Monday, May 4, 2015

A Picture or it Didn't Happen

A Picture or it Didn’t Happen
5/02, 5/03 2015

Maybe it was my 4th cast or maybe my 7th of the morning. I drifted the tandem flies through a run in the riffles and felt a strike. After playing the trout towards me I got a visual and noticed I had caught two trout, one on the wet fly and one on the stonefly dropper at the same time. I strategically got them in the net and got a picture. I could have sat on the bank the rest of the day smoking a stogie, drinking a beer and watching the other guy’s fish and called it an excellent day. I mean, what could top that? What are the odds of catching a double?
 I continued fishing though but kept thinking about what I had accomplished. Than the question popped in my head “would I rather catch a double or a big brown trout?” Think about this. Which would you rather have caught in a trout outing? Not that you can control the outcome but…

Saturday 5/02/15

  Saturday morning Jeff and I turkey hunted but were unable to get any gobblers close enough to get an eyeball on them. After about an of hour of silence we returned to camp. By 9:45am we arrived to the open, all tackle waters of Oil Creek. Quite a few Grannoms were already about the water along with a few smaller caddis.
 Oil Creek is a premier trout stream in northwestern Pennsylvania. It has a great mayfly hatch as well as a caddis and stonefly hatch throughout the season. They say there are two kinds of fishermen that wade Oil Creek, “Those that have fallen in and those that are going too.” I have to attest it is one of the slipperiest creeks in Pennsylvania to wade no matter the season.
 By the time we got in the creek the Grannoms blanketed the water. Even my cigar didn’t ward them off. They were crawling on my glasses and vest. There were very few rising fish but nothing to get too excited about. The water was cold and so was the morning air temperature but with the sun still coming up the afternoon was to be near 70 degrees. 
 Jeff and I did fairly well catching fish Saturday. I caught them on an assortment of flies and a few on Woolly Buggers and a few on dry flies. But again there weren’t many risers at all though wet flies were getting a lot of strikes. 

 About 5:30 we left the creek and headed towards camp. There we ate grilled venison back straps, corn-on-the-cob, rice with a bottle of red wine. Sundays morning plan was to wake up and enjoy a big breakfast before heading to the project section of Oil Creek for a full day of trout fishing.

 Sunday 5/03/15
 When we arrived at the parking area, of the project section of Oil Creek, we found a group of guys I’ve known from steelhead fishing. They were already in their waders and were stringing up their fly rods when we pulled in. After we bs’d a little they headed to the creek and Jeff and I got our gear on.
 When I got to the creek the other guys were strung out along the slower water like a line of steelhead fishermen on Elk Creek. They left plenty of space between each other so they can get good drifts without hampering one another. I don’t mind fishing faster riffles so I waded about a forth the way across creek, even with the others and upstream from them. Jeff waded in up creek from me and began to fish the riffling water also.
 There wasn’t the hatch of Grannoms as the day before and only a few caddis would appear now and then. There weren’t any rising fish that I could see so I contemplated my choice of nymphs. Oil Creek has a good supply of stoneflies so I knotted on a Picket Pin with a small stonefly as a dropper. I looked down creek as it was noticeable the steelhead fishing group were fishing nymphs under indicators. I chose not to use any such thing as I was sure I would detect a strike in the faster current by watching the fly line and letting my imitations drift naturally.
 Maybe it was my 4th cast or even maybe a 7th after wading in in the waking morning. The overhand cast put my imitations up creek and I mended line letting the current take my flies through a deeper run of the rippling water. As the fly line passed me I noticed the pull and drop of the fly line and yanked back for the hook set. The trout took down creek and than circles down from me. I was using 5X tippet but still played him cautiously in the riffling current. As I was getting the trout nearer to me I felt a forceful tug and then the line went back out toward the middle of the creek. After I got it circling towards me again I gained more control and had the trout coming nearer to me out in front of me a bit. Within sight I seen a trout fighting the current and had taken the Picket Pin. Than I noticed another trout behind him and noticing his struggling motion and I realized I had two trout I was fighting with, the other trout had taken my dropper fly. Of course I called out to the others I had a double in which someone called from down creek “a picture or it didn’t happen.” It was a struggle to figure out how to get both trout into my net in the riffling current but I managed and got a picture with them side by side.
 After releasing the fish I stood there and lit my first cigar. What were the odds of catching two trout at the same time? I only did that once and that was on the Big Horn. I could have called it quits and consider it an exceptional day but I hadn’t been in the water for more than about 10 minutes and it was still morning. Of course I continued to fish but never gave a thought of how I could top that feat or come close. I even thought about what I would rather have accomplished, getting a double or catching a big old brown trout?
 Well, I continued fishing the riffles and was doing pretty well hooking up now and then. I noticed some of the other fellows catching fish also. Jeff said he seen fish rising down creek from the others and waded out and headed down creek. I noticed a few fish rising within the casting distance of the others. There weren’t very many caddis on the water but enough now and than to cause a rise. Soon I had a couple rising in front of me and switched to dry fishing a Grannom pattern.
 I hooked up to two pretty quick but only got one to the net. Bringing in some line for another cast my Grannom skipped across the surface and a trout splashed surface three times to grab it. Well, for the next half hour or so I dry fly fished and would skip the Grannom across the water surface. That accounted for a few more hook ups.
 After a couple of hours one by one the other guys waded out and relaxed along the grassy bank under the warming sun. I waded down creek a bit just enough to fish the tail end of the riffles and the slower deeper water it spilled into.

