Sunday, June 23, 2024

Wish'n I was Fish'n

 Wish'n I was Fish'n


 During Mayfly hatches you'll find me in Kettle Creek targeting trout. During hot June, July and August months you may find me along the Clarion River keying on smallmouth. Every once in a while, and more often than not lately, I'll hook into a river tout.

 After the overnight rain and storm I was still anxious to fish the river. I wasn't going to sit in the camper all day moaning. Even though it was still a bit cloudy it looked like the heavy part of the rain was over. I changed into my chest waders and fishing gear before driving upriver to fish. It was still sprinkling when I parked but the sky looked as though it was going to clear up as the sun would peek out between the cloud cover now and then. The water was higher than what I was used to. The section I wanted to fish was was wide and flowing fast. I fitted together my 5 weight 9 footer. I usually use a 6 weight fishing the river for smallmouth but today I was hoping for some trout action.

 The water is high and as I step into the flow it still feels a bit cool though it has been hot during the past few days. I figured the trout will be holding in the more oxygenated riffling water downstream. I knot on a weighted Woolly Bugger and add a little more weight to the leader to make sure my bugger will stay deep enough when swinging through the quick current.

 Maye the trout will be unexpected of someone fishing on a day like today. Since the weekend I haven't noticed any fishermen on the river or riverbanks. There hasn't been any kayaks or canoeists on the river to spook the fish. With the overnight storm and cloudy rainy morning maybe they'll think they are safe and will be unmolested today. Maybe?

 I wade down river, through the slower flow, and position myself in knee deep water in the beginning of the fastest wavy current. I cast out across and let the bugger swing in an arc down through the current. Each of my casts are a bit further out. When I can't cast any further I  take a couple of steps downstream and cast the same all over again covering the water pretty thoroughly. It's not until I get out of the faster current that I get my first strike. 

 After a cast a fish grabs the bugger, with a tug, just a few seconds after it plops in the water. It quickly follows the pressure of the arcing rod swimming and tussling my way. It feels like it wants to swim outward but the 9 footer keeps it from going too far. I get the fish close enough and I can see it is a trout. Not a big one, but a trout.


 Like a Tin Pan miner panning for gold, he finds a small nugget it gets him excited knowing he's in the right part of the stream that may hold bigger nuggets.

 I wade a couple steps at a time in between each cast. A fish grabs the bugger and he fights under the swift current. This one has a little more weight and more grit. He wrestles the line like a dog trying to rip the stuffing out of a pet toy. I get him in and net another rainbow trout.

  I stand in one place for a longer time casting out before wading down any further. Kind of like that miner finding bigger nuggets. This accounts for a couple more trout after casting out as far as I can. It's then that I notice that when the sun rays break through the cloud cover it brightens the water and this is when the trout strike the bugger. Evidently there is enough sun rays getting through the surface that sparkles the flash I use in the marabou tail that attracts the trout.


 I continue taking short steps over the stony riverbed casting out into open water. There's nothing like a hard strike. Almost at the end of the drift a fish grabs the bugger and almost takes the rod right out of my grip. The fish strikes with force and takes off. Line slips through my fingers as the spool turns and spits more line out. I put the rod butt into my stomach holding it up as the rod arcs pointing down river towards the tugging fish. He isn't in the quicker current but he isn't easy getting to the net. He keeps stiff resistance as I slowly reel him in. Upon seeing him I see he isn't a trout at all. It's a hungry smallmouth that takes my bugger this time.

  Soon after that, around the same area, I catch two more smallies on the bugger.

  I take a break in the action and lite up another cigar before going any further.

I'm not sure what I'm going to catch, if any, downriver any further. The water gets deep pretty quick from the shoreline. I've done well in the past catching smallmouth near the other side of the river but there is no way of wading near enough to cast because of the deeper water. 

 I take my time a few steps at a time casting the bugger out. I see my first rise. It's just across stream near a riffle caused by a submerged boulder. If I wasn't looking in that direction I would never of saw the subtle rise. I noticed caddis hitting the water now and then but very few. I hadn't tried a dry fly as yet because of the quickened surface current upriver. I bring in the bugger and knot on a woodchuck caddis. It will be big enough for me and the fish to see on the wavy riffles and deeper water. I cast out and watch the drift. I miss him as he rises to it. I didn't feel him hit the hook though. A couple of casts towards him but he won't rise again to it. 

