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.