I pretty much had down creek to myself.

I caught one trout right off with a nymph but noticed some rising trout as the caddis were flying around again as the sun shown down from the moving clouds. The trout would not take my Grannom pattern or smaller tan caddis I was using. Dano was now up creek in the riffling water using a wet fly and was having some success with strikes and caught fish.
 They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. It was obvious the trout weren’t going to take my dry so I decided to put a little weight about a foot or so above my dry egg laying Grannom and wet fly fish. Well, that was a big game changer. All of a sudden I was getting furious strikes and playing hooked fish again for some time.


Hours just pass by when I’m having fun. It wasn’t long before I came to another dry spell of not catching any trout. The rising trout had just about died down and the ones rising I couldn’t get a take no matter what I tied on. I finally went and drifted a San Juan worm and hooked up to the biggest rainbow of the day.

 By now I was practically all alone changing nymph patterns trying to get a strike. I knew it was getting late afternoon but I wasn’t hungry and was determined to find a nymph that would catch me a few more trout. Two older gents moved into the riffles I was fishing earlier and was trying their luck. It was obvious to me these guys had fished this creek before and I even watched the one older gent hook into two trout. For a short time Deetz showed up down creek and fished awhile before taking off for home. Jeff had stopped by along the bank and said he was driving up creek where we fished Saturday before heading to camp. I told him I was catching trout and decided to stick around. While Deetz was there I finally found a nymph I was able to get a few fish interested in and netted a couple I got good hook sets on. after Deetz left the one older gent moved down creek from me but left plenty of room so we could each cast without interfering with one another.
 I stuck with the dropper nymph I was getting a bump on now and then but changed my top fly often. The sun was cresting the far bank with a bit of cloud cover but it was still warm. I was deciding when I should quit but I felt maybe a little while longer the fish might turn on again. Then it happened…

 I shot a long cast up stream and threw a strong mend up creek as the current took my flies down creek a ways out in front of me. My line curved and straighten quickly in the faster current. I yanked back as much slack line as I could hoping for a hook set. I felt the resistance and instantly the trout stripped line off the spool heading towards the far bank. I could tell this wasn’t a light weight and didn’t like being fooled and hooked. I loosened the drag a bit because I was only using 6x tippet on my dropper fly though I guessed, by the quick take; he took the San Juan worm. He surfaced far off and than swam towards mid creek. There he rose with a big headshaking splash, dove deep and came slightly out of the water with another splash. I could tell it was a big brown trout. After going deep again he pulled down creek and I couldn’t hold him back. He swam pretty close to the old gent down creek as he stood there watching me battle the trout. He said there was too much glair on the water and couldn’t actually see my catch. Nearer to him the trout turned and again took down creek slower but still with force. I could tell something was wrong as I couldn’t get control of the fish and turn him.
 I’ve caught big browns before and I know they will alligator roll during a fight. I had a feeling this is just what he did and got my line wrapped around him. Occasionally I got him near the surface and thought I could see his yellowish brown belly. I carefully waded down creek toward the bank as I played him nearer to me. I made sure he didn’t get near the other gent and get tangled up. It took some time but I finally got him close enough for me to pull out the net holding the rod with a tight right hand grip. Close enough to me he tried one last attempt to get away but I was able to net him after that last burst of energy.
 In the net I seen the nymph had a good grip in his jaw. The line had somehow wrapped around behind his pectoral fin and gills but in front of his dorsal fin. It was wrapped pretty tight but once I got the hook out his jaw it unwound pretty easily. There he was the big, hooked jaw, brown trout in my net. Never could I expect such surprise catches in one outing.
 After I released the big brown I was ready to take off. I figured it was around 5pm and besides that my back was aching and I was getting fatigued. The older gent suggested I stay trying to convince me that caddis would be coming off soon and we might get some dry fly fishing. I caught one more trout after the brown and decided to hang it up. It didn’t look as though there was going to be a hatch and besides there wasn’t anything I could believe that could top my two feats except maybe catching a fresh water mermaid.
 Back at the van I opened a cold dark brew while I changed into driving clothes. I wished I had a double chateau Fuente to celebrate but had to settle for a Cohiba Red Dot Pequeno which was fair enough.
 So, I have to ask my readers, would you rather catch a double for the day or a big brown trout?

The custom 4 weight got a real workout

 A few fish from Saturday


  1. Now that's a great weekend! From the fishing to the food, it sounds like you guys did it up right. Nice catch on the two browns , while I've caught two fish on a double nymph rig before they were both little rainbows and weren't too much to look at.

  2. Thanks. It wasn't easy netting both fish. I'm glad i didn't have much tippet out for the dropper.