Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Mailman Delivers

The Mailman Delivers
  We distanced the two vehicles a few miles apart. This would make for a good day of steelhead hunting without backtracking. The morning air was cold, biting, stinging, eye freezing cold. I don’t even remember hearing any birds singing to bring in the morning. The weathermen said it was to get to the mid 30’s but for now I think it was near 30 without a degree over. I took Chap Stick and coated the guides and eyes of the fly rod. Next I pulled out a long section of fly line and also smeared some on it. It is the fly line that carries water to the eyes so without coating the fly line there is a better chance the eyes will freeze up sooner. One of the most miserable things to happen during freezing weather is having water freeze on the fly line and around the guides. I rubbed some chap stick on my lips and put down the ear flaps of my Marmot Yukon hat. With heat pads in my pockets to warm my hands during the outing I was ready to go. Deetz (the Mailman) was bundled up also under his chest waders. He put together his noodle rod and exclaimed he had to switch over to 6# mono today because braded line freezes up quick. He uses his home made egg sacks for bait. A few eggs wrapped in a small meshed bag and tied shut. He attaches this to a small hook that’s knotted to the mono. He said he can catch a few fish on this set up before it get’s tore up enough not to use.
  The miles of water we were about to cover I had never fished before. Deetz had but we learned in previous seasons the creeks change paths from year to year.

  When we got down to the water we saw a good amount of fish right off as we looked over the high bank. Steelhead were scattered about with most nearer to the knoll side we stood over. There were a couple of guys fishing up creek but no one was after the many fish below us. The water looked clear enough that they should have been spotted from the far bank but maybe only with a good pair of polarized glasses. It didn’t take us long to get to the far bank, after crossing down creek in shallower water, to wet our lines.
  It wasn’t an easy place to get a lengthy line out with tree branches and brush that lined the creek bank. We took turns casting out towards the steel. The one watching got to keep their hands in their pockets to keep warmer. I went first but after deciding to attach an indicator I got out of the water and gave Deetz a try.

With a smooth quick backhand wrist cast the noodle rod tip flexed outward and the weight of the oblong stick float carried the egg sack and line, out into the cold clear water. We watched as the float drifted with the flow into the run of steel. We watched as a steelhead, from beneath, rose and sucked in the egg sack. Deetz set the hook with a backhand pull and the battle was on. I watched as he wrestled with the steelhead like a pro bass fishermen playing a largemouth out of a weed bed. He moved the rod side to side keeping the steelhead from resting and trying to force the fish in the opposite direction it wanted to go. At his feet the steelhead came unhooked and he was happy he didn’t have to get his hands wet to release the hook.

Drifting my Triple Threat under an indicator hooked a couple of fish momentarily but they seemed to find a way to get off some how before I got much of a fight out of them. Deetz, on the other hand, hooked about a half dozen in that run alone and landed about 4. After that we meandered down stream for the next few miles.
  We found fish here and there and gave them all a look see of what we had to offer. The air was bitter cold so we didn’t change offerings very often. Below a deep pool, in a wide section of riffling water, we took up positions across from each other to cover the area more thoroughly. Deetz cast up creek and let the float guide the egg sack down stream. We watched as the float stopped for an instant and began to sink before he raised the rod for the hook set. The steelhead pulled towards me and headed up creek under the choppy water. By the bend in Deetz noodle rod, he had a monster on his line. The fish stayed deep most of the time like a brown trout testing the 6# test and ability. Deetz played the fish like a pro, not letting the fish rest, arcing the rod towards him at all times. When the fish turned down creek it raised towards the surface and we could see its dark rainbow colors of the male steelhead. Deetz got it turned around again and coming towards him as the fish’s stamina was wearing thin. After splashing about a few times he finally got the good sized steel close enough to the shallower rocks where he could get a hold of the heavy male.

 After that we continued on our journey down creek fishing at oblong shapes and at times deeper hopeful pools. Deetz would connect and land a few more on his egg sacks. I, on occasion, would get one to bite but they just seemed to some how find a way to escape free. The walk and scenery was enjoyable even in the cold conditions.
  When we near where my van was parked, around 1:30pm, Deetz said he had to go. We exited the creek and headed up to the van. I drove us back to his vehicle. After bidding each other fair-well I was anxious to get back to the steelhead we fished over in the morning.
Every Once in Awhile

I looked over the ledge and the abundance of steelhead were still where we left them, strung out along the long stretch of water nearer the cliff. After I crossed over, down stream, I headed up towards the fish. I found a ledge, shin deep, up from where we stood earlier that gave me more casting room and a better drift down creek. I knotted on an extra length of 4X tippet and lit up a Gurkha Regent Connecticut. The first draw had a deep smooth flavor. During the burn it kept that smooth medium to robust flavor and was a well tasteful smoke. I hadn’t landed anything so far but wasn’t going to give up just yet. I knotted on a triple threat under an indicator, cast out towards the far bank, and let it drift through time and time again.
Every once in a while….

  The indicator sunk fast and I lifted the rod quickly and bit down on the stogie a little tighter. All hell broke loose as the chrome steelhead rose to the surface and shook the triple threat, attached to its jaw, trying to shake it loose or break it off.
  There wasn’t much I could do, as she head-shook on the surface, but hold on tight and try to keep the rod tip up. After her splashing escapades she finally went under and we started the tug and pull battle. I’d tug her my way and than she’d pull, with all her strength, away arcing the rod more deeply until line pulled off the reel spool. She fought with heavy surges and I kept my cool and let her exert her energy until she began to slow down. I adjusted the drag a bit tighter and got her nearer to me into the shallower water. Within a few feet she twisted her body and swiped her wide tail propelling water in an attempt to get away. The rod arced deeper towards her until her head turned towards me again. With my hand net frozen I got her to the bank to unhook her and release her.

There were pauses in the hookups. I’d try a different pattern or streamer but always went back to my Ghost pattern Triple Threat. After one cigar burnt out I’d light another, maybe a Bahia Connecticut or a Maduro. This would pass the time as I cast about and let the Triple drift under the indicator.

But every once in a while...
 The indicator stopped in the slower shallower tail out. I twitched the line upward and felt a little movement on the other end. Maybe a light pinch in the lip doesn’t feel so hurtful in the cold water. With a hook setting tug, that moved the object, the battle began with a rise to the surface that erupted in an uncontrollable fit of rage. I stood watching her body flex in a horizontal position throwing her head to and fro, water splashing about. The steel went under and swam upstream with weighty force. The line bounced through the guides after it left the spool spinning. With the butt in my gut I let the steel run just keeping enough tension on the line for the rod to flex near the middle. I wasn’t in any hurry to get her in and it was evident she wasn’t in any hurry to give up just yet. It took a little longer to get her to realize her battling was useless. I got her turned around and eventually got her to hand.

