Sunday, April 8, 2018

Easter Fooling

Easter Fooling

 As I was driving east I kept watching the outside temperature on the truck’s instrument panel. The closer the temperature rose to 32* the happier I became. It was overcast with the sun being hidden by the early sky. For the past week or so the rumor was that there’s been a BWO hatch on Spring Creek. I’ve chased these so called big hatches for years. Very seldom do I get the day off to enjoy such hatches with dry fly action but it happens occasionally. Usually I’m told “you should have been here yesterday.” When the temperature rose to above 32* I pushed the gas pedal down a little further. I was feeling the excitement like a kid going to Waldameer Park for the umpteenth time. Even knowing what could be expected, yet, still having that excitement inside of me to just get there.

 Being Easter Sunday, the parking lot was empty. It was around 10am by now and the temp. was above 32*. I dressed accordingly and seeing a dark gray cloud moving above I decided to wear my rain jacket just in case. I took out and pieced together the 9’ Icon rod. It was a bit windy and I thought the fast action rod would be a good choice cutting through the wind with a dry fly attached.

 As I walked up the narrow path, along the creek, I watched for any signs of risers on the water surface. The rounded waves rolled quickly over the deeper midsection of the stream. Along the banks the water surface calmed into riffles. Where there was a break along the bank, like an uproot, log or exposed boulders from the oncoming current, a back eddy would form causing a slow calmer pool.
 The water ran clear with the morning daylight upon it. Visibility of the stream bottom was pretty noticeable in the shallow water but the deeper the water the darkness kept any fish hidden beneath. I weaved my way through the scraggly brush and tree branches till I got to a piece of ground that I was able to look out over the water better. Slowly I stepped off the bank and felt my felt sole wading boots take hold of the stony creek bottom. Feeling foot safe I slowly made my way far enough from the bank to have enough space for my back cast. 
  The water was running pretty fast for trying to work a streamer even with a lot of weight. With the coldness I didn’t think the trout would be too active to use a lot of energy to chase a streamer. I decided to nymph fish tandem and wait for some kind of hatch and risers. Slowly I made my way down creek nymphing pocket waters and riffles. I lost a few on unseen bottom snags and for awhile I thought my fishing experience here wasn’t going to be near what I thought it would.
 I found myself in the middle of the stream tying on another nymph when I heard my first splash of a rising fish. Maybe an inexperienced person wouldn’t notice that subtle audible sound in a slow pool among the noise of the wavy rolling main current. I looked toward the sound and the swirl evidently disappeared with the moving water. I stood and took a better look at my surroundings. I had strategically placed myself in the middle of the creek whereas there was a deep pool of water on either side of me. I was far enough from the pools so as the trout shouldn’t be able to see me from the distant. I continued tying on the dropper nymph keeping my ears aware to any sudden change in sound. As I was high sticking the nymphs the sun busted out of the clouds. I was able to feel the warmth instantly on my bare cold hands. All of a sudden bugs fluttered about and was heaviest along both bank sides,,,,and trout started to rise!
  The fluttering bugs were easy for me to identify as caddis. They were small and maybe a size 18 from my distance. I wasn’t sure of the body color but the wings looked as if they were tan in color. I reeled the line in and clipped off the nymphs. I was fishing with 4x tippet but knew if I was fishing small dries a 5x tippet would do me better. Not sure how the wind would effect the weightless dry fly and 5x so I didn’t knot on too long of the 5x tippet to my 4x leader. I decided not go with a caddis. There were so many darting upon and over the water I felt to have a trout find my disguised offering would be pretty slim. I thought I seen a few BWO’s in the mass of caddis so I took out my BWO tin and checked out the variety of shades, wing color and sizes. I felt like a bride to be, on the show deciding what combination I would say “yes to the dress” and hope the trout agree!! I picked out a CDC BWO with wound hackle. I doped up the olive body with dry fly repellant and gave it a whirl. I figured the BWO should stand out among the caddis and might just get a trout interested.
 One cast landed in the middle of swirling surface water to my right. The BWO circled and I was late on the set when a trout mouth pecked at it. I missed two more times before I took a break and calmed down. 
  My next cast was dead center of the pool to my left. I had the fly line upstream from my BWO as it slowly drifted to the back end of the pool. A trout turned on the BWO but appeared didn’t get a chance to suck it in before my offering drifted away. He didn’t rise to my next cast but I’d get back to him later.
 There were risers to my left and risers to the right of me. I was stuck in the middle deciding which to go after. Just behind the overhanging branches to my left a couple of risers were picking off fluttering caddis. I dropped the BWO just short of the last branch and close to the bank. A rise took my BWO in the riffling water and this time I got a good hook set. He ran upstream and I pulled the rod behind me when I felt him turn. I caused him to swim free from the exposed boulders creating the pool area. He headed down creek in the choppy water and the current helped him as I fought him against the current all the way to the net. My first wild brown put a smile on my face and confidence in my mind set.

