Saturday, July 28, 2018

Brook Trout on the Dry

Brook Trout on the Dry
May 19th, 2018

  I was tired of casting Woolly Buggers with a ton of weight on the leader to get them down deep in the high and fast running current. I was bored with the rhythmic motion of nymph fishing and wet fly fishing. I came to Potter County for dry fly action but because of the high and fast current from the week day storms there wasn’t much of a hatch and the trout weren’t rising on Kettle Creek. Saturday evening I decided to go to a smaller creek in hopes of finding rising trout or at least water conditions that were much more in my favor.

 In the smaller stream I found myself thigh high in colder water and looked over the situation of what I would decide to tie on first. This creek was on the high side also but the current wasn’t so fast and since it wasn’t as deep there might be a chance for the trout laying on the bottom to rise to a Mayfly. There were a few small Sulphurs coming off the surface now and then like hot embers rising from a campfire flame. I didn’t see any trout rising though. One of those sulphurs got close enough to me and I was able to catch and cradle it in my hand. It was about a size #18 with a light olive segmented underside and faint yellow above. It almost looked like a grey fox but the thorax was a distinct orange/sulphur color with dun color wings. I knotted on a Sulphur para-dun when I seen my first rise near the far bank.
 My casts to the far side were long as I didn’t want to disturb the midstream water where other fish might have been holding. I missed three trout before I realized what I felt I was doing wrong. I figured the trout rising were just small brook trout but any fish rising I was ready to go after. Because of the long line I had out I was trying to set the hook with just a wrist set. By the time the length of line got off the water and straightened out the hook set was late. I decided to rear back on the rod with more force and try to set the hook more quickly. Once I got the hang of it I hooked up with these little beauties more often. I had them skipping across the surface fighting the 4 weight. Others would dart beneath as I was bringing them near me fighting the line trying to get free. 

  I had to go down to a size #20 midge at times to get a trout to rise when I didn’t see any more sulphurs on the water.

  I only seen one Gray color May fly which may have been a Quill Gordon or Hendrickson. I knotted on a similar imitation and ended up hooking a nice size brook trout in the process.

 I was having fun but the cold water was taking its toll. It wasn’t long before my whole body was chilled from standing thigh high in the cold water. There were still a few risers down creek a bit but I decided to call it a day. I was getting hungry and thirsty and I was pretty sure the trout won’t be going anywhere overnight and maybe I’ll be teasing them in the morning.

 Back at camp I cooked up some trout fillets and pork and beans for supper. A little BBQ sauce in the beans added flavor and Old Bay on the fillets is a must!

  For the night cap I enjoyed an Railbender ale and sipping some bourbon. While thinking about the days fishing and tomorrows possibilities I sat back and lit up a Arturo Double Chateau sun grown. I definitely finished off the day of trout fishing to the finest.  


Friday, July 27, 2018

Glass'n in the Float Tube

Glass’n in the Float Tube
July 2018

 The pond lays calm encircled by the green forest. It resembles a round doughnut shape with a small island of grass off centered. Clouds shadow the pond surface as they drift beneath the early rising sun. A light wind wrinkles the surface water, like a glazed doughnut, sparkling under the bright sun in full view. My float tube is pocketed with streamers, poppers and essentials for this outing for largemouth fishing. My choice rod is a 6 weight, 8’6” Wonderod fitted with a large arbor and 7 weight line.

 I push off the bank and fin my way into open water. I spent the first hour or so casting towards the banks with an assortment of poppers. Not getting any takes I switch to streamers and finally get a take. The bass grabs the streamer as I strip it towards me. I set the hook with a hard over the head yank and the bass fights the glass rod as it bows and flexes with every tug. 

 Keeping with the streamers, as I float around the pond, I catch a few other pond fish on the streamers.

  As I float near the island I hear water disturbance and look towards the commotion. Waves of water splash about in the shadows of the trees near a shallow corner of the pond. It was evident that bass are feeding, chasing bait fish and causing the disturbance. I fin my way closer and cast a Clouser minnow towards the ruckus. The fly line loops in the air and the streamer touches down into the feeding fish. The take is almost instant and a hard yank sets the hook. A bass explodes from beneath into the air trying to shake the hook. He reenters with an audible splash. I waste no time and guide him towards me not worried about breaking off with 10lb leader and tippet.

