Alone in the Dark Water!
Sunday morning looked gloomy as I drove East on I80 and then South East on route 322. The clouds above was a sheet of pewter gray with streaks of blue that distinguished the cloud cover from the blue sky in the background. The weatherman claimed a cool day with a good chance of rain in the morning and just cloudy in the afternoon. Though I hadn’t hit any rain yet I always said the weatherman and the president could be wrong most of the time and still keep their job. The weatherman is usually a % right most of the time though. They learned if they throw in a 10% chance of rain or a 10% chance of sunshine or a 5% chance of snow before the day begins they’ll be right more often than not.
When I got to the dirt road towards the project section a turkey was standing in the middle of the road as if confused. The hen waddled nervously in front of me down the dirt road side to side as if it was leading me to a place to park. It didn’t want to go to the left towards the creek and the high bank to the right may have been to steep for it to climb. I followed her till we got to a flatter area to our right. She hopped onto the forest floor and disappeared through the open brush like the white rabbit hurriedly going to a very important date. I had brought my shotgun and camos to hunt spring gobbler Monday morning and this gave me encouragement that turkeys were in the area.
After parking it started to sprinkle. I put my fly boxes and stuff in my rain jacket and got my gear on. When I got to the creek the brown tea stained water flowed with just a ripple effect below the rougher water above. The pool was wide all the way to the tail out where it tumbled over exposed boulders and rocks. The far side was a combination of pines and laurel that overhung from the bank. The water beneath was as black as ink. The main flow was visible to the bottom of rocks and stones but because of the tea brown stain there wasn’t any fish to be identified anywhere. There wasn’t any fish rising but I wanted to dry fly fish so I offered a couple of different dries with no effect before I went to streamer fishing. I’ve fished this creek many time before so I was kind of prepared how to fish it as I waded down creek.
I made long casts downstream keeping my distance from my offering hoping the trout wouldn’t notice me. I always wondered, with the dark water, if the fish could see me through it though I wouldn’t be able to see them. I would wade slowly foot by foot over the stony bottom not to stir up dirt. Sometimes I was ankle deep and other times I got thigh deep in deeper pockets. I would hold the rod out towards the bank to get my Woolly Bugger in the darker water underneath the pine boughs and laurel where the trout would most likely be.
Letting the bugger settle in the current and maybe a twitch or two was successful if there was a trout curious or just hungry for a meal. Sometimes the tug on the line was forceful and others were as if the trout was just sampling a little bit to taste whether it was to their satisfaction before gobbling it up.
Slowly I moved trying to cover as much of the water as possible as I waded down creek. Now and than I’d catch a trout here or there but nothing to get too excited about
The water started to get deeper than I remembered along the way. I heard a loud waterfalls ahead of me. When I turned the bend I noticed there was a beaver dam holding back the water. It was swampy to my right where the beaver cleared the trees leaving just stumps all the way to the road.
I casted out towards the banks and let the bugger swing trying to coax a trout out from cover into the open water. There was a slow deep looking bay to my left with laurel branches protruding half way around the pool. I made a long cast as far as I could into the slow bay. I was letting the current take my floating line which caused my Woolly Bugger to swing towards the open water. I felt just a slight bump and seen the line pull to my left. I yanked back the rod and felt a heavy fish on the tightened line. It gave a good fight in the open water with tugs and quick jerks. After a good skirmish I had to get it towards me in the stronger current I was thigh high deep in. I kept the rod low and played him towards my left as he tussled with the line and rod. Once near me I raised the rod and he swam past me upstream. I brought in line and kept the rod high as I grabbed my net and guided him into the basket.
A fine brightly colored rainbow was a surprise to see.
Just about in the middle of the dammed up water I seen my first rise. I wasn’t sure what he was after but I was going for him. I had lots of room for my back cast being the beaver cleared a lot of the trees to my right. I knotted on an extra piece of 5x tippet and to this I knotted on a Spruce Moth. I made a couple of long casts with ‘S’ bends in my line to make sure the moth got to the rising trout without drag. I watched the moth slowly drift down creek . The fish rose with authority and I yanked back the long length of line for the score. He scurried about in the open water and I got him to the net safely.
I spent a little more time trying to find another hungry trout but didn’t find any. I walked out along the swampy area and made my way through the laurel and branches back to the creek below the dam.
The creek narrowed in most places and thus deepened. Where the creek got wider it was usually shallow water. I kept with the same routine letting the bugger drift down creek from me twitching it every so often. Again I would catch or miss a few trout or maybe lose him trying to get him towards me in the rough water.
After I got so far down creek I decided to go back to the truck and head down creek to an area where it widens to another big pool.
The weather started to clear up some about 1:00. The sun actually peered out briefly just enough to hope for better fishing conditions and maybe a spring hatch or two. Before going down to the pool I lit up a stogie and decided to work the pool over for the time being.
Down at the big pool I looked it over. There wasn’t anything going on as far as any rises. There were a few tiny midges flying about and a few tiny caddis appeared fluttering high above the water. I tied on a Spruce Moth and decided to give it a whirl.
I made one cast upstream from a big overhanging pine. The water darkened beneath the pine boughs and I figured this to be a good place for a trout to be hanging out. The Moth imitation landed softly on the water surface and drifted gingerly on the slow moving surface current. A trout snapped at the moth and I twitched back the long length of line. I could tell the trout wasn’t anything big but it darted and wrestled fiercely all the way to me.
Well, if I can make one trout rise I didn’t see why I couldn’t make another. For an hour or so I casted out a few different dries. I have to admit I missed a couple that surprised me when I was ready to give up. I tried nymph fishing the slow water at times but mostly got snagged on the bottom and got frustrated with that. I knotted on a Para Adams and just started flinging it out with hope. Wouldn’t you know it? Back towards the tail out near the far bank a trout slapped at my Adams and this time the hook set. The trout scampered about before I got him to hand.
