Saturday, June 27, 2015

Mystic Waters

Mystic Waters

 I always felt there was something mystic about the Black Moshannon area. Even the name gives me a mysterious kind of feeling. With its tea stained color of water all year long makes as if I’m fishing in a light oil bath. Laurel and pines grow along its narrow banks. Also the brush and intertwined hanging branches makes it tough to navigate. My 7 foot Demon rod is what I found best for these kinds of conditions. The Hardy has a quick action that I can wrist cast without much of a long line back cast to load the rod. With a double taper line I can roll cast easily where I want to place my offerings.
 The wild brown trout that inhabit the creek always made me feel that they too are a mystery adapting to these dark waters year after year. Some of the brown trout have eyes that bulge out a little more than in other creeks. I always wonder if it‘s because of the dark waters they live in. I’ll catch a brook trout now and then but they just don’t have the spunk or beauty that the wild browns do.

This outing had a little more ’mystery’ to it than other times I have fished it.

 I arrived at the creek around 9:00am. I parked along the dirt road where I usually like to start my fishing expedition when I first arrive. It’s a very warm June morning. The sky if filled with clouds as the sun is still rising towards the mountains tree tops. It doesn’t look like rain though the weatherman says there is that possibility in the morning. I take my chances and pack my fly gear and boxes in my mesh fishing vest. I assemble the 4 piece 3 weight Hardy Demon rod with double taper line. “Black Moshannon, Demon,” it just seems to go together.
 Before I head down to the creek I look around through the forest and notice that the Laurel hasn’t fully bloomed yet this morning.
 The creek is tea stained as usual. They claim it is from the bogs of large amounts of sphagnum moss that grow around the lake and causes this unique color to the water.
 The water level is a bit higher than I would like but I had tied some trout sized Humpy’s for the faster water. My intensions are to dry fly fish but I’ve fished this creek in all kinds of conditions and found that the fish aren’t always going to come to the top for a dry. If this appears to be the case a drifting Woolly Bugger sometimes draws the bottom hugging trout into feeding. As I look across creek the low hanging pine boughs give me no chance of getting a fly between them and the water surface and close to the far bank. Downstream from the branches laurel hugs the bank and overlaps the water. I find that trout like to hug the banks under this foliage. I knot on a beetle pattern and try for one. After about 10 minutes of no risers to my beetle or ant pattern I notice a few Pale Morning Duns lifting off the water. I take out my light color mayfly box and select a small light shaded Sulphur pattern. I knot this on to the 5x tippet and contemplate my cast
 I pull out line as the dry fly drifts down stream a bit. I sidearm a cast with a quick wrist to get the line moving towards the far bank. I slow my follow-through and the fly line straightens with the Sulphur falling down creek from the fly line and tippet. I let the fly drift just under the furthest limbs of the leafy laurel and wait for a rise. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds when a fish swirls for the imitation. A quick pull of the long line and I feel the rod flex under the jerking tugs of a hooked trout. It swims in an arc down creek trying to swim deeper downstream but I give him no more line. He fights with swift darts and dives as I slowly bring in line. A buttery belly wild brown comes nearer enough to net.

 My cast puts the Sulphur between two overhanging laurel branches. I watch the Sulphur drift under the branches as I give line to keep the imitation drag free. A trout splashes for the imitation and I sweep the rod up creek for the set. The trout tugs as it swims out from the overhangs. I bring in line as the trout scoots up creek with head jerks. I turn him around and another trout comes to the net.

  Letting the Sulphur drift directly down creek from where I stand, near the brush, I hook into another trout. This one darts quickly to and fro but gives up easily. A slick brook trout enters the net.

  Within a half hour I hooked up to three trout. I relax and light my first cigar. After another 25 minutes without a take I look down creek and begin my journey.
 I wade slowly casting dry flies as I go. Along the slower runs, along the far bank, I offer the hidden trout a terrestrial or a Mayfly. In the riffling and choppier water I offer them a Humpy pattern that floats high and very visible. When I felt that there was a good chance a trout might be in the location but refused to rise to a dry I resorted to a Wooly Bugger. At times the bugger appeared to be the best choice when the water narrowed between the banks and where the water deepened.