  The action is fast as the bass feed. Another take on the streamer and another bass fights for freedom.

  There’s a thick branch protruding the surface just out from the bank to my right. I can’t tell the deepness but it’s one of those spots that looks like a bass might be hiding in ambush. As my Clouser streaks through the air a strong breeze guides it to the far right of the branch. I make a strip to tighten the line and I watch a wake towards my streamer. A quick strip and the bass grabs it. The rod bows with my hook set and flexes deep into the butt section. The bass yanks back and heads out of the shallows to my far right. I have the cork grip pointing upwards taking in line as the bass tugs and fights the flexing rod for an advantage. I turn him, not giving up line, and he heads towards the float tube. I quickly take in line till I have him near. He takes a couple of deep dives but the glass rod flexes deep and he rises back up to the surface. 

  As things slow down it’s time to relax a bit and I take out an AB Nica Puro Rosado. I nip off a bit of the cap on the torpedo shaped stogie and lick the flavor of the outer wrapper. Cupping my hand I light the foot and the cigar comes to life as smoke fills the air around me. The Nicaraguan tobacco satisfies my cigar urge while I continue fishing for bass.  

  I float around casting streamers anticipating a strike at any moment. I catch a few smaller bass and a blue gill and another healthy looking rock bass.

  Wanting to get at least one fish on a popper I switch to a dark color popper which should show up well under the fading sun. I miss one bass but at least I know the dark popper caused a strike, one color I hadn’t used earlier. Slowly floating my way to me exit point I cast the popper just off the bank. The water erupts where my popper was and I yank back. The bass tail wags as he exit’s the water perpendicular to the surface. He splashes down and my line tightens again. He isn’t as big as I would have liked but the explosion on a surface popper always jolts me with excitement.

   7 some hours fishing for bass comes to a close as I make my way to land. I enjoy a cold brew while changing into dry clothes and putting my gear away. Of coarse a stogie for the drive home makes for a good ending to a relaxing bass pond outing.



Monday, May 14, 2018

March Brown Emerger

March Brown Emerger

Hook;     3906B Mustad #12
Thread;    Camel 8/0
Tail;         Pheasant Tail Fibers
Rib;        Brown Thread
Abdomen;    March Brown Dubbing
Wing;    Gray Poly or Lt. Dun Z-Lon. Down wing.
Thorax;     March Brown Dubbing
Head;     Camel 8/0

 I very seldom buy flies. Instead, once I’m on a stream and get to hold or see a Mayfly or Caddis, I tie my imitation myself.
 I was fishing Kettle Creek one day and the trout weren’t coming up for my March Browns but I felt they were hitting emergers instead. I went to the Kettle Creek Tackle Shop to see what Phil had that would imitate a March Brown Emerger. Who else would know Kettle Creek better than Phil? I seen his imitation and bought a few to try out. Needless to say I hammered those trout which were taking emergers.
Here is my interpretation of the March Brown emerger.

