Monday, May 28, 2012

Life is Good

Life is Good
It’s a great morning of being me
Wake up next to a creek with a hot cup of tea
There’s no place else I’d rather be
A weekend in the northern woods

String up my fly rod and grab my vest
Put on my ole straw hat, just in jest
All alone, no one to impress
Lite’n up a stogie, life is good

It’s a great morn to cast a line
The sun is shining and the fishen’s fine
A mountain stream to relax and unwind
Man, I’m doing alright

Standing in water up to my knees
The dry fly drifts with the gentle breeze
A fish splashes as unexpectedly as a sneeze
You know it, the line draws tight

It’s a great day of have’n some fun
In the mountains fish’n a cold creek run
Another taker, reel’n in another one
Noon time, it’s time for a beer

Make’n a sandwich to appease my appetite
Haven’t showered for the past two nights
Liven outta my van, just seems right
Time for a nap, cheers!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Alone in God's Country

Alone in God’s Country

 By 9:30 am I find myself alone in the Fly Fishing Only section of Kettle Creek. It is picture perfect as my surroundings are alive with forest green spring colors. The rising sun warms the chilled morning air that had been present above the green grassy earth. The wet dew slowly dispersed and misty webs seemed to vanish upon a second look. The wetting leaves on the tree limbs reflect the sunlight as does the cold stony creek water that appears to flow on forever. The toads croak their ritual mating call and morning birds chirp within the forest. The long stretch of slow current water flows undisturbed within the shadows of the trees.

 As I stand on the stony bank, before the glistening riffling run of mountain fed water, I see my first splashing rise against the far sloped bank. I see no bug activity about. I search and discover I left my midge box in the van. I look on my wool fly patch and find a few small flies from days before. I try three different patterns, Blue Dun, Blue Quills and Blue Wing Olives, in size 18 and 16 with no results. I decide to tie on something bigger and as I search through a fly box I hear a few more splashing rises. I find a #14 Quill Gordon and tie it on to my 6x tippet. I start to see a few Mayflies rising above the water. Maybe a Hendrickson or two, a few caddis and an unidentifiable dark mayfly.

 I cast upstream into the middle of the riffles as I stand in the shin deep water. The Gordon rides atop the small hump wave current like a helpless corked bottle being washed towards the shore. A trout rises with a turn as my pattern passes it by. The trout’s nose surfaces to my fly with a splash and the commotion begins. The once peaceful riffles come alive with turbulence and surface splashes. The rainbow takes out his aggression with long runs, short turns and quick body twists upon the surface. The SAS Scott rod commands the on going battle like an old pro as I play the trout nearer. In the foot or so of water the trout refuses my attempts to grab him. I bring him to shallower water and calm his madness.

After releasing the rainbow I catch another trout on the Quill Gordon, with a cast downstream, and find the Quill body is torn.

 I select a Red Quill and continue my dry fly presentation. More fish rise and though I catch a couple more I still cannot get the first riser, along the far bank, to take any of my offerings. He seems to be very selective in even his natural choices that drift by. Soon my Red quill is torn apart and I must select another dry pattern.

Time passes on and I move up creek to another slow riffling run. A downed tree lies against the far bank with the trunk narrowing downstream. The water banks up against it and creates a nice fishy looking holding area. I make casts near and have two fish inspect but refuse my offering.
 I slowly fish my way down creek again and I notice the bug activity has paused for the moment. I decide to tie on a Pink Lady dry and cast it into the main stream of riffles avoiding the far bank. A trout surprises me and takes the dry pattern with a gulping lunge forward. A quick upsweep of my rod and another skirmish ensues. This time a healthy brown trout makes an appearance.

Down creek I catch a brook trout, in the shade, that sipped a tan caddis I was drifting in the slower pool of water. As I feel enough time passed I return to where I started in the morning.

 By now the sun is rising high. Fewer bugs are present and I feel I don’t have much time before any feeding trout would be active to eat in the noon day heat. I keep back from the water and contemplate what I need to do to catch that first riser against the bank. I notice a few March Browns fluttering off the water. I tie on a lightly hackled, wood duck barred wing, March Brown. I’m just up creek of the wary trout and cast my fly butt up against the far bank. It slowly drifts as I hold the rod high to keep the current from grabbing too much of the fly line and pull it down creek too quickly. It passes without a take. I move up the stony bank for a better angle. I cast with an even stroke and back up the tip before the fly lands. The March Brown falls up creek upon the water, hoping within sight, of the wary trout. I concentrate on the dry as it seems it takes forever to get to his lair. The current is slow along the bank giving ample time for even the laziest trout. I see a slurping take and lift the rod for the hook set. I feel the line tension and a fish darts midstream. I bring in line quickly as the fish battles in the current. As he heads upstream I follow him with the arced rod tip. Palming the spool firmly I test his strength before letting him fight the reel drag. He turns and I can feel him weakening. The once wary brown comes to hand!