  After drying off the BWO I doped it up again and was ready for another trout. It didn’t take long before I had one sip the BWO at the backside of the pocket water. I’m not sure if the CDC wing was standing or not. My imitation might have looked like a cripple by then with all the effort I made in casting before this. I watched his mouth open as my offering drifted in. I raised the rod with a quick upward motion and I had another wild brown fighting in the fast current.

 The trout were hitting the BWO, or I was missing them, aggressively. I kept teasing them on both sides of me until one gave in. I had made some nice sidearm casts under the tree branches that produced unsuspecting trout. Other times it was just a drop in the calmer pocket pool behind tumbling water that got a trout to rise quickly before my offering got swept away. Though there were a lot more caddis about it was evident that my BWO was getting the hungry trout’s attention.

 After things slowed down and I couldn’t get any to rise to my dry so I decided to make my way downstream. I lit up a stogie along the bank and relaxed a bit. Two mallards decided to visit but kept their distance.

 As I waded and fished my way down creek there wasn’t many flies about while the clouds overcame the creek. When the sun peeked out though, those caddis came out and hopped around like popping corn upon the water surface. Every once in awhile a trout would clear water to get at one. I stuck with the BWO imitation though. I switched my BWO patterns depending on the water current. I used the CDC wound hackle, CDC BWO Para-dun and a curved hook emerger at times. If I seen a rise within distance I would go for it. Sometimes nothing would be rising but I would blind cast along the far bank in softer water and it was no surprise that I would catch a trout waiting for the next tidbit to drift by.

 There was a nice flow of calm water along the far bank. I was keeping an eye out and hadn’t seen anything rise. There were a few caddis that would drift by fluttering on the surface but I didn’t see anything interested in them. I was a little ahead of the calmer water so I had a good angle to drift my offering without any drag upon the surface. I dropped the BWO at the front of the pool but not quite as close to the bank as I wanted. My fly line laid upon the surface water between in a slight ‘S’ pattern. As my imitation drifted along the slow current the fly line began to open up with the faster current between us but kept the BWO with a drag free drift. A trout porpoised forward at my offering with head and back breaking the water surface. I was kind of stunned by the sight but my instinct took over and my reaction was quick enough to get a hook set. Until then I was picking off few smaller browns and I was beginning to think the bigger browns weren’t going to rise. This one changed my mind. We had a good battle in the flowing current and he had me guessing as to which side he wanted me to net him. He made some quick turns as I drew him near and I had to give him a little line knowing I was using 4lb tippet. It was a good fight and getting him into the net was one of my better accomplishments.
 His buttery belly and wide tail told me why he put up such a good fight.

 There was a rise just down creek from me almost in a direct line of where I stood. It was some distance away but I figured I’d try to fool him. I made a short cast down creek and pulled fly line out of the reel almost like I was pinning. After my BWO got so far I made a big overhand loop cast and dropped the BWO down stream with slack between the fish zone and me. The trout took the imitation with a generous splash. When I netted him I saw that if I had been a bit earlier to set the hook I might have missed him completely.

  It was getting late in the evening and I started to wade down creek not stopping too long for any one drift. I did manage a couple unsuspecting browns that happen to take my offerings when no other flies were on the water.

 When I got back to the truck I decided to drive and fish up creek in what they call Fisherman’s Paradise.
 The water was much shallower with occasional deep pockets. The riffles weren’t nearly as fast as the previous waters I had fished. In the hour I only seen two risers in a deeper run. Both were on the opposite side of the choppy current Getting a drag free drift to them wouldn’t be easy. I gave it a try but couldn’t get either to rise in the slower current. I did manage two fish while nymph fishing. One smaller trout and one I wasn’t expecting when I got it to the net.

 I ended the day with a well deserved beer, a shot of bourbon and a cigar. Tomorrow would be another fishing adventure before heading home.


 Monday morning I awoke to an April Fools surprise. There was 3” of snow and below freezing temperature. Everything was covered except for the flowing water. It was if April Fool’s Day came a day late.

  I started the truck to warm the insides and clear the snow/ice off the windshield. Not in any hurry to fish I cleared off the snow on the truck. After that I went in town and found a gas station where I got myself a coffee and blue berry muffin for breakfast. Returning I casually got my fishing gear on. Because of the snow fall I put on my cleated wading boots instead of the felt soles I wore the day before. I lessened the weight of my vest by removing the bugger box I was carrying. Because of the caddis I encountered the day before I added a couple of small boxes of caddis to my overall collection of flies. I was set and headed on down creek for a morning of trout fishing.
 I spent about a half hour without even a bump in the section I was fishing. The water was shallow for the most part so there had to be fish in the deeper run I was fishing. Without any takes I started to flip over rocks along the bank. I seen many small nymphs and also grayish green scuds that I knew I could match their size. I waded out of the creek and went back to the truck for my scud box.
 As the temps warmed a bit snow fell from the tree branches causing loud splashes in the water below. The sky was brightening and birds started to chirp bringing in the peaceful morning.