1. Thread base hook shank to bend of hook.

2. Tail: Use about 4 strands of Pheasant tail fibers. Length of hook.

3. Rib; Tie in brown thread at bend of hook.

4. Abdomen; Dub abdomen with a shade of March Brown dubbing

5. Rib; Counter wrap brown thread leaving space to tie down wing behind hook as shown.

6. Wing. Tie in wing of either Gray Poly or Lt. Dun Z-Lon. I trim the wing to about half the tail length.

7. Thorax; Dub a thorax over the front part of the wing and thread wrap the head.


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Give'm What They Want

Give’m What They Want

  As I was driving west, on the old country roads, I was hoping to get into a hatch of caddis on Oil Creek. Jeff had told me that all during the week there had been a heavy hatch of Grannoms at times and other caddis mixed in. Being a Saturday and promising of warm 70 degrees and sunshine, I figured the fly fishing only section in the park would be quite crowded. I decided to fish open regulation waters and turned down the dirt road towards the bridge. When I got to the bridge there were already plenty of vehicles in the small couple of parking areas. I pulled off the side of the road and proceeded to get my fishing gear on.
 Small cotton clouds slowly moved below the soft blue sky. Birds chirped as if the first day of warmer weather was upon us. In the distance geese were honking and the sound of a hawk was heard occasionally overlooking the forest and water for food. When I stepped off the bank, into the knee high water, I immediately felt the chill of the water around my legs.
 The water was lightly stained and a little higher than the weekend before. Looking into the depth to my boots I could see a couple of feet beneath me but I was sure the water was much darker below that depth. The promise of sunshine should clear the water up by noon for the first part but wasn’t sure how much the water level would drop. There were already a few caddis that dotted the air like lazy snowflakes on a crisp frosty winter morning.
 Looking downstream there were two guys, about knee deep, fly fishing towards the bank. Further down creek there were a few conventional rod fishermen fishing the faster wavy water. I could tell they were using conventional rods by the flick of their wrist when casting. Their yellow and white minnow bucket sat on the stony bank about a couple of feet from the water. It stood out like a freshly painted fire hydrant on a desolate street corner.
 The sun was still on the rise and cast a shadow of the bridge rails upon the water surface. The partially submerged boulder I fished near the past week was now covered with water but still made the surface water wave in the otherwise calmer, unencumbered wider section of the stream.
 For my first selection I decided on a UV sucker spawn for my top fly. I figured this would at least direct attention in the darker water to any curious trout. Getting their attention may bring them near and possibly see the more realistic nymph or offering I have as a dropper.
 For the first hour or so I fished and didn’t move too far from my location. I changed offerings often and occasionally got a trout to take. I had caught one on a San Juan worm and one trout on a sucker spawn. When the sun shown bright the caddis came over the water in a good heavy hatch. There wasn’t a trout to be seen rising to the caddis that dapped the water surface. During the hatch I used a wet fly and caught one rainbow that struck the Picket Pin like it would grab a Woolly Bugger. I stuck around for another half hour after the hatch was over and ended up hooking into a couple more rainbows on a streamer. From there I fished my way down creek to the faster water the other fishermen vacated. Without catching anything under the hot sun I returned to the truck and headed elsewhere.

 I followed the dirt road and when I turned the corner there wasn’t a vehicle in the small parking area. I know the sun was out and it was 70 some degrees but it’s still only the third weekend of trout season. I parked the truck and headed down the trail to the creek.
 The water had cleared up nicely but it was still high. I walked up creek to a section that usually hold trout and have seen trout rise on occasions. With the sun out though there wasn’t any hatch to speak of. I knotted on a Woolly Bugger and slowly waded and fished my way across creek. I wanted to get as close to the far side to fish as I could. The stream bed rocks moved beneath my boots as a slowly stepped my way. The water was still tinted enough that when the sun got covered by a cloud I was unable to see the bottom before me to tell how deep it was. I got to where I was a little bit beyond half way across the creek in thigh high water. My casts would have to be long to reach the boulders that lined the bank on the far side. Before I make those long casts though I would start with shorter casts and cover the area closer to me first.

 I cast out about 20 feet in front of me and let the bugger swing down creek. I just knew there had to be trout in this nice seam of water. After a couple casts without a strike I decided to keep adding weight to the leader until I either touch bottom or catch a trout. The line was almost pointing down stream when a trout hit the bugger hard. I pulled back on the line while pulling the rod tip back over my shoulder. The line straightened and the trout struggled and fought on the other end. I kept the rod tip down trying to keep the trout well below the surface. When he began to lose energy I forced him upstream beyond me. Once he was in front of me a lowered the net in the water and lowered the rod tip. The trout unknowingly backed up into the net and I scooped him up before he was aware of the trap.
 Now that I found the right amount of weight to go along with my Woolly Bugger and the right depth to get down to the trout I continued casting, swinging and stripping the bugger in the same fashion. Well, you would have thought I was handing out free corn dogs at a small town carnival. Trout were attacking my bugger one after another as if it was going to be the last big meal they would see in a while. I suppose because of the rain and higher water the past couple of days no other fishermen were able to reach the far side or near enough to where the trout were at. Maybe the trout were tired of the small morsels of bugs and food that drifted with the muddy water that they wanted some meat. Well the Woolly Buggers were the meat they were looking for, for the time being.

