Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Day After


The Day After

 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.
 At the tying bench, that evening, I checked for some Brown Drake patterns on line and in field books but they didn’t appear to my liking. This is one of the reasons I like to tie my own flies. I can match a mayfly to my liking and fish it with more confidence. With the Drakes fluttering in the plastic cup, I tied a few patterns to mimic their size, color and silhouette. I was anxious to try them out on the river in a couple of areas I know trout lurk.

 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.
“I think they are Drakes that are flying around” he mentioned
“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.

  My easy cast put the imitation a bit up creek from the targeting riser. There wasn’t a hint of caution as the trout aggressively took my dry. Too much slack in the line and not enough attention left me with a limp line and a missed fish. Jeff and I laughed it off. He was trying for his own riser while I tempted mine. On my third cast I was ready and he took the chance to try and steal my offering again. This time the line tightened and I felt the aggressive, hearty fish battling beneath. He darted about with strength and force in the undercurrent. I was using 5x tippet for casting the big Drake so I was willing to force the fight towards me at times. I got him close enough to see his silvery sides and soon the hearty brook trout came to hand.
 The next rise within casting distance, without too much effort, was out between Jeff and me. Jeff was casting upstream to another so I gave this one a try. My first cast landed the imitation upstream from the trout and a bit shy. I watched as the Drake drifted towards his vision and just caught the glimpse of him just before the take. I was Jerry on the spot and instantly set the hook with a rising rod tip. He turned with a splash and darted deep and away. The rod tip flexed towards the pull and I gripped the cork a little firmer. He gave up a good battle beneath with quick turns and sharp tugs. Nearer to me he was still quite energetic as he shot outward as I tried to get a hand on him. Finally he gave in.

 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.
Outward in the calm water a few fish rose but my big Brown Drake pattern failed to stir up curiosity and no trout cared to take a taste of it. I began to see an assortment of caddis as well as a few different mayflies. Fish rose occasionally but I failed to make one rise to any of my imitations. I looked towards the bank and seen a couple of consistent risers. Wading towards the bank I noticed a few more Brown Drakes and tied on my big imitation.

There was a good rising feeder that appeared to be just swimming around and rising at will. Every time I cast where he last rose, he rose elsewhere away from my resting imitation. I stopped for a moment and tried to figure out his swimming routine. It was almost as if he was swimming in a big circle looking for a lazy easy meal that lay upon the water. From his last rise I cast towards the direction I thought he might be swimming towards. It was a big gulping slurp on my Drake that I reared back the long length of line and felt the heaviness on the other end. He went deep and took off with power and I let line slip through my fingers till line peeled off my spool. My wrist locked as I gripped the cork tightly, I could feel the weightiness of a heavy fighting fish. He got himself in the riffling water that exited into the river from the mouth of the incoming mountain creek. Every time I got him close he shot away and I had to give him line. Now and again, during the battle, his big tail fin protruded above the surface before he forced himself deep. I narrowed the distance, as his energy started to relinquish, and started to wind wet line onto the spool. Nearer to me I could see what I was battling with. A nice husky smallmouth had been testing my skill and the strength of my tippet and Winston Vapor rod. In the shallows, near the bank, I got him cornered and raised him in my grasp.

 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.

 At the van I reached into my three finger cigar pouch and pulled out a Bohemian Red Corojo chisel tip. Pinching the tip opened the cap and I lit the end of the barrel. I took my time driving down River Road towards home.


Bown Drake
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



  1. It's always nice when a plan comes together!
    Those are some healthy looking brookies for sure.

    1. Nice indeed! When those stocked creek trout find their way to the river and survive, they put on some weight and the fight is stronger.