 I knot the bugger back on and toss it out in front of him. He grabs it immediately and pulls away taking my bugger with him like a running back heading for the end zone. The rod bows and line slips through my tension fingers once again. By the way he tugs I'm not sure if he's a trout or a smallmouth, on the other end, until he shoots up out of the surface as if in celebration he scored a touchdown. The only problem he has though is my line is still attached. He clears the surface completely and the red stripe along its side sparkles under the sunlight like a red satin banner waving in the wind. He plops back into the water and gives me a good tussle as I get him near me. Sorry fellow, no touchdown, the celebration is over!

 I wade and fish downriver quite a ways without even a little hit. It starts to get windy and small rain drops start to fall so I turn upstream and wade up river towards my truck. 

 Not bad for some afternoon action after a rainy morning. Better'n sitting in the camper Wish'n I was Fish'n!



Friday, June 21, 2024

Serving Breakfast

 Serving Breakfast


 I was planning on leaving camp and going out early kayaking but when I heard on the radio it was suppose to rain I decided to wade fish. I had caught a few trout on Wednesday afternoon but things died off quickly under the hot sun. I had to leave anyhow to get home to do yard work before an early dental appointment Thursday morning. I didn't get back Thursday until late so I didn't get to fish. That left me for this morning, Friday. After I heard it was suppose to rain with a passing thunderstorm this afternoon, I looked outside the camper window and it looked overcast but already getting warm out. I decided to go out where I fished Wednesday till it rains.

 I parked along the side of the road and got my gear together. There wasn't any wind to speak of so I decided to take my G2 Scott for a workout. The medium action rod was made for easy casting dry fly fishing. I knew it would be a much more relaxing casting stroke thnn the fast action rods I've been using because of the windy conditions on the river. I fitted the Allen trout 2 reel, with WF5F line, to the rod seat. I walked down to the water and waded up the bank to the riffling water I figured the trout to be. 

 It was a bit cloudy but signs of sunshine looked to be in the distance and rising above the water. I could feel the cooler water air as I waded up into the riffling water. Most of the river was still shaded but I was hoping once the sun brightened things up maybe the big caddis and sulfurs I've been seeing would show up. (I'll tell you know that never happened.) The water was as clear a gin so I knew once I started to dry fly fish the fish would be able to see my surface fly for some distance away. In the much calmer water downriver the trout would be able to look my dry over longer so I decided to stick with dry fly fishing in the faster current.

 I knotted on a Woolly Bugger and figured that would pass the time till I see a hatch of some kind or at least my first rise. I spent at least a half hour casting the bugger without a strike. I wasn't upset though, it was still early, and I had to be patient that at any moment a trout would rise. There wasn't any bugs on the water though but I kept my hopes up. After the first half hour I finally saw my first rise in the early morning. It was about 8:00 but that's earlier than I had been seeing rises lately fishing the river. I knotted on a small caddis as the rise wasn't more than a small splash upon the surface. I used the small caddis for a few minutes but it was hard to see on the riffling water surface. There were soft calmer water here and there and I tried to concentrate on those areas within the riffling water. I knotted on a #14 tan elk hair caddis but that wasn't convincing any trout either. 

 I've been catching most of the trout on a big blonde elk hair caddis and sulfurs but I haven't saw anything of the sort on or off the water. I had been seeing brown to dark tan caddis dipping and fluttering daily but I didn't try any because they are harder to see within the shaded surface water in the distance. I had a box full of what I call Clarion River Brown Caddis I had tied years ago and had caught many trout and smallmouth back then. They were a bit larger than the caddis I've been seeing but being in the faster current would be easier for the trout to see not being able to inspect it closely. I knotted on one of the #12 CR Brown caddis on to 5x tippet and started to cast it out in the riffles.  

 I was trying to key on the splash I heard upstream. By the time I looked to see where the swirl the fish made was already disguised by the oncoming wavy riffling current. Being I wasn't convincing any trout out in front of me I started to cast upstream trying to locate the rise I heard.

 The early morning began to look fruitless. There wasn't any bugs to speak of though the birds were swooping down now and then as if taking a fly out of mid-air like a soaring seagull being thrown a french fry from a boardwalk rail. There weren't any risers as of yet but I was still hoping that the fish would be wanting breakfast of some sort soon. It was getting near 830 by now. Either the fish are eating breakfast underneath or they are waiting for sunny side up on the surface?

