Spring Creek March
It was cold and windy when I pulled up to the empty camp. Even so I was anxious to fish for the wild trout in Spring Creek in central PA. I was wanting some dry fly action and I knew of no better place closer to home in March. The weather more north was to be even colder with a more chance of snow for the weekend. The past weekend a few friends hit Spring and informed me there was a decent hatch of Blue Wing Olives (BWO), it wasn’t hard for me to decide where I wanted to spend Friday thru Sunday.
Arriving Friday at around 9:00am I hadn’t seen a soul along the creek as I drove up the road. The water looked inviting as it flowed with a dark green beer shade in the deeper sections. The weather on the other hand didn’t look so inviting yet but the weatherman claimed it was going to get warmer throughout the day.
I dressed extra warm in layers in hopes that the cold wind gusts wouldn’t penetrate through. I elected on my medium-fast action 5 weight Scott SAS rod and fitted it with doubletaper line. I figured with the tree lined banks I would be doing more roll casts than overhead casts. I didn’t expect any dry fly action till the sun came out and warmed things up but even with that I knew the SAS could handle any small dries I would toss out. Until then I decided to bide my time with nymph fishing and took out a VS Triple Corojo Churchill.
Looking over the stained cold high water flow I decided to go with a beaded bi-color San Juan worm below an olive scud. I figured in the faster runs a worm pattern might look tasty and the scud should look natural in the slower currents. I slowly waded along the bank fishing my way downstream. Roll casting got pretty tricky with the tandem rig and the wind. After a couple of tangles, in which my flies got real friendly with my indicator, I started to concentrate more on my roll casts.
Along the opposite bank water rippled at a little slower pace than in towards the middle. I cast up creek trying to get my offering in the slower pools, throwing a big mend upstream, before my imitations enters and flows with the faster current. I don’t spend too much time working seams as many of my other nymph fishing friends do but keep on moving at a slow pace.
Looping a mend up creek, against the wind, the fly line arcs on the water behind the indicator. As the line begins to straighten, down creek a bit, on the surface the indicator stops and drops slightly just out from a submerged boulder. My left hand strips in the slack and I lift the rod tip skyward hoping it’s not another snag. There is a slight hesitation as the indicator pops above the surface and my rod tip arcs down in the general direction. The weighty object moves away from the boulder and into the faster current that sweeps around in a waverly manner. Within the first 20 minutes I have my first fish on, I’m surprised and pumped. Within the deep flow of the undercurrent he tugs and pulls in a zigzag tussle as I keep a good hold of the cork handle letting him tire out against the current and rod pressure. He decides to swim forward, escaping the fast current, and I take in line quickly as he passes in front of me. He wrestles a bit more with the tight line before tiring enough that I get him near and get a hold of him!
With this catch I got super sensitive. Every drop of my indicator I quickly and forcefully raised my rod for a hook set. After losing two flies to tight bottom snags and 1 sharp upward pull, that caused my indicator and flies in an unreachable tree branch, I become more skeptical each time my indicator dropped. It took an hour or so and a trip to the van before I found myself down creek in unfamiliar territory. Even with the sun appearing now and then the water wasn’t becoming any clearer on running any slower. Though I hadn’t caught another fish I still felt the water color was to my advantage. Through a straight stretch I changed patterns often but noticed no obvious takes. I lost my last beaded red/wine by-color worm and found the cheap chenille on my orange San Juan came undone to the tie in point. I did have more non-beaded ones but with the strong current and deeper water, I was fishing now, I needed something heavy to get it down. I decided to knot on one of my Depth Ray Stones and drop one of the unbeaded San Juan’s off that.I have to admit I’ve never done very well nymph fishing Spring Creek in such cold conditions as some of my friends have. Maybe I don’t spend enough time in a good looking seam as they, drifting my nymphs over and over again until a trout gives in. Maybe I don’t hold my tongue just right or nip on the right kind of Scotch while fishing. Maybe the brown trout just don’t care for long haired, cigar smoke’n older gents from the North West part of the state.