 As time went on I got a couple more hook ups that resulted in good battling brawls. These last few hook ups were the result of only dropping the Triple Threat only a foot below the indicator. As the light started to fade I didn’t want to give up. It was easy to see the yellow topped indicator on the dusky water surface so I continued on.
  On the last hook up the fish took the Triple while moving upstream. The indicator changed direction in which the fish was moving without completely going under. Once I reared back the rod and set the hook the fish turned towards me with underwater yanks and jerks. With power it spun upstream again towards the faster current. I waded up towards it to get pressure from the side. Another underwater flourish erupted in the faster current before he tired out and turned towards me. As he closed in he began to barrel roll in a ferocious manner. After he tired I swung the rod over the bank and swung around behind him. I got him on the bank just as the tippet broke. After the flash went off, I unhooked the mangled Triple and guided him into the water where he swam away freely.
 It was too dark looking through my bi-focal polarized shades to tie another fly on. I packed my gear into my sling pack and headed for the van.

  I knew a hot meal would be waiting for me at my sister’s house only a half hour or so away. A hot shower would feel good also!!

‘Tomorrow's another day’ I thought as I lit up a Cohiba Pequenos.




Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Short Story (Steelhead fishing)

Short Story

 It was the typical December weather for steelhead fishing in Erie. After the 2 hour drive, to keep warm as long as possible, I dressed into my heavy clothes and waders inside my van. I even attached and strung up my 9’ fly rod and reel before braving the cold. I opened the side doors and was met with a breath of fresh, crisp, cold air. A layer of snow covers the ground. I stepped out and immediately felt the December chill swipe across my outer wear. I put on my heavy coat and slung the sling pack over my shoulder. I put on my Marmot Yukon Hat and dropped the ear flaps. The wind blew across the field as if old man winter had a grudge on us who attempted to fish on this wintry day. His gusts howled through the bare branched tree tops louder than Santa’s HO-HO-HO’s.
I fitted my wool fingered mittens on my hands, grabbed my fly rod, tilted my head against the wind and headed to the trail. I was excited as a kid though, there wasn’t a car in sight and I figured I had the creek to myself. It was already about 1:30pm but I should have enough time to enjoy the rest of the day.
Crusted snow crackled under my spiked wading boots as I walked down the hill along the trail. The snow covered forest gave no hint of human inhabitants except for the snow covered picnic table that stood aside the hill. It was if it was placed there for Santa to take a break from his long journey around the world, this coming Christmas, away from the bitter wind. Where his reindeer can forage for acorns and sip water from the cold running creek. It wasn’t long before I heard the sound of tumbling moving water through the bare forest.

The water ran with a tint of green, just enough to maybe see a holding silhouette of a darker steelhead or two. Last time I fished here the water was quite low and the steelhead were huddled in pods in deeper pools. With the more abundance of water they should be strung out along runs and even up against ledges in shallower areas. As I crossed the current, heading downstream, I came across fresh boot tracks. Around the first bend I met my first two fisher people. A woman was casting a fly rod while her mate stood watching with a net on the ready. We exchanged greetings and they had said she had caught one upstream a while ago. I let them be and continued on searching for my first steelhead.
I came to a fast wavy run where a couple of steel were visible but the current was too strong to get a good drift. I came upon a long stretch so I decided to cast a streamer across and let it drift with the current under an indicator. There are times, for steelhead in particular, I find a streamer indicator set up works better than not. I can adjust the depth of my weighted streamer more easily in the slower currents.

 The indicator dropped suddenly with a pull away towards the opposite bank. A quick lift and I had my fist fish on. It was an erratic energetic jack on the end of the line. It took a while to tire, even in the colder water, but the fight was one that got me ready for bigger steel to come.

  When I got to the stretch of water I wanted to be, there wasn’t anyone around. Looking through my polarized glasses I could see a couple dark pods of two or three fish and a few strung out along the run. Except for the one jack, I had caught earlier; I hadn’t a hit for the past half hour. I was hoping these fish would cooperate.

 With a long cast outward my indicator landed and I made a quick mend upstream. The indicator caught the current seam and gently flowed with it. When the indicator dipped downward I gave a quick heavy heave of the rod tip, which arced under pressure. The hooked fish rose an instant and I seen its silvery side before it turned deep. I gave it line and it wasn’t long before she rose again and started to head slashing, water splashing fight trying to loosen the hook. I kept the rod up keeping the line out of the water as she splashed about. Her wide girth forced waves of water about as she fought along the surface. Tired of this she took to a forceful swim with less slashing or head shakes. I kept a good hold on the cork grip with the butt into my stomach holding on with both hands and letting the drag play its part. I forgot all about the blowing December chilled air. I forgot about my red cold hands or cold feet. I was having fun.

  I backed up onto the bank as I drew her closer. I knew once she got to the shallower water she’d take at least one last outward surge and I was prepared. She turned away with force and I palmed the spool to let only enough line out to not overpower the rod or 4X tippet. She turned back towards me and I got her to the bank.

 After the release it was a good time for my first cigar. I pulled out a Gurkha Regent Connecticut. The thicker outer wrapper held the inner tobacco firmly within. I took a quick whiff of the cigar before lighting it up and it smelled like a robust smoke. After lighting it up, and with the first draw, I found it to be a medium smooth smoke and a good call for the next hour of fishing.
  It took a little time but I hooked one momentarily and had another come off at my boots which was ok because I didn’t have to get my hands wet. I would take turns casting with one hand while the other I would keep in my pocket caressing the hot pad I kept inside. I worked the seam pretty good before going down creek a bit further. It didn’t take long before I returned and started changing patterns despite the coldness on my fingers when tying another on. Soon I would get another good hook set and another battle ensued. Another came to hand with a much meaner look.
 After hooking another I started up creek as the light began to fade a little more and the air got a bit colder. At the section of water where the woman was I cast a few times without any results. I hooked the hook into the keeper and headed up towards the van.
  The wind died down some as the evening approached. After changing out of my fishing clothes I took a swig of soda to quench my thirst. It was near 5:30 pm by now and my stomach was over being starved to death and just accepted the fact that my brain was in charge of when we could eat.

