Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Trout Trifecta

I don’t fish on weekends. I don’t like crowds that seem to find their way to western Pennsylvania’s outdoor recreation areas, so I usually stay at the studio and work… except for today.

There’s been so much rain and flooding this spring, the streams have rarely been near fishable levels. With almost no rain for the past few days, I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I was up with the sun and out the door with a cup of coffee and a new fly rod I’d been dying to give a workout. When I got to the stream, I took my time. It had been a while since I last fished for trout (other than steelhead) and I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I had my camera gear along, so if nothing else, I could shoot some reference photos for a painting or two.

The water was very clear, but there was still a decent amount of flow. I scanned the small creek looking for anything “fishy” and it wasn’t long before I spotted the give-away shadow of a trout close to the rock covered bottom. Then along the far bank, another sipped a fly from the surface film. So the fish were there. I just needed to figure out how I was going to catch one. This small run was protected on every side with low hanging tree limbs and a mesh washed in deadfalls. All great trout cover, but not so good for knocking the rust off your fly casting. After a few clumsy attempts with a small dry fly, I managed to keep from losing any flies, but still spooked every fish in the area. It was time to move upstream a bit and try my luck in a place where every cast wouldn’t be such a challenge.

Just around the next bend, a riffle cut in close to the far bank forming deep cut. Exposed roots protected the holding water like long fingers reaching down toward the bottom. The cast would be easy enough, but keeping the fly out of the roots during the drift would be a challenge. I clipped off the dry fly and selected a small bead-head nymph. This was a little more into my comfort zone and I felt a little better even as I tied it to my tippet. With all the snags, there was no way to get my fly into the prime holding water. My only hope was to get the fly close and hope to coax a trout from the cover. Of course, my first cast was woefully short as I chickened out and pulled back from the snarl of roots. My next was only slightly better, but before the fly got halfway down, a trout charged out of the roots and ate it. HA! As I played the trout away from its tangled lair, I caught myself laughing out loud and had to look over my shoulder to make sure no one was watching. As luck would have it, I never saw another fisherman all that morning. A rare Saturday indeed!

In most places, the trout were visible and site fishing was possible. In others, I had to watch my leader carefully to detect a strike. Numerous rainbows and brightly color browns fell victim to my tiny fly. The last trout I caught was a healthy brookie, completing my “Trout Trifecta” and capping a perfect morning. As I hiked back to the truck at noon, I wondered if I’d be able to quit grinning long enough to eat lunch J

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