Friday, May 27, 2011

G2 Meets H2O

G2 Meets H2O

I was about to head over to Tom’s Run in the ANF Sunday morn. I fished a small brook stream out in central Pa. the last couple of days with a short 3 weight. I was wanting to fish bigger water but  figured the bigger streams were still blown out from all the rain previously. I actually came home a day earlier than planned. For the heck of it I called Jim Sunday morn to see what he was up to. It wasn’t even 7:00am so I left a msge. on his cell phone to call me back if he gets it within the next 20 minutes because I’ll be leaving. Within 10 minutes he called back and asked what’s up. In our conversation he got some inside info that a good hatch of caddis showed up at Oil Creek at a certain location. A few risers were about Saturday night but with the water clearing, Sunday might be good for top water action. Say no more, I was to meet him along Oil Creek.

I got to his vehicle, in the parking area, and got my gear on. I suppose it was getting close to 8:00am by then. I made sure I wore my cleated wading boots and brought along a rain jacket just in case. I was so excited to get the Scott G2 9' 5wt rod out for some, hopefully, top water action I lit up an Arturo Curly Head Deluxe on my way down to the creek.

Jim was already nymph fishing in the somewhat opaque water. The wide section was wavy enough to hide any indication of leader or tippet attached to a dry fly imitation. I already noticed a few caddis about and was searching for a riser. While wading in, upstream from Jim, I saw the first rise across the mid section of wavy current. The far side looked shallower and I figured that’s where the trout would be feeding on dries to get out of the deeper cloudy water. After seeing that first rise I questioned Jim on what size he thought the caddis were, body color and wing shade. He gave me a pretty good description. I looked through my caddis box and tied on a #16 smoky wing, tan caddis. I added a piece of 6x tippet to my 5x knotted leader and was ready for some action. Puffing on the big stogie I waved the 9' Scott rod in the air and cast out blindly towards the middle of the creek to get my timing right. On my next back cast I saw a fish rise ¾’s of the way across stream so I figured on letting this cast drop in the mid section before false casting more line out. The caddis fell out in front of me and I let it drift before…..
A splash of a riser disturbed the water where my fly just was. I was still trying to carry on a conversation with Jim when the surprise happened. I sharply lifted the rod to set the hook and felt the resistance.. Momentarily. Jim turned with the splash and began to laugh and make comments about not being ready. Yep, the line went limp and the fish got away. I never expected to have a rise to my fly casting blindly on my second cast of the morn. I was more than ready next time.

The next trout gave up his location by rising within sight. He was a bit far but was in range of my ability. There was a slight breeze blowing upstream so I waded a bit upstream for a better angle at the riser. A few false casts in the air and I sent the caddis on his way above the mid section of current. The medium action rod carried the line, leader and fly in a graceful lengthy loop and I watched the breeze shift my fly upstream than where I intended. After no rise I corrected my cast with a little more power and a tighter loop angling my arm a bit, cutting into the wind, and to throw the fly line a little more upstream from my caddis. My fly dropped pretty close to where I intended but still wasn’t given any attention. I figured with the semi-fast current, and opaque water conditions, maybe the trout aren’t seeing the fly until its right on top of them and takes a little more time for them to pick it out, turn, follow and take it. My next cast was way upstream of the riser and I backed my rod tip up before the fall to put a little more slack in the line. I watched as my caddis fell to the water, drifted a bit, turned downstream and drifted more. Patiently I watched and knew when it was in the zone. The splash was visible and I lifted line off the water for the long hook set.
“Yeah!” I told Jim, as he was kidding me about the trout teasing me.
“Can’t tease Jerry for too long” I was making fun.

 I gingerly fought the trout towards me on the 6x tippet in the strong current. Upon arrival, within the rod length, he twisted with a tug and the rainbow set himself free of the hook.
I continued to cast to specific trout that I had seen rise throughout the morning. I changed body color and wing shades as the morning continued on and was rewarded with hook ups on the dry.