  After the van warmed up some and I felt comfortable I sat there in thought. My sister lives on the East side of Erie and I was going to take advantage of her asking me to stop by, eat and she welcomes me to stay the night. With a short drive from where I was at I had one more thing I had to do. I reached down into my traveling humidor and pulled out an Arturo Short Story Cameroon. There’s nothing like a bold tasting Cameroon wrapped cigar. The Fuente 4 1/2" 49 gauge cigar was superb. The darker shade wrapper held the tightly packed tobacco nicely. Each draw was smooth with great flavor of the inner tobacco. A quality short cigar for the short quality time I spent out just seemed to be the right smoke to end this short steelhead fishing story.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Better Sunday

2 Days on Oil
Better Sunday (Part 2)

 I woke up in a parking lot somewhere in Marienville. On my drive back to Oil Creek I stopped for a quick breakfast sandwich and cappuccino. There were only 4 vehicles in the lot when I arrived and I suspected at least one was morning walkers and not fishermen. Two guys were getting their gear on to fish as I parked away from the other vehicles.
The Easter sun was already shining brightly but there was still an April chill in the air. The weather so far was calm so I broke out my Scott G2 5wt and new Cortland weight forward Trout Boss line. “If the hatch was anything like the day before I should have another good dry fly day” I figured.

  I started nymph fishing my way, toward a slower pool, in the wide stretch of riffles. The whole while I kept glancing around looking for a first riser. The sun was the only thing rising though and taking its good old time warming things up. As I reached the slower deeper section I changed nymphs often trying to hook my first trout. After about a half hour the sun bled through the bare tree branches and I was able to feel the warmth through my layer of clothes.
  A few midges started to fly about but there weren’t any risers. I tried a few buggers in the deeper section of the creek but still couldn’t score my first fish. Up creek the two fellows that I seen earlier in the parking lot where now beginning to fish the riffles where I started at and were having the same results.
  As the sun started warming the outside temperature a few Grannoms started to fly about. The first rise was down and across creek within a good long cast. I switched to a dry Grannom imitation and proceeded to present it to this early riser. My second cast got my imitation within his feeding zone and he grabbed it like the only cream filled donut in a box of Duncan’s. With a long pull of my fly line the hook set into his lip and a good spring tussle was on. Clearing the shallow water, he was feeding in, he swam mid stream and dove deep. The 9 foot G2 arced out and applied upward pressure. He darted up creek before turning towards me. The trout surfaced with tail splashes before I dropped the rod tip to let him swim below the surface towards me. When he came closer to my waders I reached down and scooped him up.

 As time went on more Grannoms appeared but not in bunches as the day before. There were only a couple of risers within range but they were rising from the deeper water as if taking emergers. I tried drifting the dry but to no avail. I looked up creek and the one fellow furthest from me was playing a trout. I heard him say that trout were popping against the far bank and he had caught this one on a Picket Pin. From the distance I could see a few splashes from rising trout along the slower water against the far bank.
  Every once in a while I’d look their way and it appeared they were still nymph or wet fly fishing the rippling water. I knew if I could get my chance I could get those trout to rise. I couldn’t take it any more.
I waded to the bank and onto the path. They were about a good 35 yards apart. The guy at the head of the riffles was casting up creek towards the bank and drifting a wet/nymph below an indicator. He didn’t let the indicator get too far down stream before flipping back up again. The fellow down from him was still wading mid creek, in the riffles, maybe casting a dry fly towards the seldom risers. I thought there was plenty of room to wade between them without interfering.
“Mind if I fish between you two guys?” I asked aloud.
The guy upstream glanced my way but gave no intention of his thoughts. The guy downstream turned towards me.
“A little too close” he replied
‘Sure enough’ I thought.
  I returned to the deeper section to wait them out. I had no place to go on this Easter Sunday, no dinner engagements or people to see. I fished my way down to the wide slower tail out of the deeper section of creek. There were a few sippers across creek but they wanted no part of my imitations in the slow clear moving water. After a while I went up to the deeper pool and bided my time. It wasn’t too long before the guy, nearest to me, extended his wading staff and headed towards shore. The other fellow also waded towards shore.
“You guys leaving?” I called upstream
“Gotta find somewhere to piss” the nearer fellow said.
“Mind if I fish there until you get back?” I persisted on
“Go ahead” he replied.
He headed down the path towards the far bushes as I waded up creek to take his vacant spot. The other fellow sat on the bank retying leader and tippet on.
  I posted up only 1/3 of the way from the shoreline. I methodically made each cast a little further out towards the far bank. When I seen the first rise within my range, I back-cast and let the G2 lay a long loop out towards the riser. The fly landed softly on the slower current and within a short, drag free drift, the trout rose to my Caddis dry pattern. With a quick backward lift of the outstretched line, the line tensioned with a surface splash near the far bank. The guy up creek wasn’t even in the water yet. By the time he made his way and started to nymph fish again I already made two other fish rise to my Grannom imitation. I looked down creek and seen that the other fellow must have noticed the few sippers in the slower tail out and proceeded to wade in after them. For the next hour or so I had landed 9 trout to the nymph fisherman’s 3. We both lost a couple by the time the other fellow returned. By now enough time passed I had no intentions to give up my spot and was waiting to tell him, if he entered to fish between us, there wasn’t enough room!
Instead he sat on the bank and watched us for a while. Within 15 minutes they agreed to head down to the slow water and see if they can do better there. Now I had the whole bank-side risers to myself and took full advantage of it with long casts which ended in tight lines of the many rising trout along the bank. After another hour the risers quit and I left the sore lipped trout and headed down creek under the warm sunshine.

 Below the shallows I worked the bank as Bings and I did the day before. Though I seen no risers, my high-vis black Caddis got a few to rise occasionally.
 There was a brushy short limbed tree that extended from the bank that a fisherman, the day before, said he caught and lost a big trout. I took my time, and kept my distance, as I worked my way towards the tree. Just before the tree I lifted and brought in a small rainbow on the dry. Underneath the tree I laid the dry fly nicely upon the water and let it drift into the slower eddy without a stir. A few yards, down creek from the tree, the water slowed into a lazy pool that stretched along the bank. I added a bit more 6x tippet to my leader and knotted on a black bodied King River Caddis. Casting into the lazy water I let the dry drift slowly as I patiently waited. I seen the flash of a rise beneath and when the water swirled around my Caddis I lifted for the hook set. The line tightened, the rod arced with a good bend and I knew I had him. The shallow surface water rippled behind the escaping hooked trout after he swung around and headed down stream. I let tensioned line slip through my fingers as it exited the spinning spool. I kept the rod up at an angle with a firm grip around the cork handle. When the heavy trout realized his fleeing attempt was only putting more stress on his fruitless escape, he turned and swam up creek towards me. Across creek he fought beneath with tugging pulls, head shakes with an occasional surface splash. The medium action G2 flexed into the middle now and than but always returned with the fish still battling on the other end. Getting him nearer to me I was able to get a good visual of this big boy. Near my waders his antics weren’t over with, as he again tried a fleeing escape…to no avail. In my grasp I felt his solid body. As I reached for my camera he creamed my hand and net, (they do this sometimes). I wasn’t sure if he was happy to see me or so excited he was going to get his picture taken!! After releasing him I washed off and lit up a good cigar and began casting into the main body of water.

