Friday, March 31, 2017

Back Country Trout NC

Back Country Trout
North Carolina 3/30/2017

 I decided to hit one more trout creek before heading back to PA. There is a creek about 5 miles north of Lansing North Carolina that is a Delayed Harvest area. Before parking I drove up the road a bit to check out the creek. It meandered through branchy trees and rock formations. It looked like a quiet brook stream, narrow with lots of shallow riffles. I found a place to park along the road and gathered my stuff.
 It was a misty overcast gray sky morning. I wasn’t sure if it was going to pour down rain so I decided to leave my camera in the truck. The odds of catching a monster trout in such a small creek looked slim anyway. I fitted the ferrules of the 7’ 3wt Hardy Demon and attached the reel with DT3F line. I Figured I only needed hip waders and put on my fishing rain jacket. Being I was only going to fish till noon I only took 2 stogies with me. I also took my water bottle and a net just in case.
 On the water I looked down creek. There were nice deeper wavy runs along the bank. The water was pretty much low and crystal clear with darker pocket waters. Leaning trees and bare branches stretched overhead so I was glad I took the 7’ Hardy. By the looks of the empty bait containers along the banks I wasn’t sure I was going to catch any trout but maybe there were a few trout to be had.
 I knotted on a Woolly Bugger and pulled out a lot of line to make long casts along the banks hoping to draw trout out of their bank side hide outs into midstream as I fish downstream. I missed two strikes within the first 10 minutes. I brought my bugger back just to check to make sure there was still a point on the bend. After honing the point I returned to swinging and stripping the bugger as I slowly waded the creek.
 Midstream there was a good current flow that waved over rocks and emptied into what looked like a short length deeper pool. I made a cast down and towards the far bank and let the bugger swing into the deeper pool. I felt a sharp tap and strip set the hook. The 7’ rod arced down creek when I brought it to my side and my first hooked fish was tugging at my tight line. I forced him into the shallower water to my right and he splashed the surface water all the way to the net. I was a little surprised to see it was a rainbow. Not too big but it was my first trout in this creek for me.
 After 6 to 7 more swings in the pool accounted for 1 missed tap. I had a feeling there were more fish in the pool being it was surrounded by shallower water. Keeping a low profile I snuck to the right side bank and contemplated my next offering.
 Having caught a few trout the past few days in the Big Horse Creek on a cheese color sucker spawn I decided to drift one through the knee deep pool. I clipped off the bugger and when I went to tie it on I already had a BH Hares Ear attached to tippet as a dropper. The weighted nymph was a good idea to keep the unweighted spawn along the bottom in the feeding zone without any additional weight. It wasn’t easy to make a roll cast with a short rod from a stooped position but with a little extra oomph I managed to get my imitations up into the riffles. Holding the rod tip high I watched the fly line as my imitations drifted through the pool of water. Almost at the end of the drag free drift my fly line dipped down so I lifted the rod up and back with hook setting force. The line tightened and the rod instantly flexed deep with a hooked thwarting fish on the other end. This was no small trout. I stood up and held the grip tightly as the fish struggled against the arcing rod pulling line out of the tensioned spool. The fish darted up on the far side of the wavy current through the shin deep water. I kept my wrist locked as the rod tip pointed towards and following the large trout. In the clear shallow water I could see I had a big fish for such a small creek. He turned into the wavy current and followed the current down into the pool where I hooked him. I took in line and kept tension with the arced rod. In the deep pool he struggled with thwarting body language. The sucker spawn was now swaying with the straight line above the surface water. The trout had taken the Hares Ear as it was sliding along the creek bed. I struggled a bit more with him but every time I got him nearer he thwarted viciously and I had to give him line for fear of losing him.
 It got to be nerve racking with the light short rod fighting the big fish. I began to feel him tiring with less aggressive fighting. It was now his weight and the force of the current versus my rod pressure and my wit! I swear the rod was curved only inches from the cork handle when I finally netted the trout. It slapped in the net a few times before I attempted to unleash him from the hook. Upon the release he sat in the ankle deep water, as if to catch his breath, before darting back into the pool of water with a forceful tail swat.
 I looked up into the gray sky. The morning drizzle rain was now more of a light mist. I decided to walk back to the truck for my camera. You never know?
After getting the camera and lighting up a stogie I began fishing again where I left off. I clipped off the tandem rig and retied on the Woolly Bugger. Now that I knew there were deeper pockets than I thought I added a little weight about a foot up from my bugger.

