I wade upon the stony creek bed, ankle deep, of Tionesta Creek. The only way to find trout, on these hot days, is to start out early before the heat of the day arrives. The trout will be in the riffling, tumbling water where it’s cooler and more oxygenated or in the shade along the banks.
While wading down creek, to where I want to fish, I look around at nature and the hard woods of the ANF. The abundance of green that crowds the creek banks is of more greenish hues than one can imagine. Green leaves of Oaks, Maples, Beech and Birch trees, among other trees, flutter with the slight breeze at times. Even the Hemlocks and pines appear greener than their olive colors during the colder months. Looking down creek misty vapors, in a haze, linger over the water where the hot sun hits the open cool creek.
The sounds of warblers, warble within the forest like a bunch of high pitched women at a social gathering. In the not to far distance a crow caws out as if in frustration, like an old raspy woman calling out for her husband and children to come in for breakfast while it’s hot.
Once settled in shin deep water I cast out a Woolly Bugger in water that doesn’t appear to be any deeper than knee high. A fish pulls line and I set the hook. Fighting it in the riffling current makes him feel stronger than he actually would be in calmer water. He shoots up creek in shallower riffles and then turns down creek with the current. The rod tip bows with the tightened line and leader that follows the fish. I hold the fly line between my fingers feeling every sudden turn and head shake of the frisky fish. Easily I play him and net the trout.
“Well, that didn’t take too long,”
While casting out for another a trout rises within the riffles. I waste no time snipping off the bugger and knotting on a dry caddis. The splash is no more than 3 rod lengths away. I make a soft cast upstream and watch the caddis bob up and down on the small waves. My second cast is a little further out. Within the trouts sight he rises with a splash not wanting the caddis to pass him by. A quick wrist and pull of the slack line and my second trout is scurrying about like a scared chipmunk looking for cover. I get the trout turned towards me and scoop him up in the net.
While trying to fool another I notice the shade on the water, from the hillside trees, slowly moving towards the bank as the sun rises higher. The humidity increases also and I’m thankful for the slight cool breeze that touches my face from the rising mist of the cooler water.
It takes time but I make another rise, hook him, and net a smaller brown trout. The humidity increases with the rising morning sun as I feel a bead of sweat drip down my spine. It is still early and there is still shade and deeper water along the far bank. I knot on the Woolly Bugger and cast it towards the far bank. The slow current carries my bugger down creek. One cast my bugger plops within two feet of a big exposed boulder that’s anchored in the bank side dirt. I notice my fly line doesn’t drift to far before the line curves upstream towards the boulder as if snagged. I lift the rod and the line slowly starts to move up creek along the bank. I quickly grip the cork tighter and yank back the long length of line. The line tightens and the rod sections arc towards the bank. I watch the leader slice through the surface upstream. Line peels off the reel spool as I hold the rod at an angle towards the fleeing fish. My grip tightens and I move the rod butt into my gut for leverage. All of a sudden a smallmouth bass explodes out of the water. He rises, full body, into the air twisting and wavering his body like a wind sock in a swirling wind storm. He plops back into the water in belly smacking fashion and takes off upstream. I try and keep the rod skyward to cut down the resistance of the fly line as it cuts through the water surface.
Upstream the big guy turns and swims with the current down creek. I’m able to reel in some line as he passes between the boulder and me. Continuing down creek I can’t hold him from swimming any further as the rod sections bend deeply. I leave go of the reel handle and let him strip line off the tensioned spool drag.
At times I get him closer but he has enough strength to pull away taking line with him. As much as I want to get him in the net quickly I’m powerless against his strength against the 5 weight rod and 4x tippet to horse him in. We tug against each other like two strong men trying to get the other across the defining winning line. Eventually the strength of my fly rod and my patience wins out and I net the nice size smallmouth!
What a morning surprise.
Well, though it’s only 9:30 that deserves a cigar. I take a H. Upmann fuma from my pocket and cup my hands away from the slight breeze.
For the next half hour I nymph fish the riffles and catch a small brown trout on a wet fly. I fish a bugger also but noting wants to sample it. I hear a fish splash upstream and turn my head quickly to see an expanding swirl. I knot on the caddis again and wade into position to get a good cast to the vicinity. I cast out and let the caddis drift into a calm within the riffles. A fish splashes on my offering and I’m quick with the hook set. The fish strongly fights and battles in the current trying to get free. I get him nearer enough and net a nice speckled brown trout.
For the next hour I try to coax another but the activity shuts off like lights on a vacant, time restricted, park playground.
The sun is in full view above as if in a painting of a farm scene. The painting has a bright sun depicting a glow in a blush blue sky, minus the rooster and weather vane. My Columbia PFG shirt is wet with sweat from the humidity and not from any action. There isn’t a breeze to be thankful for and without cooperative fish, I start to wade upstream and call it quits.