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.
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.
“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.
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.
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?
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.
(Part 1 can be found at http://streamsidetales.blogspot.com/2012/04/2-days-on-oil-creek-part-1.html )