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.
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.