Saturday, June 14, 2014

Warming the Kettle

Warming the Kettle

  Saturday morning looked to be the perfect kind of day. The sun was rising with warmth with only a few light clouds moving overhead. There was no sign of rain with just a hint of a breeze. Yes, a perfect day for a long motorcycle ride or sitting on a sandy beach in a straw hat, a cold tropical drink and a cigar waiting for the sun to heat up the day. Here, I was dressed to trout fish, with fly rod in hand and every fly I could think of in boxes for this days outing I was about to partake in. I had my Bonehead shirt on, my straw hat, water bottle and enough cigars to last for a few hours up creek before returning to the van.
  Along the path, within the shade, a couple of fellows were already nymph fishing the shallow riffles. As I crossed the creek, beyond the canopy of trees, I noticed yellow stoneflies fluttering towards land. I continued up creek paying attention to the water flow, cover and any Mayflies I happen to come across.
  I stood along the bank looking over the deep pool of water. Shadows still covered the surface, from the tall trees behind me, but the far bank lit up spring green color from the still rising sun.

 There wasn’t a Mayfly, caddis or stonefly anywhere to be found. As I fished a Woolly Bugger I glanced around and couldn’t spot a rise anywhere. After about 20 minutes of streamer fishing I headed up creek to the narrower wavy current and decided to work my way down. The sun was heating things up and finally shown signs of brightness on the water between the leafy tree tops. I started to nymph fish but kept my eyes and ears open to any sign of a rise.

  I dropped the tandem nymph rig just shy of the tree branches that overhung from the bank. It looked like a good holding place for a trout with cover and shade beneath. As the line drifted down creek it arced outward and I gave a sharp upward tug. The line straightened and drew tight. My first trout was on and running down creek in haste. The current helped his cause as I let line out of the reel through tightened finger pressure. He turned towards midstream and I lifted the rod higher and towards my side of the bank. With a head jerk, that jolted the rod tip, he cut across creek and headed back up to where we began the battle. I took in line while keeping pressure on him. When he got to the overhanging branches I tilted the rod down and backed up towards dry land. He tussled a bit more and than took to the current and swam down creek. I got him turned around and soon had him coming my way in defiance.

I continued to nymph my way down creek without another take until I came to the deep pool again. My drift was just at the back end when I noticed the line stop briefly. I pulled up creek and felt a heavy load. The fight just wasn’t too frisky but the tugs and pulls put a strain on the line and rod. I wrestled the heavy weight towards me and was surprised by my catch. A big scaled sucker gave me a notice that not only trout feed on nymphs.

I continued to fish alone enjoying the morning though I never noticed any trout feeding on top. On my return to the van I stopped now and then and fished in likely lies. I caught a couple more trout before returning to the parking lot and prepare for the evening.

  I left the project area and drove down stream where I fished the evening before. It was going on 2:00 and the sun was high and mighty. I opened a bottle of cold brew and made myself some lunch. I had plenty of time on my hand and to relax and let the sun dip lower to cause some shade on the long stretch of water. Friday evening I had refusals to my coffin flies and was running low on the shade and size of my March Browns. I took out my Renzetti Travelers 2200, hooks, and fly tying material and tied up a half dozen of each.
After cleaning up I grabbed my 4wt fast action fly rod and gear and headed to the creek. Crossing towards the other side I didn’t notice any risers or Mayflies about. I waded up creek, along the bank, ¾ the way towards the fast tumbling water. My plan was to take my time, as the sun began to set and dry fly fish my way down creek.
The sun was still up high and I could feel the heat on my exposed body. It cast some shade upon the water along the tree lined bank across creek. I rolled up my sleeves and looked down creek at the long flat stretch. I know this section well with deep runs and submerged boulders with some shallower sections with rocks strewn out beneath. I never walked the far side but have seen many sippers and risers enough to know it was deep and good places for trout to keep out of the blazing sun. Most of the fish on that side were safe. With tree and brush hazards behind me and deeper water mid-creek it was nearly impossible to get a long cast out there let alone a good drift. I put my rod under my armpit and pulled out a cigar while looking down creek for risers again. I just had a good feeling I was going to have some fun dry fly fishing even if I didn’t see many risers…yet!