 With that big catch of the day I than decided to wade upstream and maybe pick a few off where I started, before calling it a day. My plan changed rather quickly.
  I found myself in the middle of the creek looking across towards the far side. Just down creek from a half submerged uproot a scraggly tree branch rose just above the water surface. Behind this the water eased into the shadows of a tall overhanging tree. I spotted a lone trout sipping at will in the slower shadowed water. Before I ever got to deliver my first cast two more trout started to feed up closer towards the uproot. I kept my distance under the sunshine and clear water conditions. Can I get all three?
While puffing on the stogie I contemplated my execution not wanting to scare any of the others once I caught the first one. I switched my dry fly to a camel color brown Elk Hair Caddis. I positioned myself directly across current from the trout nearest to me that was feeding in a riffle just this side of the singular looping branch above the water. With a lackluster second cast the breeze caught my fly and it landed just down from the brushy snag. The fly line fell to the water and the current moved everything down stream without any visible drag. The fly rippled within the riffling seam and the trout cleared water to take the Caddis before it swept passed him. I anticipated the take but just not so aggressive. I set the hook; I was sure, in mid air. The small rainbow fought best he could but was no match for the 5 weight rod pressure as I kept him coming towards me, away from the two others.
  I was now up creek a bit from the trout that was feeding in the lazy water within the shadow of the big tree. A good straight line I felt was the best approach. I was sure the dry wouldn’t drift too far before the current between us carried my fly line downstream but I felt too much slack line might not be good in this situation. If the trout takes the fly easily it would be a lot of slack fly line to get off the water quickly for a good hook set as compared to if he took it with an aggressive thrust. The way he was sipping I figured he’d take it nonchalantly. With a direct straight line cast there would be less line lying on the water with the shortest distance between the two points. My hopes were that he would take the dry before the line pulled with the current and creating drag on the dry.
  A sharp direct cast put my imitation about a foot up from his last rise within the shadows. I held the rod tip high keeping as much line off the water as possible while keeping the line tensioned in my left hand. I watched as my Caddis drifted slowly while my fly line started to move a bit faster in the current. The trout took my fly like sipping hot tea. I strip set the hook as I lifted the rod up higher. The fish splashed on the surface as I quickly moved the rod downstream to keep him from swimming up to the last riser. I got him swimming down creek as I intended and got him to hand without too much trouble.
  The last feeder was dimpling just behind the snag in a soft flow of water. If one wasn’t accustomed to such a rise they would pass it off and not think anything of it. There was just enough room under the looping branch that was between him and me to get my dry in his vicinity. I would have to get my dry upstream from the fly line and leader in order to get a good drag free drift. I moved down creek a bit and side armed a cast towards the branch. The fly landed just shy but I now had a good idea the length of line needed to get within his range. My next cast put my leader overtop of the limb. I let it settle than quickly raised my rod and the fly looped over the limb freely. With more room between the end of the branch tip and the water I decided to try an overhand cast with a tighter loop. With a little more speed I did my best to get the tighter loop to clear beneath the branch and still get my fly into his feeding zone. It took a few casts but I finally got the Caddis were it needed to be for him to see it and make a decision. He took it like it was just another food item on the buffet table. With a good hook set from behind I was able to keep him from the snag and got him under control in no time at all.
..The End…


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Took the Long Way Home

Took the Long Way Home

I was on my way to a new creek I always wanted to fish but never found myself near enough to give it a go. After leaving the guys in Cameron County, where they were going to return to camp, I was heading home…eventually. Skip and Brian told me where I could go to fish a project area on my way home. I checked out the distance and though it was the longer way home I had a few hours before dark so I decided to give it a try since I was up this way. After finding my way to the stream, I parked, got my fly fishing gear together and it went something like this.

  The long pool was water clear and glass smooth other than a few loose leaves. Most of what I could see it wasn’t more than a few feet deep. It was wide enough to cast to the other side without too much effort if there were less brush along the bank. I didn’t want to wade the middle of the creek solely because of the clarity of the water.
  As I continued to walk up the trail and looked over the bank I could see a couple of trout loitering about along the edge of the slow current pool. I moved up stream before I entered the water. I was dry fly fishing earlier with the camp guys and had on a section of 6X tippet. Seeing no surface activity I decided to use a trusty Olive Bugger. It didn’t take long for a few bumps at the bugger, without hookups, that told me they were interested. I trimmed the tail shorter but still enough for good tail movement. A couple of casts later a rainbow came to hand…and another…and another. The fourth strike was so forceful it snapped my 6x tippet. I knew better but was too lazy to change it right off.

 I clipped off the knot and tied on a long section of 5X. I took the time to light up a Sinclair Bohemian Brazilian Maduro. The darker outer leaf was a bit on the oily side which, I believed, caused a lot of the smoke. The draw was clean with a robust flavor. I settled it between my teeth and went back to fishing. I tried a couple different color buggers and a few different kinds of streamers just to see if they were interested in something else. They didn’t seem to stir any aggressive strikes so I went back to the Olive Bugger.
 Along the bank I tried to keep my presence unnoticed as much as possible. My olive Bonehead shirt and tan vest camouflaged me against the green and autumn leaf background. I waded slowly as to cause as little surface ripple as possible. The trout were active at first taking the bugger but after all the battling commotion the others were more cautious.
  I had to work the bugger with a little more finesse without stripping in too fast. There was hardly much of an undercurrent so with the weighted bugger and shallow depth, I had to keep the bugger from dragging the bottom.
As time went on I continued to enjoy a cigar and continued coaxing trout now and than to take the bugger. As the evening approached the sun settled behind the mountains and cast a shadow upon the slow moving water. The air turned cooler and light was slowly fading.
 “One more cast” I thought but after not catching anything I decided one more fish. With a long backcast I whipped the bugger downstream and it plopped into the water followed by the leader and line. A long strip, two short and another semi-long strip produced a swiping take as I watched my fly line sweep to my left in an instant. I pulled on the line quickly and set the hook. It wasn’t long before I knew this trout wasn’t the 10" to 12” bucket stockies I’ve been catching. It turned away from me and swam midstream. I had to give him line as the 4 weight rod flexed a little deeper into the middle. Line unrolled off my tensioned spool with a long tug. When the trout turned I was prepared to give him more resistance and restrictions. He tugged and fought cross creek before turning back midstream and then headed up creek towards my direction. Within sight he rose to the surface. He tried to release himself with headshakes as his back skimmed the top of the water as he continued upstream. When he was parallel, from where I stood, I seen his length and overall size. He had enough energy for a little squabble as I got him nearer to me. This was one of those fish one always hopes of getting on the last cast of the day. After releasing him I thought “Maybe, just maybe there would be another.”

