Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Day Unspoken

Kettle Creek Sunday Morning 6/09/13

It’s not all about the Fish!

 With fly rod in hand I follow the trail up creek in the early morn. The endless flow of water riffles beneath the canopy of trees. The surface glistens where brightness has found its way between tree leaves and branches. Somewhere trout are hidden or camouflaged against the creek bed in the 2 feet of water. I have my mind set on up creek, away from the parking area, the road, or the easy access, so I continue on.
  Around the bend, out from under the canopy, the lush green forest opens to a much brighter state. The open air is fresh, clean, with a touch of spring dew. The fog is still on the rise blanketing the tree tops like a white feather quilt. Toppled tree limbs lay within the creek diverting the water flow and creating pools and riffles. Trout are somewhere within these diversions, I move on.
  I cross the shallows of pebbles and stone and reach the far bank. As I walk along the narrow trail wet blades of grass brush against my wading boots and pants as I travel. While I walk I keep an eye on the flat water to my right looking for any sign of a rise. I hear the tumbling water beyond. At the end of the riffles I stop for a minute and gaze into the water for movement. A slight breeze stirs the calm morning air and I feel the coolness upon my head through the openings in my straw cowboy hat.

 Looking down creek, once more, I look for any risers and see none. I walk up the trail and cross the creek through the shallows. Quietly I walk up the bank to a wide deep pool of water. The mirror image of the rise of the far bank and trees reflects on the water surface. A few leaves slowly move with the current. I pull out my first cigar and light it with the flame of my Zippo lighter. The smoke billows from the end of the barrel as I take my first full puff.
  I look over the situation, and not wanting to disturb the slow pool, I knot on a small nymph below a wet fly. With plenty of room behind me I pull out line as I false cast. The 9 foot Scott G2 is graceful and soon I let a long loop outward over the peaceful waters. It drops with a soft plop and begins to slowly descend with the incoming slow current. I watch the end of the fly line for any unusual movement as it drifts.

Small black tadpoles dot the shoreline and scurry should I move my booted feet. A bird swoops into a nearby tree and soon a songbird sings to the morning. As I cast and bide my time I catch movement up creek. A deer crosses the creek unaware of my presence. It stops for a bit and, stretching its neck downward, takes a healthy drink of the fresh running water. It looks towards the far bank as it raises its head and continues forward, water softly splashing from its hooves.

  Puffing on my cigar I watch as the deer wades to the bank and stops. It turns sharply as if it sees some movement beyond and stares down creek at me. I capture the scene and serenity of the moment. As it stands and stares I bring the rod up and back for my next cast. I fish the quiet water for sometime.

  Up creek I entertain myself in the faster current. Dropping my nymphs upstream and high sticking them across and down from where I stand. The moving soothing water murmurs its feelings. A small bird flitters about and lands on a root that extends from the sharp rising bank. A breeze stirs up and small white blossoms appear air born and falter to the water. Leaves flutter on branches of a young sapling. Rays of the afternoon sun now glistens upon the surface. I now feel its heat as it penetrates my shirt and warms my bare skin. I knot on a dry fly and proceed to try and make a fish rise. Hours pass unnoticed as I pacify my time in this tranquil setting.

  I wade and fish my way back to the parking area in due time. I only fish more likely spots than casting freely about. Finally, after crossing the creek, I step up to the trail and find my way back to my van. It’s still early afternoon. I take a swig of water to quench my thirst and decide what to do next.

 Not wanting to leave the beauty and solitariness of the day, just yet, I decide to drive down to Leidy Bridge. To my surprise there isn’t a fisherman in sight of this well fished section. I turn around on the narrow dirt road and park along the brush that grows between the road and the creek. I put on my gear once more and find my way down to the stream.
  The sun is shining brightly upon the water. I look up creek as the water ripples towards me in the shallows. It flows around my waders and continues towards the bridge unencumbered by any obstacles above the surface. The water flows around the abutments of the bridge and continues on as far as my eyes can see. Across creek a tall tree overshadows the water from the afternoon sun. I wade a third of the way across the creek, giving me plenty of back casting room, and begin to pull line out of the reel.
  The medium action Scott G2 flexes under the long length of weight forward line. With ease I cast forward to no specific locations until I see a rise within the shadow of the tall tree. I stand firm in the knee deep water and calculate the distance. I pull a few more feet of line off the reel and false cast until I feel sure I can reach my target area. With one foot towards my target I watch my long back cast and then bring the rod forward. The line loops above the water before me carrying my dry fly. I watch as my imitation reaches its destination and softly flutters to the surface. I bring in some slack line and watch the dry fly drift in the shadows