Jim finally gave up nymph fishing and joined in on the dry fly fishing and managed to hook a few. On the off periods of no risers I resorted to buggers and triple threats that had quicker responses and hook ups than the dry fly action. After noon things got real slow but we still wanted to fish dry flies so we left our fishing spot to examine other areas along Oil Creek.

Jim talked to a few fly guys trying to get some inside reports but no one seemed to see more risers than what we had encountered in the morning. We ended up in the project area with a few other fishermen. During the evening caddis and sulphurs flew upstream in clouds above us with very few dipping into the water. We watched, as did other, waiting to see a rise. For hours not a fish rose. We fished below the surface till we determined that the trout weren’t going to rise before night fall and parted ways.

It wasn’t much of a hatch to fish for the few risers but it did feel good to cast dries with the G2 9' 5wt. rod in the big stream. Trying to figure out what the risers wanted and getting the good drift to make’m rise again!

Overall the Scott G2 is a very fluid medium action rod. When dry fly fishing, and I'm in the mood to relax with a slower casting stroke with power to cast long leaders, this is the rod I want in my hands. It takes more effort casting into the wind than a medium/fast action rod but than I have a Scott SAS rod for those occasions.
It might be a bit pricey but I feel it's worth the money for this fine American made rod. The Box Elder wood spacer is an eye catcher on this otherwise dark shaft rod.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

POWell, Gotcha, Suckerrrr!

Powell, Gotcha, Sucker!

 I crawled out of the van, parked along the Tionesta Creek, early in the morn. Jeff and I had fished the Tionesta some the night before and caddis were pretty much all over the creek. There weren't any risers, figuring because of the high water, but I was hoping there would be some this morning or maybe later on. Looking over the foggy covered creek I didn't notice any risers or dimples upon the water surface. I decided to fish another creek up that way.
 I parked along the dirt lane that led down to a couple of vacant cabins that overlooked Spring Creek in the ANF. The fog had lifted and the birds were out chirping in the early morn. I took out the Powell 4wt., got my gear on, grabbed a few cigars and headed down to the big swimming hole.
 I followed the trail along the creek and seen it was higher than normal this time of year. The rainfall in Pa. has hurt the ability to fish in normal levels and better conditions lately. I cast out a few times with a Woolly Bugger along the way but being the water was high and cold, didn't expect any good grabs. I got to the swimming hole and was all alone. The pool looked deeper on the other side along the fallen tree but i was sure trout would be hanging out anywhere they can find food when they were looking for it. I threw out a bugger and also a triple threat just to see if any trout would follow but none showed. I resorted to nymph fishing.

 The water flowed into the big pool faster along the mid section and far bank. It riffled up against the fallen bank side tree and slowed some down further on the far side before flowing along the tail out and than over the rocky shallower wide riffles. The mid section pooled with slow current flow just enough to keep a drifting nymph or such moving without much weight. The problem would be to find the right amount of weight to get the nymphs down deep to the bottom yet not too much to snag or stop below. It took awhile to figure the right adjustments and that's when the fishing with catching got good.
 Being that rainbows inhabit the waters I decided to use a pink scud pattern I tied and used up on the Bighorn. I had a lot left and figured maybe the rainbows would like them round here also. I tied a Picket pin as the top fly and went from there. I'd cast into the flow of current that entered the slow pool with a big upstream mend. This would let my nymphs drop deep as it entered the deeper pool. On a couple occasions I lifted up the line to cast again and found that a trout had the nymph without ever pulling away. I decided to use a drifting indicator to detect these strikes. I was catching trout now and then as the hours past by. It was boring with the constant up creek cast, following the indicator with my rod tip and waiting some before lifting and doing the routine all over again but I was catching fish.
 On one drift my slow moving indicator stopped without dipping below. I figured I might of had a bottom stick or rock and let it stay there a moment before tugging on it to continue its drift.When i lifted the rod with a sharp tug I felt resistance and you would have thought I had a hold of a small submarine. My line tightened as the 4wt. rod bent into the butt section. I pulled slack line out to help release some of the pressure on the rod as the fish turned away and headed towards the far end. When it would go no further I turned the fish with pressure and he circled towards me finally giving me a tugging fight below the surface. He swam to the head of the pool as I was still unable to turn him towards me again. After getting into the quicker current upstream he turned towards me than and I had him coming in. I began to laugh at what I caught but he evidently didn't think it was too funny. He thrashed around a bit before I was able to get my mitt on him. The fat sucker took the pink scud. I unhooked it from his bubble lip and just had to take a picture of the fish before releasing him.

