I awake in total darkness. Not a star or the moon show in the sky. Occasionally a few raindrops tink upon the roof of the van dropping from wet branches or cupped leaves. It seems as though it is going to be another gloomy day.
I open the bottle of Frappuccino and doughnut holes I bought the night before. It would only take a few minutes to get to where I want to fish so I’m not in much of a hurry and besides that it isn’t light out yet.
I back the van in the parking area and sit while finishing off my cold breakfast. The colors of autumn begin to appear outside as the early morning lights up as if someone slowly increases the dimmer switch in a dark room. Yellow, amber and orange leaves shake off the night rainfall with the passing of a slight breeze. The dark olive pines stand as always as if in defiant of these autumn ways.
As I fit myself for fishing the gray sky shows signs of more rain but I’m going to take my chances and not wear a bulky raincoat. I won’t be fishing too far from the van the first hour or so, so I should be able to return quickly.
Across the road I follow the soggy trail and weave my way through brush to the creek. There is a tint of brownness within its depths but with the dark overcast sky I’m not sure the clarity further out. As I step down into the water I feel the coolness of the water against my lightweight hip waders and undergarments. The water before me lays flat. By the drifting leaves I hava a good idea of the current flow.
This particular creek isn’t your common skinny cold running brook. It isn’t a wide creek like the Tionesta or Oil creek. For its medium width and miles of water it keeps cool most of the year round with good canopy, deep pockets and riffles as it meanders through the Allegheny National Forest. Its gradient isn’t excessive, just gradual which offers lots of flat slow pools. The creek holds rainbows, brook trout, browns all stocked by the state or the local fishing club. There are areas I’ve caught wild brookies as well as palominos and tiger trout.
I decide to fish streamers, slowly, as I wade and fish downstream. Streamers I always find are a good bet when the water isn’t chilled like during the winter and early spring months. I tie on a triple threat and easily roll cast the 7’6” Powell rod with 5X tippet out into the sky dark waters. I try to locate my streamer as I strip it in slowly but the overcast morning sheds no light into the somewhat tinted water. I move downstream slowly as to not raise the silt below my feet. Casting near branchy blow-downs and shaded banks produce no strikes. I make the bend, out of the shadows, and a little more light lightens the dull morning like a 40watt bulb in a big cement gray walled garage. I could see figures of rocks and branches upon the bottom of the creek in the shallower sections but still no followers of my streamers.
As I approach the bridge rain starts to fall in sprinkling drops. Circular spirals expand upon the slow flowing current. Looking ahead I find a palomino, than another. The closest one is suspended in the middle of the creek in a deep pool. The other is braving the swifter current at the backend of this deeper section just ahead of where the water tumbles over the wide stretch of lined boulders and rocks.
I begin to tease the closest palomino with streamers and sucker spawn. He takes a liking, at least a closer look, at my white woolly bugger and yellow sucker spawn but evidently not liking them enough for a taste. I end up catching an 8” rainbow as the sprinkling of rain turns into a lazy shower. Fear for my camera and getting drenched, I head for the van for my raincoat.
Back under the bridge I find the palomino has no breakfast appetite. I catch a beautiful male brook trout so now my attention now turns to catching a brown trout for the trifecta.
Fishing, while wading downstream, for the next three hours I catch a few more brook trout under the gloomy sky. The bright colorful autumn leaves don’t brighten my attitude as rain showers come and go. It’s the solitude and a tight line now and then that keeps me enjoying myself.
I tread the mucky trail back to the hard top. I see my van down the road but with the sun finally peaking through I cross the road and head upstream for another chance at a brown.
The sun shines a little brighter and penetrates the water. A couple of feet of depth are now visible. I watch the dark figures of trout following my white bugger. One grabs it but I find I can’t hook him. I tie on a smaller bugger and catch 2 out of the three eager brook trout. Downstream I have four trout follow the erratic action I put on the bugger. Two more brook trout come to hand.