 With the shadows growing long and the evening chilling I proceeded to cast out and even caught two more eager trout. Both trout not as big as my last but frisky no less.
 Standing a few feet from the bank, in knee high water, I presented my last cast. Pulling the line down on my back cast and letting more line out on my forward cast, I got a couple of good false casts before letting the long length of line loop forward down and across creek. The bugger plopped onto the water with a couple of ‘S’ bends in the leader and fly line. I pulled line towards me till it straightened out as the bugger sank. I let the bugger settle just a bit before a couple of short twitches and longer strips. In between a twitch and a long strip the line tightened momentarily as if I had caught the stony bottom. Without time to think I pulled back on the rod tip with the tension line between my fingers. The hooked item sluggishly came towards me, as if being drug, and then all of a sudden shot down creek near my side of the bank. I held the rod up and moved the tip towards the far bank forcing him towards the middle of the creek. The fish felt heavier than the last but swam without the bulk. He twitched the 4 weight rod tip with impulsive jerks and pulled away with force. I let line slip through my fingers as the drag gradually slowed him down. He turned away twice before I got him coming closer towards me. He rose to the surface angrily and lunged, splashing water about, but was unable to gain any ground. I kept his head upward so my line wouldn’t get caught in his fins. I had a hard time getting him to settle for a picture as he wanted no part of being held. After the flash I released him and he took off like a wild cat.

  Hooking the bugger, in the hook keeper, I called it a night and climbed out of the water.
  Back at the van my stomach growled the whole time I changed clothes. I hadn’t eaten since a 9:00am breakfast back at camp. I stopped at a Food Mart fuel station in Emporium for something to keep my stomach at bay. I had an over 2 hour drive, in darkness, to get home. In Ridgeway I took out an Ashton Churchill James handed me earlier at camp. The pale brown outer wrap and elegant construction told me instantly this will be a pleasing smoke. A little milder than what I prefer but the high end cigar lasted a good hour or so during my long way home.




Friday, November 2, 2012

'Blood Line'

‘Blood Line’

A lot of my stories I mention a Triple Threat streamer. I included a picture of a couple so you have an idea of what they look like. The title of the story ‘Blood Line’ refers to the name and description of the Triple Threat  I used to catch steelhead in the cloudy water conditions. Because of the rainy conditions I didn’t take my camera but the story is as accurate as I can recall… usual.
  I returned to the steelhead creek about 2:00pm in hopes that all other anglers would be gone. The creek, earlier, was clear enough to see shadows of steelhead in the shallower sections but deeper than a foot they weren’t so obvious. There are only a few deeper sections down low with a couple of falls that the steel have to ‘jump’ to make it upstream further. I caught a couple earlier in a fast moving shallow run downstream from one of the falls another angler was fishing. I knew I’d do better if I had one of the deeper sections to myself. I drove to check out another creek but it was running murky and forceful. When I returned to this creek there wasn’t a car parked or a fisherman in sight. It was time to give my self-tied streamers a work out.

 After reaching the spot I wanted to fish I lit up a candela Churchill and zipped up my raincoat. The sound of the water rushing over the flat rock shelves and tumbling over boulders up creek was deafening. A steady wind, from the lake, gust through the tree tops nonstop. Rain fell continuously, sometimes in a drizzle other times in a down pour. My Gortex raingear kept me both dry and windproof. My face and hands felt the chill of the outdoors but I was content and determined to catch some steel.

 Being the water was a French Vanilla Cappuccino color I wanted to show them something that might catch their eye. I knotted on a ‘Blood Line’ Triple Threat and added some weight about a foot or so above. I cast it up into the boiling water that tumbled over a rock ledge the length of the creek, and followed it with the rod tip as it drifted below.

On occasion I’d toss the streamer cross creek and let it swing towards the shallower tail end of the pool. On one such occasion I felt a yank as I was bringing the streamer in for another cast. I tried setting the hook but I already had too much slack. The small steelhead rolled and swam out of sight. I cast out for a few more times before knotting on an ‘Olive Back’ triple threat.
Trying to avoid the drifting tumbling leaves got to be a nuisance but I kept at it. I had one good strike on the ‘Olive Back’ but after a short fight the steel got free. After awhile I changed back to the ‘Blood Line’ and worked it over the pool trying to cover every inch until I found where it seemed some steelhead might be holding.

 The line pulled as I was almost daydreaming puffing on the stogie. The second my fingers and hand felt a difference in the pressure automatically signaled my brain to react. A quick lift of the rod and pull of the line and the tensioned line tugged back with force. With a tightened line I seen her subsurface briefly before she swam into the current towards the deeper water. I angled the flexed rod to a 45 degree and let her take line figuring she wouldn’t try to ‘jump’ the falls. She made a quick U turn away and headed down creek. I lifted the rod as she crossed in front of me and let the rod drop some as she went passed. The fly line followed the swimming steel down creek as she peeled some line off the spool. When she felt more drag pressure she turned away from my side of the creek and swam down further. I had to keep her from getting into the shallower white water below so I lifted the rod upward and gingerly played her. I gave her line only when I thought the tippet couldn’t take any more pressure, I brought in line when she gave me the opportunity too. Even with 4X tapered leader I was in no hurry to strenuously bring her in without tiring her out more. I waded down creek a bit and after applying pressure, from the side, I was able to coax her nearer to me. Within sight, through the cloudy water, she got a glimpse of me and turned away. I let the heavy drag slow her movement and eventually got her to hand. Her wet silvery body gleamed like a custom chromed out Harley!

