The SAS Scott rod swings forward like an extension of my arm. The peach double taper line unfolds above the creek extending towards the branch extruding out of the water near the far shore. As the tapered leader starts to unroll I slowly lower the fly rod level with the water. The line, leader and 6X tippet fall softly upon the surface. I’m unable to see the #18 BWO in the distance but the fly line tip points in the general direction. I move the rod tip with the current and keep my sight in the vicinity the fly might be. Within a split second I see a flash rising just before the trout takes the fly. I wrist back the long length of line while raising it off the water. The line tensions and I feel the stuck trout afar….
It is cold! Hand chilling cold, red nose cold, cold! The eyes of the fly rod aren’t freezing up but my own eyes would tear up if it weren’t for the polarized glasses blocking the chilling wind. The water is running with good flow and depth that extra heavy weight isn’t needed to get my tandem rig down to the fish. I can feel the chill of the March water that flows around my neoprene hip waders. I have the furry flaps down on my Yukon Alaska hat and I can still taste the flavored Chap Stick, upon my lips, that I barrowed. Otherwise my 4 layers of clothing are keeping any air hidden body parts warm.
Jim and I made the near 2 hour drive, from Clarion, to join up with some friends for a day on the famed Spring Creek in Central Pa. After a morning BS camaraderie meeting, at Dave’s camp, we split up and scattered out along the creek. Some drove up creek a ways and a couple guys walked down creek. I walked up from camp, entered the creek, and am now drifting a nymph and dropper aimlessly for wild trout.
After a good 30 minutes I only catch one small brown trout that happened to get in the way of my bead-head pheasant tail. My excitement about fishing is starting to wear off with the continuous retying of different nymph patterns to see what works. I light up my first cigar of the day and contemplate my next move.
I wade towards the bank, scarring off the mallards, and start flipping over rocks. Among the cluster of small snails one olive scud clings to the rock face. I look into my nymph box and find a green dubbed rock worm pattern with a brown hare’s ear head.
“It will have to do” I tell myself
I drop this from a flash back hare’s ear nymph and drift the tandem rig beneath an indicator.
At the end of a drift, near the backend of a pool, my indicator dips. I bring the rod up and set the hook. I hold on tight as the wild trout takes me for a ride. It kicks and pulls like a mule in a thunderstorm. The brown leaps from the water like a rainbow, twisting its body in mid-air before reentering the water. My knotted 6X tippet holds tight in the seemingly never ending battle. Nearer to me he is still kicking up water as I get a hand on him.
After 10 minutes of nothing Dave pulls off the side of the road and asks how I’ve done. After a brief conversation he hands me 3 olive scud patterns. I return to the creek after he takes off to check on the others. Within four drifts I connect up with a brown, the scud works like candy. I begin hooking up more often. In a slow pool I pull in three browns within 6 drifts! It is almost like fishing for stocked trout.
Noon time I meet up with the gang back at Dave’s camp. Everyone has had a good morning catching trout. While talking, some of us drink a beer and finish off a bottle of malted Scotch. A few of us eat a sandwich while the others head inside camp for a hot lunch. After I finish up my beer we head back out into the creek.
I walk back up creek and plan on working my way back down to camp as I did in the morning. There is another fisherman at the pool ahead of the riffles so I step into the water below the riffles and start to drift the two nymphs beneath. In a matter of time I pop out one trout on the olive scud before getting down to a fallen tree branch in the center of the creek.
Drifting the tandem nymphs I see my first rise just downstream from the downed tree branch, than what looks like a swirl across creek, near a half submerged thick limb. I search the surface water for a definite fly that they might be rising for. The tedious act of tying on a #18 or #20 midge with cold fingers isn’t too thrilling. I’ve fished Spring Creek enough to know that the trout are pretty selective sometimes and just not any old fly will make them rise.
I watch a standup winged Blue Wing Olive just beyond the first rise. Within the blink of an eye, I see a flash of a rise, a surface splash, the water swirl and the BWO disappears.
I nip off the two nymphs and knot on a long piece of 6X tippet. I take a white parachute BWO, from my midge box, and begin the process of tying it on. My hands are shaking slightly, if not from the cold than from the excitement. I patiently try to thread the tippet between the hackle fibers and into the #18 hook eye. I’m successful after a couple of misses. I pull tippet through the eye and spin the fly 4 times between my thumb and finger. I continue trying to tie the knot as I hear more surface splashes beyond. Getting the tippet through the first loop near the eye is always a problem for me and with cold fingers doesn’t help the matter. I get lucky and get the tippet end through on the 5th attempt. I wet the tippet with saliva and finish putting the tippet through the bigger loop above and cinch it tight. After cutting off the tag end I visually scan the water over and pinpoint where I want to land the fly.
