5 Days in Clinton and Potter Country, Day2 and 3 (cont.)
Friday Mayflies on the Kettle
I woke up early along YWC before the sun rose above the mountain tree tops that added color to the blue and white cloudy sky. The sound of the rumbling water over the falls was quieter. I went over to the bank and saw the water had come down considerably according to the height gauge.
I drank a cold coffee and ate a few cinnamon doughnuts for an early quick breakfast. I put on my waders and planned on fishing for an hour before meeting up with Jeff on Kettle Creek. I walked down the path and got to the big pool I fished the day before. After knotting on a Moth pattern I took a little time looking over the water to see if anything was rising to the few midges dotting the water. I gave a few casts and watched the moth float and drift atop the surface. One cast I made was towards the far bank just creasing the slower water that edged the riffles made by the shallow incoming water. I kept bringing in slack line as I watched the moth bobble atop the surface. Just before it entered beneath the big pine bough limbs a trout rose and slurped it up with nearly a splash like an infielder fielding a ground ball right to him without kicking up dirt. I yanked back the long line and felt the resistance on the tight line. The fish struggled some in the large pool of water before I got him safely to hand. I gave a few more casts, trying for another, but I think they were still sleeping.
I drove up to the bridge and swung buggers and nymph fished a bit. I came up empty and decided to head north.
I followed the hard top to the gravel roadway. This turned into a packed dirt road that twisted and turned frequently through the mountain pass. Once I reached a major paved road I headed towards Oleona. From there I headed to Ole Bull campground. I was hoping the camp host would let me set up my tent and canopy before the rain and possible storm the weatherman had promised for the afternoon. When I got to the campground I drove over the cement bridge, that crosses over Kettle Creek, which connects the lower loop camping area to the free world. Beneath the bridge are a few big culvert pipes that the water flows through. Fishermen and kids fish from the bridge, which isn’t far above the water, so driving across one has to be careful of the people on the bridge. When I started to make the loop I saw Jeff already setting up his tent. It wasn’t even noon yet and check in time wasn’t till 3:00 but if no one is on the site, just do it!
After setting up camp we traveled route 144 to check out the conditions of Kettle. Jeff came in the other direction and said downstream was pretty high so we concentrated on the upper section along the project waters. There were a few vehicles parked in the lot along the bridge and a few fishermen were both upstream and downstream. By the looks of it the water was a bit cloudy and on the high side but fishable. We decided to drive upstream and find a spot that was less occupied.
We parked along the guardrails and got our rain gear on. Jeff had already had his waders on and rod ready and headed down to the creek while I was still suiting up. When I got to the creek it was somewhat high but wasn’t as cloudy as it looked from the road. I was fishing a Woolly Bugger towards Jeff when I noticed his fly rod was arcing and flexing like a CB antenna on a truck drivers mirror rolling down the highway at 70 mph. He was pretty excited that it didn’t take him long to capture his first trout of this long weekend.
I joined him and we picked off a couple more before we decided to head downstream.
We found the water was much higher than we expected downstream. Because of the fast current it was dangerous to navigate while wading. I took my time and crossed the creek in the shallowest water I found and made my way to the big pool around the bend. The deep pool usually holds trout during low water conditions. It wasn’t long before Jeff navigated his way down towards me. We spent a time fishing but our offerings weren’t producing any fish. A few Mayflies started to appear but there wasn’t any fish rising on the sparse hatch if you want to call it that. Jeff headed back upstream while I stuck around hoping for a heavy enough hatch to get trout to rise.
I fished the rough water that rushed and waved over the submerged rocks before entering the deep pool with weighted nymphs and buggers. In the deep pool I added more weight to get my offering down and even used an indicator at times to identify soft strikes. There were a few Red Quills and small caddis about and what looked like a few brown stoneflies. Now and then I spotted a BWO or a Blue dun fluttering off. Looking over the pool I noticed one or two fish rising periodically in the shallow tail out. I knotted on a small caddis and pitched it out several times towards the rises without a take. While I was tying on a moth pattern I was studying the rises in the tail out. I believed it was only one trout that was changing positions or just continuously moving searching for food and not actually waiting for food to come to him in the same place. Kind of like buying peanuts from a walking vendor at a ball game. Soon you become thirsty and instead of waiting for the beer man to come around you go over where he is to get a beer. When you get back to your seat, well look, there’s the guy selling popcorn. Get it?
Well my first cast was where the last rise was at. Without a take I casted the moth towards the further side of the tail out. The second cast was going to drift into the vicinity he should be if I guessed right. The rise was as quick as catching that overthrown bag of peanuts from the vendor 5 rows back! I reared back on the length of line and it tightened. The trout fought and swam in the wide tail out section like he was roaming the outfield. After letting him play for a bit I brought him in easily to the net and then let him go back to the field of play.
