Sunday, February 4, 2018

Old Faithful

Old Faithful
 I remember when I first got into fly fishing in my 20's. I had bought an inexpensive rod and reel just to try the sport out before investing too much money. I remember my first expensive rod. I wanted a fly rod made in the USA and checked reviews to see what my choices were. Fly fishing in Pennsylvania I felt a 8' 6" rod length in a 5 weight would be the best all around choice for trout form small creeks to bigger streams. My first 'expensive rod' was back in 02 and was a 2 piece Scott SAS. It is a medium/fast action and from the time I got it, it transformed me into a better caster and made me enjoy the sport of fly fishing ever since. It cast Woolly Buggers as well as small #18 dries. It is a little stiff to today's standard quality rods but for some reason we worked well together.
 Now a days I have an assortment of specialty rods from medium to fast action. a couple of bamboo rods and quite a few Fiberglass rod. The SAS doesn't get used much any more but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Actually if someone comes along and doesn't have a rod I'll let them borrow it for a day. It is a fish catcher!! I don't think I ever got skunked with it and have had a few people catch their first trout on it. Other than that it is my rainy day, bad weather rod. With a natural non-glaring blank It doesn't show any abuse marks from nicks/scratches or dried rain/water spots on it. Sure, the cork grip shows wear but other than that it really doesn't show the wear for all those years and bad weather it's been used during.

 The morning was overcast and rain was in the forecast for later on in the evening. The late morning temperature crept above freezing. I suppose it was in the 40's something by the time I got to the project area of Neshannock Creek. I was already dressed pretty warm for the over hour drive down. I put on a pair of neoprene chest waders for more warmth and gathered my gear on the tailgate. My intentions were to take out a vintage fiberglass rod but when it started to sprinkle I decided not. I reached into the back seat and pulled out the two piece Scott SAS. I sort of chuckled to myself knowing that now a days it only sees bad weather fishing.
 Down at the creek the water was running on the faster side and a little high but I expected something like this with all the snow melt we had the previous few days. There was still a few snow piles in the parking lot and also a few areas of snow on the ground beneath the trees across the creek where the sun doesn't reach. Though the air was a bit warmer than the past few days, I'm sure the water wasn't going to change much in temperature. This is the kind of creek I never know what the catching is going to be like. Sometimes it may take a while to find what they want but other times it might just be I have to be lucky enough to get one to open it's mouth for a meal. With the cold temps I didn't expect they would be moving around much but I started with a Woolly Bugger anyhow. I scoured the area pretty thoroughly but couldn't get anything to strike any of the color buggers I offered. I resorted to nymph fishing.
 It took some time, patience and persistence but the first strike came with just a delicate stopping of my fly line that looked unnatural even for a snag. I wrist set the hook not too aggressively just in case it was a bottom snag. When I felt the movement on the other end I wrist the rod with a little more of a forcing tug to make sure of good hook penetration. The fish wasn't too aggressive but did put up a short energetic swim around before I got to net it.

 The next strike came during a cold showering rain. The take was more evident as the fly line took a sharp dip as my stoneflies were drifting slowly in a deep pool of water. I set the hook with confidence that it was a trout. Sure enough the trout retaliated with a sharp head tug before taking out line. I tightened my cold wet hand over the cork grip and held the fly line with my left hand controlling the tension. I watched as the fly line started to rise from the water depth and then I watched the trout take air. He came completely air born with it's tail flapping to and fro as if swatting pesky gnats. It reentered the water with a splash and dove deep. I noticed it was much bigger and fatter than the first trout. It put up a more exciting fight and I let it swim about without any over powering resistance on my part. Being the bite was real slow I didn't know if I'd get another hook up or not so I enjoyed the fish tugging on the line.

 I fished another hour trying my hardest for one last catch. I switched patterns often and even moved around a bit more. The only thing I caught was a small sucker and I suppose it just happen to yawn when the nymph I was using drifted in front of him.
 In the approximate 5 hours I was there, a few other fishermen tried their luck but didn't stick around very long. I imagine it was because of the cold rain and that the fish weren't really biting. I never seen anyone of them hook up to any trout. Old faithful came through again with at least a couple fish.
 By the time I exited the chilled water each foot felt like they were molded in a block of cement and I had ankle weights strapped on. I couldn't feel my toes but at least they weren't hurting. After changing clothes in the parking lot I grabbed a sandwich out of the cooler and sat in the truck till it warmed up a bit inside.
 Rolling north on I79 I lit up an Alec Bradley Sun Grown, turned on some rock and roll and traveled up the interstate towards home.



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