 Continuing to cast the brown caddis I missed my first rise fishing upstream. I was lazy as to let too much slack line between me and my dry. By the time I lifted the rod to set the hook some of my fly line never cleared the water. Being that a trout actually rose to my caddis gave me more confidence and awareness.

 I was blind casting to nowhere in particular when a trout rose to my caddis and I was jerry on the spot. I quickly flipped my wrist up and pulled in line to set the hook. The swirl on the water surface became splashes from a fooled fish. After the surface commotion he went under and took off, with my line attached, like a hot rod on a drag strip. I wasn't sure how far he was going but there was no stopping him. The 'ole G2 was bowed in the middle as line was being pulled through the eyes. It was if he was taking dead game back to the den of hungry cubs. He slowed down, and almost stopped, that I was able to start playing him towards me and reel in some line. He put up a good scramble in the oncoming current before I got him close enough to net. He didn't want any part of the net as he escaped my attempts a few times but didn't come unhooked. I finally got him in the net and saw this brown trout looking back at me, with my caddis hanging out of its mouth, with the expression of 'how dare you interrupt my breakfast?"

 I'm not sure if it was the commotion he stirred up underwater or some fish rang the breakfast triangle bell. All of a sudden there were more fish rising as water boiled at times in different areas. Not consistently but they were rising for breakfast and I had a special for them.

 The second trout that came for breakfast was a fat rainbow. I didn't know if he was expecting an omelette buffet but he he attacked my breakfast caddis with a rising take. I reared back the G2 immediately. The slack line came off the water and straightened. The trout took off away and down with the current. I let him take tension line off the spool till he was distant enough from me. He tried getting himself loose with jarring head shakes and antics underwater that caused the rod to flex and line slap the water with each jolt. I got him coming my way after a time as he fought his way towards me. Being careful with 5x tippet I didn't hurry him. I scooped him up while he slapped the surface water in front of me. A nice fat rainbow had my breakfast caddis just hanging from the side of his mouth like a piece of egg stuck on a baby's cheek.

  It's always a good challenge to make a long cast to a feeding trout. I watched a big brown trout rise, with his back skimming the surface, slurping something on the water. He came up rarely but I knew he was out there. I dried off my caddis and shook it in dry fly powder. I wanted my presentation to be perfect not scaring him on the first cast. I was false casting, letting line out, when a trout rose half the distance to the brown trout I was after. I already had enough line out and sidearm casted leaving my fly line behind my caddis so my offering was the first thing the trout saw. The deer hair wing stood straight up so I knew it would be hard to miss seeing. A trout rose as inconspicuous as I ever saw a trout rise. It was just a small swirl that would have been undetected if I wasn't able to see the caddis wing. I actually laughed at the sight as if he didn't want any other trout to know he was eating like a talented kid stealing a deviled egg behind his mothers back while she was still making breakfast! He turned out to be larger than I expected. He was in no hurry to be netted and when I got him close enough he had me spinning around in circles trying to net him. In the net I swear he looked at me wondering if I was going to take him back to camp or let him go? He didn't have to worry about me taking him back to camp.

  I started false casting to get my offering to the big brown again. I know my first couple of casts drifted the caddis within his sight. I tried dropping the caddis right on his head and still nothing. I tried an egg laying caddis and I couldn't see anything as if he was inspecting it. It was if he left the vicinity to eat breakfast somewhere else though I was the only one out serving breakfast this morning. I had no more recipes up my sleeve. I brought in the line and looked down river. I don't usually give up on surface trout but he had me beat.

 I noticed three risers down river. I waded back to knee deep water and waded down within casting distance. I gave a sidearm cast and stopped my cast quickly pulling back slightly. This brought my caddis sweeping above the surface water then all of a sudden, when I stopped and pulled back, the caddis whizzed passed the fly line and leader and dropped in calmer water with slack line behind. The caddis drifted across the calmer pocket and started to enter riffling water caused by unseen rocks of some size. A trout attacked my caddis as if from the side. I was following the drift with my rod tip and when the trout struck I pulled the rod back over my opposite shoulder to set the hook. He evidently didn't like his lip being pierced and after going under he came up out of the water and shook his body, like a wet dog, trying to shake the piercing. I was then able to see I had another fat rainbow. He plopped in the water, made a short run and broke through the surface again half a body worth splashing water in all directions. Back underneath he gave a head shake, swam a short distance and again broke the surface showing his full body airborne. He didn't shake the line as aggressively the last time and splashed down like doing a cannon ball off a diving board. Truthfully I don't mind trout rising out of the water as such. I figure it just tires them out faster. He took line out but gave in to the resistance quickly. I got him coming my way like a dog on a retractable leash. He gave a few head shakes now and then trying to swim away but I didn't give him any line and he turned my way quickly.


