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.


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