I take out a Don Tomas Cameroon Perfecto #2 and take a break to admire the near noon scenery.

 The bug activity all about stops. I look down creek, as I puff on my cigar, and decide to fish my way back to the van. I tie on a parachute March Brown for better visibility, for me, in the rougher current. The longer body should be more eye catching to the trout under the same conditions. I slowly work my way down creek.

 I come across a couple of toads. One is hitching a ride on another. Later on a lone toad sits, possibly waiting for a mate.

 I get a couple of window shoppers checking out my display of dries in the slowest pools and nothing in the first couple fishy looking runs. I catch one brown trout that hits my fly in the quick current tail out. During his struggle across the fast current the hook comes loose and I accept the loss graciously. Weaving with the creek, in and out of the shading trees and winding stream, I come in sight of the bridge. There is no one in sight.

Somewhere in the shallow, more fished waters, I’m surprised to hook into a small brook trout. He scampers about on the end of the line before I bring him in. At the bridge I spend another 10 minutes before calling it quits.

 Reluctant to go home just yet I stop by Cross Fork Creek in hopes of no one fishing. Two fellows are fishing near the bridge, one from the bank and another down creek above the riffles. I grab my 3wt Hardy rod and head to the far bank.

 After coolly lighting up a Bahia Trinidad Short Churchill I tie on a #14 BWO and see if any of the sipping risers will take. After about a half hour the two gents leave and again I’m alone on the trout waters. I try everything, small and large, in dry fly patterns to get a strike. I have some trout glance once or twice at my drifting dry but refuse. The only things I see on the surface are long Drake shucks drifting by. Some midge activity form in the sunny spots as the sun sets for the early evening. I decide to nymph fish until I see more risers.
 I catch a few nice trout before attempting dry fly action again. I have trout bump my dry occasionally but I refuse to try to set the hook to a glancing blow. I finally get a hook set on my March Brown Parachute but the knot unravels and I’m left without a fight. Evening approaches without any bug activity as I look upwards for flying Drakes. A spinner fall doesn’t look promising so I head to the van hoping to drive in daylight through the Sproul State Forest.

It’s a lazy drive home as I smoke my last cigar of the day, a mellow Don Tomas Candela Cetro #2.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chocolate Spinner Tute

Chocolate Spinner
“I won’t get fooled again”

I’m ready for my annual trip to Kettle Creek in God’s country. There is a small Mayfly up on Kettle that C. Meck refers to as a Chocolate Dun. I’ve seen these little brown flies on Kettle as well as Cross Fork Creek. If it’s what he describes it’s a small #16 fly that appears on the water, in numbers, sporadically throughout the late morning and afternoon. I’ve fished the Dun with some success but it’s the spinner fall that had frustrated both Jeff and I many of times.
 A few years back, around noon, we were watching rising trout sipping the surface from across the creek. The trout were rising to no apparent Mayfly that we could see about the water. We both cast across creek, into the slower pool on the far side of the faster current run. We tried midges, Blue Duns, Blue Quills and even terrestrials. We were baffled as these trout continued to rise around our imitations and floating leaders. Before leaving we made a circle and looked upon the pool surface to see what these fish were sipping on. It appeared that they were generously feeding on these Chocolate Spinners that slowly flowed with the current.
 That evening I tied up some with the material I took along with us for the weekend trip. It wasn’t an exact match but did fool a few trout the next day.
This year I hope to be ready.

Chocolate Spinner

Hook: #16 1X fine wire
Thread: Camel Brown
Tail: Moose mane
Rib: Fine brown thread lighter than body
Body: Dark brown poly yarn or fine brown dubbing
Wing: Light gray poly yarn tied spent

1. After basing hook shaft with thread dub in a small ball of brown dubbing at the bend of the hook as shown

2. Cut a few strands of Moose mane and tie two hairs each on each side of the ball for a split tail.
3. Tie in the fine brown thread rib in front of the yarn ball

4. Tie in the Brown poly yarn next at the same location.

 5. Bring thread to about ¼ back from the eye of the hook to tie in the spent wings.
Cut a section of Poly Yarn and tie down with figure eight wraps as shown. Don’t worry about length yet, you can trim it to balance the fly when finished.

6. Leave the thread hanging just behind the spent wing towards the bend of the hook. Wrap the Poly Yarn to the spent wing and tie down to secure for now.

