Thursday, March 26, 2015

Between the Raindrops

Between the Raindrops

 I finally got the chance to take a day and fish a Pennsylvania trout stream. Two days after getting back from North Carolina, in early March, I came down with flu like symptoms that lasted a good couple of weeks. The creeks were frozen over and it had been cold most of the time anyhow so I’ve been nursing my sickness and tying flies. I was getting the itch, and it wasn’t from being ill, I just needed time on the water. With the warmer daytime weather the past week or so melted plenty of snow which brought water levels up and cloudy. I’ve been checking the weather reports daily and it looked like Wednesday would be my best bet. It was suppose to be near 50* with occasional showers. I was pretty sure the water level of the Big N Creek would be ok but I wasn’t too sure of the color. It didn’t matter I posted on face book “I’m going fish'n tomorrow. Not sure where but I will be in the water with fly rod in hand!!” And that was my goal.

 The predicted showers showed up earlier than I expected as I drove the 50+ miles to the creek. Crossing the bridge, over the creek, the water appeared with a greenish tint, good flow and not too deep not to wade in. The excitement of getting a line wet was becoming overbearing but I stopped at the fly shop, as I always do, along the creek to say hi to the owner and I always purchase something. It didn’t take long before I was in my van dressing for the fishing engagement.

 Near 50?, bull. It was down right cold. The rain fell in small droplets as I entered the creek. The coldness of the water was quickly felt around my calves. My starting point was just above the shop hole in the wavy current. There was one other fisherman downstream fishing the deep hole. I watched him enough to know he was nymph fishing. I mostly always start out with a woolly bugger. This is not only my favorite streamer but it also stretches the arm muscles and gets the stiffness out of the fly line quicker. With a little extra weight I started to cast the bugger out getting a feel for the SAS 5weight rod. Within the first 5 minutes I got a bump and soon I had a fish struggling on the end of the line in the wavy current. Once he came to the surface the hook gave way and he disappeared below the surface. At least I knew that the trout were willing to take a Woolly Bugger in the cold water and weren’t just lying dormant.
 I kept at it with the bugger and soon I got my first trout to the net. The rain was still falling so I didn’t dare take the camera out of the zip lock bag in my raincoat pocket but it was a nice brown trout about 12” or so. With that I took out a fat Gurkha stogie and lit it up just in case the rain started to fall in bunches.
 As I slowly made my way towards the big, slower current hole, I switched colors of buggers tempting those trout who wanted to exert some energy and grab the drifting/swimming bugger. It wasn’t long before I was able to hook and net a nice trout.

 A sheet of rain blew across the water just after the catch with a chilling breeze. My fingers were stiffening. The water that flowed against my thighs was a constant reminder of how cold the creek really was. Still it was going to take a lightning storm to get me to quit.
 The other fisherman had pulled out a couple of trout so I decided to resort to nymph fishing. With a San Juan worm and a PT nymph for a dropper, under an indicator, I was soon in the monotonous routine of systematized nymph fishing.

 The roll cast looped the indicator up stream and my two imitations followed, for about the umpteenth time. I gave a mend up creek to be sure the indicator didn’t put an unneeded drag on the nymphs. As the indicator passed before me it dropped just enough below the surface that my instinct set the hook. The trout pulled away with a tug and forceful burst of speed. My wet cold hand held the wet cork firmly as my line hand tensioned the line as needed. He put up a good struggle and run before he tired out and I got him to the net successfully. I was able to catch another but the boredom of nymphing the same small area was getting to me and I just had to get some excitement and blood flow through my body. I knotted on a Woolly Bugger and proceeded to entertain myself downstream.
 My casts were across creek, long and well placed where I knew the bugger would drift near boulders, seams and small pocket waters. The water I was now fishing was wide, a little shallower and the visibility was fair. The fish around shouldn’t have any problem seeing the buggers I put before them. I changed colors often and was rewarded with a couple more trout.
 As the afternoon turned into evening my legs were just about numb from being in the water so long. I waded out of the creek and walked my way along the path back to where I started. There were a few more anglers about trying there luck. I stepped in the creek again and tied on a tandem offering. The guy upstream was doing pretty well hooking up to fish so I was hoping it wasn’t going to take too long for myself to get a hook up. Every few casts I would gradually change the depth of my nymph presentation. I changed nymphs a couple of times and knotted on a Dark Hare’s ear. I was hoping the brighter gold tinsel might bring some flash and curiosity to the bottom hugging trout.

 The indicator passed me and I gave the line a short upstream mend not disturbing the indicator. As my presentation drifted further down creek the sudden drop, of the pulled indicator, lifted my spirits as well as the rod tip. The trout took off, surfaced with splashing remarks and dove deep. The 5 weight rod flexed with enjoyment as I cautiously brought the trout near with my line hand. Holding the rod high with one hand I scooped the nice rainbow from the water.
  After about another half hour I didn’t see anyone catching anything and the fellow fishermen were starting to move to different locations. I tied on a Wooly Bugger, having more room to fish, and slowly fished my way down to the bridge which was only about 30 yards away. I didn’t get any strikes so I turned back to the bank and walked back up creek. I was about ready to leave, after getting a bad tangle in my tandem set up but took a break and put on a fresh tapered leader.
 A few more fishermen showed up so I figured it had to be getting around 4:00 or so. I entered way up in the faster water and began to present my Woolly Bugger in the faster current. My legs began to feel the coldness a lot quicker than they took earlier. The sun came out and it did make it a more pleasant evening of fishing. I might have got a bump or two before I got to the slower current beyond the riffles but it was hard to distinguish with the rocky strewn riffles.
 I was getting impatient and hungry but I wanted just one more catch before I left. Maybe I looked funny casting out and using a Wooly Bugger in the slow current hole to those nymph fishermen but I didn’t care. I had already hooked up 4 times on them and was hoping for one more.
 I was casting the bugger covering as much territory as my cast would allow. I felt a bump just before the line straightened out and I was sure it was a fish. I concentrated on the fish and was determined to hook into it. I pulsated the bugger at times as well as let it dead drift. I tried all sorts of maneuvers to get the bugger with tempting action. Every once in awhile I felt a bump but it just wouldn’t grab it. I had thoughts about clipping the marabou tail but I thought it might not have the same effect. It was a case of who had more patience to keep on teasing each other.
 Just at the end of one drift I twitched the rod tip to give the bugger more action. Maybe it was coincidence that the trout struck at the same time of one of my twitches or maybe he just had enough and decided to gobble it up. Anyhow the rod flexed good and with a short jolt I set the hook. The trout stayed deep with fierce tugs and pulls. I kept the rod up as he began to swim up creek before me. He scooted further out but lost his energy in the coldness of the water quickly. I netted the fine brown trout that looked as if he’s been around for awhile.

 With a smile on my face I hooked the bugger into the hook keeper on my rod and waded out.

 It was a cold but well needed fishing adventure that I needed to take the edge off of the long cold winter. Trout fishing one of my favorite creeks that I used to fish with my grandfather before it became a delayed harvest area brought back memories.

 After changing clothes I ate a couple of Girl Scout cookies and washed them down with lemon flavored water. Before leaving the parking lot I lit up a fine Alec Bradley Prensado for the relaxing drive home.


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