Sunday evening I was cruising along River Road that follows the Clarion River. The air was filled with big Drakes as they fluttered and darted about. I pulled off the road in a number of areas to see where fish were rising for them. I probably looked silly, to the Kayakers, as I stood above the bank of the river trying to swat or catch one of the drakes in my hat to identify it. After catching one I determined they were Brown Drakes. I managed to collect four of them and put them in a plastic container to take home to the vice.
Monday morning, around 10: am, I looked over the water, from the side of the road, and noticed a few Brown Drakes hovering about. I noticed a few risers also within casting distance but the bank was too steep from my vantage point. I drove up the road, parked, got my gear on and headed down to the river. I selected on my Winston fast action Vapor rod and weight forward line. At the waters edge I stepped in and began to toss a bugger into the riffling current. I thought maybe I might catch a smallmouth or two, or even a trout, before I got downstream to the risers. When the water got too deep to wade in I returned to the bank and took the trail down towards the risers.
On the grassy bank I tied on one of my Drake patterns and cast out to one of the recent risers. The Drake fell upon the slow current and slowly drifted within sight of the latest rise. The visual take was just a dimple rise and I missed the hook set. After a couple more casts, he wouldn’t rise again, so I cast further out onto a better current flow. My Drake imitation drifted a little faster with the bubbles that were stirred up by the water overrunning half submerged rocks and boulders. The fish that rose earlier didn’t appear hungry enough to take my imitation. I waited for the next rise before casting out again.
There were a group of submerged flat rock and small boulders beneath that looked like good cover in the clear water. A fish would rise now and than and I got a good local from my view point. With a long successful back-cast I let line out at the end of my forward cast that looped above the water. My cast landed my Drake upstream from his whereabouts and I patiently waited for the rise. Sure enough I seen the quick dimple and I reared back the slacked line for the set. Again I came up empty. The rises didn’t seem to me to be as aggressive towards my imitation as to the real thing. I thought maybe it was just chubs or maybe small smallmouth playing games with the big Drake imitation. It wasn’t long the few fish quit rising within casting distance but I did notice a few risers across the river near the far bank. I decided to walk up creek to the shallower riffles and cross over.
When I got to the other side I worked a bugger in the riffles until I was well within range of the previous risers. I didn’t see anymore Drakes about as the sun was now in full view between the puffy white clouds. I didn’t see any risers either but knotted on a Drake pattern and cast about aimlessly. Well, it was a good 2 hours of being fishless that I decided to take my Drake imitations to another area in hopes of some top water action.
Nearing 1:00pm I was driving up River Road slowly looking over the water. Looking upriver I noticed one lone fly fisherman casting a line out in one of my favorite trout areas. As I turned the corner, sure enough, Jeff’s truck was parked just beyond the bridge. I tooted the horn and he turned and waved. After parking I got my vest and rod and headed down to greet him.
“Brown Drakes”, I replied. “There were a ton of them last night all over the water”
“You got any? I don’t have anything that big” He questioned
“Tied some up last night“.
I waded over and handed him a stand up dry and a spinner. I waded down stream from him and we waited for a rise. There were three with two being within casting range of both of us.
For the moment Jeff and I stood talking and watching for any more risers. Without any more trout giving up its position on the calm water we decided to call it quits. At the van I handed him a Carolina Cigar and we parted ways. He headed to Brookville to get a bite to eat and possibly fish the North Fork before heading back to Pittsburgh. I headed homeward for dinner before returning for the evening hatch.
It was near 6pm when I returned. A few Brown Drakes fluttered about but not the heavy hatch I was hoping for. There were quite a few small tan caddis about and it took some time before I seen the first rise. A long cast and sure enough a trout took the imitation without hesitation. After a fierce battle with the energetic trout the angry brook trout came to hand.
Back out in the open water I again tried to convince any risers to take one of my many imitations but they were obviously keying on something I didn’t offer. When I was no longer able to see tying another dry on I called it quits.
Hook: Dai-Riki #700, size 10, 4x long
Thread: Camel #8
Tail: Moose Body Hair
Wing: Dark Deer Hair
Rib: One strand yellow floss
Body: Mahogany Dry Dubbing
Hackle: Dun Grizzly
Head: Camel thread