7. Rib the body forward with the loose fine brown thread. Tie off and trim the tag end behind the spent wing.

 8. Bring the Camel thread to just behind the hook eye. Now wrap the Poly Yarn in a few figure eights around the Poly Yarn and than forward behind the eye.
Make a thread head and whip finish.

Trim the spent wing to proportion

Chocolate Spinner Material

Just got back from up North. Yep, them Chocolate Spinners worked just fine to the sippers in the slow water!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Fish don't want meat"

"Fish don't want meat"

 I met Jeff along Oil Creek Sunday morning and we decided to fish open waters and not the project waters. I like to fish open waters just to see how many stocked trout learned their lesson and come accustom to natural food within the water early in the season. This year the warm weather hit early and stuck around a week or two before cooling off again. This caused a few mayflies, caddis and bigger stoneflies to appear earlier than usual upon the creeks. I found, because of this, the pre season stocked trout got accustomed to "stream food" before the bait casters swarmed the creeks for the first week. I heard bait, minnow drifters and hardware chuckers claim us fly guys had it made this year.

 On Saturday I fished a well known creek along a well used roadway. I only seen one other fisherman for the miles of creek I drove by and fished from 2:00 till nightfall. I caught stocked trout till dark once I found the right nymphs and later on the right slow swinging woolly bugger.

 On Sunday morning Jeff and I found the catching was tough. We only hooked up once each in the first hour or so on nymphs. The temperature of the water was still below 50 degrees. We were fishing a deeper section of the creek as the morning sun was still rising. I suggested we fish in shallower water that might warm up a bit faster or at least warm the fish that were shallow enough to absorb the sun's rays.

 The plan worked. As the sun rose higher also did the temp. A few caddis were seen fluttering about. Jeff got strikes on his wet fly patterns so I changed to a wet fly above my nymph. We both were hooking up in spurts as we fished the riffling shallows. Once I seen the second trout rise, I lit up a Carolina Cabinet Select cigar, switched to a dry fly and got prepared for some top water action.

 More caddis was showing up during the slight breezy but sunny conditions. After catching a couple of caddis and than seeing smaller ones fly around, I came to the conclusion there were three different caddis about. I switched caddis imitations to match the naturals. The fish in the slower current had more time to check out our offerings so I did most of my dry fly fishing in the more stirring water. The water was still chilled so any one fish wasn't rising with any regularity. It was more of a gulp here, a long pause and another gulp at a drifting caddis. Some trout were keying on the caddis that were fluttering on the surface or being blown across the water by a surprising breeze. In this case I would switch to a fluttering caddis and skate it across the water by holding the rod tip higher and letting the wind pull it about for a second or two before letting it drift.

 It's always a joyful accomplishment to extend my arms for a long cast across creek to an unwary trout sipping at will. Once they were hooked they would come alive with erratic energy as I played them towards me. Before Jeff and I broke for lunch I caught a couple of trout that seemed to exit the deeper water to feed in the shallows around me. I backed up to land and picked off one of my biggest browns, up stream, only several yards away.

 It wasn't as if there was a major swarming hatch and fish were constantly rising all around us. There were just enough caddis about and wind to keep a few fish rising and making it a challenge.

 After a good lunch and a cold beer we decided to go back at it for a couple more hours. Already being a successful day I decided to smoke a Red Corojo wrapped Carolina Cigar. Like most Corojo outer leafs quite a bit of smoke rose during the light up. The rich Corojo cigar was smooth and tasty on the draw. It was going to be an enjoyable smoke on the water!

 At the creek a couple of spin fishermen took up part time residence in the area Jeff and I were dry fly fishing just before lunch. One guy was fishing the top end of the riffles while the other was fishing downstream from the far bank. There weren't as many rising trout but still enough to keep things interesting.

 One fish was rising now and than in the middle of the faster wavy current. I also had seen a couple more instant rises about the riffles. It had appeared to me that maybe the trout had moved into the shallower riffles from the deeper section to feed.
 I finally got the dry caddis in a moving slower pool of current, flowing between the faster currents, where the one trout was rising now and then. It's one of those occasions I just knew everything was right and I just had to be patient until the right moment. The trout porpoised, with his back above the water, for my imitation with an arc in its long body moving upstream against the current. From behind him I brought the rod back and set the hook on the trout. He instantly turned down stream with the current and powered his way into the deeper water. I reeled in as quickly as possible trying to keep tension on the oncoming trout. The 4wt arced again as the line tightened and I knew I still had him on. After a few quick bursts of trying to escape I got him close enough to see he was a nice lengthy brown. As I reached for him he shot outward and the hook released from his lip.
 After catching two smaller rainbows, in the shallow riffles, the guy up from me walked around me and started to minnow fish below. The guy across creek waded directly across from me, in the slow moving knee deep water, and was also minnow fishing down creek.

