Monday, February 4, 2019

Grannoms and Friends

Grannoms and Friends
April 2015
 I met up with Rippinlip in the fly shop. He said that he could only fish a couple of hours because he had some work back home to catch up on. After we got our gear on, out in the parking lot, he headed to the falls and I figured I'd start off with a bunny leech right in front of the shop, being there weren't many others around yet. I knew Troutslammer was down stream somewhere so I didn't spend much time drifting the leech pattern. I didn't notice anyone getting strikes using indicators but what I did notice was that there were a few slight rises on the flat water before me. The rises were near other fly guys so I didn't get the chance to try for them but it did have me think'n. I finally waded out and headed down a bit.

 The sun was up high shining its rays upon us warming the chilly morning up. The water of the Big N ran clear in the shallows but enough color in the deeper parts to keep us from seeing fish. The crowds weren’t upon us yet but I figured once things warmed up a bit, fishermen would be showing up maybe to wet a line on this sunny early April day.

 I caught a couple of nice browns on dry flies before Mikastorm showed up along shore. After a greeting I handed him a container of flies and showed him what I was doing to make trout rise. He was apprehensive at first about tying on a dry, since none were rising, but I convinced him to give it a try. He tied on a dark elk hair caddis to represent the grannoms and cast it into the flowing wavy run. It didn’t take long for a fish to rise to his fly but he wasn’t ready for it. The next rise he was able to hook the fish and played him to shore.
 I let Mikastorm have the run to himself and started down creek where Troutslammer was teasing and catching selective trout. He was whooping and hollering with each one he caught on his dry imitation. I squatted in between two nymph fishermen and lamely tossed my caddis out into the flow of water. I missed the first couple of sippers. I wasn’t sure if I was trying to set the hook before they took the fly, being I was able to see them rise to the surface, or they were just playing. I finally let one take it under and with a quick two count a small rainbow succumbed to the rod pressure. We started to razz each other a bit but I could tell the guys I waded between didn't appreciate our fun. I finally went to the bank and waded downstream behind them.

Out, mid-stream, Nymphus and her husband were trying their luck also. I waded over to Nymphus and handed her a couple of the grannoms I’ve been using. I was going to wade over to her husband but he was doing just fine as I watched him bring in a frisky rainbow.

 Looking downstream the water ran vacant of any fishermen as if they ’knew’ there would be very few fish, if any, in the long stretch of clear, semi-shallow water. Further downstream, past an outcropping of visible rocks, one fisherman was casting his line towards the far shady bank. Beyond him I could see a group of guys fishing the bend. I was in the mood for some solitary dry fly fishing and didn’t care to walk very far to find another vacant area.

  I started near the bank and cast out towards the middle of the stream before wading in any further. Slowly I made my way about 1/3 across the creek and there I stopped and made a stand.
 At first I didn’t notice the subtle swirls in the foot or so of water near the far bank. After studying the water flow, current shifts and slow eddies I discovered the risers. With accurate long casts and upstream mends a few of my dry fly drifts fooled a couple of them there rainbows.
 I believe it was about 1:30pm when I started to feel the suns warmth and in turn it must have warmed the water a bit. This was when, at intervals mind you; swarms of grannoms rose and fluttered around in small clouds about the water. At times a calm breeze would blow upstream carrying with it more clouds of congested flying Grannoms. Needles to say I was having a field day in catching trout on the dry. I soon figured out a system of producing more trout with less casting. When a full cloud of grannoms blew in, even with trout rising around me, I concentrated on the fish rising near the far bank where only a few grannoms veered from the main body. It is no doubt harder to get a trout to rise to your foolproof imitation when so many other naturals are upon the water, therefore I cast to fish that have less of a selection. As soon as the grannoms moved upstream I concentrated on rising trout mid-stream. With less competition on the surface my imitation was as good as gold to the trout that were still hungry. I only had to retie a new dry on when the former one would get so tore up that the wing was down to only a few strands of elk hair.

 While I was enjoying myself I heard a fisherman wading towards me from the upstream bank. I turned and was surprised to see Rapala coming to visit me. We chatted a bit and I showed him a few casting pointers and drag free drifts. He handed me a fat stogie before going on his way. I remember him mentioning that he was fishing with Razzmatazz earlier behind the shop. I never met Razz before but would find out later that we both were fishing the same waters at the same time. Maybe some day we’ll meet up!
 After Rapala left me alone I continued with my dry fly fishing and catching.