 Well, I thought the last tow rainbows were fat, the next one that took my caddis was fatter yet. He gave me a long hard battle and getting him netted was no easy task.

 I needed a break and hung my fly on the rod hook rest.I took a swaller or two of water and looked at the time. It was just after 10. It was clearing up some and I was hoping for a hatch even though I was having fun serving breakfast. One thing for sure, when trout are feeding on the surface, when there isn't a hatch to speak of, my offerings appear to be more appetizing. Let's face it, if you go out for breakfast and they're out of pancakes, waffles and French toast you'll have to settle for eggs of some sort and a slice of toast. I pulled out a RP Sun Grown from my vest pocket and lit it.

 There wasn't anything rising that I noticed. I figured there had to be more hungry trout out there that wanted surface breakfast. I casted out concentrating on the calmer water down river from the faster riffles. The calmer water was still flowing with subtle riffling water in spots. The next few trout came up as if they were waiting to be served breakfast in bed. They just slurped the caddis up as if they were being hand fed. Once hooked though they put up an angry argument like their toasted breakfast egg sandwich didn't taste right to their satisfaction.


 I fished a little longer and caught a few smaller trout. I had to get propane before heading back to camp. Since things were tapering off I decided to wade out and up to my truck. On the way up to my truck the air got a little chillier and I noticed the cloud cover was getting heavier. I got to the tuck just before it started to sprinkle raindrops. 

 After getting propane I was planning on coming back and serving lunch but by that time the sky opened up and heavy big raindrops were falling.

 I was glad I got up and served breakfast early.


Wednesday, June 19, 2024

One's I Haven't Met

 One's I haven't Met


 I've been fishing the same section of water on the river the past few days. A smaller white SUV has been riding up and down River Road quite often each day. Every time they see my truck parked aside the road they slowed down and watch me fish. I'm sure they saw my fly rod bent often enough.

 I had my kayak loaded down by the river and I was putting my fishing gear on when the SUV stopped and the driver and I carried on a conversation. In talking he jokingly asked me "don't you get tired of catching the same fish?" 

I raised my head and looked at him and replied "There's fish out there I haven't met yet!" He laughed while I sort of chuckled at my reply.

 I paddled the kayak across the river to the other side. After banking the kayak I threaded the Icon 9 footer with weight forward floating line. I was planning on dry fly fishing, like I've been doing, but there weren't any risers yet this morning. Besides I've caught my biggest fish on Woolly Bugger so I knotted one on.

 The day before it was overcast and colder. There were very few rises and near noon the only fish I saw rising were for what looked like midges and wouldn't take anything I offered. This morning was a bit warmer and getting bright out. It was still a bit chilly though so I wore a Duofold mid weight and 'T' shirt under my Columbia button down. I was hoping there would be more activity on the surface. 

  I casted out the Woolly Bugger into the wavy water and let it drift down river. After each cast I would wade a step or two down and cast again. I caught one small smallmouth on the bugger before I saw my first rise mid-river. I clipped off the bugger and knotted on a Blonde Elk Hair Caddis with a dark body that I had just tied up a couple of days ago.

 A couple of days ago I was fishing the same area and these big caddis where coming off the water and fish were taking them at will. They were a bit clumsy as they would take a few skips off the surface, as if they were still drying off their wings, before taking flight. Kind of like a duck flying off a pond. I didn't have any caddis that big that matched the color or size so I was at a disadvantage. I was ready for them today though.

 I casted the caddis just upstream from where I saw the rise onto the wavy water and watch it drift into the feeding zone. A fish splashes at it and I pull back line and rod and the line tightens. I net a smallmouth. I hook 3 more small smallmouth before I get a real challenge. 

 Downstream a little further there was a fish that rose half out of the water. I kept focus on that spot as I waded downriver within reach. I noticed there were those big caddis coming off the water here or there on occasion. Within reach I false casted, pulling line out, and heaved a looping cast in the vicinity. The third cast I think my caddis dropped right on the fishes head. He came out of the water and inhaled my caddis in mid-air like a vacuum cleaner sucking up dust bunnies. He plopped down with my caddis with line attached. The rod arced towards the take as the line tightened securely. Underneath the fish took off down and away. I let go of the line and let the reel drag take hold of the fleeing fish. There was no stopping him. He would slow down now and then but when he felt me pulling back he'd take off again. Being that I cast and reel in with my right hand I'm able to adjust the drag with my left at any time. I tightened the drag a bit and it was enough to slow him down and slowly swim mid-river. All during the battle I was slowly wading downriver to catch up with him not wanting to get into my backing. I had 4x tippet but I always try to be careful not to over stress the tippet material or my knots. 