There’s a wall behind me with a few thin trees growing along it. I’m able to short cast and with a single haul my double taper line loops out in front of me. As the fly falls I back up the tip slightly so there’s enough slack in the line upon the water for a nice drag free drift. A fish rises and turns towards the imitation. He dives quickly without taking the fly. I refrain from lifting the fly too quickly not wanting to disturb too much water on a false hook up. After a few minutes I get no takes. After 3 more patterns, one being a quill body BWO, I only get two refusals with no takes. The fish are being finicky and I know now that I’ll have to use my stand up CDC wing BWO. Besides the dun color CDC being harder to see upon the tinted water, I don’t have a jar of magic powder to absorb the water from the CDC feather when it gets wet. It’s going to be a one fish, one fly deal.
I cast out and am able to see the spider looking fly after all. I watch it drift and than see a fish rise from beneath it. He takes the fly off the surface like one would take a piece of popcorn tossed at them. I wrist back the line and feel the catch. The trout fights beneath like a wild brook trout, scurrying about in the pool arena. Across the surface he splashes as I bring him to hand.
The CDC is in no dry shape form for another good silhouette. In the cold I retie on a new CDC BWO after each catch. I miss a few and they become more wary of my new imitations.Just up creek in front of me three fish rise sporadically near the stony shore in only about calf high water. I reach my arm out and sidearm a horizontal loop cast. At the right moment I wrist the rod back sharply and the fly flips forward and lands with the leader and fly line arcing towards the middle of the creek as if it were cast from the far bank. I take in slack keeping up with the oncoming fly line while holding the rod out towards the middle of the creek. A slap at my dry and I quickly rear back taking up slack and hooking the trout’s lip. He darts mid stream towards the downed tree branch. I hold the rod high, pulling line through the rod eyes, trying to keep tension on the hooked trout. He avoids the underbrush and after a short skirmish I get him close enough to land him.
Now small snowflakes fall sporadically and the sun peers out more often. There are less surface feeders and the ones nearby seem to be aware of my prowling and quit rising to my imitations. I now turn my attention to an occasional riser a good ¾ across creek. He feeds infrequently beneath the shade of an over hanging bank-side tree, sipping in the slower current.
It’s exciting catching a trout on a dry fly. It’s more rewarding catching one on a fly I tied myself. Making a far pinpoint cast, correct drift and getting a trout, unaware of any danger, to rise to my fly and hooking him is the ultimate.
The SAS Scott rod swings forward like an extension of my arm. The peach double taper line unfolds above the creek extending towards the branch extruding out of the water near the far shore. As the tapered leader starts to unroll I slowly lower the fly rod level with the water. The line, leader and 6X tippet fall softly upon the surface. I’m unable to see the #18 BWO in the distance but the fly line tip points in the general direction. I move the rod tip with the current and keep my sight in the vicinity the fly might be. Within a split second I see a flash of a rise just before the trout takes the fly. I wrist back the long length of line while raising it off the water. The line tensions and I feel the stuck trout afar. I pull in line until he resists strongly and darts towards the rear of the pool. I let him wrestle with the flexing rod, only letting line slip through my fingers as needed. He decides to swim upstream and I keep pressure on him as I bring in line. He tries to hold up but the rod force steers him towards me. A brief battle ensues within a few feet from me before I get him to rise towards the surface and I cradle him in my hand.
The rises stop as no more BWO’s visually appear. I move upstream a bit and work a streamer deep. Dan and Jim show up from down creek and fish their way nearer. We talk about our experience thus far upon the creek. They also caught fish on the dry fly. We head back to camp and meet up with some of the other guys.
It’s still early in the evening but Jim and I decide we had enough in the cold conditions. Satisfied with the outing we bid our friends good-bye and head north.
Snow falls with more abundance and my windshield wipers whisk the wetness away from the windshield. I start to feel the warm heat upon my feet and upon my legs beneath my fleece pants. As we talk Jim spits into his self made snuff spittoon while I draw on a Don Thomas Maduro stogie.
What can I say? Just a day of little BWO therapy, as I look at it, on a cold winter’s day!