Unprepared on the Clarion River
I hadn’t been out fishing for awhile being I had a couple of Cycle rides planned for overnight stays. The dry fly trout fishing hasn’t been the best this year being the heavy rain during the weeks made for high water and unfavorable conditions. I’ve had been tying smallmouth patterns for a friend the past couple of weeks after work and this has been getting me anxious to fish the river for smallmouth. For myself I tied up some popular poppers and sliders I’ve used with great success in the past. The green frog poppers are a killer.
Well, when I got down to the river it was high and brown stained. The further I drove upriver the cloudy it appeared to be. My first thought was to keep on driving and spend the next 45 minutes or so driving due north and trout fish the tail water of a dam. The problem was I didn’t bring any waders and I knew the tail water was going to be quite cold. At least I brought my float tube and not wanting to give up decided to give it a go anyway.
I stopped at my favorite smallmouth fishing section and pumped up my float tube. I had discovered that I forgot my short flippers that help in the deeper sections. Not only that, with the stronger current it’s going to be difficult to ’steer’ the tube in the direction I may want to go! I loaded up the tube, put a fresh 3X tapered leader on my 6 weight Winston and headed down the bank.
The water was colder than I expected as I stepped into the knee deep water. The late morning was overcast and the cool breeze didn’t help warm my upper body very much. I didn’t bring a warm long sleeve shirt so I was hoping the sun would stay out and keep me a little warmer than without it.
I got stopped, mid-river, just to the side of tumbling water over an uprising boulder. I planted my feet firmly on the river bed and let the float tube, roped and clasped to my belt, float down a few feet from where I stood. I attached a Clouser to my fast-snap and started to cast into the pocket water behind the boulder and slower current that followed. This looked like a nice spot to fish a weighted Hellgrammite pattern so I attached the heaviest barbell eye pattern I had. The second cast, upriver, behind the boulder the pattern didn’t tumble very far before I got a hard bump. I though maybe I had a snag but to my surprise I felt a fish fighting the line in the heavy tumbling brown stained water. I got it circled around and was surprised of the brown trout I had hooked.
Down in the river I started fishing Clousers, bugger and the Hellgrammite patterns. There were occasional canoes and kayaks that passed by but they kept their distance in the wide area so they weren’t a problem or a hazard. I spent a couple of hours and only caught 1 small smallmouth for my time spent with one of my Clouser patterns.