Saturday, March 9, 2013

Out of Towner's


Out of Towner’s

 Stepping into the thin layer of ice, along the bank-side, sounded like stepping onto an open bag of potato chips. The temps of the frigid water were immediately felt upon my calves and ankles. It wasn’t long before I felt the cold temp surrounding my feet. I pulled line off the reel and cast forward not thinking about the obvious.

 So, these guys from Erie wanted to do some trout fishing. It’s early March and the temps this way have been below freezing with snow still laying about on the shady sides of knolls. The weather man promised 40 degrees on Tuesday so someone suggested going down to Neshannock Creek in Volant and trout fish in the Delayed, artificial lure only section. 3 other guys responded and the plan was that they would meet me in the parking lot by the fly shop. When one of them said we’ll meet at 7:30am I had 3 immediate thoughts.

1. Its 16 degrees overnight and it’s not going to get much warmer at 7:30am
2. Because it is Tuesday there isn’t going to be many, if any, people gathered around the creek like it’s the Erie tributaries with an early morning run of fresh of steelhead.
3. These guys are crazy!

Though I live a little over an hour away I grew up fishing the Neshannock Creek even before the section in Volant became a project area. I felt obligated to be there to pass my info for these Erie out-of-towner’s. that night I had my gear packed at the back steps and set my clock for 5:17am.

The lighted flashing sign read 18 degrees as I traveled south down rte 66 towards the Interstate. After my, over an hour, drive I pulled into the gravel parking lot where the out-of-towner’s were already putting on their gear, breath was obvious with every word they spoke. The guys were anxious to knock the dust off their trout rods, evidently Erie guys get bored of steelhead fishing after a while. I slipped on a patch of ice as I exited my van but caught myself without falling. We stood around a bit talking before heading to the creek. Standing in the lot with the sound of the trout stream just over the bank became too much to ignore even under these conditions. There we lined up, with plenty of room between us, along a straight stretch and looked the water over before entering.

 Slush ice moved upon the flat water current like a bunch of plasma cells under a microscope. It was going to take accurate casts to get the streamer between the floating slush and then there is the likelihood of more slush hitting the fly line causing the fly to rise and drag. Other than that, the slightly green tint of the cold running trout stream was too inviting not to give it an early go.
  It wasn’t long before the conditions got the best of us. Fly lines, leaders and rod guides soon started to freeze up. Trying to cast the ice glazed fly line was like trying to throw a semi-stiff rope. Slush was hampering the drifts as our fingers stiffen within the coldness. After 10 minutes I looked up creek and the guys were on the bank discussing the matter, I walked up and joined them.
  In about an hour the sun split the cloud cover and started to rise above the tree tops. By then we were back in the water drifting nymphs as the plasma started to thin. As the sun hit the water in spots the trout seemed to ‘wake up’ and soon after that indicators dropped below the surface. Fly rods flexed downward with tight lines and frisky trout splashed upon the surface. Smiles began to appear on our cold faces and an occasional ‘Got One’ was heard among us. Along with the sunshine a few more fishermen appeared in the water along with fluttering stoneflies.
 By noon the 4 Erie guys decided to drive down to the end of the project area and give that section a whirl. I was pretty much alone now and decided to put on a streamer. Kevin showed up along the bank and in time got his gear on and joined me. Within the next 45 minutes the Triple Threat hooked 4 and missed just as many.
 The other guys returned a while later and we fished till about 3:30 as one of them had to return to Erie for work. It turned out to be a good trout fishing day with friends and to get us pumped for the spring season.

  After stopping at the nearby winery I met up with Kevin at Primanti Brothers for a lamb Gyro. After my departure, heading north on I79, I reached into my traveling humidor and pulled out the glass tube. From inside I slipped out the Fort Knox Centenario Aristocrat by Cuesta-Rey. The tightly wrapped cigar burned slow and smooth for the rest of the drive home within the confines of my warm van.



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