  It was tedious fishing after that. Casting in between drifting leaves, small branches and even a wooden step with accuracy was no easy task. It was like trying to find a needle in a hay stack blindfolded as the water continued on its mud stained path. I did succeed hooking a couple more on the ‘Blood Line’ Triple Threat though. Most were in the less fast flowing tail out. It wasn’t continuous action by any means but with patience and a stogie to keep from boredom I caught more than what I expected in such conditions.

 My backhand sidearm loop cast put the ‘Blood Line’ up against the far bank. I didn’t have much slack in the line when the triple threat started to drift with the current. It didn’t drift more than a foot when the line hesitated. I gave a quick hook setting yank of the rod and a swirl from across creek became visible where the leader entered the water. I felt a couple of swift tugs before the fish swam towards the middle of the tail out. I angled the rod up creek hoping that he would follow but he didn’t budge. With a little more umph upstream the rod flexed deeper into the middle, he surfaced just enough that I saw his darker body and maroon lateral line. His upper body was thick with the rest still hidden beneath the brownish water. My cold wet hands tightened around the cork grip and I put the butt cap into my gut. I was ready for a wild ride. He shook, twisted and jolted the line as the current flowed into his face. Surface water splashed about and the water around him churned before he submerged deep. I felt every iota of power the steelhead exerted as my arm muscles tensed with the battle.
  From beneath I could feel him trying to obliterate what was hooked into his jaw that kept him on a leash of leader and line. There was no way he was going to be led up creek in the direction my rod was pulling. He spun towards the far bank and bullied his way with line following. He was right back to where we started and it was if he wanted to challenge me from there for our next skirmish. With his dorsal fin just tipping the surface he shook his head with thrusts of bizarre force. Within seconds, of him letting up a bit, I arced my back backwards, the rod flexed deeper as I forced him in my direction. He swam into the middle of the pool, head facing into the current, stopped and I couldn’t budge him any further. Occasionally I felt a little nudge through the line as I kept side pressure on him.
As I held the flexed rod, steadied by the butt in my gut, I felt as if someone was watching us. Maybe I just hoped someone could see the experience of the fight. I turned my head upstream and there was a guy and his son watching my fiasco with this brute. They stood motionless, spinning rods in hand with a bait bucket sitting on the stone shelf. I turned back to my dealings and gave a hard tug. He tugged back and we continued with the show for our new audience. He continued battling me for what seemed to be another 5 minutes with splashing, surface turbulence and quick cornering until I got him to the bank. A good size hole developed in the corner of his mouth from all the jarring but the hook held firm. I have a 30” mark on the rod shaft and he was about an inch shy. His girth and weight was more impressive than his length.

After I released the steelhead the two observers started to fish. It wasn’t long before I connected again. The steelhead came right towards me like a demolition ball in full tilt. I backed up with the rod high, reeling in as fast as I could. The silver swirled just out in front of me and swam away. I chuckled at its bravery.
 I found that some steelhead were holding in the backend of the pool and staging only a foot or so beneath. I couldn’t see them but if I got the right drift, up high, I would get a take. After one better hook up and fight the two disappeared and I was alone again in the rain and howling wind.
 It seemed as if every time I was willing to give up I got another strike. Not that I got a good hook set or got them all to hand but had enough action to keep me awhile longer. After my last stogie died out I called it quits.

In the rent-a-car, on the way home, I really wanted a celebration cigar but had to refrain. It turned out to be a weather miserable day with enough steelhead caught to make the trip rewarding. I do believe if it weren’t for my new ‘Blood Line’ triple threat it may have been just a day in miserable weather to smoke a candela Churchill and a few 55 Victor Sinclair samplers.


Blood Line wet
Olive Back wet

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vintage 'Bow' Hunting

Vintage ‘Bow’ Hunting

 I fit the ferrules together of the Vintage Shakespeare Wonderod 5wt. I attach the Martin Classic MC78 reel to the down locking reel seat. Due to the low water conditions of the mountain stream I’d be fishing I figured on using light weighted Woolly Buggers and Triple Threat streamers. I knot on a good length of 5X tippet to the tapered leader. After dressing warm in the 50+ degree weather, I put on my hip boots, vest and head down to the creek.
Peeking over a flat ledged rock I see a few of the stocked trout from a week or so ago. The creek isn’t a project area and is open to all tackle. I don’t mind fishing for stocked trout after a couple of weeks. I figure by than the fish left behind are more accustomed to danger and are spread out a bit. I also find a hold over or two from the spring stocking or from previous years. During the fall the water is usually low so minimal movement along the creek is a must. Polarized sun glasses are an additional help for possibly seeing the trout before they see me. Sometimes they’ll take a streamer so lightly that I might not even know it so seeing the take increases the caught ratio.
  I take the path up creek and enter the water in a shallow riffle. I take time casting the flexible Fiberglass rod and limp Cortland Sylk fly line. After getting the feel for it I cross the creek and circle around up creek from the trout I spotted earlier. Hunched in a semi-hiding position I cast out the light weighted streamer up creek from the holding trout. It takes a few casts to get the streamer to flow into the pocket they are stationed in and I feel the stoppage of the fly line. Not sure if I got a fish or the rocky bottom, and not wanting to spook the trout with a heavy pull if it is a snag, I wrist backwards softly. Sure enough a fish is on the other end but my pulling action isn’t hard enough to set the hook. I see the silvery oblong shape rise towards the surface with a twist and my hook lets go. A few more casts and nothing.
  I tie on a dark olive Wooly Bugger and am more accurate with my first cast. The bugger falls shy; of the flat ledged rock I stood on earlier, and sinks quickly. It swings into the deeper pocket and I feel a heavy swiping grab of the bugger. I lift the rod for the hook set, the line tensions and the rod tip dips. The trout rises with a head twist and turns deep, down towards the tail out. The wimpy tip flexes sharply but returns quickly to its natural straight-up shaft position. Another miss!!! After a few more casts the rest of the trout must be bored with my dealings and decide they don’t want to take a turn being hooked and quickly released without seeing the perpetrator.
  I slowly wade along the bank-side, down creek, than stand for a moment to enjoy the day’s scenery. The view is a fall stream fisherman’s heaven. Though the water runs low and clear the forest surroundings and autumn foliage makes for a serene environment. From above, cumulus clouds move slowly reflecting the unseen sun in the blue sky background. Below bare trees lean towards the water as their branches twist and reach out in all directions. Fallen leaves lay upon the forest floor as some gather upon the shallowest stream sections. For the lack of color, a few pine trees do give the calm looking forest a little more diversity. I take out a Don Tomas Candela Churchill and light it up as I look down creek at the endless flow of water.