 Later on a guy and his two sons, it appeared, joined in fishing the big swimming hole. I decided to let them have the hole to themselves and ventured on down creek.
 I found only one other guy fishing the mile or so creek I waded and fished through. What a day catching and releasing browns, brooks and rainbows off and on throughout my journey.
"Oh", and enjoying a few good cigars!!


Monday, May 9, 2011

'The Bighorn' Birthday Style

Bighorn Excursion (day 4, last day)

'The Bighorn' Birthday Style

 I can talk about the rolling stretch of water we were fishing in. The way the indicator pulled down or the way the big trout grabbed the swinging bi-color worm at the end of the drift. The sudden plunge, the tug, the quick flex of the Cortland 4wt 9’ Big Sky rod. I’m sure you get the picture.

 I can try to explain the sudden surge of a big rainbow darting upriver, subsurface, as the tensioned line follows behind him. Water spitting upward off the fast moving line and leader as it cuts through the water surface. But I most likely couldn’t do it justice.
 Only those that have held the rod with a heavy fighting trout on the other end can truly feel what I’m trying to say. Your hand tightens around the cork grip, your forearm muscles tighten and your wrist semi-locks, ratcheting in step with each sudden surge or turn of the big fish trying to keep the rod up from the pressure. You can feel his true weight, almost know his size before seeing him, by the way he holds up in a deep undercurrent break and you can’t budge him. Than when he had enough of that the real fight begins when he gets mad. He lunges against the pull and uses the quicken current in his favor. The whole while your heart’s pumping as you keep tension on the big trout. When he doesn’t move towards shore, with a side pull, you force him upstream just to keep him moving. You play him well, letting him fight the flexed rod strength trying not to give him more line. When you can you ever so cleverly reel in line when the trout gives you the chance, drawing him closer.
 I’m talking about meaty strong wild trout that live in the constant flow of a tail-water dam. Not a big fish in a small to medium size stream with slow to little current flow to rest in. Big water wild trout active in 39 degree water temps. Wild brown trout that give an alligator roll trying to get loose. Rainbows that shoot out of the water, twisting their bodies, trying to throw the hook. Trout that don’t give up easily and give that one last get-away attempt when seeing the net.

Now for you guys who are non-believers. Those who jokingly, sarcastically comment, “If there are no pictures it didn’t happen.” Ha, I say! We couldn’t take all the pictures of all the trout, excuse me, big trout we caught on my day.
 Yes, 16” to 20+”s, thick girthed and some long solid body browns and beautiful rainbows. I’m not talking one caught every so often, I’m talking about fighting one practically one after another.

“Was it that easy?" you may ask
 After reading the water and finding the trout lies and right flies! Doing my best with the right drift in those areas. That’s when I got rewarded for my efforts and busted one out, constantly testing my knots, my wit and the rod strength limits. Than sharing the ’honey pot’ with my buds so they get a shot with a big one.
“Let’s just say it was fun!”

 Somewhere off the bank of a long stretch of water on the Bighorn there’s a section that holds big trout. I’m not sure if I can even find it again navigating the river. (I did notice the guide consciously marking the area in his guiding journal brain after seeing all the trout we caught there.) I do remember the lone Russian olive tree standing along the bank. It was a nuisance at times and would grab a back-casting fly periodically, but it marks the spot. It’s what we now call the birthday hole. Where I found hungry big trout and where I spent most of my last day of fishing on the Bighorn. Another memorable birthday catching big trout practically one after another with friends and a big stogie between my teeth.