The click of the bail snapping close and the sound of a splitshot plopping in the water reminded me of my younger years.

"Fish don't want meat" he said glancing towards me.
"I tried streamers earlier but they weren't interested" I answered back trying to be friendly.
 After a few minutes passed two fish rose behind the minnow drifter across creek. One rise was only about 8 yards up creek from him as he turned to see where the splash came from. As before the trout weren't actively feeding, just an occasional rise now and than. It took a waiting period and a few long casts before the trout splashed attacking my caddis dry. The minnow drifter turned on the splash as I called out "Got'em!"
"I'm sure you would have" he called back.
 The trout darted within a few feet of the minnow drifter before swimming my way. I puffed on the nub of the red stogie, nonchalantly, as I played the resisting trout towards me. After about a half hour I didn't see any more risers and figured most of them had sore lips anyhow. I headed up creek to join Jeff where we had fished earlier in the morning.

Jeff was walking the trail towards me when I rounded the bend. He mentioned he was calling it quits and heading back to camp. He also mentioned there were a few rising trout and pointed where he seen the risers.

 I looked up creek and saw a few bait fishermen fishing upstream from the bridge area. I kept my distance below and caught sight of two good risers and one sipper in the slow water tail-out.
 The 4wt fast action rod shot the weight forward line across and down creek. The caddis dry fell onto the water daintily with the 9 foot of 6x tapered leader. The dry drifted until it was met by a swirl of water made by a sipping rising nose. A long back haul of the rod, the line tightened and soon another trout came to hand....

On the way home I finished off my last Carolina Cigar Company stogie. The Four Blend torpedo wasn't as fine a smoke as the Reserve but was fitting enough for the way back to Clarion.

Another good day on the water. ~doubletaper


Thursday, May 3, 2012

DT Caddis Tute

DT Caddis Tute

Everyone has their own way of tying Caddis. This is mine. I like to keep the deer/elk hair head above the hook eye. Some caddis imitations will add a wire rib. As far as i'm concerned, even though deer hair and elk float, a wire rib adds weight. I catch enough trout on'em I don't use wire.

If you decide to use a fine gold wire, tie it in before the saddle hackle rib. After palmering the rib, counter wrap the wire over it. This will keep the hackle rib from getting torn up by the fishies teeth.

It was late when I decided to do these so they are not refined, just a tute for those interested in tying Caddis. I wouldn't be on a Pennsylvania stream without them!

Hook: Standard Dry #16,#14,#12. For egg sack caddis I use a 1x long hook.
Thread: Tan 0/6 or heavier.
Egg sack: Grannom green
Rib: Dark Ginger Dry Saddle Hackle, palmered over body in open wraps
Body: caddis green (lighter than egg sac)
Wing: light brown elk hair

1.Base hook shaft

2. Dub an egg sac at rear of shaft with bright green dubbing

3. Tie in saddle hackle in front of egg sac.

4. Twist Caddis green dubbing on thread in one direction

5. Wrap dubbing forward, leave plenty room behind eye of hook

6. Palmer hackle towards hook eye and tie down.

7. Trim top of hackle at an angle as shown.

8. Cut a pinch of brown elk hair close to hide. Pull out underfur from base of elk hair and put in hair stacker tips down.
Tap bottom of stacker on hard surface and, with stacker horizontal, pull out inner tube with even hair tips.

9. Tie down elk wing, with tips just rear of hook bend, behind hook eye with three soft loops and than pull down to tighten. This will flare elk wing some.

10. Add a few more thread wraps to secure wing. Trim Elk hair as shown to make head. Then bring thread in front and underneath of elk head.

 11. Tie off thread wraps under elk head.
 I use a half hitch tool to finish the thread wraps and I always add head cement. Sometimes I trim the bottom of the hackle even or just above the hook point. This will make sure the fly lands correctly and I feel gets a better hook set on sipping trout.

If you want to tie a fluttering Caddis add a couple of winds of dry fly hackle where you tied down the Elk hair behind the eye as shown.

Deer Hair fluttering Caddis 
Natural deer hair for wing
Olive dubbed body
1. After tying down wing tie in a drk ginger or brown hackle

A couple of wraps and tie off

Other Caddis dries I tie.
Tan Elk hair olive Caddis

Dark olive Deer hair Caddis with egg sac
I use dark deer hair for wing
Also good for the Grannom Hatch

Some of the dubbing colors I use for bodies

Happy Fishing  ~doubletaper