 I leave the peaceful waters before dark. I drive along the lake and follow the winding road that continues below the dam and along the river. I light up a Legend Ario Prima Calidad that my friend Mark had given me some time ago. The big ring cigar and dark Maduro wrapper looks potent. After the light up I find it to be of medium body and a smooth smoke for the long way home.

 Now, with my mind more at ease, I realize that from the time I awoke this morning until now not a word was spoken. Not a minute was wasted to worry.

The time spent wasn’t all about the fish.


Monday, June 24, 2013

All around Perfect Weekend


All around Perfect Weekend
 The Harley’s roared then bellowed as a musical group in song. Our five cycles traveled north to meet up with two other couples that would be waiting at the Kelly Hotel for the 2nd Annual John Rogers Memorial Ride. There we assembled with like minded riders and registered for the ride. Once we were ready our small group of 7 bikes put rubber to the asphalt and headed on out under the Pennsylvania sunshine. We deviated some of the route to give the out-of-towners a more scenic ride. The beginning of the ride we traveled along the Clarion River where people were also enjoying the day. Kayaks, canoes, float tubes and swimmers dotted the water as picnic goers and walkers enjoyed the day on land.
  When the road we traveled broke away from the river we traveled within the Allegheny National Forest where blooming mountain laurel graced the forest. The route led us to a Bar and Grille in Ridgeway for a break and cold drinks. There we picked up another couple who joined our group. In Johnsonburg we turned on Bendigo Rd. which took us through the forest again on a comfortable winding road passing through Bendigo State Park. Our next stop was the Dam Inn near Wilcox. There we relaxed on the outside deck overlooking the East Branch of the Clarion River. We enjoyed cold drinks and some munchies, and I a cigar, before we were back on the road heading towards Kane.
Another deviation from the route took us to Flickerwood Wine Cellars. We got there just in time for a guided wine tour, in the basement, before sampling their very fine wines. After a few purchases we were back on the road again to complete our 130 mile excursion. Back at the Kelly Hotel we had a meal, beers and a good time with the rest of the folks. 
 We left the Kelly Hotel filled to the brim, just after the live band began to play. A few of us headed towards one of the couples camp, in the ANF, where we sat around a camp fire into the night and watched the super bright moon rise above the tree line.
The morning came with plenty of sun and warmth. After a great breakfast we headed to my place. My friend Randy had started to fly fish and I planned on taking him out to catch some trout as well as giving him some pointers.

  On the water he trusted me as I suggested and tied a dry fly to his 6x tippet though no fish were rising. I showed him what areas to cast towards and let him take it from there. With long leader and long casts he made trout rise and hooked plenty. After a good while later, as we headed back to the van, he mentioned that this was the most trout he has ever caught in one day. (He was a bait fisherman before I helped him into fly fishing.)

After we got to my house we ate pulled pork sandwiches, chips and fresh cold slices of cantaloupe. After saying our good-byes he drove off on his blue Electra Glide Classic. I sat back and finished off the day with a frozen strawberry margarita.

Un weekend perfetto



Thursday, June 13, 2013

Back Deck Fishing

Back Deck Fishing
 I sit on the back deck. It’s about 8 pm on a Friday. The adrenaline of the work day is over. Dinner cooked, served and digested, shower taken and finally a time to relax. Just wanting something light and mild I toast the foot of a VS 10th Anniversary Robust.
 Birds chirp about and a dove coos in the yard’s fir tree. A dog is heard barking in the background. I can hear the neighbor mowing his yard across the street. Occasionally a few vehicles pass by but no sounds are overbearing to distraught my thoughts. The sky is a mixture of pale swirls of clouds that appear to move at ease below the blue atmosphere. The sun sets behind the tree line and an accumulation of cloud thickness holds back the hot suns rays. In shorts, a ‘T’- shirt, pen and paper I try to recall the outing of the Sunday before Memorial Day.