In the pics you’ll see I added the time in the bottom right hand corner of when the pictures were taken on that Thursday the 21st. Here are only 9 I caught but there were a few more before, during and after these ones I took pictures of. Brad caught a few more I haven’t pictures and it was only when Mat finally brought a big one to the net that we agreed to go on and float the rest of the river.


Friday, May 6, 2011

A Stroll with the Demon

A Stroll with the Demon


After fishing the Bighorn a couple of weeks ago, catching 16” to 20+” wild trout with the 6wt, 5wt, and 4wt, catching small stock trout with these rods didn’t feel much of a challenge. Saturday afternoon I headed to one of my favorite brookie streams for some fun.
 At the side of the road I assembled my 4 piece 7’ 3wt Hardy Demon. I attached my LLBean reel, got my gear on and the Demon and I went looking for brook trout.
 The most accessible areas along the creek were pretty well crowded with bait fishermen with conventional rods. I decided to take the short Demon rod for a wade down the creek that was less traveled. It was apparent that not many, if any, bait guys walked down creek very far. On my third cast a brookie took my streamer like it hadn’t seen a minnow or bait all day. I caught him mid stream as the streamer slowly drifted and swung into a slow pocket at the head of a big boulder. The Demon gave a little under the pressure but soon the brookie was handled carefully and released.

 I found the creek was running clear yet a little higher than normal. With the sun out, and the more rippling water, would make a good distraction of my presence as I waded downstream. I still cast out a fair distance when I had the availability to do so avoiding the brushy banks and overhanging branches. I stayed a foot or so from the bank and would cast across creek and then mend line upstream to let my streamer sink some before swinging with my fly line. I hoped to coax a trout that may be lying along the far bank or under tree cover to follow my offering into a slower pocket where he can more easily take my imitation. Sometimes I’d twitch the rod tip to put more action on the swinging streamer so it didn’t look like a piece of debris flowing down from a camp sight. In slower pockets id try to hold it there for a second or two before swimming it back in.
 During my wading down creek I caught a few more brook trout, one giving me three tries before I got a hook set on him.

 The quick tip of my 7’ Demon rod lets me wrist cast in confined quarters and side arm cast outward under branchy limbs. The rods action works with me and not against me. I do hang up on my back casts now and then but I learned to start my forward cast smooth and slow thus if I feel resistance behind I can stop quickly without losing my fly. It’s something I learned in these brushy small mountain creeks. My casts are more delicate and I use my wrist more, preventing the long swing and forearm movement that might be detected by wary trout in clear water.
 Under the canopy of trees I came upon water rushing between and over an outcropping of big boulders to big to wade through. I circled around and stepped back into the mill stone shallows. Mid creek the water riffled and waved with the interaction of current that collided from the flow between and over the boulders. I could see the water deepened also from the narrowing of the creek. The water pooled on the far side as I could see swirls of water entering than disappearing on the surface aside the faster run. Down below this it picked up speed again and emptied below the base of two trees growing out from the steep bank-side before joining up with the riffling water mid stream. I can see the pool was deep and chalkier in its depth. One of those places, if there was one in this creek; I would expect to be a perfect spot for a big brook trout to hang out in.

 There was no trail or place for a fisherman to fish from the far side. No land-lover, upon my side of the creek, would be able to reach the pool and fish it with success because of the confines and changing currents.
 Standing near knee deep in water, a longer rod surly would have been more helpful but I’m sure it would have been a bothersome pain to fish the small creek on the way down. It would have been nice to just high stick it over the faster run and following the drift with the rod tip. I don’t give up easily and I knew I could make the short rod do. It took three casts to land the streamer just right at the head of the pool. I mended line upstream as the streamer sank and kept the rod level while reaching out over the faster mid section of water. I kept my eyes on the fly line as it caught the faster current and began to pull my leader and streamer down creek, beneath, as planned. I noticed the arc in the fly line started to get larger as if the streamer no longer was following. My instincts told me I had a snag yet my experience told me to set the hook.

