a F5DT line. On the creek bank he was having trouble tying the tippet to the #16 black stonefly I suggested for him to use. I figured his hands were pretty cold and wasn’t used to tying on that small of a hook so I tied it on for him. In the chilled water I demonstrated, to him, how to roll cast and mend line upstream so the nymph will drift downstream in front of the leader. After handing him the rod I went back on the bank with Jim and we watched Dan and talked about fishing. Within a half hour Dan hooked into his first Pa. brown trout. I waded in and netted the fish and congratulated him on the job well done. After that he was on his own.
I think it was around 9:30am when I couldn’t take it any longer being next to trout waters with the sun rising throwing tree shadows across the surface. Looking upstream the sight of white water spewing over the dam wall upon the creek and flowing around rocks and boulders along the shallows was getting me excited to fish. I walked up to the van and decided to take the Bamboo rod for an exercising excursion. I planned on giving it a good workout from drifting nymphs to casting dries and throwing streamers. I pieced together the three sections of the handsome Tonkin bamboo. It was given to me last October by a guy out in Kentucky that refurbished old Bamboo rods. Today I was going to see how well it performed. When I got the rod I couldn’t fathom putting a modern reel on it so it wears a Martin Classic MC78 made in the good old U.S. of A. when I take it out. I strung up the rod with a F5WF Cortland Sylk line, my fingers feeling the biting cold with each step!
Back down at the creek I saw Dan down below the bridge already. A couple of guys were upstream at amateur falls so I slowly waded in right in front of the shop, the most widely fished section of stream. I roll cast a bunny leech and than a bugger to get used to casting the Boo stick even though I figured the trout wouldn’t be very active in the cold conditions to chase a bait fish imitation. After feeling comfortably cold, feeling the chill of the water through my waders and fleece wading pants and air cold upon my exposed skin, I decided to change tactics. I consciously decided what combo of flies I wanted to drift not wanting to retie flies continuously in the cold weather. I decided a small weighted stonefly beneath a bead-head prince nymph would be a good choice. I carefully tied on the combination and added a strip of lead about a foot or so above my top fly. The water before me had a nice even flow of slow current. I’m not much of an indicator user for trout and I felt I should be able to see my floating fly line tip throughout the drift to detect strikes. I lobbed a roll cast with the Boo stick a little upstream and looped a mend up further. I watched my fly line tip as the leader and flies lead the way. Though more effective in cold weather than streamer fishing it gets boring until…..
…until the fly line dips down or stops briefly. I lifted the Boo stick sharply and felt the resistance than tugs on the other end. Unlike graphite or fiberglass rods, the bamboo is less accommodating to give up much bend to a fighting fish. It is as if I could judge my catch by the flex of the Boo more than the line tension of the fishes fight. The Boo stick tip section doesn’t dance with the fish as a ’glass’ rod does nor does it give up resistance as graphite. It just bends gradually in a wider arc and always seems to ’stand its ground’ pressuring the fish with only little of my encouragement until the fish tires.
I net the 10” or so brown. I unhook the stonefly from its mouth and release him back into the chill. My wet hand feels as if it is in an instant freeze as the colder breeze hits it. I try to find warmth by wiping my hand on my fleece pull over and putting it in my coat pocket. A few finger felt frost bit!
I continued the boring routine covering the wide section diligently. I put on a fingerless mitten upon my left line hand. Occasionally I overhand cast the tandem rig, with smooth sweeps of my arm, further out and throw bigger mends upstream. Daydreaming a bit, I noticed my fly line tip not only dipping deep but curving upstream. I quickly swung my horizontal rod downstream before raising it, taking up the slack and setting the hook. The Boo’s pressure turns the fish downstream and he fights in a semi-circle as I clinched my teeth on the mitten and pulled my left hand out. Again the Boo stick and I direct the fish in our direction. I reach down and unhooked the exposed stonefly from the side of the fishes lip skin.
From out of nowhere I looked around and see more fly guys enter the arena of the creek. I wade down a bit for newer territory to drift my tandem rig. In time, while holding the rod only with my mitten hand, I try to warm my right hand by blowing warm breath upon its palm and fingers. I saw the line stop briefly and I lifted the rod to set the hook with my mitten hand. I saw my line tighten, felt a slight resistance and than the line went slack. A fish rolled in the distance.
My next good hook up came on a sharp distinct take. I set the hook on a seemingly traveling rainbow. He fought just subsurface to my waiting net. I seen he had taken the prince nymph as I unleashed him from its hold. After hooking into a sucker a couple more fishermen gathered around so I decided to head downstream. I waded as I cast streamers out to cover as much water as possible with each swing and strip in. I had two different rainbows follow a bunny leech but no takers.
By now I was pretty far downstream where the water riffles over a rocky bottom of about two feet of depth and drains into a wide slow deep pool of water. There were three spin guys in the water just off the opposite bank of the deeper pool area splashing their gadgets on the surface and dragging them back in. A fly guy was across from them so I couldn’t pass around him unless I climbed the bank. No matter, I decided to drift a streamer or such into the mouth of the slow deep pool. As I was casting and switching different buggers and triple threats about, the spin guys decided to climb the bank and head out. Before they left, from above, they directed the fly guy to where they saw a few fish holding close to the bottom downstream from his stand but within his casting range. I figured he wasn’t moving anytime soon so I decided to do my best right where I was at.