 The bugger dropped just shy of the sunken log that lay on the bottom of the creek. The flow of water was a little quicker and moved the bugger down stream at a good pace. Once the bugger straightened out the slack line, I let it hang in the current beneath, mid creek, before stripping it towards me with a stop and go action. I missed the first tap and I was so slow to react I just let the bugger hang in the current before bringing it towards me again. The second grab was a little more forceful and I was ready this time. The trout darted towards the far bank as the line tightened and followed. The surface water rippled with the trout as it swam just subsurface with jarring tugs. I moved the rod down creek and high taking in line with my left hand. The trout fought near the log but not gaining any more ground it turned toward me. Mid creek it swam sporadically as I kept the rod high taking in more line. Soon a dark color brook trout came to hand. It wasn’t much time after that that another battled with me before it too came to hand.

 By noon I had fished pretty far down creek. I missed a couple trout but under the noon day sun the trout were apparently not hungry or were too far under the overhangs that I couldn’t reach them. I waded out of the creek to the road and headed back to the van for lunch.
 I decided to drive down creek and found myself alone at one of the deeper slower pools on the creek. The water flowing into the pool looked like good oxygenated tumbling current for the trout that wanted to get out of the slow warmer waters of the pool. I decided to work my Humpy pattern in the riffling water.

  Casting up creek I placed the Humpy’s along the bank side vegetation. It wasn’t easy as I had to find ways to maneuver the rod between and sometimes under pine boughs, branches and long stemmed brush for a cast. I caught many a branches, pines and laurel but laughed it off most of the time and kept my cool. It was when I got a rise to my Humpy that made all the close quarter fishing worth while.

 The Humpy fell up creek as far as my cast would allow that wasn’t more than about 20 feet. I was well camouflaged next to the bank side foliage behind me. The water was choppy but there were breaks of slower current within the riffles I was fishing. I kept the rod as high and level with the water as much as I was able while watching the Humpy wobble down creek along the far bank. A quick surfacing splash at my fly and I quickly lifted the rod higher. The fish shot down creek with the current before turning up creek with the pressure of the flexed rod. I brought the trout nearer my side of the bank and handed a shiny small wild brown.

 Fishing the riffles I caught a few more and missed a few before returning to the slow deep pool.

 In the slower pool I concentrated my casts nearer the far bank along the brush. I had more room behind me and I was able to single haul and pin point the casts dropping the dry fly into narrow spaces between the foliage. This amounted to a few more slurping browns.
 Rain began to fall now and again. I wasn’t too far from my van so it wasn’t any problem getting my rain jackets. When the rain did stop the sun came out in a blaze of warmth.

 Down creek I caught one nice brown on the Humpy before I decided to get some dinner before coming back out for the evening hoping for a good hatch of some kind. 

 I heated up some Venison chops and popped open a bottle of home made red wine a friend had given me. I cooked the venison just perfect and the tasty meat melted in my mouth. The wine was a little on the sweet side with a very good grape taste and good body.

Well, after a great meal and a half bottle of wine a good smoke was in order. I lit up a Sancho Panza.
Back at the creek I was ready for a Mayfly hatch but it never materialized. I figured a midge dry would be a good choice for the evening. It wasn’t easy trying to get 6x tippet into the hook eye of a #20 midge after the half bottle of wine. It wasn’t easy getting the 6x tippet through the eye of a #18 dry fly either. I ended up finally getting a #12 beetle knotted to the tippet.
 My casts weren’t as perfect as earlier but I was able to get two more trout to rise to my beetle along the far brush but missed them. Back in the tail out I saw one trout rising mid creek. I had to back cast over my left shoulder with my right hand to keep from getting caught in the tree branches behind. With a few good drifts down into the tail out I ended the day connecting with three more trout before calling it a day.

 Monday morning I awoke early. Like 5:30am early. I had slept well and after lying in my sleeping bag, wide awake, I decided to get up and make some breakfast. I wasn’t in any hurry to start fishing so I lazily got things ready for breakfast. As the kettle was heating up on the single burner Coleman Stove I poured myself some grapefruit juice and cracked a few hard boiled eggs. When the small teapot whistled I looked over and thought the steam rising from the spout, with the forest and creek in the background, would make a good picture. After snapping the shot, with the Sony camera, I brought up the pic and was surprised at what I saw. There was a moonlike orb within the rising steam. Puzzled I took another picture seconds after the first.

