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!



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