 There has been controversy about line shy trout ever since I could remember. In one of W. Tapply’s books I remember something he wrote that I always keep in mind. Before there was fluorocarbon or light tippet, such as 5x or 6x line shy trout were still caught. The trick, if that’s what you call it, he explained is that he just used longer leader and tippet. Knowing I’ll be casting #12 and possibly #10 flies if the Drakes appear, I knotted on another foot and a half of 5x tippet to my tapered leader. I knotted on a Para-March Brown and lit my cigar.
My cast was out midstream. The dry fly drifted over the deepest part of the creek with the white calf tail parachute sticking up like a sore thumb. From the depth a fish rose, flashed and grabbed my dry. I had the rod lifting on his take as I caught him red handed trying to steal my enticing imitation. He was a frisky fighter but was no match for the 4 weight. I brought him in handily.

As the sun started to set a bit behind the tree tops, still leaving some parts of the creek in direct sunshine, a few trout started to rise. I seen a few Light Cahills fluttering upwards now and again but I stuck with my march Brown.

  My dry fly landed towards the far side of midstream. I could tell there was a quicker current just beyond where the dry fell. The current drifted the dry flawlessly along the seam where the tree line shadows met with the sunny water surface. It teetered with the small waves of current as if it was struggling upon the surface. The rise was a quick slurp that almost brought the trout clear out of the water surface. I yanked back the rod tip and felt the line tighten from the hooked fish. I could feel he wasn’t very big but another gallant fight by a frisky rainbow gave me a just reward.
 Along my side of the bank a fish rose as I was freeing my last catch. I brought in the long length of line and looped a cast ahead of the bank side rise. I let the extra slack drift the fly towards the fish and waited for the take. Sure enough he took the parachute March Brown with a swirl as if it was a spinner just drifting along the bank. Once hooked he shot out away from the bank like a scared rabbit jumped from its set. He stayed beneath, unlike the rainbows, and fought with headshakes as he tested the 5x tippet. Getting him closer he rose and I could see he was a fine brown trout with lots of energy to spare.

 There was a fish, within the shade of a tall overhanging branchy tree, feeding regularly near the far bank. It would be a long cast but with the brush behind me I couldn’t get enough line out on my back cast to get my fly nearer to him. “If only I could get out towards the middle I’d have a chance.
  Down stream the water smoothed out mid creek as if it was shallower. I waded down creek some and a fish rose to something on top. I pulled line out and side armed a cast down and across letting the fly drop with my leader behind. It passed the spot he rose beforehand but I seen him rise and turn on the fly. Within seconds he caught up with it and grabbed it before it drifted any further. Another trout came to the net.

 I found a way across the shallower water to get myself mid creek to make a play for the feeder beneath the overhanging tall tree across creek. Standing on a flat boulder I let a cast go up creek a ways from the riser. The dry fly fluttered down to the surface and it wasn’t on the water more than a short drift before a fish rose with quickness before the dry could drift any further. I wasn’t expecting the quick rise but my natural reaction pulled the rod tip backward which led to another tight line. The fish fought exuberantly as I was able to get him towards me without him coming loose.

 I was having a good time picking off rising trout but my eyes still keyed on the feeder across creek. With a long back cast, with a single hull, I let the long length of line shoot forward across creek. It looked as if the dry would drift within the sight of the feeder. He rose with an uncommon splash and I yanked the long length of line up creek. Another tight line, with a flexed rod tip, told me I had him. He fought with tugs but, though he felt heavy, he didn’t fight with darting pulls or swift turns. Getting him closer I knew something was different about this fish. To my surprise he turned out to be a big chub.

 I caught a couple more as I continued to wade and fish down creek to the much slower water that I fished Friday evening. There were a few fish rising but I had a hard time getting them to take my parachute dry.
  I noticed a good splashing rise nearer the bank but it wouldn’t rise to my imitation March Brown. Up creek, there was another fish feeding pretty regularly. I cast upstream and sure enough he took the dry with a quick turn as he rose. Another trout came to the net.
 By now the sun was well below the tree tops and the surface water was in complete shade from the sun. Nearer to me I watched a fish rise to my dry, inspecting it, and swam beneath refusing my imitation. I decided to switch to a full body Catskill tied March Brown.
My cast was in the direction of the heavy splashes of the occasional trout rising nearer the far bank. I mended up creek for more slack in the line for a longer drift. The far bank current was a lot slower and I needed the extra slack as to not let the bulky dry drag in the current.
  Wham, the trout rose with a tumbling take. I lifted the rod instantly and the battle began. He shot out from the bank down creek with force and hatred. We tussled as he wouldn’t give in getting nearer to me. He pulled line through my fingers and turned toward the far bank again. I swung the rod upstream with a tight grip on the cork handle. He swam parallel with the bank till he was straight across from me. I took in line, keeping the line taunt and rod tip flexed downward. He gave a swift tug and than headed towards me. I took line in quickly and soon he was only a few feet in front of me. I had my left hand holding the net in the water when he shot up creek when he seen me. I had to let line slip between my right fingers against the cork as his escape was stronger than I expected. I got him turned around and splashing towards my net. My last trout of the day looked to be a hold over brown trout that had been able to elude many other fishermen.