  A breeze had blown through the trees just as I snapped the second shot and caused the steam to rise at a different angle. After snapping the picture I checked it out and was kind of leery of what I saw this time. I’m not a person that believes in ghosts or appearing spirits but it looked as though there was a ghostly face within the steam.

  I poured myself a cup of coffee and ate breakfast thinking about these mystery pictures. Just before I left I took another picture of the setting and all seemed back to normal.

 After breakfast I gathered up my fly gear and headed to the deep pool area.
 I noticed I was left with only the thicker part of my tapered leader so I took the time to add a strip of 6lb leader, and 4x and 5x tippet. While I was tying the 5x to the 4x with a Double Uni Knot I heard a splash down at the tail out. I looked up and saw a swirl on the surface slowly disappearing down creek. I finished the knot and looked the water over once again. I noticed a couple of Mayflies coming off the water nearer to the riffles that entered the bigger pool. They weren’t as light colored as the PMD flies the morning before but more of a light grayish body with light colored wings. I looked down towards the tail out and caught sight of another trout rising to the surface a little closer to the overhanging branches near the far bank. I decided to add a strip of 6x tippet and fish a small Blue Dun.
 Where the fish were feeding was in the shadows of a large tree that angled over the water from the far bank. There was plenty of room to get a fly to them but I was contemplating on dropping it where they could see it or drifting it into their feeding zone. I decided to drift the dry, into the dark shadow, to the trout closer to me, mid creek.

 I dabbed the Blue Dun body with dry fly potion and pulled line out for my cast. 
The double taper line looped forward followed by the leader and Dun. The Dun fell gracefully just upstream from where the shadow of the tree began. I had enough slack in the line for a drag free drift that lead towards the feeding trout. With a splashing surface rise I reared back on the rod and the line tightened.
“Gotcha” I said out loud.
 The trout hesitated, as if he couldn’t believe he was hooked, head shook the line and than shot up creek hoping for freedom. I took in line in a hurry and raised the rod tip to keep tension on the spirited trout. He turned down creek in a hurry when I wouldn’t give him any more line as he started to swim towards the underbrush along the bank. When he got back into the tail out waters he gave a few more head shakes and, feeling he was tiring, I started to play him towards me. A nice morning brown trout reached my net safely.

 After releasing him I dried the small Dun off in my handkerchief and dampened the body with a little dry fly potion to keep it afloat. I crouched a bit and shot a tight loop, under the high tree branches, which dropped my dry within the shadow of the tree. The Dun fell on the surface just out from the laurel and started to drift down creek. A trout porpoised up creek at the dun and I was quick to react. The tight line told me I had another trout hooked and he too gave me another spirited battle before binging him in.

 Working the pool over and riffles for the next hour amounted to just a couple more small browns. I decided to pack up and drive up creek.

 The morning was warming fast. The sun shown down in the cloudless sky and brightened the world around me. There were tiny clusters of midges in swarms above the surface but not a trout was rising. I attempted a few dry flies on the surface and a bugger beneath but couldn’t get a strike. I knotted on a beetle pattern that convinced one trout to taste it. He gave me a runaround battle and finally came to my net.

After that one I decided to fish my way down creek as I did the morning before.

  It was if the trout had lockjaw. For the next couple of hours I spent weaving my way through the forested creek I had little to show for my efforts. I tried the bulky Humpy patterns on the wavy current and as well as buggers beneath. In the slower water, and along its banks, I offered dry flies and terrestrials. Maybe it was the bright sunlight that kept the trout out of sight or maybe they still had sore lips from the day before.
 After a ways downstream I got out and returned to the creek just across the road from my van. I tried a few nymphs and caught one trout that squirmed his way loose before I was able to net him. I had a couple more taps on a nymph but couldn’t get a hook into one. The afternoon sun laid down a heat wave that was overbearing along the forested creek. It was getting sticky and I could feel my pores open as droplets of sweat formed on my forehead. I felt pretty good for the fish I caught in the two days and decided to call it quits.
 At the van I changed clothes and ate a quick snack before taking off heading for home. Fathers day weekend didn’t turn out not too bad along the mystic waters of the Black Moshannon if you ask me!