A light sprinkle, from above, dots the slow moving water. Wet leaves glisten under the sharp rays of sun. I hear a splash within 25 yards and look up. A deer stops just behind a bank-side bush, in the water, and listens intently. I reel in my bugger so it doesn’t hang up on the bottom and watch the doe. It looks my way but I’m downwind from her and she doesn’t show much concern. Slowly she walks across the creek, sipping water occasionally, as she heads towards the opposite bank.
A few yards beyond where the deer crossed the water deepens. I cast out towards the far bank and slowly strip in, waiting for my bugger to come into view. Downstream it appears and I see a figure of a fish following with interest. I let the bugger fall before it gets too close to me. The fish loses interest and disappears. I bring the bugger in and overhand cast out again down and across. I let it swing just a bit than strip in with smooth pulls. Just as I go to grab more line for the next strip pull, a fish darts from nowhere and grabs the bugger as it falls. A wicked backswing of my rod, on the slack line, and the hook point finds something to pierce. The longer length fish fights beneath with tugs and pulls. I bring him closer and net the brown trout. The trifecta is now complete. What about adding a palomino? Could I get a grand slam?
Down near the bridge I take care and move slowly. The trout thus far have been taking the bugger lightly so I feel sight fishing for the palomino would be better. Besides that it will give me visibility of my drift. I inspect the white bugger and flip it towards the far bank. Beneath the surface it catches the current and swings towards the palomino. I keep the bugger swinging in front of the fish not wanting to bump him or line him. He follows the second drift through, briefly, but shows little interest otherwise. I’m afraid to use the sparkle sucker spawn for fear it will be too flashy under the now bright sun. I pick through my few fly boxes looking for my own mealworm pattern. Not finding one I resort to my Albino Stonefly. A pattern I’m sure the fish hasn’t seen and might be just buggy enough to cause curiosity. 1-2-3 drifts through and the Palomino only hesitates once from its suspended hold just a foot or so from the surface. On the fourth drift, with the stonefly leading the way, the Palomino swims over for a closer inspection. The stonefly is now out of my visibility range so I watch the floating fly line for any hesitation. In the background I see the Palomino turn with haste, my fly line pulls and I quickly set the hook! The Palomino splashes briefly towards the surface as my fly line tightens for a good set. He turns downstream and I give him line through my tensioned fingers. Into the reel I let him take line out of the spool as he heads deep to the end of the pool towards the far bank. I can feel his head shakes as I start taking in line forcing him towards me. He darts to my side of the pool and I take in more line as he fights the bent upper section of the 4weight rod. I get the Palomino into the net and my PA trout grand slam’s complete. Wow! I find the Palomino took the nymph deep so I snip the tippet and put the fish back into the water. He sits near bottom until I move my boot towards him. He darts away with renewed energy. I watch as he swims to the backend of the deep pool, near the far bank.
I fish for another 20 minutes for another rainbow but no more takers this time. Another shower of rain starts to fall as the bright sunlight fades behind the dark gray moving clouds. My belly growls with emptiness and my dry mouth begs for fluid. I reel in and head for the van as raindrops tap upon my hooded raincoat.
Back at the van I change into jeans and a Steelers shirt while quenching my thirst with a bottle of Straub’s. I’m tempted to light up the Punch rare Corojo Rothchild cigar but I feel it would be better as an after dinner smoke. I head for the Kelly Hotel for wings, cold brewskies and watch the second half of the Steelers game.
With my belly full, a Steelers victory and my thirst well quenched it’s time to head for home. I light up the rare Corojo Rothchild for this rarest occasion. Smoke concentrates above the dashboard until I crack the drivers’ side window and wing. Down route 66 I veer off towards Cooks Forest, not wanting to get back to reality too soon. The ash of the cigar grows as the fine cigar burns evenly.
Sometimes the rarest of things occur when I least expect it
I try to savor these moments as long as possible!