It’s a do or lose situation. There’s no way to know what’s beneath. You got to hope for the best and not cry about it if you lose a fly but you got to try.

 I lifted my rod high and downstream while pulling line in with my line hand to draw in any extra slack line from raising the rod. I felt resistance and than I felt the sharp tugs and twitching of the rod tip. Fish on!!

Current always plays tricks for the fisherman. It can make a half decent fish feel big and even a small frisky fish seam heavier.

 I watched my line and felt the pull as the fish swam beneath and into the deep water below the tree trunks. I knew getting him across the faster current that it’s better to keep him deep. I kept my rod level with the water and swung it downstream towards my side of the bank. He followed abruptly than decided to fight in the faster current. Ok I figured, he’d just get tired out quicker. I let him tussle a bit in the current and enjoyed the pull and tugs still not realizing what I had on the other end. When the trout decided to leave the fast current and swim down creek in the slower water below me I noticed the Demon rod was still bent into the butt section. This wasn’t any little brook trout. I let a little tension line slip through my fingers to ease the pressure on the rod as I lifted it upward. The fish was tiring but still had much strength to fight a bit in the slower current. I hadn’t much room where I was standing to bring the rod towards land as brush was only a foot or so behind. I waded down to a more open area as I kept the fish under control. I was then able to angle my rod towards the bank and the trout followed. When it got nearer I raised my rod and was able to cradle him in my glove net. What a beauty as the trout came fully into vision.
 Yellow blotches covered the sides of his aqua blue skin. In the midsection and below the lateral line blue hallows circled the few deep orange spots. The sides of his pinkish orange belly ran from below his gill plates to his tail. The distinct orange and black fins are something that you notice right off on a brook trout as well as the distinct white bottom of the fins itself. By his color I figured he wasn’t a fresh preseason stockie and most likely been here a while. I have caught some wild trout in this creek but he looked too healthy to have grown that big over the years from a fry. Either way he was a great find and catch and made my day. I watched him as he took to the water and swam away in lively form.

 I caught a couple of more bookies later on.

Even if I hadn’t I still felt very successful with the big brook trout. By the time I got to the van it was near 7:00pm. My belly was hungry and my tongue was practically hanging out for something wet and cold. I enjoyed a cold brew as I changed out of my waders and fishing clothes. Back on the road it was time to fill my belly, hot wings would be waiting for me at the Kelly and of course another brew or two.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

True Double...Twice

Bighorn Excursion (day 3)

True Double…Twice

 Wednesday we hooked up with our guide, Ryan, again. The weather people predicted sunny and clear skies for once so we were happy to be back on the water. As we drifted down the Big Horn it was obvious the good forecast brought out many boats and shoreline fishermen. Dave fished sitting down on the backseat while I fished from the front as before.
 The morning drift started slow. I learned a lot since Monday about indicator fishing with long leaders. I felt after Monday and fishing alone Tuesday I was more confident and was ready to try to keep up with Dave. I hooked up with the first fish while slowly drifting and mentioned to Dave he’ll have some real competition today. It wasn’t long after that that I should have kept my trap shut, even jokingly. Even though the morning was slow going he produced more trout than I did. Ryan searched for good areas to wade fish but because of the nice weather the places he wanted to stop were taken. We pushed on passed 3 mile where we hoped down river wasn’t as crowded.
 Most of the wade fishing areas Dave had me beat near 3 to one. In some of those areas the guide would switch us up if Dave was catching a few trout and I wasn’t. Then Dave would end up catching fish in the area I just vacated because I thought there were no trout around. It was frustrating when he does that but fun as we joked throughout the day.
 Wading off one islands Dave was hooking up on the point. I couldn’t buy a bite along a gravel bar just out from the bank. I started to let my offering slide down into a big pool caused by a back eddy from the gravel bar. The pool circled in varied currents as I watched my indicator float above. My indicator twitched just enough and I lifted the rod to set the hook. The fish held frozen for a second before I gave a hefty tug and he took off towards the head of the pool. The Scott G2 leaned towards the fish and flexed into the middle of the shaft as I held the rod steady and let the fish fight the rod. It circled when it couldn’t go any further up the bank and swam right towards me. I backed up and wound line in as fast as I could into the mid arbor while keeping tension on the fish by holding my rod up high. He passed me and I got a good look at the long brown. By now the guide seen the action, grabbed the net and headed downriver onto the sand bar below that separated the slower pool and faster run. I guided the fish to the gravel bar and Ryan netted the fine brown before it reached the faster choppy water.