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Cheap Thriils

Cheap Thrills

  Due to the occasional storms and an abundance of rain the past week left the rivers and bigger streams muddy. On my way through the Allegheny National Forest I find that even the smaller mountains streams, such as Millstone, Toby Creek and Little Toby, are pretty well stained and running fast. I know there will only be one place worth trout fishing and that would be tailwaters and I am headed that way.
 I check out the creek before getting my gear on. I figured it would be clear but I am surprised that the water level isn’t higher. It is near perfect as far as I am concerned. Back at the van I put on my ½ priced waist waders, from a wholesale supplier, and decided to use my $80 and some 4 weight, 7’ 6” Powell rod I got a deal on back some time ago. To this I attach a Double L, LL Bean mid arbor that I paid part of the cost with a birthday gift certificate.  I think Cortland 444 DT line is the best double taper line around but I’ve heard so many friends talk about Rio lines that I decided if I get a chance I‘d buy one. Rio lines are too expensive for my blood but I got the Rio line on sale thru the internet without shipping so I jumped on it. The weathermen said there’s a chance of rain till 10:00am. So I decide to wear my light rain fishing jacket. If it downpours for too long I know the water will seep thru but it will be better than wearing my heavy Gortex rain jacket. Being that it’s suppose to get in the 70’s and high humidity I would feel like I’m in a sauna and simmering in my own sweat inside the heavy rain jacket. Besides that, my trout fly boxes and stuff are already in my rain jacket from last trip out.

 As I roll up my sleeves the biting bugs are already swarming this morning at 8:30am to see which species will draw the first human blood. I take out the Deep Woods off and pump some spray on myself not forgetting my ears and neck. I put on a well worn cap, grab some cheap cigars and stuff them in my pocket and head towards the creek.
 The water has to be around 60 degrees as I feel the cool water flowing around my waders. The sky is overcast with clouds overlapping trying to block out the morning brightness. Birds chirping tell me that if it does rain it shouldn’t be much of a shower. There’s a slight breeze that passes now and then and with the cool rising moisture of the cold water gives some relief under the rain jacket. My surroundings all appears to be green! Green grass, green trees, green brush everywhere along the banks and small islands.

 I knot on a Woolly Bugger and fish my way down creek a ways. I think I’m alone but when I turn the corner there is a guy nymph fishing the deep water along the far bank. I wade around him and continue on. For an hour I cast ants and beetles in the shallower water along the banks and under tree branches. I drift and strip Woolly Buggers in the deeper runs and riffles without even a bump. Well, that’s the way it goes sometimes. Sooner or later I’m bound to catch a fish. I light up a cheap Bahia stogie; I got on Cigar Bid, and continue on.

 I feel a couple of short taps on the bugger as it drifted across the shallow riffles. I tease the trout long enough that I finally get a hook in its mouth. It turns out to be a small wild brook trout but it gets off when I get it to my hand. A short time later I finally get a good hold on a trout and bring in a pretty small brookie.

 From then on the thrills keep coming. I catch a few more small brook trout on the bugger and also on a couple of dry flies. Three different sections of creek I have the pleasure of getting into some good dry fly action. The rainbows aren’t all that easy to fool though. I have to land a soft lay down of the dry and the perfect drift. Many times I see a trout rise to my dry fly and turn away. It takes time and persistence but eventually I get them to take my imitation. I catch them on small Sulphur dry flies early and Caddis later on in the afternoon. I have more lookers of my beetle and ant patterns than I have getting a trout to grab it.
 I never get bored enough to nymph fish. Dry flies most of the day and buggers when I am moving keeps me entertained with trout and thrilled to the bone.

 The wild trout are quick to rise and I have to be ready at all times. The rainbows rise most of the time, in the slower water, with a little more caution so I am able to see a flash or the body of the trout as they rise to my dry fly. In the faster currents the rainbows are pretty aggressive with splashing takes of my surface imitations.
 As far as the takes on the Buggers go it is a matter of hits and misses. Most of the time it takes some twitching of the rod tip to get a trout interested in the moving bugger. Most of the times the takes are short taps. In the evening I get into some bigger rainbows that take the bugger more forceful and give me a run for my money.

 It turns out to be a outing, cheap gear and all!!

Here are some of the thrills of the day.

A couple bigger rainbows ended the day

Some of the other rainbows 

Caddis was the ticket later after noon

Elk hair Caddis

Morning a Sulphur Parachute made trout rise.

One of my bigger brook trout