 Onward I slowly wade and fish my way downstream. Due to the low water conditions I find my weighted buggers are too heavy and catch bottom often. I tie on a small conehead streamer and proceed. At times I need to keep the rod tip up to keep the streamer from hanging up also. My casts are long with slow retrieval. Just out from a deeper bank-side run I see the flash of a trout and I’m ready for the take. Instantly I strip-set the hook and pull the rod rearward remembering that a softer rod needs a little more oomph for a good hook set. The rainbow dances on the other end in a foot or so of water swaying the rod too and fro. There is nothing like the feel and thrill of a trout fighting a fiberglass fly rod. From the cork handle I can feel each pull, twist and tug instantaneously. The slightest veer of the fish is followed by the rod tip curving towards the action. I swing the rod up creek and the rainbow follows hesitating now and than with quick resisting spurts. The rod in turn flexes downward towards the trout but regains its strength and moves the trout towards me. Finally a rainbow comes to hand.

 Later on in a shallow riffle I see a few trout just hanging out like lazy fellows on a street corner. Their white lipped mouths are evident in the slow moving current. I backhand a cast up and across from them. The streamer catches the current and heads towards them. I twitch the rod tip and the streamer fibers wave in the current. I hold the rod tip at an upward angle and let the streamer swing in front of them. One takes notice and swims towards the streamer with caution. I have to keep the streamer moving upward and towards me so it doesn’t hit bottom. With the rod still at an angle I slowly retrieve the streamer with short smooth strips and let it dangle now and than. The rainbow is satisfies and lightly lips the streamer like a warm wet noodle. I lift the rod instantly and the line tensions as the fish turns in disgust…with a hook set in its lip. The other fish dart away as the rainbow wrestles with the tight line. The rod again quickly reacts to every maneuver that the rainbow attempts to unhook himself. It’s not long before the rainbow concedes.

 For the next couple of hours I continue with the same strategy. Rainbows are fooled and make the Wonderod come to life with plenty of action. A drizzle starts to fall from the sky as it turns gray. I head up creek, pausing for a few casts before getting back to the van.

 I drive down creek further to a new area. The rain has stopped but the cloud cover keeps the brightness of the sun to a mild glow. The water surface glistens with the reflecting sun rays off the existing clouds as shadows, from the forest trees, darken the bank-side flow. The big pool, forward of the wide section of shallow riffles, holds trout as usual. There’s not much space between the bank-side cliff and brush for hiding my presence. The fish are wary and swim away like a crowd dispersing from a poor performing political speaker. I can’t even get one to follow the streamer after a quick glance.
 I cross the creek at the wavy, fast moving riffles and get ready for action on the other side. The creek broadens and from the bank I cast across and down creek. I let the streamer swing and then strip in with no results. Down creek I can’t produce any strikes near a fallen tree so I go around it and have to cross again being not able to proceed any further do to the deeper water and sharp cliff. I wade within the shadows of the trees and cliff. At an outward bend the water flows quickly away. With my movement I see a trout swim up against the near side of a submerged log. I try for him unsuccessfully. From where the submerged log lays a thick branch extends from the creek bed towards the far shore. This creates a deep ‘V’ path of water that flows before rising over a few partially submerged branches. I move up creek a bit and cast towards the far submerged log. I extend the rod tip and let the streamer dangle and sway with the oncoming converging current. It doesn’t take long for a savage attack and the hook sets with the hard strike. I power the rod up creek to keep the trout from swimming deep below the submerged logs. My knots hold tight and I’m able to coax him out from the danger. I can feel he is a heavy fighting trout as he tries to escape with force. I get him in more open water and he tames a bit. Closer he tries to dart away from my hand but the sharp arced fiberglass rod gives no more and he comes to hand.

I try the same technique on similar casts and am rewarded with another healthy fighting ‘bow’.
  The next couple of hours before dark I continue making my way down creek. Unexpectedly I catch a rainbow in a thin riffle hugging the bank. One of my last nice size rainbow comes while holding up in the tail end of a pool just before the water crests over a wide section of shallow pebbled stones.
  There are about 4 trout that I’m able to distinguish across and down creek. Within the shadows I’m pretty sure they hadn’t noticed me. I pull out line from the Martin reel, it clicks like an old rusty chain on a slow spinning sprocket, and make ready for a distant cast. With long strokes and a couple of false casts I get the streamer well ahead of the group. The current before them drifts the streamer right in their zone. I lift the rod up creek trying to make sure the streamer doesn’t move into the group, not wanting to snag any. When my streamer gets nearer to them a couple of trout dart forward and there is no doubt that one of them would strike the swinging streamer. With a hard tugging yank on the other end, I set the hook and the shallow surface water boils with disruptive activity. The fighting trout appears to not know which direction is the best direction for escape. She fights a bit in the same general area before trying her luck hastening up creek and towards me in deeper water. I get a good visual of her as she turns again for the tail out. Holding the rod steady I let line slip through my fingers with good tension. She swings around in an arc and I bring her along side of me.

 After another half hour the evening light starts to fade quickly. I step onto dry land and head for the van. A cold bottle of Coors original satisfies my thirst as I change out of my fishing attire and put the rod and reel away. Somewhere in the distant I hear an owl hooting above the gentle flow of riffling water of the mountain stream.



Friday, October 19, 2012

Cameron County Natives

Cameron County Natives

  The native brook mountain creek flowed low and clear. Autumn leaves lay upon the banks and moss covered boulders and drifted upon the water and in some areas covered the creek completely. Twigs and branch roots extended over the skinny water making placement of a fly difficult let alone the bank-side hazards hampering casting. Though the creek flowed clear the stony creek bed gave up no obvious visual stationed trout. It was technical fishing at its best.

Skip let me take the first casts into the first couple of open pools as we fished up creek. We fished dry caddis imitations and the native brookies, when not spooked, rose quickly to them in the October chill. I caught a couple of minnow size natives but Skip’s catches out lengthened mine by a few inches. His 2 weight rod flexed with ease on the forward cast and the caddis fell upon the water gently at times.
  I found that when the brookies were spooked they’d flee to undercuts or under the cover of leaves gathered along the banks or tail-outs. Skip figured, even though we both fished up creek, I may have been getting too nearer the pools in such clear water. Once I stayed back a few more feet the more success I had in making trout rise.

