Friday, September 12, 2014

Meanwhile on Tionesta Creek

Meanwhile on Tionesta Creek
 There was a steady breeze in the early afternoon. The white puffy clouds were moving along the sky as if the wind gusts were pushing them along. The creek looked inviting. The water flowed easily in the shallows, rolled with riffling effect as it narrowed and then rushed towards the outside bend. There it waved and tumbled near the bank till it emptied into a deep pool of water where submerged boulders laid beneath. The inside bend was calm, clear and flowed easy again.
My Woolly Bugger tried the riffling current. The first hook up was quick and hard. There was no easement in the quick current to guide my catch. The trout surfaced and the force of the surface current was too much as the hook found its way loose from the lip. The trout disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.
  I cast out towards the deeper pool, after adding some weight. It searched for another trout without success. I moved to the calm water near the far bank and searched some more.
  Swinging and easing my strips I felt the swipe at the end of my line. This time I was able to gain better control of my catch in the slower current. It wasn’t long before my 9’ custom 4 weight fly rod was able to bring the trout to my net. A fine looking rainbow was captured.
Late summer trout are scarce in a stocked stream this time of year but the ones that are usually caught are much bigger than when in the early spring.
The breeze came and went as the smoke from my stogie showed its path and forcefulness. On occasion the sun peeked out and brightened the day. There were no mayflies about so I stuck with my Wooly Bugger searching for another hungry trout.
  The next trout took the Bugger as I stripped it in towards me. He flashed and turned outward towards the opposite bank. We wrestled until his strength eased and I brought another to my net.


 The afternoon was relaxing and calm. Seldom did a vehicle drive along the road disturbing the quietness of my surroundings. I had no where I needed to belong, time was on my side!!

 As evening came the sun moved behind the treetops upon the mountains. The sun rays bounced off the white clouds leaving plenty of daylight but shadows covered the bank sides. I lit another cigar and again continued searching.
 The long cast dropped my Woolly Bugger in the calmer water beyond the main flow of water midstream. Instantly I noticed the fly line dip below the surface quicker than expected. I stripped line back and reared back to take up the slack in hopes of getting a straight line to set the hook. I felt the resistance. At first it felt like I had a twisted heavy branch being pulled down creek with the current. I jerked the rod back enough just to make sure of the hook set. I felt the weighty fish arc with the line towards midstream, pulling and tugging wanting to take me down creek further. I knew right away this wasn’t a trout. It didn’t try to escape with speed but more trying to muscle his escape with weight and letting the undercurrent push him as he tried to stay at a crosscurrent angle. I gripped the cork tightly in my right hand with my left fingers tensioning the fly line as needed. Once I got the fish directly down creek from me I started to guide him towards me. As I brought him closer I held the rod with one hand as I undid the net from my belt and let it dangle in the water by the lanyard. The fish surfaced suddenly, splashing, trying to get away. There I seen he was a pig of a smallmouth. I reached to net him but he skimmed the surface water and headed back out midstream. I let enough line out, as the 4 weight flexed deep into the top third of its length, to settle the smallie down so I could get control again. I reeled line in until I had only a few inches of fly line extending from the tip top. As the rod arced the fish drew near enough I was able to scoop the big boy up.
“What a nice smallmouth”


 Was this to be my last catch?
 I fished for some time later making my way down creek some. I returned to the spot I caught the big smallmouth and decided to make my last few casts in the same area.
The evening started to cool as the sun lowered beneath the mountains making the shadows upon the water grow long. Even the creek water felt colder as it circled my hip waders. A few more casts I thought.
 I placed the bugger about where I had caught the smallmouth. I let the bugger sink a little longer before taking up slack and letting the slow current start to swing it down stream. I didn’t let it swing too far before I twitched the rod tip and started to strip the long length of line in with 3 second intervals. The line tugged, in between the strips, and I set the hook with a quick strip and yank of the rod. The force and speed of my captured fish took line quickly down creek. I knew this wasn’t another bass. Once I got him turned in my direction and calmed, I got him swimming in my direction with a lot of zigging and zagging. Once near he darted outward. I let him exert more energy hoping the hook wouldn’t come undone. Within time I got him close enough to scoop him up in my net. A fine rainbow completed the day.
 At the van I rewarded myself with a fine Nat Sherman mild cigar. I was surprised with the sweetness of the tip as I lit it.
Next stop was to be at The Kelly Hotel for wings and a couple of cold brews before heading home.




Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"Don't Count Me Out"

Don’t Count Me Out

  I look up and the sky is dull white as far as the eye can see. It’s like a painters canvas waiting for the artist to add color and beauty. The perception is, at this time, it isn’t going to happen. The rain falls from out of the pale skies in endless drops. Fallen raindrops spiral in the small puddles in the black driveway pavement. The day is gloomy and looks to be never ending.
“Looks like Jerry won’t be fishing today” I hear a familiar voice.
“Don’t count me out yet” I reply under my breath.

  I pack a cooler of drinks and put some extra clothes in my canvas duffel bag. Outside, in the light rainfall, I put the necessities in my raincoat including my Bugger Box, a couple of caddis dry boxes, nymph box and terrestrial box. In the rain I don’t expect to dry fly fish but one never knows. I piece together my SAS Scott rod and fit it with my Battenkill reel with weight forward line. I even knot on a Woolly Bugger. I make sure I have my camera and a few cigars and head north.
 As I cross the Lynch Bridge I notice one lone fly fisherman casting towards the roadside bank. I then realize that the rain had stopped. Down creek from the bridge a few people sit in lawn chairs overlooking the wide creek and a few youngsters are playing along the sloped bank where a few kayaks are shored. I turn right on rte. 666 and continue on. Sure enough campsites line the creek wherever possible. Tents of assorted colors are spread about the campsites with stone circled fire pits give off a cloud of smoke with a few flame flair ups. As I drive along the roadway I notice that the water is vacant of any human water activity. I can’t wait any longer to continue to examine my options and pull up to the guardrail leaving enough room to get my gear on.
  After suiting up I step over the guardrail and plop in the creek from the short sloped bank. It doesn’t take much time before I feel the coolness of the water around my ankles and calves through my hip waders. I light up a 55 sun grown and look up at the sky. The sky is now filled with stale blue clouds that only appear to move if I gaze long enough. I can hear a few birds chirping which gives me a good sign that maybe it won’t rain too long if it decides to start all over again. I can smell the wetness of the firewood smoldering in the nearby campsites along the creek. It’s peaceful and I’m the only fishermen in the vicinity, I like it!
  Once far enough from the brushy bank I start casting getting my timing and rhythm right. The water is pretty shallow as I’m making my way towards the deeper water beyond. As I am within reach of the deeper section I make long casts out and about. I move slowly and carefully upon the stony creek bed. I concentrate watching my fly line as it floats with the current while enjoying my cigar. I catch a flash across and down creek in what looks to be a deeper pocket.

 The water is no deeper than chest high this time of year and for now most of the water in this section might only get to be waist deep. The water is clear enough that I don’t need my polarized shades on to see through the water column. Besides that, as the humidity rises during noon time, having them on will only cause foggy lenses. I can already feel the heat beneath my raincoat.

  I take a few steps down creek and pull back for a long cast. I wait the extra second and cast the line forward with bugger in tow. The line straightens out in front of me and the bugger plops upstream from the deeper pocket. I take in a little slack and watch the fly line, upon the water, float with the slow current. I wait for a tug. As the bugger swings through the pocket I nimbly twitch the rod tip for a little more action. I feel a tug near the end of the arc and wrist the hook set. The surface water stirs down creek from the captured trout. He twists before struggling to take line further.
“He got a fish” I hear from the bank.
I give the trout some tensioned line, just enough to let him know he’s stuck. I move the rod up creek to my left and he follows as he tries to swim further out. I let the rod flex a little more towards him and he decides to struggle closer. I have my net ready as I lift the rod higher and he slaps the surface water as he enters.
“What is it?” I hear the questionable shout from the bank.
“A trout” I answer back.
“Looks like a nice one” comes a reply