 The whole time I was casting and catching trout there were two geese that hung around. They’d swim a piece now and then but most of the time they scavenged along the shoreline.  At times they stood upon the boulders and watched me fish like spectators at sporting event.

  I’d switch off and throw a Triple Threat on occasion and on occasion a trout would smack that also.

After an hour or so my casting shoulder was beginning to get sore. I’ve been out since 8 am and the casting has taken its toll. I waded out of the water and headed to where I came to the creek earlier. I was surprised that there was no one fishing in the section of water just below the bike trail. There’s usually fish that hold in this section in between the shallow water below and the faster riffles ahead of this section. I just had to give it a try before heading to the truck. I drifted nymphs but if the trout didn’t take my offering within a few casts I’d clip them off and try another. When I dropped a bead head Hares Ear it grabbed some attention and I picked up a few more trout.

 I even caught a couple of trout on a pink sucker spawn before I called it quits. I caught a couple of chubs on the pink egg also.

 Back at the truck I opened a pint of Boddingtons Pub Ale. It wasn’t as cold as I would have liked but it was chilled enough, wet and had a smooth creamy beer taste as if it was just draught from the keg. By the time I got changed into street clothes the pint was empty. I took out an AVO Robusto; I received from a friend, and relaxed in the driver’s seat for the way home. 

 Another day in the books!


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Birthday Trout 2018

Birthday Trout 2018

  Usually each year, around my birthday, I’ve been able to catch a large trout which I refer to as ‘my birthday trout’. It was a week after my birthday but I still consider them my birthday trout of 2018.

 My second cast was a bit upstream near the partially wet exposed boulder that split the water current into a deep riffle behind it. I made a short mend upstream and the tear drop indicator changed direction bringing my tandem offering deep into the riffle. I watched the drift as it passed before me along the crease in the riffles. The indicator suddenly dropped underneath the surface and I yanked upward to set the hook. I felt the rod flex into the mid section and maybe even into the butt section. I tightened my grip around the cork and locked my wrist trying to keep the butt section pointing upward. I knew in an instant I had a heavy fish.
 The trout must have been as surprised as I was. It rose to the surface after the hook set briefly, with the rod tension, as if to wonder “what just happened?” This is when I got my first brief look of the fat rainbow.
 She dove deep and took off below the riffling water behind the boulder and forced her way downstream with the current in a hurry. The flexing rod followed the direction of the trout as tensioned fly line exited the spool and slipped through the rod eyes and tip top. I dropped the rod tip just above the surface some not wanting the big trout to surface in the oncoming current. I seen the pink sucker spawn when she rose so I knew she took the small olive nymph I had as a dropper.
 Down stream she gave a good head shake or two, held in the current and started a downstream to and fro head shaking, body shaking fight. It wasn’t long before she started up creek and she was rising. I cranked in line not wanting a bunch of unspooled fly line lying on the surface. I also raised the rod tip keeping a tight line. She put up a good fight as we both attempted to take more control than the other. I had her just below the surface coming towards the net but with a burst of energy, upon seeing the net; she propelled herself away in a thrusting motion. The rod flexed a little deeper and line slipped out through the guides but the tightened drag slowed her escape. She turned down creek and spun towards me. The tensioned drag kept her from taking any more line and it was if we were at a stand still giving me more time to think.
 I couldn’t land her because of the high muddy bank. I also couldn’t wade down creek because of the cement bridge abutment and not sure how deep the water would be. The current was much slower between me and the bank which I decided was my best option to net her. As long as I kept her from rubbing the tippet on the bottom rocks I had a good chance of keeping her hooked.
 I turned towards the bank and stated to reel her towards that direction. She rose just below the surface and I could tell she didn’t have much energy to fight aggressively for a last surge. I let her swim upstream a bit between me and the bank. I raised my outstretched rod arm as I dipped the net below the surface with my outstretched left hand. Slowly I lowered the rod tip and the trout started to back up towards the net. Close enough I raised the rod tip just high enough the trout rose up in the water column and I was able to sweep her up in the net. She twisted and squirmed a bit but she was pretty played out. The weight of her in the net was so great I butted the side of the net against my gut while I waded to the bank. She was the first birthday trout of 2018. I found the small olive nymph was hooked in the corner of her mouth.