  It was a morning I really didn’t know where I wanted to fish. Well, not really ’wanting to fish’ but more like where I can go out for a short while being I had to be back by 4:00. The morning was a chill so I elected on being somewhere near 10:00, on a trout stream, preferably away from a crowd or noisy campers. It wasn’t until I packed the van, and feeling the weather, I decided to take the near hour drive to the delayed harvest section of Oil Creek.
  Upon arrival there was some kind of Memorial run/walk for cancer I believe. The parking area was filled with cars, canopies and even a radio broadcast. What did I know? I followed the road down to the gate of ’no further’ where only on other vehicle was parked.
  I didn’t know what to expect of the water conditions or any hatches so I took my caddis boxes, nymphs, dries and streamers. I selected my custom made 4wt fast action rod created by my good friend Skip of Mile Creek Custom Rods. It was a kind of dream I had of having a custom rod with a cigar theme. I sent him a Don Tomas Coronitas Cigar band and asked him to match the colors. I selected him mostly because of his craftsmanship and exquisite custom made cork grips. It was interesting as he showed me samples of cork, hardware and reel seat daily as he started the build. We discussed thread color and added detail all through the internet with pictures. When he handed it to me my eyes lit up with amazement and pride. The first time I used it was like an extension of my own arm. I even show it off now and then. The cost was minimal compared to the craftsmanship and use I have gotten out of it thus far.

 Out on the creek there were only two other fellows. One was fishing a spinning outfit while the younger fellow was nymph fishing with a fly rod. They were fishing the faster riffles that were about 3 to 4 feet deep that left me in the slower current draw. Though it was deeper it had much more surface visibility for me and the fish below. The creek was running low and clear so the area we selected I felt would be the most productive considering the conditions.
  I started out with a Woolly Bugger before turning over to a dry Caddis once I seen a rise. A few caddis were fluttering about but not many were seen on the surface. The younger fellow was catching trout now and then on a nymph in the riffles. One was a good sized brown. I succeeded with one brown trout myself on the dry before the two fellows decided to leave.
  I moved into the riffles and stood knee deep just off the bank. A few more caddis were appearing and with that a few more trout began to feed. For the next hour I pleasantly cast my own caddis imitation to every rise and would cast in the slower seems when no risers appeared. I caught a good selection of rainbows with a few brown trout mixed in before the caddis quit coming around when the bright sun sparkled the water.

  Two fly fishermen showed up and began to partake in the delightful day. One went up creek a piece to the next set of riffles while the other fished where I started in the morning over the deep slow pool. With my dry fly no longer producing and streamer fishing didn’t entice any strikes earlier I decided to dredge the bottom with nymphs.
I tried a good selection of nymphs before hooking into a curious rainbow. He was a bit frisky in the stronger current but I got him near and shook the hook loose as it barely set in the skin of his lip. After a few more unsuccessful tries I pulled out my last cigar, a Don Thomas Candela. I decided to knot on a green rock worm dropped below an emerging wet fly. This is when the fishing got interesting again.
  The first grab was a sharp tug at the end of the drift. I played the fish carefully more as to wanting to see which fly the trout took than to just get a picture of him. The rainbow fought in the current and splashed the surface a couple of times before I got a closer look. He took my simple rock worm pattern. Ok, and I did get a picture after all.

 Within five minutes I felt a sweeping take that literally flexed the rod tip outward and almost ripped the fly line out of my line hand. There was no doubt this trout took my emerger. The aggressive rainbow fought with enthusiasm right to my wet waders.

The next trout grabbed my rock worm with a dead stop of my fly line as if I got a bottom snag. I pulled back and the trout did likewise taking line upstream in the faster shallower current. It splashed about before turning towards the deeper section down creek. After a fruitful battle another trout came to the glove.
 The one that got away was a good hook set but he took me deep behind a visible submerged boulder. The leader came entangled with the boulder and within seconds my leader broke with both my imitations gone. I think I caught two more rainbows on the same setup before I started to feel the heat from my cigar near my fingers. I quenched it in the creek water and put the soaked nub inside my vest pocket with the others.  From that moment I moved down stream, from the other fellow, and began to fish my way down creek. Without any more excitement I latched the caddis hook into the hook rest and headed back to the van. There a fine Carolina Cigar Company cigar awaited me. The special 4 year aged long filler and Colorado Red wrapper was an excellent treat for the drive home.

