Saturday, February 16, 2013

Smoke'n With Glass

Smoke’n with Glass

The pessimist says the glass is half empty where as the optimists say it’s half filled. When it comes to fly fishing for trout I always look optimistically, even when the conditions don’t appear to be good to most.

  I hadn’t fished for a week or so because of the snowy and freezing conditions in the area. There was a break in the weather this past Sunday and since I’ve been waiting to try out a used 6wt Wonderod ‘glass’ fly rod I received from a friend, I figured on giving it a casting lesson. I’ve wanted a 6 weight fiberglass rod for using down the river for smallmouth and was hoping this one would suffice. I also had a few fine cigars I wanted to puff on so this February day was more than just catching fish. Of course I always expect to catch at least one!!!

  It was around 1:00pm when the temperature was a balmy 37 degrees outside with the sun shining brightly. I wasn’t sure how much snow melted or ice was still on the creeks so I wasn’t really sure how the day was going to go. I packed the van and lit up a La Perla Habana Cameroon Figurado before I even pulled out of the driveway. The genuine Cameroon leaf wrapper has a thick leathery bite to it as I held it between my teeth. The tobacco within is bolder than most Cameroons I’ve tasted making this one of my favorites under $2.50 a stick. As the cigar burns to a larger diameter after the lite up, of this figurado, it isn’t long before I taste the nutty, peppery inner tobacco. I got these on a special offer and though I don’t like taking a chance on something I never smoked before, these were one of my better buys. As I head north I enjoy the smooth draw and bold cigar flavor.
  There are times I wish I lived in central PA. There, there are many limestone and wild trout streams with easier access, during the snowy months, than here were I live near the Allegheny National Forest. Being I have a rear wheel drive conversion van I learned not to take my chances on ‘no winter maintenance’ roads within the ANF. There is no doubt that the off-the-beaten-path roads were going to be icy so choosing my destination would have to have serious thought. If only I had a 4 wheel drive.
  My first intentions were to try out the 6wt rod in the Clarion River upstream from Cooksburg. When I approached the bridge on rte 36 east I glanced over and seen floating patches of ice resembling varied edged puzzle pieces as if lying on a card table. There was no way I wanted to try fishing in those conditions so I continued on towards Brookville. My last couple of outings for trout was a small stocked/wild trout creek but I wasn’t in the mood and wanted to try somewhere different. My main goal was to cast the 6wt fiberglass anyhow. Even though it was heavy for trout I knew a good easy accessible project area that will do fine. As I drove up the lane to the park I glanced over and seen the bright clear water was in great, inviting, flowing condition. I couldn’t wait to wet a line.
  I fitted the 2 piece 8’ 6” Wonderod together and attached my Orvis Battenkill mid arbor reel that has F6WF line, the only 6 weight spooled line I have. I put a few fly boxes and items into my wicker creel and headed down towards the water.
  A couple of fly guys were casting into a wavy current flowing through a line of boulders that created a pool down creek. They were casting from the snowy bank. I stopped along the bank, down from them, and looked over the water conditions. I decided to start with a Wooly Bugger in this way I can get the cold coiled line to straighten out and get a feel for the rod with a variety of lengthy casts. A thin sheet of ice extended from the bank on the slower current back eddy. I stepped onto the ice and it cracked with my weight and I was instantly in shin deep water as I expected. Slowly I moved my legs forward as I pushed on the Ice, cracking it further out with my hand. I began to feel the coldness of the water through my waders, fleece and winter under garments. My waders weren’t leaking, mind you, just the coldness of it. Soon I felt the coldness also on my feet, nothing I hadn’t fished in before. Once I got the sheet of ice cracked to the other edge I slowly pushed the ice slab down creek. It moved as a sheet until it met with a faster current that flowed between and over a conglomeration of uneven edged boulders. The sound of the ice cracking and tumbling between and over the boulders was like lightly twirling a glass of cubes in an empty whiskey tumbler waiting for a refill.
  My first few casts were relaxed and easy concentrating on the load and flex of the fiberglass. It wasn’t anytime at all that I was casting for distance. Once accomplished to my satisfaction I began to concentrate on my fishing.
  Mid stream, in the deeper portion of the creek, there were a few submerged flat boulders resting on the creek bed that I was able to see.
 I methodically cast up creek, with a mend, and let the bugger drift through as if nymph fishing. At the end of the drift I twitched the bugger back towards me before the next cast. For about an hour I switched streamers and fished a few nymph patterns, in tandem, without a strike. Needing to get my feet and legs moving before cramping up in the cold conditions I decided to get out of the water and move down stream. Up on the walk bridge I took a moment to light up an 8-5-8 natural Fuente. The fresh aroma of the tobacco was instant the moment I put the cigar to my lips. The light was perfect and like any fine Fuente cigar, it was smooth, mild and without a bit of bitterness. I looked over the bridge down creek and than continued to the other side.
 For the next half hour I fished under the walk bridge but didn’t have any success. For the rest of the Fuente I fished my way downstream changing from nymphs to streamers, again without any hits. I started flipping over rocks in the shallows trying to discover what might get a trout to take. I found a black headed brown Dobson nymph under a flat rock. I let him go and took out a brown Wooly bugger. I trimmed off the palmered hackle on top and trimmed the marabou tail a little shorter. I attached an indicator up from this and decided I would concentrate with this as long as possible. Moving up creek I fished my way up towards the walk bridge without success.
  My last chance would be where I started so I crossed the bridge and headed up. The other fishermen were gone and I had the whole pool to myself. The sunlight started to fade in the distance and cast a half shaded shadow over the water before me. The air began to become a bit nippy so I upped my fleece color and put down the ear flaps on my Yukon Cap. For the next hour I proceeded to try and catch a fish….again. I did have one bump of what I thought was a fish but it may have been just a chunk of ice that happened into the path of my line. I finally gave up well before it got dark. I was hungry, cold and though fishless, felt good about the days outing. There isn’t many times I go without catching at least one trout but it does happen to the best of us now and then.
  Back at the van I warmed the vehicle as I changed into street clothes. Before leaving I nipped off a bit of the cap and toasted the foot of a Fuente Maduro Perfecto………. Just a pleasant way to end a cold fishless February day!

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