 In the shallow riffles I kept the rod tip high enough not to let the added weight wedge between any bedrock. In deeper sections I kept the rod level or slightly towards the water surface depending upon the swing and depth of the water.
 I stuck with the bugger as I slowly waded and fished downstream. Occasionally I’d stop and observe the backwoods and surrounding.

 At times I had to climb over boulders to get a better position to cast the bugger in good looking locations. Other times I climbed over boulders just to make my way downstream. There were times I caught a branch or two I wasn’t aware of. I always made an extra effort to retrieve it from miscalculations or not observing my clearance when roll casting.
Wham, a trout tags the bugger on the swing!

 Wham, a nice brook trout slams the bugger as I twitched it in a slower current pool and puts up a good struggling fight against faster current.

 Wham, a rainbow swipes and gets hooked as I strip the bugger towards me.

  There’s a good deep current flow along the far bank feeding a large pool of water, as well as the slower main flow, entering very deep water under a rickety old wooden bridge. I catch two hearty rainbows in the deep wavy current along the bank.

 I try and try again to hook a trout in the deeper water but fail to get any action. I know there has to be fish in there. I try adding more weight to the leader but still no strikes. I give up, wade out to the bank and follow the path that crosses over a dirt road that leads to the bridge.
 On the down side of the bridge I walk along the bank a few yards from the bridge. I peer into the water beneath but it is too dark and deep to see the bottom. Just for the heck of it I took off the extra weight from the leader. I make a backhand sidearm cast under the bridge and strip the bugger back towards me in the oncoming current. On my second attempt I felt a little more weight might get my bugger down deeper sooner before being swept by the current. With the added weight I was able to get the bugger further up creek under the bridge. As I was slowly taking in line I saw the slack in the fly line loop downward. With a long pulling strip of the line and yanking the rod upward the line tightened. I saw a flash within the deep water. The trout darted to the far side of the bridge block wall as I let the fly line slip through my pinched fingers with tension. The trout did a quick u-turn, down than up creek and dipped deeper. I knew the trout couldn’t go very far upstream past the bridge caused of the boulders so I let him tug the flexed rod not giving him much line. After his failed attempts of freeing himself he turned down creek. When he passed before me is when I realized this trout was bigger than what I originally thought. His long body flashed in front of me on his way by. He was now struggling down creek from me churning up the shin deep water. Quick head shakes and short darts didn’t set him free. The Demon rod flexed deep with each jolt while my line hand controlled the line tension. I took a few steps down along the bank and stepped into the water. With the movement he swam to the far bank remaining down creek from me. Again, with the short rod and now with current flowing against him, getting him towards me wasn’t going to be easy. With him struggling a few yards across from me I stretched my arm out holding the wooden net handle tightly. With the rod high and practically behind my head I had the trout coming nearer. Struggling but inching closer I scooped his body into the net.
 With a kype jaw and hunched back I had a feeling he’s been in the creek for awhile. 

 Down creek I found a deep flow where the current would sweep my bugger under a wedged log with the right drift. The log, I guess, was about 2 feet above the creek bed with a foot or so of water flowing over the log. There was no way to master the flow with every cast but when my bugger flowed beneath the log I was almost guaranteed a strike most of the time. I think I hooked about a half dozen times in this one section.

 Looking downstream there was so much more trout holding water but I knew I must be going. I got back to the truck around 1:00. I had about a 7 ½ hour drive ahead of me. I wasn’t sure how far I was from the interstate but I had a feeling I’d have a lot of twisting winding roads to get there.
 Well, the biggest fish didn’t get away but I just didn’t have my camera with me to capture the moment. I’m sure glad I brought my net along.

 On the drive home I thought about my past week or so. I got to visit with a friend in Kentucky and my two boys and their family in Asheville NC. I fished 5 different waters from a small mountain creek to a wide open river for trout. In all of the five trout waters I caught at least one and some times two big trout.
I took out the Arturo Fuente Double Chateau sun grown and lit it up. The smooth tasty tobacco was a great way to top off a good vacation.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Rainbow Run Trout Club

Rainbow Run Trout Club!

