Saturday, February 25, 2017

Petroleum in the 50's

Petroleum in the 50’s

 My grandpa was wise when it came to hunting and fishing. He would tell me where’s there’s one rabbit there is another. Back then I didn’t understand why but he was right most of the times that I recall. I always figured this applied to trout also in big waters. 

 After fishing in central Pa. the past couple of days I did pretty well catching trout beneath the surface with nymphs. I was hoping for a BWO hatch and rising trout but it never came about. Wednesday, being it was suppose to be in the high 50’s, I was hoping for a hatch of either BWO or stoneflies with rising trout. I gathered up my gear and warm clothes and headed over to Petroleum Center area on Oil Creek.
 When I got there I seen the water was moving at a good clip but was wadable and at a good level as far as I was concerned. It was clear but the overcast sky kept the deeper holes opaque. With the winter snow runoff I figured the water would be quite cold so I wore my neoprene chest waders for warmth as well as knowing I would most likely get into some deeper water if I wanted to fish towards the far banks.
 I must have spent a couple of hour’s nymph fishing the section of water I chose at first. I covered the area that I could reach, pretty thoroughly and never got a strike. I didn’t even feel anything that even felt like it could have been a strike. I used different nymphs, San Juan‘s, and even tried a bugger now and then. I used an indicator at times and sometimes not. I added more weight to get my imitations down but it didn’t matter I couldn’t get a fish to bite. I knew they were in there but I just didn’t have the right stuff or they weren’t around.
 The second section I tried I came up with the same results. No strikes, no fish and a couple more lost nymphs due to underwater snags. I wasn’t discouraged in the least though. The air temperature turned out into the high 50’s and I was enjoying the quietness and a good cigar now and then. I’d get out of the cold water to give my feet and legs a beak from the chill but other than that I was fine. Sooner or later I had to catch a fish?

 The last section I was to try had been a good spot where trout held earlier in the year. It wasn’t a big wide area that they were holding in back during the low water days but I figured they might just still be hanging out there like a gang guarding their turf. With the higher water they may be spread out a bit more but I had a feeling they still might be hanging around. The problem was wading across the stream far enough to cast towards the far bank.
 I slowly and cautiously waded my way out through the water. Each step was thought out and I felt for slippery, or loose, rocks before resting my weight on my forward foot before taking another step. The water crept up my legs the closer I got to the middle of the creek and soon I started to feel the coldness of the water on my thighs through my waders. The current wasn’t making the going any easier. I found a safe place, with good footing, and decided to make a stand. I would have no problem reaching the far bank with my 9’ G2 Scott rod if necessary. 

  Though I wasn’t sure a trout will chase a Woolly Bugger in the cold water conditions in February but I figured if I swung one in the current I might get at least one to strike. I use a bugger as an attractor to find out where the fish hold especially for rainbow waters. There’s usually one bow that will hit a bugger if there is a gang of them around. Once I find the gang, and they quit hitting the bugger, then I’ll resort to nymphs.

 The bugger fell about 3 feet short of the far bank. As the bugger sank the rest of the line arced on the surface water and started to swing the bugger beneath. I kept my eye on the fly line for any sudden drop in the tip and held the fly line between my thumb and fingers in my left hand so I could feel any sudden tug. I saw the fly line dip and felt the light pull of the fly line as the arc narrowed on the surface. I quickly set the hook with a swift backhand of the fly rod keeping the fly line tight between my fingers. The line shot up from the water surface and tightened from the hooked fish. The trout pulled and tugged as it swam with the current near the far bank. As the rod shaft flexed deeper the trout swam and tugged in an arc down creek. Because of the swift current I kept the rod tip near the surface not wanting to bring the trout up into the swift surface water. I kept a tight grip on the cork as the fish played in the current and tired itself out. It decided to swim away towards the far bank again and because of the pressure of the trout and force of the current I let it have some line yet kept the reel drag tight enough to add that extra resistance of the wayward trout. Once I felt the trout didn’t have the fight in him, as when we started, I started to reel in bringing him towards me. Usually I will hand line him in but in water to my thighs and the strong current this would leave a lot of floating line in the water. There would be a good chance these erratic trout could get caught in the line when trying to net it or playing him out near me. Close enough, down stream, I took my net out and drew him closer moving the rod upstream. A last little splashing about, after exhausting any of his exuberant energy, I was able to cradle him in my net.

 I continued swinging the bugger and managed a couple more trout before the action ceased.

  Being that black stoneflies and Blue Wing Olives are the first hatches here in PA. I decided to nymph fish a lil black stonefly. For some reason I found a Picket Pin with a stonefly dropper works well together. With a little extra split shot on the leader I was ready to go deep.
 With the indicator attached I didn’t feel my offerings were getting down deep enough. I tried big looping mends but I felt the indicator was moving faster on the surface and not keeping the nymphs near the bottom long enough. I took off the indicator and it took big continuous mends and proper rod positions to get a likeable drift beneath the swift current. Once I managed this, the strikes started to come again. Fighting the fat rainbows in the current flow to net wasn’t always successful. The ones I hooked into that took the wet fly, instead of the nymph, were more energetic with skyward acrobatic twists and turns even in the cold water conditions. 

  The rainbows were nice and fat and gave me some good battles. Things finally died down and the cold water upon my lower body was starting to be extremely uncomfortable. I tried wading down creek to cover a different section but the water was too deep and I didn’t feel comfortable wading the slippery bottom with the swift current. I cautiously turned and waded back towards the shoreline.

 Not wanting to quit just yet I decided to pitch and swing a Woolly Bugger while wading down creek, along the bank, in safer water. Occasionally I would nymph fish in certain areas but kept coming up empty. The sun never came out and there never was a hatch to speak of. I hooked the bugger in the hook keeper and headed to the truck. It was about 3 when I got to the truck. I was satisfied with my catch and decided to head home.
 The day didn’t turn out like I wanted but I caught some fatty rainbows that gave me some good battles. I didn’t fall in and didn’t lose too many flies so it did turn out to be a pleasant outing. Maybe I can luck out and get into a hatch soon with some good dry fly action.


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