 He put up a good heavy fight battling out in the open current water. I could tell he was a heavy fish but wasn't sure what he was until I got him in the knee deep water near where I was standing. He swung towards me and I netted him. Wow, he was a big old smallmouth that took the big caddis I offered. Now this is one fish I hadn't met before. He had my caddis stuck into his lower jaw.

 I lit up my first cigar after letting the big smallmouth go. I continued casting the big caddis and caught a fish now and then.

   At a time there was one fish downriver from me within casting distance. He couldn't of been in more than shin deep water sucking up eats. I tried for him, almost daring him to take the big caddis, but he never rose to it. I figured he was just a small fish anyway. Not seeing any more rises outward I decided to go small and try to catch the little sipper downriver from me. I knotted on a #18 deer hair caddis. I didn't bother going down to 5x tippet because I was still planning on throwing the big #12 caddis later.

 I made a short cast downstream with slack in the line. I was slowly pulling line off the reel letting the caddis drift drag free downstream like I was using a pinning rod and reel. I watched as a mouth came up from the side and slurped it up. I reared back the rod. The slack line shot up out of the water and the rod bowed but didn't retract like it had when I hooked a smaller fish. It was if I had a snag until the line took off. I had another big fighter on the line.

 He took off downriver towards deeper water carrying on with vicious tugs and jarring head shakes. Fly line zipped through the guides and eyes like a ships anchor chain through a hawsepipe when its heavy anchor is thrown overboard. The drag pressure finally slowed him down as I slowly waded downriver keeping up with him. I got him turned and he headed up into the wavy current. With the line straight out across from me I was able to tire him out more. He continued on upstream as tension line slipped through my fingers. He finally turned downstream and I was able to reel in line and tighten the drag. We put on a good battling show of wits with neither of us giving up for sometime. I'm sure it was entertaining for anyone watching. He finally gave up, with some resistance, and swam a little closer for my observation. I was now able to see I had a sizable brown trout. He evidently felt too close to me and tail swatted away enough to bow the rod and enough resisting pressure on him. I had to give him tension line though as it slipped through my fingers. He turned downstream and I held the rod out away from me towards mid-river. He turned again and followed the pressure swimming upstream into the flow. Passing me I reeled in line and then took out my net with my other hand. By now he was flopping around in front of me as I held the rod high. He turned and I scooped him in the net safely. 

 Wow, another fellow I hadn't met before and I thought he was just a small fish sipping midges in the shallows. He was a well freckled brown trout with little ruby spots adorning his sides. His belly was dark sand color with my caddis stuck in the side of his mouth. He's been in the river for years I would guess.

 After that catch I didn't figure it was only small fish feeding in the shallows. In fact I was catching smallmouth out in the deeper part of the river on the big caddis and brown trout feeding in the knee deep to shin deep water like waiting for curb side pickup.



   Any time I would see a rise I would wade in that direction to get within easier casting distance. More than not it paid off. All morning I was hooking up with smallmouth and trout on dry flies as time ticked away. Most of the smallmouth were small and some average and a couple of trout to boot. It didn't matter, big or small, as long as I was catching them on my dry flies.

  One nice rainbow, unwillingly, joined in on the fun. He took my caddis with a porpoise leap. I reared back in time to get him hooked. He put up a good fight in the wavy current. I don't remember meeting him before.

 I was enjoying myself. Smoking a cigar and hooking fish.

 Fish continued to rise and I continued catching. After each catch, if my caddis wasn't waterlogged, I'd dry it off with my handkerchief and then dip it in dry fly powder that absorbed the wetness and coated it with silicone or whatever the powder is. I'd blow the powder off and it floated as good as new. Other times if it was drenched I'd just nip it off and knot on another. Sometimes I would see just a swirl on the surface that gave me a clue something sipped my offering. Other times there was a hardy splash. I felt like a magician at times fooling fish after fish with my magical dust that kept my offering afloat to deceive the crowd on my imitation.