 After trying to fish the tumbling, gushing, falling water next to the camp I knew things looked grim for the last full day at camp. The warm weather the past few days melted the snow on the mountain tops and the run off was more than the creeks and streams could handle to make anything fishable. I walked into camp wondering what the plans were for the day. The other three were just finishing up breakfast and talking about some ideas. I took my warm plate of eggs, potatoes and venison sausage patties out of the warm oven and listened in.
 The discussion was ‘what are our options?” The water run off made stream fishing out of the question. We fished Spring Creek the day before with little success and wasn’t willing to travel 2 hours not knowing the conditions of any other trout streams. We came to the conclusion lake fishing was our last resort. Of course there were comical endless remarks why four grown men with years of trout fishing experience are deciding to go to a pay lake to fish for trout. This was something all of us frowned upon and never attempted because of public humiliation.

 Being one of the founding fathers of this club I was selected to write a brief history of how it came to be. The other three founding members requested to be anonymous therefore their names have been changed to protect their sanity.
 Before we even stepped out the door of the camp we were coming up with reasons to ease our guilt as to why we must pay-to-fish in a stocked trout lake.
1. There was no where else to fish because of conditions!
2. There are plenty of fishermen that pay to join a fishing club so they can fish over stocked trout on club property.
3. There’s many famous fly guys who pay big bucks to fish private waters where as we will be paying less than $10.00 an hour.
4. We figured people pay for a Lake Erie stamp to fish stocked steelhead waters so what’s wrong with paying to fish for farm raised trout right on the premises.

Other things were discussed to try not to make it look like we were so desperate.
1. We thought about finding a 10 year old kid to take with us.
2. Maybe if there was a handicap parking space and dock we would have one of us get out of the vehicle limping with a cane and coughing heavily.
3. We thought about covering our face with a handkerchief like KJH so we weren’t identified but we figured they might think we were going to rob the place.

After going the wrong way on Rte.6 we stopped at Sheetz in Coudersport. I got directions from a local truck driver but Basil Hayden failed to find a mother willing to give up her kid so we can take him fishing.

We pulled in under the welcome sign and drove up the gravel lane. There were already a few camo clad fly guys whipping their fly sticks like buggy whips on the upper lake.
 In the parking area Basil Hayden and Labatt covered their heads with their hoodies and pulled the strings tight so their faces weren’t openly exposed. I put on my sunglasses, camo coat and camo hat to ’fit in’ with the other guests up on the lake. On the other hand WW was wearing his high class expensive fishing gear complete with a trout net hanging from his back. With his polarized lenses on he looked like an ad model right out of a fly fishing mag. Labatt and I walked into the building entrance to find out how this pay-to-fish works. We were instructed to which ponds we could fly fish on, what the laws of releasing were and fishing rates. We conveyed this to the other two.
 In the parking lot we got our wading gear on, vests and strung up our rods. We reentered the building and signed a name on the registration form, punched a time card and picked a number. On the way back through the lot we grabbed our rods and headed up to the lake. WW, Labatt and Basil were taking two rods each as if they were going to a driving range with new irons. So there we were, two hooded gangsta lookin bros’ and I, looking like a homeless soup kitchen guy down on his luck, following a prestigious guide doing community service. Oh ya, we’re carrying custom built and $300.00+ factory rods with $250.00+ reels.
 WW and Basil walked passed the other guests and headed to the far side of the pond, looking lake, for better back-casting freedom. I looked the pond over and took to the side that looked less likely to be fished. With a row of tall pines only a few yards away from the pond I knew this would be a problem for new or amateur fly rod casters.

