"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!
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