 The later on it got the more I would see fishermen walking the trail up creek and assumed they were calling it a day. I looked upstream and noticed the gathering of fellows around Troutslammer had thinned out so I decided to join him.
 I found the fish he was catching weren’t all that selective with a good drift. We continued to harass each other loudly, as others looked on, like we were over confident fly fishing slobs. It was all in good fun as we commented on how much bigger our own fish was than the others. (Of course I caught the biggest one though I’m sure Troutslammer wouldn’t admit it!)

 It wasn’t long after that when we were practically the only ones on the creek beneath the descending sun. In the parking lot, under the night glow, we packed our gear and headed out towards home.
 It was another day of being at the right place at the right time and being able to match the hatch. It also was nice to see some familiar faces on the water that April weekend.


 Sometime after this I told someone about the Grannom hatch on the Big N. They told me that there wasn't any Grannom hatch on the Big N. They told me it was probably a Black Caddis hatch. I guess the trout that day didn't know the difference because I was catching them on my Grannom imitations regularly as were others. Oh well, If  it wasn't a Grannom hatch I had one of my best dry fly catching days on mistaken identity!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Kentucky Rainbows

Kentucky Rainbows

 While Jack was talking to a couple in the bourbon distillery lobby, I was talking with the tour guide. She asked me how I met jack and how long we were friends. I told her we chatted on a forum on line on a fish Erie fishing sight. We are both from Pennsylvania and love fishing for trout. We ended up meeting during a steelhead fishing event and became friends some 15 years ago. I was just visiting him since I had time off. In return he agreed to take me on a Kentucky Bourbon tour and trout fishing.

 The road to the trout stream was a bout a 2 hour drive. During the long country road travel to the creek I learned a lot about Kentucky History. We passed by Abe Lincolns birth place and a couple of civil war battle grounds. Seen bunches of cattle farms, low land flood areas, and found out why horse fences are curved around the corners instead of at right angles here in Kentucky. Supposedly the race horses would run into the fence if it was squared off. They even put fences around the lone trees in the horse fields. There were quite a few small creeks along the way but Jack told me they all dry up and get too warm to hold trout.
 There aren't many trout streams in Kentucky that are handicapped excessable and the only one nearby is about 2 hours away. The stream begins from a pipe that extends below the earth work dam above. The cold water flows through a channel a 100 yards or so before tumbling over a man made water falls and entering the forest beyond. From there, Jack says,  it weaves it's way through the forest and empties into the Cumberland River. Big browns and rainbows head upstream in the creek making this a world class trout fishing creek, besides the stocked trout, so the Kentucky Fish commission say.

 At the handicapped parking area Jack got in his motorized wheelchair and was ready to fish in no time at all while I was still getting my gear together. He hasn't fished for the past year and a half, since being wheelchair bound, and I think he was as excited as I was.
 When I got to the water I found Jack was right about the stream. Water gushed with full force into the channel from the pipe. A cement walkway was made along the channel with easy accessibility to fish the water. I felt like I was fishing in a culvert in the channel that I was told was 6' to 8' deep. There were rocks placed in sections where riffles broke up the slower pools of water. Where the cement walk way ended gravel lined the bank but walking along the gravel you had to be careful of the exposed rocks protruding upward. In this section all bait and tackle goes including keeping your catch. Down below a large waterfall it was all catch and release.
 The sky was overcast but occasionally the sun would peer out brightening up the day. When I got to the creek there were already plenty of fish rising to what looked like midges in size #22 or #20. I looked in my make shift vest and found BWO's that should of matched the size but wasn't sure the body color was right. With a stiff breeze it was hard getting my dry fly imitation out upon the water to the feeding trout. Not having to cast very far there wasn't hardly any of my weight forward line getting out of the rod tip to get any distance of the 5x tippet and #20 dry fly. I would have been better with double taper line and a shorter rod but this was the only rod I brought at the time being. Besides that the breeze was forceful at times and made placement practically impossible. I had a few look sees as the smaller trout rose to investigate but evidently something wasn't right.
 After determining that these fish weren't going to take any small dries I attempted to offer them I decided to continue on down stream. As I passed the few sippers I got behind them and again tried to get at least one to take an offering. It took some forceful casts into the wind but I finally got a midge dry up in the current that lead to the sipping trout. I watched intently as my dry fly drifted just near the far bank. I watch a trout gingerly swim upward towards my dry fly offering when in a split second another rose and grabbed my dry like a kid taking a free handout ticket for a circus ride before his buddy who the ticket was intended to. I yanked back on the 4 weight and the trout turned and darted back towards me. I backed up a few steps and raised the rod higher while pulling in line trying to keep tension line on the trout. It whirled around in the back part of the slow pool and than tried to make a run up creek. The rod tip bowed a little but the small trout was no match for the rod strength resistance. I guided the small trout towards the bank. After catching him I decided to venture downstream and enjoy my Kentucky fishing outing.