After some time of going fishless I called it a day and went back and made some supper quick and easy. Kind of tailgating.
After dinner I sat back and enjoyed a smooth cigar and my favorite Scotch Ale I had brought back from North Carolina some time ago.
Cheers to a fine day fishing alone in the quietness of a small mountain creek. No phone, no internet not a single interruption!
Alone in the Dark Water
I was up early just as the morning sky started to brighten. I didn’t hesitate much and put on my heavy camo coat and stepped out in the brisk chilly outdoors. The sky was opening up to be looking like a nice calm day. White clouds floated softly above and reflecting light from the rising sun still hidden behind the mountain tops. I stepped out on the dirt road and gave a few yelps with my turkey call listening for any sounds of a gobbler. All I heard was morning tweety birds and the flow of the creek. Back in the truck I let the insides warm a bit. The truck thermometer read 28*. For the next hour or so I drove and stopped here or there and gave a couple of yelps with the turkey call. At times I’d walk up the road and again give a few calls and wait for an answer. I even crossed a bridge and drove almost to the top of the hill overlooking the valley below. I waited a few minutes and gave a few more yelps. Any gobbler in the valley that was interested would have very easily been able to hear me. Likewise, if he gobbled I should have been able to hear him. With no responses it was time to go back where I was camping and have some breakfast.
I started water to boil in my tea kettle while I exchanged fly boxes and stuff from my rain jacket to my fishing vest. After the water boiled I made an instant cup of coffee and made myself some oatmeal. After breakfast I put together my 4 weight Hardy fly rod and my waders and was ready to catch some trout. I walked down the path that lead to the slow moving pool of water. I didn’t expect anything flying about in the cold morning chill but I decided to spend some time trying to get a trout to rise anyhow.
I threw out an assortment of small flies covering the section pretty thoroughly. One cast, upstream into the wavy current entering the slow pool, I dropped my Picket Pin offering with a small Hare’s Ear as a dropper. The water looked maybe knee high at the deepest. I was able too see the bottom with the sun rays penetrating the brown tea stained water. The Picket Pin was riding atop the waves for some reason with the Hares Ear below. I watched a trout swim to the surface and quickly snatch up the Picket Pin before it passed by. I wristed the rod downstream and the line tightened as I watched the trout turn with the hook set. It scampered about in the rolling current but wasn’t much trouble getting him to hand.
I know I spent the next 3 hours casting dry flies and wet flies into the pool of water. I watched the sun rise over the mountain tops, over the trees and partially exposing the pool I was fishing in with bright sunshine. A few small caddis fluttered about and I seen a few midge type mayflies rise from the surface water. I offered a few of my own midge ties and small caddis but wasn’t getting anything interested. Finally I saw a fish rise just about mid creek in a deeper section I couldn’t see the bottom. I tied on an Elk Hair Caddis and let it drift to the riser. He rose to inspect it but refused it and dropped deep. After a few more casts he finally gave in and took the surface drifting caddis without much investigating. I've been known to throw enough dry flies of the same kind to look like there’s a hatch going on. Maybe I convinced this trout as such. I got a good hook set and he gave me a good fighting battle before bringing him to the net.
After a dry spell of no action I decided to drive up creek and stroll along downstream bugger fishing as I did the day before. If I seen a fish rise I would definitely try for him with a dry fly but I didn’t get my hopes up.
Wading down creek I covered the same areas in the same manner I did the day before. I didn’t catch as many trout but I did come across a few more that were anguish to take a swimming Woolly Bugger.
One cast I was working the Woolly Bugger under a long set of overhanging pine bows. it’s one of those times where I knew there had to be a trout lurking in the in stained water in the shadows of the boughs. I twitched the bugger and stripped it in slowly like a bait fish just swimming nonchalantly up through the current. At times I raised the rod and let the bugger drag the top of the surface current. I reached my fly rod out towards the far bank as far a possible and let the bugger hold in the current beneath beneath the boughs for sometime before skirting it towards the midsection of the creek as if swimming away from danger. Wham, a trout grabs the bugger with a forceful sweeping grab that moves the fly line swiftly to my right. I give a little more of a tug back to make sure the hook is set good and let the trout play his game. He takes off down creek with a surge of a sports car in seconds flat. Line pulls from the spool and I quickly put tension on the line trying to keep the trout from venturing too far downstream into the shallower wavy current. It feels the pressure and turned back under the overhanging pine boughs. I’m not sure what hazards lie beneath so I swing the rod to my right level with the water trying to coax him away from the left side of the bank. He gives a jolting tug that arcs the rod deeper towards the midsection as if he doesn’t want to follow but reluctantly gives in a comes out from below the pines. Mid current I got him pretty much under control though he’s still putting up with short tugs. I slowly step towards the right bank to get clear of the pine boughs above me. Lifting the rod clear of the pines the trout swims towards me and I’m able to net him without much of a problem. His big head and large fan tail seamed out of proportion to the rest of his slim body.
As I fish downstream the wind picks up kind of fierce at times shaking the flexible pine boughs and laurel that line the creek. Along with it comes a chill in the air that makes me think a storm is approaching. All of a sudden the wind quits and sun rays shoots through the canopy of limbs and laurel like lightening bolt frozen in time upon the water.
I caught a hungry chub on one cast and my last trout of the day was a wild brook trout who looked like it took more than it could of chewed of my #10 4x long Woolly Bugger.
It was a long somber drive home with the reality that work was approaching tomorrow and the rest of the week.