One of Skip's brook trout

One on mine

 Skip would pass up sections of skinny water, point out bigger pools and we would take turns trying our luck in the nicer open runs. The mountainside gave a gorgeous backdrop of green ferns, autumn colored leaves and olive pines on uneven terrain. The creek flowed over and between crevices of rock. Some creating spouting water falls into the head of small pools. These small deeper pools, no deeper than a couple of feet, is where we would catch the bigger natives, some as lengthy as 8 or 9”. Late in the afternoon Skip gave me the OK to give one of these pools a try.

I learned from a guide, while we were fishing a small brook in The Great Smokey’s, you fish a pool from the tail-out to the head. You just never know where a wild trout will be holding.
 From my position, in the middle of the creek, I checked my back-casting clearance and began my cast with my 3 weight Hardy Demon rod. A soft loop placed my caddis about 3 feet up stream from the leaf covered tail-out. Skip and I watched in amazement as a surface torpedo wake b-lined right towards my imitation from under the poolside leaves a couple of feet away. When the water rippled at my fly I wristed the hook set and the unsuspecting wild brookie skittered about. I brought her towards me with not too much commotion in the upper part of the pool.

 My next few casts were further up towards the head of the pool with my last cast being nearer the right side in dead water. It was the left front of this pool I was counting on.
From above, water found its way between rock crevices and spilled over a narrow rock shelf. The falling water bubbled below within a foot and a half wide channel that led to the wider mouth of the pool. If I could get my caddis in that channel of wavy water I figured would be my best chance for another unsuspecting trout. I told Skip my plan as he watched me cast. My first cast was short and a little to the right. I let my fly drift back towards me before recasting. With a little wrist on my forward cast I dropped the caddis exactly where I wanted; shy of the falls and between the stone wall channel.
“That’s it!” I muttered as the elk hair wing wobbled in the channel with the riffles. In an instant, with a hardy surface splash, a fish attempted to consume my dry. I reared back, with a little more force than I needed, to set the hook. The fish skittered a short distance with a fight before it released itself from the barbless hook.

Truthfully, bringing that native trout to hand or even seeing it didn’t matter as much. It was the execution, the precise placement and fooling the trout that was the most rewarding accomplishment.

Beyond that pool Skip assured me the water narrowed even more with less open pools. We walked up to an old logging lane and proceeded back to my van. I lit up a Cohiba Pequenos for the relaxing stroll along the mountainside.




Monday, October 15, 2012

Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone

 I’m not sure if it was that everyone was up Erie fishing for steelhead. Maybe they went down to tailgate early for the 1:00 Steeler game at Heinz Field? Maybe no one wanted to brave the morning chill and predicted rain. Whatever it was I was on the creek by 9:15am and not a soul was to be seen. Even the parking lot was vacant.
 It was a typical early fall morning. A chilly overcast morn with the scent of a moist forest. Colorful trees lined the creek in their fall colors. I could hear the chipmunks snickering and scampering about. Brown leaves laid scattered upon the stony bank. The creek water flowed quietly before me with an occasional leaf drifting along with the current. I stepped off the bank and into the water, taking in a deep breathe of fresh air.

I added a section of 4x tippet and knotted on a Woolly Bugger. Each of my first three casts were lengthier across the creek. After the third cast I let the Bugger drift from the slow current and into a swing caught by a riffle section of moving water. I felt the tug between my finger tips as I seen the sharp pull of the arcing fly line. A quick twitch of the rod and a pull of the fly line and I felt the trout fight in a scurrying manner trying to release itself from the hook. I forgot all about the past two outings Steelhead fishing.
 I forgot all about the football game. I was in my comfort zone, creek fishing and playing fighting trout. The rod tip flexed and moved erratically under tension as the trout wrestled beneath the riffles. Lifting the rod, as the trout drew nearer, I gloved the hooked rainbow.

 After I landed three more and missed a couple of taps it seemed like a good time for a smoke. I pulled out a Nick’s stick, cupped my hand and lit the end of the barrel. A light gray smoke appeared from the end and wavered with the slight breeze.

 After a couple more trout I started to nymph fish to see if they were interested. With no takes I switched to a few more bugger colors but it appeared the only thing they would hit on was my first choice. It was peaceful during the first hour or so and it wasn’t till after that I saw the first two fishermen appear up creek. Just a few minutes later Jeff showed up and explained he was late because he got an eight point that morning during archery season.

We fished towards noon in the chill of the day. The trout didn’t hit the Wooly Buggers very hard but once hooked they fought aggressively to the net.
 As I fished down creek, casting and swinging woolly buggers, I’d pick up a few here and there. It started to sprinkle when I was a ways down creek so I hooked the hook point in the hook keeper and started back up stream. By the time I got to Jeff it was sprinkling a little harder.
 “I’m going to take off” Jeff said and added “Got to get the buck home and hang him up.”
 We talked for another 5 or 10 minutes before he took off for good.

 The light rain kept falling like a heavy ocean spray. My thee layers of top clothing would take awhile for the rain to penetrate so I felt I didn’t need to be in a hurry to leave just yet. The sun tried to pierce it’s rays downward but the bluish gray clouds kept moving in it’s path. It was so peaceful. I looked down creek and there was a lone fishermen in the middle of the stream casting about. I lit up my last Nick’s stick and decided when it was gone than I’d go. My cowboy brimmed Harley hat kept the rain from my face. Small droplets would bead on my Bonehead shirt but soon would absorb and seep into my Duofold long sleeve. It would take awhile to penetrate to my heavy weight Polypropylene undergarment.
 I’d cast out towards the far bank, let the line swing with the current and the bugger would follow in an arc. At the end of the drift I’d short strip in, let the bugger settle in the current momentarily, and pull long slow strips back to me. On occasion I’d feel the grab of another rainbow flexing the rod downward. My rainy wet hand gripped the custom made cork grip feeling the fight of the trout as I steered it towards me. My left hand held the tension of the fly line as I teased and eventually forced the fish my way. The whole while I’d puff on that stogie and listen to the oil derrick thump in the background.
 The rain started to come down a little more abundantly and I started to feel the dampness on my skin as well as the chill when a breeze stirred up. My stogie was down to the last quarter. I made up my mind and cast one more time and watched the drift end without a take. Short strips had failed to encourage a trout. I hooked the bugger to the hook keeper and kept my word.

At the van I changed out of my wet gear as I listened to the Steeler game. A cold Dr. Pepper quenched my thirst. I was thinking about heading to Petroleum center to fish but with the rain and all I decided against it. It had been a fun catching day already and it was time to go home, dry out, and relax.