 The second hook up, within a few casts, had the fish headshaking a few times before he started to run. It didn’t take too long before he unhooked himself. I had landed one trout after that and lost two others. I was getting frustrated as all the lost trout felt hefty. I finally got into a good tussle in the same pool. He used every bit of the back eddy struggling and trying to spit the hook. He swam towards the faster gravel tail out as I tried my best to keep him from the faster shallow current. When he reached the shallow choppy water he turned broadside and let the current force him with the flow. I had to let line out but the strength of the current and fighting fish was too much. My rod straightened and the line went limp as I watched the big rainbow right himself and disappeared under the glare and sunshine. I hooked up a few more times only landing two smaller ones in the 15” range. Later I found out it wasn’t the hooks, it had to be me.

 The river has plenty of nicknames for the holes or passages along its course. Some names are comical or given names for good reason. The meat hole or breakfast hole is the first good trout hold down from the first boat ramp below the after bay. There’s the drive in, a row of rusted cars that line the right bank-side. On the left of the island is the duck blind obviously a good place to sit for ducks among the brushy island shoreline. One such hole some guides call it the playpen while others call it the ’last chance’ hole. It’s the last good trout area before the 13 mile boat ramp. This is where the rare phenomenon happened that day to us.

                                 the  'drive in'

 Ryan drifted the boat down through the narrow channel between the island and left bank because there were plenty of boats on the wider calmer section of the last chance hole. He slowed the boat down and told us to get ready and cast off the right side. We hauled a good cast outward and Ryan kept the boat drifting with the current flow of our indicators. Mine went under with a hard surge and I yanked up to set the hook attached to the 12 foot leader/tippet. It almost felt like I had fouled hooked a decent sized fish until what I caught came to the surface. I watched as one fish followed the lead fish in a fighting running surge.

“There’s another fish chasing my fish” I said dumbfounded.
“That’s a double” the guide said and added “A true double!”
 That’s when I realized I caught trout on both of my flies at the same time. I stood and let the two battle it out not wanting to separate the two 15”rs. We watched as they time and again sub surfaced like two dolphins in a show porpoising in synchronized fashion. I got the two to the anchored boat as Ryan tried to scoop both of them up in the net. The bottom brown trout must have hit the brim of the net and fell off as the rainbow flopped inside. Surprise, surprise, my first true double!!
 After releasing the rainbow and picking up anchor we continued on with the same drift as we talked about what just occurred. I watched as Dave’s indicator twitched downward and watched him lift the rod and set the hook. It took a little longer for the fish to surface when we discovered the same phenomenon had happened again! Yes, Dave had himself a true double. Two rainbows in the 11” to 13” range were hooked on his two nymphs. Dave was able to get both fish along side and Ryan was able to net both. A quick picture followed before the bottom trout came loose.

 We not only witnessed one but two true doubles on the same drift back to back! How awesome, what are the odds? Ryan turned the boat around and we did the drift two more times only hooking up once more. We considered this our pre-birthday present as our birthdays are on the same day.