I switched to a darker triple threat and added an extra piece of lead to get the triple to drift deeper. I was already in thigh high water and had to make long casts to reach the riffling water across stream and than letting it swing into the pool. I false cast once to draw out more line and shot the soft Sylk line through the air and the triple followed the unrolling loop. The triple fell into the middle of the riffles. There was slow deep water between me and the riffling water so there was no need to mend line in either direction. I had my fly rod horizontal and the fly line didn’t drift more than a couple of feet before it quit and an arc started to develop in the belly section. I thought I had a snag with the extra weight involved and I quickly wrist lifted the rod upward to pull the triple up and free. The rod tip section bent downward as the fly line lifted off the water. Instantly I felt a couple of tugs on the tensioned line and the pull away towards the tail end of the riffles. The middle section of the Boo stick started to bend with the top section. I knew this wasn’t any fresh stockie and I was ready for the fight. The extra amount of slack line slipped through my fingers and then the Martin Classic clicked as it spat out line through the rod guides.
A fish in the current adds more weight to the fight and therefore adds more excitement in any fishermen’s battle.
He decides to fight within the current and not travel down into the deeper water. The Boo bent as far as it could through the mid section and at the ferrule it couldn’t bend anymore into the thick diameter butt section. I watched the top section creek downward and felt more tension on the line. I was about to give in and let line slip through my tensioned fingers when the trout turned towards me and head-shook, beneath, against the rod pressure. I took in line with downward sweeps as he traveled toward me swiftly. The rod tip began to straighten with the oncoming fish and I raised the rod to try to keep pressure on the trout. In the deep water before me he turned upstream and than towards the riffling water with long tugging pulls. I held the fly line tight and watched the Boo, again, start to bend into the middle section towards the butt with the pulling fish. I was about ready to give him line but again the Boo’s pressure forced the trout back towards us. The knots and tippet held up through the strenuous exercising routine and I guided him to the net. The holdover brown gave the Boo an exercise program I wasn’t expecting. I released the trout back into the chilling water and straightened the fibers of the triple threat.
I then angled my rod and pressured him to turn by pulling the rod horizontal and upstream thus forcing the big fish to follow. The rainbow gave one last full body surge downstream in a round about turn and dove deep. I was forced to give him some rod and let line slip through my fingers. The extended fight was now exhausting his energy and so I lifted the rod and took in line. He splashed with body aerobics top side as I forced him to my net. He calmed a bit in the net long enough to get a quick picture of him before releasing him back into the water. Another successful challenge of the Bamboo rod!!
I cast a few more times and decided to return upstream and look for Jim. On the way up I came across John and his brother fishing the long stretch of open shallow water and convinced him the deeper slower sections might be our best bet. We walked up to the shop where I caught fish in the morning. I noticed Jim was a bit upstream working a nymph in the current flow. I found an opening between a couple of fellows drifting nymphs beneath. I felt I had the right streamer this time and began to slowly drift the triple threat beneath and strip it in slowly. Nothing took it so I decided to wade down to my right positioning myself closer to John’s brother but still giving him plenty of room to each side. He exclaimed he had a hard hit on a black bugger but failed to hook him. He only fished a few more minutes before John and he decides to call it quits. Upon turning to bid them farewell a bank-side observer waded in and took the place where John’s brother just vacated.
I tied on a dark woolly bugger and made short roll casts and at times long overhand casts to reach further towards the opposite bank. The guy to my right catches a good size brown trout and I watched as it fought well before he got it in. Within a few minutes I connected with a good fighting rainbow and brought him to my net. A guy behind me, upon shore, asks if that was a bamboo rod I was using as I release the fish.
“Yes it is” I replied.
“That’s a nice looking rod and you cast it very well, nice and smooth” he commented to that effect.
“Thanks” I replied back, with a smile on my face.
Within a short time the guy to my right again hooked up to another brown trout. I in turn answered with another lunker rainbow that put up a good fight for the admiring shoreline observers. The Boo showed off its ability to bring in the big fish without a threat of disaster. I net the rainbow and brought him towards shore cause I felt he looked tangled up in the net and line. As I laid the net in the water near shore he shook his head and popped out of my small net and into the shallow water. The hook dislodged and the fish turned and swam away unharmed. ’Good deal’ I said to myself.
Back out in the water the guy catches one more brown trout before giving up his space to a young person which he knew. I caught one more smaller rainbow and dislodged the hook with a quick twist while the fish was still in the water by my legs. After that the water fell silent. Within that lasting 35 minutes or so we hooked into 6 to 7 trout and then it ended as quickly as it unexpectedly began.
Now with the wind picking up the colder air took its toll as any fly fishermen left upon the stream began to file out. Jim and I stuck around another half hour before I gave up as the wind chill became somewhat unbearable and the rod eyes started to freeze again. Jim didn’t complain and we walked to the van. While taking off my fishing gear and putting them away I enjoyed a cold LaBatts. Jim laid his gear in the back of the van also and we headed north east towards home.
Before the outlet mall, on rte 208, I pulled out my last cigar in the three finger pouch. The reward of a Candela wrapped Fuente cigar gave a pleasing aroma and an enjoyable smoke all the way home!