Day After the Bear Hunt
Bear hunting went unsuccessful Saturday. After dinner at the Kelly Hotel and a few beers, while I watched the Penguins game, it was time to find a place to bed down. I headed towards the Clarion River and found a place to park the van along Millstone Creek. I started to nod off before the third period of the hockey game was over. I turned off the radio and covered my head with the sleeping bag, tomorrow's another day.
It was just getting daylight when I opened the side door of the van. The sound of
water rushing over boulders upstream, sounding like a waterfalls, made the morning more pleasant. The November mountain air was crisp and looking down upon the creek water I got the urge! I was as excited as a bunch of Fraternity boys going to watch a college sorority wet ‘T‘ shirt contest.
Let’s face it; I was already in the Allegheny National Forest so I figured I might as well take advantage before heading home! It should put a little more excitement in the weekend.
I put the heating rod in my tin cup to heat water as I got dressed while the van warmed up. I found a package of Pop Tarts in my picnic basket which was my breakfast. Once the water got hot, in the tin cup, I took out the rod, unplugged it from the cigar lighter and plopped in a tea bag. I let it steep a bit as I drove to the small forest creek I planned on fishing.
In the parking area I started to put on my fishing attire. The forecasters called for rain, and though it looked to be a possibility, I just dressed warmer and decided against a rain coat. Looking up, the white moody clouds moved in unison beneath the blue sky above.
The hemlocks stood tall with no sign of a breeze in the air. Their long branches bowed downward and curved out from the trunk. When I heard the first early bird chirp I considered that as a good omen. I was thinking about assembling my 7' 4 piece Hardy rod but the Powell 7’6" rod was already to go as it hung above the window. I took it down, grabbed a few cigars and headed towards the creek.
I decided to work my way from the van downstream. Hemlocks and laurel made for tight quarters. There was a continuous outcropping of rocks and boulders along the creek so I was cautious with every step.
After my third cigar I was pretty far down creek without getting a fish to hand. It was a peaceful morning so I wasn’t disappointed too much but it would have felt better landing at least one. By now the sun appeared around the white clouds now and than brightening the surface water. On occasion a slight cool breeze would whisper through the hemlocks and blended in nicely with the sound of the falling waters. I walked the trail back up creek enjoying the scenery and calmness of the forest.
Back at the van I decided to work my way up creek. Earlier I had a few trout interested in my streamers, even though I couldn’t hook up with many, so I decided to tie on a streamer and hope for the best.
Up creek you would have thought I was on a completely different stream. The small native brook trout were relentless in attacking my streamers. I had a hard time keeping them on the #10 hooks as more often than not they’d find a way to wiggle free. I looked in my streamer box for one with a smaller hook but couldn’t find any in the color I wanted. Occasionaly though I did manage to bring one to hand.
I usually fish for the small wild brook trout with dry flies. This outing I was more interested in hooking up to the bigger holdover stocked trout, so I wasn’t too concerned in catching these small wild trout.
My first bigger trout came when I was drifting the streamer along a cut bank. I was actually stooped down on the bank high sticking the streamer just out from the ledge of the bank. A dark figure of a fish came out from under the bank and grabbed the slow moving streamer. I lifted the rod and set the hook. He darted under the bank beneath twigs and overhung grass. The rod tip pulled downward wanting to make a ‘U’ in the rod shaft.
I kept the rod tip out as far I possible could with one hand trying to coax the fish back out. He’d dart out now and than tussling with the line and rod before swimming back beneath the bank. I finally got him tired out and managed to get him to land. When I held him I noticed something peculiar about the brown trout but it didn’t register until I got home and the picture of it up on my computer. (It turned out looking more like a tiger trout, with its longer wormlike pattern sides, than a brown trout.)
I continued fishing up creek and hooked into a good fighting brown trout that was holding under a bunch of leafy stick debris against a bank-side boulder. He fought within the rolling current until he tired and I was able to bring him to the bank. He too was long and slender but healthy no doubt.
Hours flew by and I got to an upper part of the creek that I didn’t care to go any further. I had fun on my journey up and now it was time to head back down creek. I decided to add a little weight to the leader so as to get my streamer deeper within the deeper pockets of water. The wild trout continued to strike at the big streamer and again only a few I was able to keep on the hook.
I came to an open section clear of laurel and hemlock branches. I tossed the streamer near the far bank and let it swing into the middle of the creek. I waited a bit for my weight to get the streamer down deeper and than I began to strip the pattern with long, slow smooth strokes. I felt the grab and instantly pulled line to set the hook. The weighty fish on the other end told me this wasn’t another small brookie. The fish thwarted back and forth beneath the current using it to his advantage. I moved to my right, nearer the bank, and kinda tugged him out from under the faster current. He followed and now swam reluctantly towards me along the bank line. I reached down and grabbed him. To my surprise it was a rainbow and a healthy looking one at that! Pretty cool, I now caught a rainbow to add to the brown trout and brook trout. (Remember, I still didn’t realize I caught a tiger trout until I got home.)
Well I was in real good spirits by now and decided to make my way down creek a little faster and only fish deeper sections. Every now and than I’d hook up with one of those small wild trout but couldn’t manage any bigger trout.
Back at the van I was well pleased with the outing. I changed over to my street clothes and hung the 4wt above the window. I took the time to quench my thirst with an amber brew and straightened the back of the van up before leaving. There was one more thing on my mind before I got into the drivers seat. The past week I was fishing with Dan and he handed me a Macanudo cigar in a white tube. I was saving it for a special occasion and I felt this was just the occasion for this fine smoke. After I downed the last of the beer, and before pulling onto the hardtop, I lit the Hampton Court. It was a smooth light tasting smoke with a good even burn. An enjoyable smoke for the drive home, I must say!