Friday, June 17, 2011

Smoke'n on the Kettle

Good Cigars and a Fly Rod
(Part 3)

Smoke’n on the Kettle

Nearing noon I was ready to fish the wide section of Kettle Creek for some long casting exercise. There’s a long stretch of water Jeff and I always visit when we are up this way. It’s always productive whether fishing beneath or on top. Entering the head of the stretch is choppy riffles that keep a good current flow throughout the long stretch of deeper water finally slowing to a calm before entering into another shallow channeled riffle.

 I parked in the grassy area and find a guy fishing the calmer water below. I case my small rods that I’ve been using and take out the 9’ G2 5wt. Scott rod. When I read the review of the G2, before buying it, it sounded like the rod I was looking for. It turned out just that. A medium action that casts small flies with light tippet delicately yet handles big flies all on long leaders with an ease in casting. It’s not for very windy days I’ve found but on calm outings it’s the relaxing rod I was hoping for. With weight forward line I was ready for some 20 yard casts, if need be, to rising trout along this section of water.

 I waded across the calmer water and walked up the trail to the choppy water that entered the straight stretch of creek. I found it void of fishermen which was great. I love fishing a section like this nice and easy at my leisure. Starting at the choppy water I’ll just slowly work my way downstream casting dries wherever needed.
 I saw a few March Browns about but the glowing noon day sun kept many other Mayflies from showing up. It wasn’t long before the pesky black flies found me. They started to buzz around and crawl on my bare skin and straw hat. I lit up an Arturo Maduro to keep them from my face area.
The water I was casting upon was maybe 5 feet deep or more. With the clear water conditions it would be easy for a trout to see a dry on the surface. I was sure the contrast, beneath the blue sky, would be pretty distinct of a March Brown silhouette upon the surface. On one such cast, out mid-stream, my imitation was attacked by one of these deep dwellers. He rose with a turn downstream as if the fly already passed him by. I was ready as he surfaced for the March Brown imitation. A quick lift and line pull upstream and the rod tip flexed towards him. The trout took deep with a good tug upon his swift get-away attempt. Using 6x tippet, in the glowing sun, I let him have line as the Scott G2 applied the necessary pressure. He pulled with the current for a short run fighting towards the distant far bank. Three quarters across the pressure was getting to him and he turned upstream. He stayed deep for a last run and I took in line as he swam out in front of me. I held the rod up and I could feel his thrusting surges trying to pull away with pulsating tugs. With each tug the Scott rod tip flexed downward more but returned up bringing the trout closer. He finally turned and circled in front of me as I got ready to land the brown trout.

That’s the way it was going to be. Wading slowly down creek, casting out, down and in front of me and watching my drifting dry. I was using 10’ to 11’ of tapered leader in hopes not to spook the trout with soft casts laying the line down with minimal splash. Than came the first real challenge.

 I spot a rise across the midsection of water. I finally got a target to aim for instead of blindly casting upon the surface. I’m looking at 25 yards or so with not as much room behind me for an even length back-cast. I take a few steps towards the deep until the water reaches the thighs of my hip waders. I pick a spot between the trees upon the inclined bank, behind me, where I need my line to load without hazard. Pulling fly line out of the reel, my fly drags with the current down creek keeping tension on the line. I flip a few roll casts in front of me to get the line across the water instead of downstream. After my second roll cast I position the rod tip just above the water surface and start raising it for my next back-cast. My fly drags across the surface towards me flexing the rod tip down. With a smooth back forearm motion the fly lifts off the water towards me. I single haul with my left line hand, pulling line down through the rod guides, generating more line speed. I stop my back-cast around the 1:00 position and feel the line load behind me. Starting with a slow forearm movement I move the rod forward and lay out a long cast letting extra line slip through my line fingers. The loop unfolds and my fly falls short as I expected.