 Rises were slowing down and the ones I hadn't fooled or missed weren't giving in to any more magic tricks. I waded down river to where the water was calmer and waves were subtle. I made a cast just across from me and the big caddis drifted drag free on the surface like a tennis ball on an ocean wave as if waiting for a dog to fetch it. Well that dog rose and gulped at it with a sounding splash. After the line tightened a smallmouth exploded out of the water flailing like a scared clown falling off a tight rope and plopping into a tub of water. I could see I had a biggy. His weight and strength was enough to keep me concerned of my knots as he took line out like a kite in a wind storm off a spool of kite string. There was no holding him back for fear of snapping my tippet. Out further he tugged and headed up into the faster current. I battled with him trying to tame him, like a lion tamer, trying to get him to do like I wanted. It took time to do so. I was amazed when I finally netted the brute of how big and fat he was. My big #12 caddis looked not so big pierced in his lip. It was the biggest smallmouth I ever caught on a dry fly.

 After noon there wasn't much happening as far as risers went in the slower tail out. There were a few now and then but none wanted a caddis. looking up into the riffling water upstream I started to see risers pretty plentiful. There were sulfurs hopping on and off the surface like female caddis wanting to lay eggs. There were some tan winged caddis skipping around also but I was more interested in fooling the fish with a sulfur imitation. I lit another stogie, knotted on a yellow compara-dun sulfur, and waded upstream. I started to cast to every rise I saw. Most of the fish I caught were smaller smallmouth but once in a while I caught a bigger one. It was fun reacting quickly and hooking up to their rises in the faster riffling flow. That lasted for some time till I gave most of them sore lips.

  Looking downriver I noticed a few fish rising. I waded downriver with my sulfur within casting distance. The fish had more time to inspect my imitation in the slower water. I'd watch the naturals dancing on and off the surface flapping their wings. They were the ones the fish were keying on as long as they were making a commotion on the surface. Sometimes I would see a fish try one, two and three times jumping half out of the water at a fluttering fly. They would eventually get it of give up on it like they were on a leash and couldn't swim downriver after it any further. I'd drop my sulfur within their zone but they would ignore it like a nickle on a busy sidewalk in the pouring rain. If I was able to drop the sulfur right on their head they would go for it immediately but that was like throwing darts at a blank piece of paper not knowing where the target spot was located on the other side of the paper. 

 There was a time that a fish would try to grab it when my sulfur started to drag. This gave me an idea. If I would twitch my sulfur with movement maybe that would get the fish curious enough to think it's real and go for it. I fooled a few fish doing just that. It wasn't always a hook up but it was fun watching them try for it. The good thing was if they missed it the first time they would try for it again on the next cast.

  There was this one fish downriver from me that was coming up frequently within knee deep water. I'd watch sulfurs and sometimes caddis flutter on the surface towards his location and he would rise and gulp them up. I drifted my sulfur over his head a few times but he didn't want anything to do with it. Well, it was time to tease him into submission.

 I knotted on a #14 caddis. I figured I'd show him something different. I casted and let my offering land, as I was hoping, within his sight. I had a pretty good idea his location. As the slow current carried my caddis downstream I'd lift my rod up and twitch the line just slightly to make the caddis kind of flutter on the surface. It didn't look like it was working to well but I kept it up and figured I'd reel it in when it got waterlogged and went under. All of a sudden a mouth rose and grabbed it. It was much more than a gentle slurp. I quickly reared back the rod and line and the line tightened. Laughing, I got the fooled smallmouth in without much trouble.

  My belly was aching for lunch and I was kind of feeling tired. I looked at the time and it was nearing 2:00. Not that I thought I couldn't fool any more fish, I just felt it was time for this magician to exit the stage.

 I met some new interesting acquaintances I hadn't met the days before.




Tuesday, June 18, 2024

A Glass Action

 A Glass Action


 I just figured I'd go vintage. I took out the old glass Wonderod fly rod and fitted it with the old Martin Classic with Cortland Sylk fly line. I donned my ole' fedora hat, vest and gabbed some cigars. I walked down the dirt road to where I wanted to start my fishing excursion. 

 Camping in the ANF there's always a mountain creek to fish instead of a river or bigger stream. Some are stocked with trout while other small brooks are just plain wild. I do believe, during high, warm or dirty water conditions trout move out of the river and bigger streams and swim up into these smaller creeks where clearer cooler water prevail. I was going to get me some.