 I stepped a few feet into the water and on my second cast my bugger took a strike so hard it broke my fresh 4x tapered leader. I tied on another bugger and was more careful with my line hand tension while stripping the bugger in. I think I was on my second or third hook up when Labatt finally got his leader tied on and got his first cast in. After my second break off on another hard hit I trimmed off about a foot of the tippet section and retied another bugger on. This bugger lasted me through many a caught fish without breaking until one of my back-casts hit the metal roof on a picnic shelter.
 With my 4th or 5th hook up on the energetic 14” to 18” rainbows WW was walking towards my side of the pond. It wasn’t soon after Basil followed along. Even Labatt started to move closer to me. I started to feel as if I was being intruded upon like steelhead fishing in Erie. It wasn’t long after that before the four of us were lined up along the bank as if fishing the ’Log Jam!’
 I’m sure it didn’t take to much time for the other paying guests to see we were well educated fly fishermen. Watching our long roll casts, smooth casting strokes as well as nice shooting loops we weren’t the bums as our clothes may have depicted.
 In time we were doing the Walnut shuffle jockeying for better position. Basil was putting on a show with long circular roll cast loops off his long rod. WW was catching a few also resorting to dropping an egg pattern or streamer under an indicator. He just couldn’t resist, even in the still pond water. I was continuing to pull a trout out now and than while it seemed every time I looked over to Labatt he was tying on another fly pattern or more tippet.
 As far as the trout go the rainbows fought with good energy considering the cold conditions. A few would break the surface water with short leaps trying to shake off the barbless hooks. I’m talking about 14” to 20” bows!! Brian caught the first good size tiger trout and had a huge brook trout on but failed to net him. Basil mostly caught browns on his side of our line up. Later on Labatt got into a good school of bows. Some of the fish caught were well girthed 20” to 23” fish.
 All the while we were fishing, groups of other fisher people would come and go to try their luck. They watched us as we fished with confidence. Hooked fish splashed about, lines flew upwards with false hook ups or quick releases. Rods flexed with the fighting on the other end by the weighty fish. We were as happy as 21 year olds at their first keg party but we felt like 21 year olds at a house of ill repute. There wasn’t much of a challenge but the rewards were significantly satisfying. Yes, we were remorseful with this outing we were partaking in, hiding our true sadness of not being able to fish a local trout stream.
 Basil gave up after 2 hours with back pain. He headed to the vehicles with his two fly rods and returned with a cup of hot coffee. It wasn’t much longer when Labatt was feeling back aches and also checked out to relax with Basil. After shortly joining WW fishing the lower lake I clocked out at $25.25 worth.

 In a group there’s always a guy who just can’t get enough. By himself, last person on either pond, WW found a current flow from an underground pipe discharging water from the trout rearing ponds. Being from Erie he couldn’t resist dropping an egg pattern under an indicator drifting it through the current flow of the discharging water. He was producing hook up after hook up like an early run of steelhead. I suppose seeing us in the parking lot enjoying a beer he finally gave up and called it quits.

 Even with pictures, which I had to vow not to show faces, I can’t even prove they accompanied me. You see, when we were supposed to write our names on the registration form they did not. The office manager commented to me, as I was clocking out, that my friends had some strange names.
“Ya,” I questioned, “like what?”
They wrote their names as Jerry, doubletaper and DT!!!

So that’s how the ‘Rainbow Run Trout Club’ came about on 3/19/11.


Friday, March 3, 2017

San Juan Bi-color Worm

Beaded San Juan Bi-color Worm

 After fishing the Bi-color San Juan worm in the Bug Horn River a few years ago with great success on the wild brown trout I brought it home and started tying the bi-color worm. I added a bead to some ties to get the pattern down quicker in fast water. Both with and without the bead have been catching fish ever since.
 Here’s the way I tie my pattern and have no reason to ever change it except for adding different colors on occasion.

The Bi-Color Beaded San Juan
Hook; #10 or #12 3x long curved.  J. Stockard JS 720H
Thread; Red
Bead; brass, gold or copper
Back body; Red Ultra Chenille standard
Front body; Wine Ultra Chenille standard
Mouth and anus; Burnt ends of chenille

 1. Place bead on hook and leave behind eye of hook

 2. Thread base hook shank from behind bead to bend of hook. 

 3. Measure red Chenille so the front end will be a good distance behind eye of hook leaving room for front of body.
Tie down at bend and bring thread about ¼ distance behind eye of hook.

 4. I add a layer of glue along the top of the threaded shank. This keeps the chenille from rolling over.

5. Lay the chenille on the shank, tie down as shown and cut thread.

 6. Push bead up against front of chenille. (You might want to add a bead of glue where you place the bead.)
Start a new thread base behind eye to bead and back behind eye. Keep a gap between thread and hook eye.

  7. Secure wine chenille behind eye with chenille, extending over bead, with thread wraps and bring thread back behind eye as shown.

 8. Fold chenille forward, over itself, and tie down behind eye of hook. Trim ends of chenille to desired length.

 9. Take a flame and quickly burn the tips of the chenille. This will hold the chenille from unraveling and coming apart.

 Here are a couple other Bi-color San Juan worms I tie. 

 Where else to keep those worms but in a designated worm can.