 Calculating distance I immediately start another back-cast with a straight line in front of me. As the fly starts to drag in front of me I yank line through the rod guides again, as the dry lifts off the water, and I feel the rod tip flex forward with all the line tension. I back-cast and again bring the rod forward. Line shoots through the rod tip eye and I watch the line loop towards my target. Letting more line slip through my fingers the fly drops, softly, in the zone of the riser. The water flows constant across the creek so my fly line and fly flow evenly, drag free. With my rod tip pointing forward I’m ready to lift it quickly to take in line to set the hook. It takes only seconds for the unsuspecting trout to surface splash at my March Brown Parachute. A quick pull of line and rod lift, sets the hook as planned. I feel the resistance on the other end as he splashes once more before disappearing beneath for his underwater antics. I feel he isn’t a huge trout as he scoots downstream but with 6X tippet and the water undercurrent I’m not in any hurry to get him in. He fights within the midsection on the creek staying deep. When he decides to swim upstream I’m able to take in a lot of line. With him in front of me, and rod applying side pressure, he only tugs a couple of times before swimming towards me.

It was the action I was hoping for. A long cast, hook set and getting a good fighting trout to the net completed my wish.

I continued fishing my way down creek towards the flat water. The whole time I spent puffing on a cigar trying to frustrate the pesky flies in to leaving me alone. At times I’d feel them find their way between the holes in my straw hat and crawl around on my head. This was annoying enough to get me to take my hat off and shake them away. For anyone traveling the road above, upon looking towards the water, it probably appeared as if a steam boat was slowly drifting downstream as the smoke rose upon every puff of my cigar.

  Down creek, in the shallower flat water, dimples of sippers were visible to the trained eye. The water rippled a bit from time to time with the passing of a slight breeze. This gave enough time to drop a well placed Gray Fox or Ginger Quill pattern upon the water without line glare.

The pattern would glide with the rippled surface water causing a possible fluttering effect. A nose would rise and a quick reaction 90% of the time caught a portion of the sippers lip. Only catching lip skin often caused a released fish before bringing him to hand.

Occasionally I’d hear a splash and turn in time to see the ring and bubbles from an aggressive riser. One such rise came against the grassy sloped bank partially shaded by brush. I could have gotten closer, in the knee deep water, for a shorter cast but I was comfortable where I was and didn’t want to make waves.

 My first cast, towards him, drifted my Gray Fox dry a few feet from the bank, in the sunshine glare. He evidently didn’t want to move out of his comfort zone within the shade. My next soft cast landed the dry upstream within a foot of the sloped bank. Sure enough he rose and sucked it in just like a natural drifting by. I reared back on the length of line and he splashed top side with the hook set. He darted beneath, down creek, with a brook trout fight. He zigzagged trying to get loose as I let line slip through my fingers towards him. By the fight and force he created I knew he wasn’t a small trout. He turned with lightening speed and I kept the rod flexed and line tensioned to my liking. Nearer me his beautiful colors came into view as the sunshine reflected off his yellow spotted sides within the clear water. I took hold of him, by his body, and after a quick picture unleashed him. I watched as the wide tailed brook trout eagerly swam away.

 After knocking off the ash of my cigar and a few flies from my bare skin, I continued casting to sipping trout. Most of the sippers were against the bank or under an overhanging tree shading the surface water. I spent another hour or so under the hot sun wading, puffing and fishing my way down creek. When a good breeze would blow upstream I’d grab and shake my straw hat trying to rid myself of some of the black fly passengers in hopes they would get caught up in the wind and just blow away. Some still hung on or where strong enough to withstand the breeze and returned to hitch an unwelcome ride downstream. There was no way to get rid of them so I lit a Cohiba Pequenos when the last one was no more than a stubble between my fingers, again to keep these pests from my face!

 I landed a rainbow and a couple more brook trout with a few misses before returning to my vehicle. By then I was all smoked out and felt like a smoldering ash fire struggling for fresh air, to fill my lungs.

Next stop was Young Woman’s Creek before heading home.



  1. Okay, dang it, we're coming up there before long. This is your long lost photographer - remember me?

    I love your stories.

    We just returned from a fishing trip to Alaska - check out my blog to catch up on all my funny stories in the North! To Alaska series.

    My next venture - to become as good a fly fisherman as my husband.

    But you can't fly fish for 55 lb halibut!!

  2. janie girl, let me know when you're up this way. not sure where you'll be but i live in clarion so maybe i can take you guys fishing if you got time.
    my daughter is n alaska right now. they plan on maybe moving there. my son-in-law is a small aircraft mech. can you imagine me having my own bush pilot to drop me off in remote areas to fish!!!