 It was a bit chilly morning being in the 50 degree range. The sun was rising but still behind the mountain side heavy forest trees. The creek is a bit wider, with pocket waters, than the narrow creeks that you can find a place to cross without getting wet. The creek gets stocked twice a year and I can usually find some holdovers. I always figure there are adventurous trout that swim up from the river also.

  I crossed the chilly water and walked down the path to whee I wanted to fish. I positioned myself under a canopy of tall trees that overhung the creek. The water before me was under the canopy also and with the sun rising over the hill top, across from me, the area I'm fishing will be shaded all morning and into the afternoon.

 I casted a Woolly Bugger across and let it drift, in an arc, down creek. Near the end of the drift something grabbed it so hard it actually ripped it off like a street bandit stealing a purse right out of a woman's hand and disappearing in a cloud of dust. I thought maybe I didn't tighten the knot but when I reeled the line in there wasn't a curl at the end of my tippet. Now I questioned the tippet that I left on there from a year ago. I nipped off the old tippet and knotted on a section of 5x.

 I saw a few fish rising to tiny midges that were fluttering just above the water. I wasn't sure what was going on bellow the surface but I wasn't interested. I knotted on a caddis and dabbed it with dry fly juice. I missed three quick takes up creek in the faster current and missed one just in front of me. I brought in the line to make sure the hook still had a point. I found when using a #16 or smaller hook the hook gap isn't very wide. I grabbed my hemostats and tweaked the hook bend just enough so the point is to one side of the hook eye. This widens the gap just enough to make a difference in quick takes. 

 I casted outward and let the caddis ride on the wavy water. A trout snapped at it and this time I had a good hook set like a magnet on steel. The trout went under and the glass rod bowed some. I could tell the trout wasn't that big and got him to the net quite quickly.

  It's always nice to get the first trout soon after I start fishing. I pulled out my first cigars a little after 8:00. Just a mild smoking Fuente Deluxe. 


 I lit it up and looked over the water. A few more trout started to rise but I still didn't see anything on the water except those tiny midges skipping and pestering the trout below. It wasn't like one trout was in one place constantly but just now and then. Maybe it was if the trout got tired of being pestered by these nuisance midges that they decide to take a swat at them like us when we are pestered by tiny bugs flying around our face that we take a swat at them.

 I made a cast down creek and let the caddis drift drag fee. I watched it waver over the subtle waves. I saw a swirl just before my caddis disappeared and twitched the glass rod back. The glass rod arced with a tight line. When I went to pull back on the rod a little more the glass rod bowed into its butt section. I knew then this wasn't some little rainbow. I pulled back on the rod a little stronger to make sure I had a good hook set. In reply the trout gave a couple of hard tugs before it's run. The rod arced and rebounded with each jolt and the Martin reel sounded off with clicking as the trout took off down and across creek. I held the rod just high enough to keep as much fly line out of the water as possible. He tugged his way across creek and then bullied his way upstream. When I say bully meaning he was in control. I had no stiff resistance with the glass rod to force him my way. He was only able to swim up creek so far as the water got shallower and stonier. He headed my way, mid-creek, and turned down with the current. I brought in line quickly keeping a good tight line on him. I could feel the strength of the trout within my right hand clutching the cork handle. My left hand kept tension on the fly line keeping the trout from running freely at will. Down creek the trout turned and gave a couple of head shakes and the glass rod twanged and flexed like a tether ball pole under duress. Holding the rod and line tight the trout finally started to give in to the resistance and started to swim up into the current. Just out in front of me, I could see enough below the current, that I had a nice lengthy brown trout. I moved the bowing rod upstream and he followed. I held the fly line firmly between the cork grip and my fingers while I reached for my net with my other hand. I moved the arcing rod down creek and the brown trout turned and, before he was able to react, I scooped him in the net. Wow! I never expected to hook a nice brown trout in this mid size mountain creek.

  After that I stuck with caddis flies and picked off a few more tout on the #18 caddis. I caught a couple smaller brown trout also. About 10-1030 I saw rainbows moving up form the warmer calmer water into the riffles in front of me. It was if they heard the ice cream truck ringing its bell and wanted a cold snack. They stopped and were holding near the bottom as if waiting for the truck to reach their block. I casted the caddis out in front of them. I watched a couple trout rise in curiosity but refused and turned away as it drifted by. Something wasn't right, as if it was the wrong flavor, but at least I knew they were interested. 