  It's days like these I can reminisce about, while the local streams are muddied. Times like this I can sit back in a comfy cushioned deck chair, smile and write about, while smoking my last cigar of the day.
 In the distance peepers mimic each other as the light fades. The orange glow of burning tobacco draws closer to my fingers. The sound of a riffling trout stream reoccur within my thoughts as small puffs of smoke vanish into the night’s air!



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Brown Drake Tute

DT's Brown Drake

Hook: Dai-Riki #700 size #10 4x long
Thread: Camel Brown
Tail: Moose Body Hair
Wing: Dark deer hair
Rib: One strand of yellow floss
Body: Mahogany dry fly dubbing
Hackle: Dun Grizzly
Head: Camel thread

1. Thread wrap hook shank and bring thread to bend of hook.
dub a small ball of dubbing at the hooks bend

2. Take a few strands of dark moose body hair and even tips in stacker
 Measure the hairs to be about the length of the hook shank.
Tie in the moose hair just in front of the dubbed ball tightly so it splays up and outward as shown and trim excess about half the hook shank.

3. Trim a cluster of dark deer hair and even tips in hair stacker.
 Measure the wing almost the length of the hook shank.
With wings pointing over the hook eye, make a couple of soft loops with thread over the hair about a forth way back and then tighten down with a few more wraps. 
Wrap a few turnes in front of the wing to stand up

3a. Trim the hair shafts where they meet the tail butts and than tightly wrap thread around hair and continue to tail.

4. Tie in one strand of yellow floss as shown

5. With Mahogany dubbing, dub body forward. make a few dubbing wraps just in front of wing to stand straight up and then bring thread back behind wing.

6. Wind yellow floss forward in open even wraps to wing, tie down and trim excess.

7. Tie down one dun grizzly dry hackle as shown leaving a space behind wing to wrap a few turns of the hackle and bring thread behind eye of hook

8. Wrap hackle one turn in front of the other. You should be able to get three to four turns behind wing and at least two in front leaving enough room behind the eye of the hook for the thread head.

9. Make a neat head with thread and tie off.
Trim any unruly hair and dab some head cement on head.

Here's a Para-dun style Brown Drake I use in fast water or in the late evening to see better.
Use white polypropylene yarn for post, (or calf tail). I'll make the post a bit longer than usual and use permanent black marker to stripe the yarn. I leave the top pure white to see it better in the darkness or in the riffles.




Thursday, June 6, 2013

Contemplating a Fly By
A nymph fly fisherman turns over rocks and looks for shucks to determine his choice of pattern
A streamer fly fisherman starts with his favorite streamer and goes on from there
A dry fly fisherman looks for spider webs and spinner carcases

 It’s 2:30 in the afternoon. There isn’t a fly on the water nor a rise to be found on the river. The sun’s shining over the light chocolate water caused by the rain storm a couple of days ago. The visibility is about two feet along the shallows but only to distinguish rocks, boulders or sunken logs. Over Memorial Day weekend there was a prolific Brown Drake hatch that covered the river. On Monday spinner fall was found on dry rock tops and sandy banks. A rainstorm during the week had washed all that remained away. The river today is receding and starting to clear up some.
Times like these gets me to wonder just how smart or dumb trout might be. The main purpose of a trout is to stay alive as all creatures on this earth. I know trout can be finicky when it comes to food sources. I’ve seen and fished for them too many times and discredit those “dumb trout” thoughts.
 How does a trout know a hatch is coming on or more importantly, to me, how does it know how long, in days, it is going to last? When it begins I can assume there is a lot of activity of emergers and nymph below the surface. I’m sure the trout will eat till the hatch is over or into the night. Does the trout know if the hatch will begin again the next day or evening?
  After the Drake hatch last week a rain storm hit and washed everything away. The water is now clearing and I figure the trout are hungry. Though there is not a bug on the water. Will the trout know whether the Brown Drake hatch ended? Just maybe they’ll take a lone one drifting their way.
  I knotted on a # 10 Brown Drake pattern to my 5x tippet. I doused the 4x long body with dry fly juice and rubbed some on the hackle and wing. I splay the tail of moose body hair and pulled line off the reel. With a long forward cast my 12 foot long leader/tippet looped through the air and dropped my pattern outward onto a very slow current just out from the bank.
 The first trout to take my imitation was with a very noticeable swirling splash. I reared back the Vapor rod and the fish splashed before going deep. I let him wrestle with my line some in the shallows before I decided to bring him towards me. It wasn’t long before I had my first brown trout in my grasp. Within 25 minutes I landed 2 more browns, and than a brook trout came to hand.