 Down below the earth work dam water spilled into a deep pool that brought bubbles and tumbling water like the aftermath of a cannon ball splash. The far side had a nice flow, away from the turbulent water, and wide enough that it looked like a good area that trout could be holding away from the tumbling on coming water. I slowly made my way down the steep bank and had to position myself downstream a bit from the waterfall. I knotted on a weighted Woolly Bugger and plopped it in the tumbling water.The first take was a hard felt downward grab. I lifted quick for a hook set and the trout took the tight line down towards the tail out before turning and fighting in the deep pool trying to shake the hook. I played him well and got him near the bank where I knelt down to retrieve the fat Kentucky rainbow.

 The next take, within the bubbly, was a subtle pull towards the back of the pool. I yanked upstream for the hook set and that started a trout tugging, head shaking trout fighting ruckus. It too became another landed Kentucky rainbow.
 I tossed the Bugger into the oncoming current along the far bank. The bugger didn't sink as quick as in the bubbling water so I was able to watch it slowly drift and sink with the current. An oblong figure dashed out from under the turbulent bubbles and I watched him swipe at the drifting Woolly Bugger. I pulled up for the hook set and another rainbow fought below the falls and eventually came to rest in my hand.

 Just down form the falls I came to a section where a flow of slow water entered into the main stream. I seen a few dimples of trout sippers and tied on a dry midge. I tried my best to get one to take but they either were line shy or my Pennsylvania dry midges I offered weren't to these Kentucky rainbows liking. I knotted on a bugger and eventually one fell for the PA. bugger.. 

 I followed the stream and entered the forest where the stream split and branched out in different directions like a map of the soldiers escape out of Gettysburg . Even though the water was clear it looked pretty deep and I wasn't sure of the bottom so I didn't try crossing the stream. It was hard casting with a fly rod with the trees and brush along the water. In some areas there were downed logs and branches beneath the surface that would be a sure hang up. I came to a section of shallow water that fish were rising all over. There were some exposed branches but I found areas and positioned myself to where I could drop a dry fly. Like the fish upstream these trout wanting nothing to do with my selection of imitations. I gave up and followed the stream till it flowed under a dirt road through a big tubular pipe.

 Upon returning above the falls I seen Jack's nephew had showed up and was fishing the riffles along the stony area I was fishing earlier.
 Upstream for him Jack was watching a few youngsters and their parents fishing the calmer water. When I reached Jack he told me some of the kids were catching a few trout in the deeper channel. The kids were using bait and bobbers but weren't much interested in the catching part. At times a bobber would jerk quickly but it appeared that no kid seamed to notice. There was enough room upstream from the kids so I figured I'd try to coax a trout to hit. I started to drift a nymph near the bottom of the channel and sure enough I got a take. I shared the fly rod with one of the younger kids, with parents approval, and told the little girl just to real him in. I knew the trout wasn't very big and the little girl could handle the trout. The smile on the little girls face made the day complete! I caught a couple more trout in the channel before Jack was ready to leave and so was I.

 The next day I left Jacks house and was on my way to Asheville North Carolina to visit with my two sons and their families. I'm not sure if I ever told Jack but I kinda went a little out of my way and returned to the Kentucky waters we fished earlier. I caught a few more trout before heading to North Carolina.
A Buffalo Trace Stogie for a souvenir.

One for the road!