 Nymph fishing with the scuds didn’t help my fishless situation at all. I flung out a few dry flies for the heck of it but didn’t get an answer. A few ducks appeared gliding with the current down stream. When the sun produced some warmth that I could feel I packed up and decided to fish the rest of the day where I caught trout the day before.
 I was just finishing getting my gear on in the empty parking lot when a truck pulled in. The guy got out and began to assemble his conventional rod and tackle box. We had a bit of a chat and after I headed up creek along the path I took the day before.
 Again there was a good hatch of small black caddis along the banks when the sun appeared over the water. Three or four trout were picking off caddis at will like someone popping Lemonheads in their mouth at the theater. I managed to only hook up with one of them. I wasn’t sure why the others didn’t want any other dry I was offering them. I tried a few different size and shades of caddis and a couple sizes of BWO’s. It became obvious that whatever they were munching on was pretty sweet and didn’t want to try my tid-bits of candy.
 For the rest of the day I spent trying to get more fish to rise. After the morning hatch there wasn’t much bug activity on the water. There were a few caddis about now and then but any BWO flies I seen was pretty small. If I did come across a rising fish I tempted him enough to go for my offering. Sometimes I got him and sometimes the trout didn’t want anything to do with it. Most of the trout I was picking off, which weren’t many, were on the small size. There were two trout that come to mind though.

 I was getting into some heavier current and the BWO was hard to follow. I knotted on an Elk Hair Caddis and worked it over the rolling water for a time. Midstream a trout rose and slammed it like it was some kind of big drake trying to clear the water surface. I gave a quick angled pull for the hook set and we had a running battle in the fast current. I was a little over knee deep and there was no way I was going to feel my way to the bank to land him. I was hoping the hook was set tight enough to hold as I fought him in the rolling current. I tightened my bare hand around the cork handle as the rod bowed and flexed with his aggressive antics. When I got him upstream from me I pulled the net out with my left hand while my right hand held the cork and my index finger tightened the fly line to the rod. I swung him around to my left. As he struggled with the oncoming current and rod strength I lowered the rod tip and he backed into the net. It definitely was a solid hook up and one of my finer catches. 

 Down stream I came to another long stretch of slower current along the far bank. There were a couple of trout rising occasionally just across from me but I couldn’t get either to rise for my offerings. Down creek in the flow from them there was a trout that rose at least three times in the same area. I had a BWO knotted on the tippet. It was going to be a long cast and I had to be careful not to catch the tree branches right behind me as I already had a few times. The trout was down stream to my right as I faced the opposite bank. I took a few steps closer to the main center flow which put me in thigh high water. I made a couple of false casts to get line out backhanding, with my right rod hand, over my left shoulder. I flung the line out towards the far bank down stream with a generous loop. The first couple of casts fell short but as I took line out, with each cast, I was getting closer to my target. Another generous backhand, over the shoulder cast, got my fly near enough. The extra slack line laid upon the faster flowing current but it looked like my BWO would drift drag free far enough for the trout to make a play on it without any concern. I watch the BWO drift just out from the bank. From my view it looked like a small ball of fuzz just a shade darker from the surface water that I was trying to keep an eye on. The splash downstream was close enough, I thought, to my fly as I had a long line to tighten to set the hook. I raised the rod back at the sight of the splash. The fly line rose to the air and straightened like a guide wire from a telephone pole. Another splash occurred upon the surface with an angry hooked trout. Next thing I know the brown trout came completely out of the water twisting trying to expel the hook. He reentered the water with a splash and within a second or two again appeared air born. After he reentered the water again he battled beneath as I cautiously took in line bringing him closer. With his underwater friskiness the fly line wavered like an outside laundry line in a brisk breeze. He wasn’t a big trout by any means but with the oncoming current I didn’t horse him towards me. Once close I think he was pretty played out and I netted him without any trouble.

 After another half hour or so I was pretty well played out and had a long drive home. There weren’t any risers and the surface caddis about weren’t being harassed by any trout.
 While I was changing clothes in the parking lot I happen to see what looked like a tiny Blue Quill. Other than that there wasn’t anything else that I could see in the air.
 I would have loved a beer to go with my Punch Bolo cigar but it wouldn’t have been a good idea while driving.
Anyhow, this will become another enjoyable memory. 


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