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