This is the way it would go for the next 3 hours plus. One trout after another took my Brown Drake pattern and I even completed the trifecta with a rainbow.

Sometimes I’d just see the slightest swirl, at my dry, as if sipping a spinner. Other times one would porpoise at the drifting imitation or attack it as if they thought it was going to take flight. Once two fish rose with aggression for it and almost butted heads atop the water. I hooked one and after the release the other took the Drake on the very next cast with no competition. I always had to be ready. At times a trout would grab the dry as soon as it hit the water and other times I had to be patient, watching the imitation slowly drift on the slowest of current.
  While I fished there were two caddis hatches that lasted all of about 10 minutes each. The caddis would do their dive and rise tease but very few rested on the surface for very long. During these hatches a few trout would rise to them but I kept with my Drake pattern and continued to catch trout after trout.

 I never had to move outside a 12 foot square the complete time I was casting to trout. The 9’ fast action Vapor rod shot the weight forward Sage line, 12’ leader/tippet and fly to the location I wanted. It was guess work, not seeing the trout, but I knew they were there and they were hungry and I made them rise! 
  I used a total of 5 Brown Drakes, all the same pattern pretty much. Two broke off. One playing a trout that got wrapped around an underwater branch and after I tied anther on I must have had dry fly juice on my fingers when completing the knot. Two trout later the hook let loose and the tippet returned with a curl. Two other imitations got so tattered from the trout that they failed to look like anything that would fly let alone edible.
  Now and again I would look around to see if anyone was watching. The water was cloudy, as I mentioned, so there were no canoes or kayakers on the water. Just me, fishing and smoking my cigars.

There’s a time to call it quits, but when? Usually it’s when the fish stop rising to the diminishing hatch. The thing is, it was I that was making them rise in the first place and there seemed to be a good supply of hungry trout. Maybe, just maybe I’d call it quits if I caught “the big one!”
  My cast was down a bit from where I was catching most of the trout in a seemingly deeper drop with a slower, almost non-existing current. I let go a single haul and the Drake hit the water seconds after my fly line did some 12 feet away. It sort of glided down and the bushy deer hair was all I could see upon the shaded surface. The take was subtle as if the trout knew there was no urgency. I saw the swirl and brought back the long length of line like any other hook set. There was an immediate surface disturbance and then the line took off towards the shallow shoreline. I had to let the line out due to the force of the escape. He turned away from the grassy bank and headed down and across below me. I tried to force him towards me but he was more powerful than I expected. The rod arced stiffly as the fish took me into the deeper, stronger current that was to my back the whole time. He pulled and tugged in the current and I had to let him tire out. When he started to swim upriver I angled the rod down stream. He made a sudden jolt away and then swam down stream with the current. I began to think “this is the big one”. The sun penetrated the water and he raised enough I could see his long girthy body. I wished I had a net!
 We tussled a good bit longer as he fought down river from me but I slowly was getting him closer. He was pretty much giving up when I reached for him. He gave me one of those quick forceful tail swats and tried pulling away. The rod flexed downward and turned him back towards me. After a couple of misses I finally got the fat boy in my hand. He wasn’t very happy and kept fidgeting as I tried to get the hook out of the corner of his mouth. Once unhooked I got a quick photo before he squirted out of my hand safely.

I decided to fish a little more before calling it quits. I returned to the open water above the fast current but failed to make any trout rise. I looked around and seeing no rises headed up to the van.
  I drove down the road to a more open parking area and changed into street clothes while quenching my taste buds with a Bud Black Crown. It was near 6:00pm by now so I took the long way home and followed River Road to route 36.….with a Brickhouse Short Torp pleasing my lips!
It turned out to be way more productive than I ever imagined. I wonder how many fly fishermen, not seeing a trout rise or bug on the water, would have ever attempted to use a dry fly.


Here's a few more