Good Cigars and a Fly Rod
(part one) 6-04-11
I usually go up to Potter County and fish Kettle at least once a year. Because of all the April and May rain the creeks up that way weren’t well suited to fish. I’ve been watching the water gauges for Kettle Creek and Young Woman’s Creek the past week and noticed the water level was dropping. Friday it looked fishable so I made a last minute decision to fish them over the weekend.
I woke up at 5:00am Saturday morn. I had everything already packed the night before including the cooler. That morning I loaded the van and headed east on I80. After a fuel stop and fast breakfast food I was back on the road. By 8:00am I was in the Fly Fishing Only section of Kettle Creek tying on my first dry fly.
“How was the fishing?” I asked the older gentleman that was slowly wading towards me from downstream.
“Not bad” he replied as he stood taking a break.
He was using the wading staff more like a cane as the water he was wading through was only shin deep and sandy.
“We caught 6 to 8 trout each, between the three of us” he added.
“On top?” I asked
“Nymph fishing. We only seen a couple rises so it wasn’t worth putting on a dry” he replied and started to cross behind me. It was obvious he was headed to the vehicle I had parked next to. Soon after his other two buddies followed walking through the overgrown lane on dry land.
‘Nymph fishing’ I thought, as I cast the dry into the unproductive run of water before me. ‘If I wanted to nymph fish I would have stayed home and fished the streams back near home.’ I was tired of chasing suppose to be hatches wasting fuel only to find more fly fishermen than rising fish. Whether there were many fish rising or not, up on the Kettle or surrounding creeks, I was always able to make’em rise and I felt this weekend wouldn’t be any different!
I made my way down creek to the glory hole and found the big leafy tree, that provided shade to part of the hole, had fallen upon the water. From the tail out, of the deepest part of the hole, the water ran between the branches and green leaves and continued on with no new further interruptions. There was a guy on the opposite bank nymph fishing the deepest part along the edge of the bank. Below the tree, a few yards, an older guy was standing mid stream, high stick nymph fishing a section at a slight bend. I walked behind him and noticed a slight rise in the riffles downstream from him. While he was tying on another nymph I cast a few times towards the one time rise hap-hazardly. I wasn’t sure if the older guy was drifting his nymph that far and besides that I hadn’t a good angle for a good drift.
At the first set of man placed boulders, for a deeper water break and diversion, I stood looking over the water. I knotted on a parachute March Brown and cast a few times over the rippling white capped water that flowed between a couple of big boulders. I kept my rod high trying to keep as much line as possible from catching the cross current. A dark form rose from the deep quickly but I missed his attempt of taking my imitation. After 4 more casts I couldn‘t get him to rise again. I continued to the backside of the pool and flipped the March Brown up towards the boulders in the softer water flow. I took in line keeping an even drift with the current. On my second attempt the fish rose for not as quick as he had plenty of time to look it over. He turned away without a grab seeing something that wasn’t right I suspect. The good thing was I found a dry fly that was interesting enough to cause this one fish to rise. Down below the second set of boulders I made another fish rise and after a short battle in the small pool area brought in my first Kettle Creek trout of the morning.
After releasing him I decide to walk up and give the first riser to my fly another try. From the tail end of the pool I cast up towards the right side of the rougher water and my March Brown falls near the big boulders. It hesitates some in a slow back eddy before it catches the edge of the current caused by the faster creased flow of main current. Along the seam I watch the March Brown bob as I take in slack waiting any moment for a take. Without notice a heavy splash spurts water out from the waves and I lift the rod immediately for an upstream hook up. I feel the resistance and feel the fish take out line as it slips through my tensioned fingers. He fights deep as I move towards the side of the bank getting out of the faster current. He does his battle dance beneath, head throwing and jarring tiring himself out. I keep good tension on him and finally feel him starting to draw towards me. In the shallower water he knows he doesn’t want to be there and tries to turn and take out line. I give him a little with the bent rod than angle the rod downstream and he follows. A beauty of a brown comes to my net, my March Brown hanging from the brown trout’s lip!
After releasing him I take a moment and reward myself with my first cigar of the day. I pull out a fresh Cohiba Pequenos from the tin and light it up. They arrived Thursday on my door step just in time for this adventure up north
I know the creek very well being that I’ve been coming up here for the past 20 years or so. I know enough where trout hold up in deeper pools and runs and some places a few have taken up home in shallower water against the banks. The water was running a little on the quick side and a little higher than what I’m used to seeing. The sun was out and just cresting over the June tree tops throwing rays that sparkled the wavy water. The gray skies looked as though they might overcome the sunshine at some time before noon but thus far the sun put a nice medium on the land with its rays of brightness. The green leafy trees glittered from the light and made for an enjoyable bright morning. The song birds added their voices like an early spring morning whistling and singing in top form while other birds chirped in quick response. Even a few butterflies were about fluttering their big wings looking for a place to rest.
I was now looking down creek at the deep pool of water I was hoping no one would be fishing. Road fisherman only stop at the nearest, easy accessible, pools and don’t seem to journey much. They’ll catch a trout or two and stick around hoping to catch more without enjoying the stream. I on the other hand….
I was just casting aimlessly anywhere that looked where a trout would hang out if looking for food in the rougher water. I was anxious to get down to the big pool around the bend but thought there might just be one where one least expects it.
The March Brown parachute drifted along the wavy water time and again with each cast when Wham! A quick rise and slap on the water and I was Jerry on the spot. A quick lift and hook set and a wild fight erupted in the stronger current. I’ve said it before there is nothing like fighting a strong current holding rainbow when he’s on the end of your line. You can see the water splash about as the ’bow’ darts and swims from side to side. Occasionally you’ll see his back humped above the surface water before a tail splash and he quickly disappears in an unforeseen deep pocket. You know you got a good hook hold when the rod bows and you feel the tension between your fingers. I stroll towards the bank cautiously wading my way subconsciously feeling every step I make on the stony creek bed. The rainbow, as I suspect, still wrestles the line moving towards shore downstream from me. It’s a good fight and I prevail to land him.
I make it down to the bend without another fish and look the pool over puffing on my stogie clinched between my lips. I watch for any risers about but none appear. I had no doubt that I could make at least one rise in the general area. I plan my strategy, take another conscious puff of the Cohiba and concentrate on the task at hand.
From the bank side I cast the March Brown upon the wavy rough water and watch it bob and flow with the fast current downstream. In front of me the water calms to riffled waves and I hold the rod up taking in some line to keep a good dry drift. Just subsurface I see a dark object rise from beneath and porpoise as if it had been waiting any moment for a nice big morning meal. I set the hook and a good fighting fish puts a good bow in the 5 piece, 5wt, 8½’ Kettle Creek Riffle Rod. I let out some line to let him swim into the back end where the water is calmer. After a short battle I walk down shore some to a shallower part of the shoreline and bring him to my net.
Throughout the morn I work the pool area catching quite a few trout on dry flies. When it started to sprinkle I went beneath with a wet March Brown and March Brown nymph. I caught two on the nymph; the biggest fish was a beautiful sized brook trout who took the Nymph on a slow deep drift.
I switched over to a Prince Nymph and caught one smaller rainbow before I heard thunder in the distance.
I wasn’t wearing any rain gear and headed to the van before the downpour. It was time for lunch anyway and a cold beer sounded good about now before heading to Cross Fork Creek.
And this was just the morning start of a two day excursion!!!!