  Now, some of the 'experts' say when you get refusals or not getting any strikes underneath to go smaller with your offering. Generally I do the opposite when it comes to dry flies, I'll knot on a size bigger. If a trout doesn't want to waste its energy rising to a small tidbit snack they just might want a meal they can sink their teeth into. Lets face it, if you're really hungry are you going to but a Popsicle or want an ice cream sandwich? 

 The trout I could see were still refusing my bigger offering. I thought, though I couldn't see any trout further out, there might be others that came upstream for a snack. I made a cast a little further out and you would of thought a walnut fell from a tree ranch when the surface erupted on my bigger caddis. I reared back the glass rod and it bowed again with a tight line and an angry trout on the other end. The trout came to the surface trying to unhook himself by doing breakdancing moves on the surface. Being that that didn't work he went under and came back up leaping into the air. I'm not sure what kind of music he was listening to but he did a twisting somersault and plopped back into the water. He tired himself out quite quickly and I got the nice size dancing rainbow in the net.

 I continued to cast out and found there was a neighborhood full of rainbows that came upstream to snack out.  Each one were hell raisers that fought eagerly as in a wrestling tournament. Some went air-born while other stayed below trying to surprise me with some wrestling move tactics that I hadn't seen before. 'It didn't work!'

   In time I'm not sure if the trout got tired of seeing my caddis but I wasn't getting any more takers. There were still a few trout rising to something small on the water I couldn't see. I decided to knot on a #18 Blue Quill and that got their attention. I picked off a couple more rainbows that sipped the Blue Quill like it was an easy snack and fooled another nice brown trout. 


   There was this one trout feeding almost directly down creek from me. He wouldn't take my caddis earlier but I thought maybe he'd take my Blue Quill. With the sun glazing the water I knew it would be hard for me to see the little dry fly as it drifted under the sunlight. I figured I'd give it a try anyhow. Most of the trout I was catching on the Blue Quill were just sipping it with a swirl on the surface and I would react with a quick hook set.

 I casted the little offering and let it drift down creek not knowing if it was sitting upright or not. I only had an idea where it was by casting it so many times I was able to calculate how far it was from the end of my fly line. My third cast down creek I saw a swirl on the calmer water. I reared back on the glass rod. There was no doubt in my mind I had another bigger trout when I felt the glass rod bow into the butt section...

 I locked my wrist, keeping the rod at an angle, and let the glass keep pressure on the fleeing trout. Line shot through the small rod eyes and the reel clicked loud like the last 10 seconds of a time bomb! The trout, after pulling down creek, turned towards the far bank. He tugged 3/4 cross creek and then slowly swam upstream into the riffles. I had side pressure on him now and he swam towards me and I brought in some line. He swam 1/2 way across creek, gave a jarring pull, and took off down creek. The line I pulled in, that laid upon the water, lifted off the water and through my tension fingers and through the small guides towards the fleeing trout. Down creek he gave a couple head shakes while almost stopping in one place to rest. I didn't let him pause. I moved the arcing rod upstream wanting him to follow. He hesitated with a tug and then followed the rod pressure and tight line I held tight between my fingers. Swimming up into the current I brought in line and kept the rod angling up creek though the glass rod bowed pointing towards the trout. I swung the rod upstream from me and the trout drew closer swimming up creek pass me. He turned sooner than I wanted him too so I brought the rod up higher as I could to keep the line tight while I got my net ready. He tussled in front of me like a spoiled child not getting his way. I pinched the line against the cork not letting him pull away. I could feel the Wonderod bowing into the butt section flexing with each tug. He backed up near me and I was able to get him into the swooping net.

Wow, another nice buttery belly brown trout. If he wasn't creek bred he definitely came up from the river visiting relatives till the next heavy rainfall raised the creek level.

  Well, that deserved a rewarding cigar!

 I had enough fun dry fly fishing and wanted to practice wet fly fishing. I knotted on a Hare's Ear wet and a #18 soft hackle I wasn't sure what it was made of. I casted out cross creek and let it drift beneath as if it was a Woolly Bugger. I ended up hooking into two pissed rainbows and another brown trout that gave me a wild tussle.

  I waded downstream casting the wet flies. I was able to see rainbows holding steady in the calmer water. They would look at my offerings but it didn't agree with their appetite and they swam away. By now I was under direct sunshine and it didn't appear I was going to catch anymore. I waded across creek and headed up to the dirt road and walked up to my truck. 

 It was a good time having some glass action hooking into some heavy trout.