 If One wasn’t Enough

 What got me fishing there in the first place was from the bridge Jeff and I saw a golden trout holding behind an exposed boulder when we first arrived. There was someone else fishing for it so we ended up going down creek to fish. Later on I returned to the truck for a water break and, with no one else around, started fishing in the same area. From the water level I was fishing I couldn’t see the golden trout but I did know it was around the exposed boulder. I learned a long time ago where there’s a golden there is sure to be other trout near by.
 For the next hour, I would say after catching the big rainbow, I started slamming other rainbows with a combination of sucker spawn and selected nymphs as a dropper. The bite was tapering off when Jeff called down from the bridge. He had a bird’s eye view of the golden. This made me more interested in fishing for the golden trout. He could see the golden without any problem. He told me it looked like it was feeding on something below the surface in the current. He could tell by the way it darted out from its hold but returned afterwards. I decided to knot on a wet fly with a weighted nymph as a dropper. Jeff was kind of coaching me where the golden was located by the drift of my indicator. While fishing for the golden I did catch one fish on the wet fly, missed a hook set on another and caught one on the nymph while Jeff watched from above.

 I laid the indicator just forward of the partially exposed boulder even with the risk of snagging it. As the indicator reached the boulder I gave a high mend up creek letting my tandem offering drift over the boulder snag free. I quickly dropped the rod tip and kept short mends behind the indicator as needed. The teardrop indicator turned up creek as it dipped below the surface. I yanked back and downstream and the line tightened. Jeff yelled “you got him!” Well I knew I had a trout with the tight line but I didn’t realize I had ’him’ until I seen the flash of the yellow/golden trout about a foot below the surface. He took off out and away taking line. From then on it was head shaking, tugging, quick jerks and pulling as he struggled. The rod flexed and bounced with each aggressive thwart by the angry trout. He shook the line, rod and hook every which way but loose. The only thing that didn’t change was my tight grip on the cork and my patience even though I knew at any second the hook might come dislodged. When he was directly down creek from me and trying to rest I already knew my plan on where to net him with the big rainbow I netted previously. I didn’t let him rest and swung the rod between me and the bank side. He hesitantly swam forward but maybe seen an escape route and quickly darted upstream between me and the bank. I raised the rod as he passed by and dropped it some once he passed me. When the rod started to flex more he slowed up and maybe a bit puzzled. I reached back for my net and had it ready when he returned between me and the bank. I pulled back on the flexed rod and he turn towards the net. Not having much room to get around it he turned again but with the lift of the rod he rose and reared backward and I was able to scoop him up without him knowing what was coming. He thrashed and squirmed in the net but I had him deep enough in the net he wasn’t getting out. I held the net with both hands, while holding the rod, till he settled down some. I followed the tippet and when he opened his mouth the wet fly was hooked firmly on his tongue. He stayed still long enough for me to do a quick surgical maneuver. As soon as I clamped on the hook, with the hemostats, I twisted the hook upward and the point slipped out. The golden gave a quick jerking flinch like a person just getting a tooth pulled! I reached in the net and got a picture before I set him free.

 He dropped to the bottom with his belly nearest the creek bed. He held there like he was catching his breath and regaining his presence of mind. When he started to move his fins and tail a little more I felt better. He ended up swimming slowly under the bridge and held there in the deeper flow.
 I attached the wet fly to the hook keeper on the rod and told Jeff “I’m done, no use of fishing any longer!”

 Two things that I have to mention that happened before these birthday trout. Jeff and I were fishing Kettle Creek the past week. It was high and fast. Wet flies caught more fish in the first couple of days we were there. Because of this I was out of the wet fly I knew was productive in the creek I was fishing. The night before I tied up a half dozen or so before going to bed early because I was getting up early to turkey hunt.
 The second thing is when I went back to the truck after fishing earlier I decided to take my camera along this time just in case. I didn’t take it earlier because it was off and on sprinkling. The just in case worked out because you know what they say? Pictures or it didn’t happen!