I looked down in the tail out and there were no other rises. I fished for another 10 minutes or so and then headed upstream to see what Jeff was up to.
I finally got through the heavy brush and saw Jeff nymph fishing the long straight stretch and watched him land a nice rainbow. We spent the rest of the morning fishing the stretch of water with nymphs and Woolly Buggers. It wasn’t one after another by any means but we did hook a few that gave us some nice fighting action.
About 1:00 we waded out and up to the truck to eat lunch. After we reentered the creek Jeff stuck around fishing the long stretch of water we were fishing earlier while I decided to explore down creek once again.
The water rushed along a wide stretch of the creek and funneled some around the bend and emptied into a deep pool of water. I fished a nymph deep and swung a Bugger in the fast tail out without a strike. I noticed a few midges about along with a few small Mayflies.
“Heck, why not give it a try.”
I knotted on a Parachute Adams and tight looped my casts under overhanging branches and watched it glide atop the moving water. I fished the dry all the way to the fist block wall falls. I was down creek from the falls and casting up near the falling water letting my dry come back towards me. During my next cast, with line in the air, I noticed a rise on the far side of the falls. I dropped the fly in front of me, as I have been, near the falls and started to take in slack to tighten the line. When the line was straight I reared back for a back cast and at the same time took a step or two to my right. My forward cast put my dry near the far falls but not quite where the trout was rising. I took a couple of more steps to my right and my next cast was closer to the easy water to the right of the falls. With the quick current, if the fish seen it, he had to be quick on the take. My next cast was side arm with a powerful forward cast. The dry almost hit the blocks the trickling water was falling over. The dry sat on the easy water for a second or two like a gymnast, on a tumbling mat, getting ready for her next run and tumbling performance. The current caught my fly line and the fly line was starting to straighten to the fly. The dry started to move from it’s comfort zone when the trout slapped at the moving object. I wristed the line back and the line tightened with the trout coming my way. He kept his distance for a bit but it wasn’t long before I got him in the net.
I casted the dry out a few more times without any takes before returning to where Jeff was fishing. When I got within ear shot I asked how he was doing. He was casting dries to sippers. He said trout had been rising now and then. He had seen a few Mayflies but couldn’t determine what they were. I plopped in the water downstream from him and noticed fish rising just dimpling on the surface. I looked in the air around me for one of the Mayflies. It took some time but I finally got a hold of one and determined they were Red Quills. There were a few bigger Mayflies that came within identity vision and I just passed them off as Hendricksons though their bodies were quite dark.
The trout were mostly dimpling at the struggling Mayflies as they reached the surface though there were some meaningful splashes of takes. It was a challenge trying to deceive the trout with our imitations but we were up for the challenge and I had plenty of Red Quills and Henricksons in the bullpen should one get abused.
In the far tail out Jeff saw a few more trout dimpling. He told me to give it a try. I had a big March Brown on by then but didn’t feel like changing it. I cast it out a few times and sure enough there was one trout who wanted a full meal and grabbed it.
It was challenging and fun while it lasted. It started to spit rain and the hatch subsided along with any risers. We waded upstream and up the bank to the truck. By the time we got back to camp it started raining pretty good. We discussed Saturdays fishing expedition. I was to drop off some flies to an outdoor shop and we were going to trout fish around Coudersport for the day.
It had rained all night and pretty heavy at times. Saturday morning we were both up early. Jeff had gone down to take his morning shower while I was sipping on hot coffee and getting breakfast ready. A car pulled up to our campsite and told me the bridge was blocked so no one could leave.
(There are two loops in Ole Bull Campground. To get to the second loop, is where Jeff and I were camped out, you have to cross a bridge that crosses over Kettle Creek.)
He proceeded to tell me the Kettle has risen so high and fast from the rainfall that the bridge was covered and the current was evidently too fast to cross with a vehicle so they Rangers barricaded it so no one would cross it. Jeff had just returned from his shower and the guy repeated the situation to Jeff. We could see the creek from our campsite and it was obvious the creek took a turn for the worse. We were stuck on this side of the bridge with no vehicle way out. Zilth, no fishing today, called because of rain.
Jeff made some venison stew and cut up some vegetables to throw in the crock pot. Though we weren’t going to be able to fish we were still going to eat supper as planned. It’s not like we were going to be able to go out for dinner. Needless to say we weren’t too happy about our situation!!!
The water did subside later in the evening that they removed the blockade but the water was still gushing and it was getting late to try and find somewhere to fish. We were hoping that Sunday, my birthday, we would find a creek to trout fish!