Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sunday before Buck Season

Sunday before Buck Season

   I was asked to join a couple of friends for the opening day of buck season. Though I got a buck the last two years on the first day camping out alone I do miss the cabin camp life. I decided to give my previous hunting area a rest and join my friends for the next few days. It was going to be nice waking up in a warm cabin bunk in the morning and getting ready to hunt than waking in my cold van and getting ready in cramped cold conditions.
 I got to Keith’s camp around 2:20pm Saturday about a couple hours after Keith arrived from Pittsburgh. We enjoyed leisure conversation, beers and snacks to bide our time. For dinner Keith joined the neighbors next door while I headed to the Kelly for wings and to watch the Penguins hockey game.
 Keith’s camp is pretty much primitive in the way of no phone or TV. There is running water, that comes in from a piped spring, with an inside toilet and hot shower. A wood stove heats the inside and there is electricity. The basics as we refer to it.
 Sunday morning Steve arrived around 9:30am. After he got his gear inside him and Keith decided to go down to the quarry to shoot their rifles and pistols. I on the other hand decided to go trout fishing.
 Across the road and through a small patch of woods is a trout stream. It gets stocked early in the spring for trout season but I have caught a few hold over in the fall and winter that survived the wrath of other fishermen. There was one request before I headed out. Keith asked if I would bring a few back for a snack before dinner. He said he would roast them in foil on the charcoal grille. I couldn’t say no of course but did explain the daily limit, this time of year, was only three. I haven’t eaten trout for some time but trout on the grille seasoned with Old Bay Seasoning sounded pretty tasty.
 I decided to walk up the road and fish my way down creek. I was hoping that by the time I got to the big pool of water, in front of Keith’s camp, I would have three trout that I could throw in a cooler and continue my fishing.
 I walked down the road a piece, dropped through the forest and towards the creek. On the bank I checked out the water conditions and looked down creek at my situation. The water was in great condition and height as far as I was concerned. The water was high enough that should bring the trout out from their low water hiding places and into the middle looking for food. The water was low enough that waist waders were all I needed. The water was clear except for the deeper pockets and shady areas within the shadows of the banks. I looked down creek contemplating the best way to maneuver the waters to fish the more prominent areas where trout should be and when and where to cross. Though I was using a 7’ 6” fly rod I was using about a 9’ leader/tippet because of the clarity. The further back I was up creek the less chance the trout had to see me. This was mainly rainbow waters so I attached a Woolly Bugger and stepped off the bank.
 Slowly the cold creek water chilled my lower extremities. For some reason the air felt a little colder. The creek, from water level, took on a different prospective. What looked like shallow water, from the high bank, was obviously deeper than it looked.
  I pulled line out of the reel and gradually made a few false casts. I landed the bugger against the slow flow of water cross creek. I let it swing down creek before stripping it in. after a few casts a I felt a little more weight might keep the bugger deeper without touching bottom so I added a bit of a lead strip about a foot or so up from my offering.
 I dropped the bugger in shallow riffle near the far bank. I let some line out so the bugger would drop deeper in the deeper pool in which it flowed into. I let the bugger swing as the fly line arced with the current flow. I felt a tug in my line hand as I seen a sharp pull of the floating fly line. I quickly swept the fly rod upstream that set the hook. The fish tugged at the end of the line as the 4 weight got the trout into the net.
  I wasn’t in the water more than 5 minutes and I already had a trout in the net. I had a feeling I was going to catch a few more before Keith’s camp. I unhooked the rainbow and watched it swim out of the net.
 I took out a Churchill from my vest pocket and lit it up. The smoke lingered and than disappeared with the slight breeze. Small birds fluttered in short bursts from bank side brush to bushes. With the stronger gusts of wind I could hear the bare tree branches rattle against one another. Without the breeze it was so quiet I could hear the trickle of a nearby brook, as water dropped over rocks and stones, before entering the creek.

I caught one more trout on the bugger before I switched to a minnow imitation. With the minnow pattern I was starting to get a few more bumps more often.

 Sometimes the trout would strike like it was their first big meal of the day and not knowing when their next meal will be. Other times it was a light tap as if the trout was testing the temptation before committing to eating it.

  Downstream of a narrow section of shallow riffles I saw the water flow into a snag of half submerged branches. Before I even got to fish it I pulled one trout that was hanging around the banks of the shallows. This told me what I believed all along. If the trout were out looking for food they would be in the shallows because the creek water was up.
 From the right bank, upstream, I cast the streamer into the still air. The streamer gradually drifted with the slow current and dropped deeper as the current slowed near the tangle of branches. I brought the rod up creek a bit taking out some of the slack and let it continue to flow with the current. I saw a flash towards the middle of the creek but never felt a take. As the streamer got nearer my side of the bank, down stream, I slowly stripped it towards me. I thought I felt a subtle bump but it could have been the bottom. My next cast I let out the same length of line. The minnow imitation drifted and swung as before. When it got towards my side of the creek, in the slower moving water, I kept the rod tip up a little higher to be sure the streamer wasn’t going to hit bottom. As I stripped it in I saw a trout intensely swimming behind it. I gave the line a sharp short tug as if the minnow was going to make a quick escape. The rainbow darted towards it and took the imitation with a twisting sweep of its mouth and body. I yanked up on the rod and another trout came to the net. 

  By the time I got to the big pool in front of Keith’s camp I had already caught about a half dozen trout with 3 on my hand made stringer. There were two other fishermen, with spinning rods and bait, fishing the deep long section. I walked around the pool, on the opposite bank, and reentered the water around the bend from them. From there I walked up to the camp and dropped the three fish in the cooler.

  The guys weren’t back yet and I figured it only being around 3:00pm. I decided to fish my way down creek for more trout pleasure and headed back to the creek. I never fished down creek from here too far but I was ready to explore. Just after the long pool the water was moving a lot faster as the creek narrowed. I had caught one small trout in the riffling water before I waded around a bend and looked down creek to unfamiliar water.
 The creek had lots of bends and turns so it was hard to tell what I was getting into. I took out the last cigar from my pocket and lit the foot. Again the smoke lingered from the end of the lit stogie.

  Slowly and cautiously I fished my way down creek. I tried not to be so observant by the fish and kept my distance up stream from them. My casts were long and thought out. I caught a few trout before I came to a long slow section of water like I was fishing up creek.

 From the middle of the creek I dropped the minnow pattern near the left bank and let it drift across creek towards the far bank. The water on right side bank didn’t look too deep but there were a few rocks and boulder beneath that looked to be a good spot where trout might be holding. Just upstream, I dropped the streamer in the current and let it drift into the shadows of the far bank. I seen a flash of a trout dart out from the rocks and my line soon went taut. With a quick strip and wrist I set the hook on the hungry trout.

  In the wide slower section of water I had some more fun getting a few more trout to grab my imitation.
 Peeking over a partially submerged boulder I was able to watch a couple trout take my offering as I swam it and drifted it in the pocket of slow water behind it. The biggest trout I caught for the day gave me a good tug of war battle that I ended up succeeding in conquering.
 As the air turned colder and the sun slowly went behind the mountain of trees I decided to head back to camp and enjoy a tasty trout snack with the fellows.



  1. A little cabin life and some good fishing to go along with it...that's pretty hard to beat.

  2. Sure was fun enjoying camp life. I didn't get a deer but I enjoyed the company. The trout made it a little extra special.

  3. huntin' and fly fishin', doesn't get any better!