The rainbow appears to be in fall colors. The gill plates are brightly colored red. Its sides are silvery and like a singular stroke of an artists brush a fresh coat of pinkish paint runs across its lateral line. Its fins are dark maroon, a fine colorful specimen.
I hold the trout up for the bank side audience to see. Three campers look on as I release the trout back into the stream.
  Without much hesitation I cast again out towards the last catch. As the bugger swings into the pocket I feel and see the line move with a swiping take as if the trout is going to make sure no other has a chance at it. The arc straightens towards the far side of the creek as the trout motors with the stolen bugger. The rod is already flexing and I only twitch the rod back a bit to make sure the hook is set good.
“He’s got another” I hear from my bank side audience.
  This one is a little more playful and aggressive. He shoots up creek and away. With my side pressure he turns just subsurface, enough to swirl the surface water, before heading back down creek. I try to keep the trout from rising to the surface by keeping the rod tip down. The trout swings to my right and I give him a little line as he enters through a riffling stretch of water caused by big beneath surface boulders. I raise the rod to keep the leader from dragging against the boulders. He continues to swim to my right until he feels more pressure from the flexing rod. I take in line as he swims nearer. I take my net out from my belt and get ready to net him as I try to get him under control. He surface splashes as I bring the net up with him inside.
The rainbow trout is an artists dream. It almost appears artificial. The gill plate is heavily marked in rouge red as if someone just applied the make up. Its lateral line is a sparkling crimson red, wet from the water and it glistens under the brightened suns rays. Its silvery body is speckled as if fresh ground black pepper was just sprinkled upon it. The fins are a soft maroon shade, thin and translucent.

With a twist of the forceps the hook dislodges from its mouth. I tilt the net and the fish swims free.
  I catch two more beautiful rainbows before a rise occurs, a little further downstream, still within casting distance from where I stand. The temptation is too real and I decide to try for it with a dry caddis imitation.
  The first cast drifts near enough to his strike zone but he doesn’t rise. My next cast I drop the imitation well within his sight. The dry drifts a half a foot and the fish takes the dry with an arcing splash. I rear back quickly and feel the rod flex. He struggles below and than heads up creek against the surface. I could tell he isn’t as strong as the rainbows so I don’t give him much line. Up creek he circles around me as I hold the rod in one hand while reaching for my net. The brown trout raises enough for me to net him quickly.

 The brown trout isn’t as fancy colored as the rainbows. Big dark black spots cover its dark olive brown body with a few deep orange speckles scattered about tapering towards the tail. I unhook the dry fly within his mouth and release the brown trout in the flow.
  I fish for about another hour slowly making my way down creek. I catch two more colorful rainbows before heading back to the van. By now my inner shirt is soaked from the heat that is being stored within my raincoat under the afternoon sunshine. At the van I put my rod inside and hang my raincoat on the rod rack. Its 2:30 so I decide to drive down creek to Lynch Bridge and see if I can catch a few more.
  Within a half hour of slowly wading down stream fishing the Woolly Bugger I am outmaneuvered by a big boulder I come across below the surface of the water. I was wading down creek with short steps when my left ankle came in contact with the submerged boulder. I was only in just below my knee caps when it tripped me up. I remember trying to raise my foot higher, as my balance was already leaning down creek. Not being able to find the top of the bolder or a sturdy place to steady my foot I went down on my side. I dropped the rod out of harms way and was able to break my fall with both hands without a scratch. When the water reached my neck I lifted myself up quickly. After grabbing my fly rod I pulled out my camera. Though it looked only slightly wet I was sure it had a quick good dunking being it was in my shirt pocket. I had left the rain coat in the van. I waded out to the van and wrapped the camera in a paper towel after taking out the battery and film card.
  Back in the water I fished my way a good piece down from the bridge. I caught two more rainbows and missed one before the rain continued long enough I decided to call it quits. I was pretty wet all around when I got to the van. It was a good thing I brought dry clothes. I quenched my thirst with a bottle of Busch Beer as I changed. By now the gray and slate blue clouds converged above and created an off and on drizzle.
 On the drive home I lit up a Marsh Wheeling Stogie. Except for the dunking of my camera it turned out to be not such a bad day after all.
“Never count me out” I mumble to myself!!