 It was getting too dark to see my fly and it was evident there wasn’t going to be a Green Drake spinner fall. I hooked the March Brown to my hook keeper and waded towards the bank to exit the water for the evening.
At the van I cooked up some venison chops in BBQ sauce and quenched my thirst with another cooler cold brew.




Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Priming the Kettle

Priming the Kettle

  Arriving around 5:00 pm Friday there were two vehicles parked where I wanted to park along the stretch of Kettle Creek in which I wanted to fish. I pulled the van in leaving room for the two Ohio vehicles. Standing on the sloped bank I found the Kettle flowing peaceably. The sun rays glistened off the wavy surface water and exposed the creek bed of rocks and stones. Birds flew across the creek and chirped to each other in their pleasant way. The only fellows I seen were pretty far up creek and well away from the area I wanted to fish for the few hours before dark.
  I hurriedly changed into my fishing wear of chest waders and new wading boots. I exchanged some dry fly boxes for more appropriate flies for Kettle Creek. There was only a slight breeze so I uncased the Scott G2 rod and fitted it with my Allen large arbor reel with new WF5F Dyna tip line.

After stepping off the bank, into the creek, I waded down creek and towards mid stream. My hearing became acclimatized with the sounds of my surroundings. Besides the birds I subconsciously listened to the sound of the flowing water. I listened for any suspicious noises like a sudden splash. My eyes became accustomed to the flowing waves of the surface water. I kept watch for any disturbance or any swirls in the calmer water along the bank. Not wanting to disturb the quiet setting with a splashing weighted streamer I elected to nymph fish until I seen a rise. I knotted on a Sulphur nymph below a Dark Hares Ear. It didn’t take long for my first strike and real frisky fighting rainbow. He tugged and pulled at the medium action 9’ rod as the shaft flexed with each tug and pull.
 It wasn’t much time had passed before I was tussling with a brown trout that stayed well below the surface. He scurried away from the net a couple of times before I was able to get him netted.

 I kept to nymph fishing casting about towards the bank and under a tall shade tree. I seen a swirl just out from the shadow of the tree and let my offerings drift through. The take was quick as was my hook set. This trout darted in quick turns and scurried about until I got it tired enough to get him close enough. I was surprised to see this trout was a brook trout.

 I was beginning to think this was a good omen for what I had coming this weekend with my first three trout were three different types.
  As the sun lazily dropped behind the trees upon the mountain top, it cast a long shadow across the bank and outward toward mid creek. I noticed a few big May flies about it the air. I also noticed a few trout feeding occasionally near the bank.
  I couldn’t resist and tied on a March Brown. While I was casting this out the wind began to pick up. I wasn’t impressed with the new weight forward line casting from my medium action rod. I just couldn’t get the distance and accuracy I wanted with the cross breeze. I moved around a bit until I got in a position I had more control. As the sun lowered more fish started to sip or splash the surface. Dark caddis was starting a hatch but I knew it would be too hard to see should I have decided to try an imitation. With the breeze and inconsistency of my casts, I wouldn’t even been able to estimate very well where my dark caddis would of fell. I stuck with a Para-March Brown.
 My cast was near the bank and the dry fly and line drifted as one without much drag on the fly that I was able to tell. A fish rose, as if turning on the dry, and took it with a swirling splash. I pulled the rod back and felt the resistance. We had a good battle going on as the trout stayed low and swam with strong pulls keeping his distance from the net. I finally got him settled down a bit and got him within distance to be netted. My first dry fly catch of the weekend was a fine looking brown trout. 

  As darkness started to close in I tried a couple different Coffin Fly Dries to match the ones about but the trout didn’t want anything to do with them. I even got to see a nearby trout turn away from my imitation after carefully inspecting it as it slowly drifted along the surface. Soon it was too dark to see anything on the surface at any distance so I waded out and made my way up to the van.

 This was just a primer of what to expect to come Saturday and Sunday on Kettle Creek.