Nearing a bridge I find myself hugging the bank in just above knee deep water. The run in front of me looks as though it deepens sharply beneath the bridge. I add a bit of weight just above the knot of my tippet connection and cast up creek a bit throwing a mend a bit upstream further. I hold the rod horizontal as the indicator passes by and dropping the rod tip some while following the indicator. Just this side of the bridge line something snatches the worm like the first green beer being slid down the bar towards a bunch of thirsty Irish mates. The indicator sinks fast and I knew instantly I had a good hook set. The take reminded me of how the big browns took a drifting worm imitation in the fast current of the Bighorn River out in Montana. The trout stayed deep and used the wide section of creek to wrestle, jerk and try to jar the hook loose. My left hand kept tension on the line and I brought him closer with every opportunity he gave me. Soon he was near enough that I lifted the rod high with my right hand and cradled him in my left. A portion of the San Juan hung out of his mouth as I cradled the nice wild brown within my hand. An olive yellowish hue ran along his soft belly just below a row of maroon colored specks that were haloed by a light bluish cast. The remainder of his silvery brown body was dotted with larger spots that were also within a halo of a light blue shade. The bottom of his olive fins were noticeably streaked with white. After unhooking him I let him swim away back into the cold flowing stream.
After another caught trout, shortly after the first, it was as if the other risers were aware of my presence. More fish rose though, to the BWO’s about, but became much more selective to my offerings. I changed body colors and pattern styles as well as hook size. #20’s were harder for me to see but I did raise a couple of the trout not rising to my #18’s. I’d go back to #18’s with just a CDC wing without a hackle and even an olive shade lighter on occasion. Fish were caught, some almost caught and some flat out missed. It got to be a bit frustrating at times, especially when I’d get caught up in a tree limb on my back cast, but I kept my composure and succeeded with another caught fish eventually. None of the trout were longer than 10”s but they were wild and frisky. When none took my dry I switched to a bead head emerger. On the first cast a brown whacked it like a rainbow grabbing a stripping streamer. I caught one more on the pattern before going back to dries. The cloud cover got to the point in which I found it easier to see my tiny dries without the use of my polarized shades. In time the wind died down, the air became colder and the rises slowed drastically.
I noticed three inconsistent rises back at the tail end of the pool and elected to try for them. As I slowly waded within casting distance the two closer to me quit rising altogether. The one further out was still finding a few BWO’s and would rise to the lonesome drifters.
I must have timed it right as my own BWO landed about a foot up creek from his last rise. He leaped forward at it as if he was afraid it was going to fly away. I pulled the slack line in immediately and lifted the rod high for a hook set. His tail whipped water along the surface and than arced his body and disappeared beneath. My BWO and line came back towards me in a wimpy arced fashion.
As I was crossing the shallow riffles, mid stream, I caught a glimpse of one more rise against the rock wall in a dead pool along the far side of a run that streamed through between two half submerged boulders. A direct cross creek cast would surely drag the fly line down quickly along with the dry. I waded downstream from the rise and cast up creek onto the pool. My BWO sat there in the dead water just long enough for the trout to rise and he sipped it in. I’m sure he was spitting mad when he felt the hook point pierce his lip and the force of the tight line and rod swoop him out of his lair. I caught one more blind casting out in the middle of a shallow run before calling it quits. My hands were pretty cold, my back ached and I was hungry from the long day on the water.
Back at the van I took out the Coleman stove and placed it on a bed of rocks. There I lit it and started water to boil in a pot. While waiting for the water to boil I changed clothes while quenching my thirst with a Labatt Blue, it tasted sooo good! When the water was boiling I plopped in a couple of already grilled beef wieners and recovered the pot with the lid. My quick meal consisted of the two dogs, corn chips, peperoncini’s, a couple of deer jerky sticks and a few home made cookies. I topped that off with a Cameroon figurado cigar while I finished another Blue. By than it was 8:30, I was alone, pretty whipped and, with nothing else to do, crawled into the back bed in my conversion van to dream about the fish I had caught and planned on catching the next day.