Clear Creek – 06/24/2012

Time: 5:00PM – 7:30PM

Location: Philadelphia Mills Open Space Upstream from Idaho Springs

Fish Landed: 5

Clear Creek 06/24/2012 Photo Album

Normally in June I am anxiously checking the stream flows for signs that the water is dropping and perhaps I can fish on a stream by July Fourth. I need to keep reminding myself that it is only June as the air temperatures and the lack of snow pack make the rivers and streams of Colorado look like it is late July or even August. Starting on Friday June 22 through June 26 Denver experienced five successive days with high temperatures over 100 degrees. With this backdrop Dan and I decided at the last minute on Sunday to make a trip to Clear Creek for an evening of fishing.

I picked Dan up at 4PM and we were parked and ready to fish on Clear Creek by 5PM. The eastbound traffic on interstate 70 looked ridiculous so I hoped it would clear by the time we elected to make the return trip. Because of the heat, Dan chose to wade wet with shorts and chacos. We soon discovered that some entrepreneurs purchased land just east of the open space and opened a zip line business. There were at least six wooden towers; three on each side of Clear Creek with wires connecting each tower. We also noticed there were no trespassing signs on all the towers, so we walked beyond the eastern boundary and descended the bank to a stretch where we began fishing in previous years.

Zip Line Towers Take Over Favorite Stretch of Water

Dan began fishing with a Chernobyl ant and waded to the north side while I tied on a lime green trude and fished the half of the stream closest to the road. Fairly quickly I had a refusal and then a couple momentary hook ups on the trude. Dan meanwhile wasn’t having much action. I moved upstream a bit and finally connected on a couple small browns. Dan moved up along the right bank roughly parallel to my position. After I landed a third brown on the trude from beneath an overhanging branch along the bank, I noticed that I was getting close to the first wooden tower, and I wasn’t sure if I was in private water. A man with a red shirt was gathering trash bags at the base of the tower, and eventually he began walking toward me. This could only mean one thing, I’d crossed the line.

I made a hasty retreat back downstream to near the area where we’d begun, however, Dan couldn’t move as fast because wading in chacos requires careful foot placement. When Dan and I met near our starting point, I asked him what the gentleman said, and Dan said he couldn’t hear over the rushing water, but he was motioning with his thumb to get out.

We ascended the bank and walked back up the frontage road to a spot just beyond the western border of the zip line property where we dropped back down to the creek. This time Dan stayed on the south bank closest to the road, and I waded across to fish along the north side. By now Dan had switched to a lime green trude and it wasn’t long before he shouted, and I looked toward him and saw an eleven inch brown trout doing cartwheels as Dan had set the hook pretty hard. He wasn’t about to lose this one. I waded toward hiim and snapped a decent photo then returned to the business of fishing.

Dan Shows Off His Catch

After I moved upstream a bit I reached a ten foot stretch of water where only around two feet of slack water existed between the current and the bank that could hold fish. I flicked a few backhand casts upstream and the current pulled my fly right along the grassy bank. On the third or fourth such drift a brown emerged from the bank and slurped the trude.

As I continued upstream II felt like there were more fish than we were pounding to the surface so I tied on a Chernobyl ant and dropped a beadhead hares ear off the bend. I was mostly using the large foam attractor as an indicator and hoped to get some action on the nymph as I approached the bridge. I fished up to the bridge and then waded underneath and up along the bank on the opposite side. I’d seen kids swimming in this area and didn’t hold much hope so I covered this water fairly quickly and then came to some additional bank side pocket water forty yards above the bridge.

Clear Creek Below Bridge in Open Space

Here in a short but deep hole in front of a large rock a 10-12 inch brown emerged from the depths and sipped in the Chernobyl ant. This occurred no more than five feet across from me and was quite cool to observe. Dan was having difficulty seeing his trude in the bright glare on his side of the river, so I suggested that after I covered two more attractive spots upstream, that we should call it a night and return to the car. Dan found a spot where he could ford the creek while I fished out the stretch of pockets, and then we scrambled over the large boulders along the stream and reached the car by 7:30PM.

Dave's Last Catch on Chernobyl Ant

We had escaped the heat, landed a few fish, and had additional action in the form of momentary hook ups and refusals so we decided to celebrate and wait out the traffic some more by stopping at Tommyknocker’s Brew Pub in Idaho Springs for dinner. The two fish tacos I consumed rank among the best I’ve ever had and the Black Powder Milk Stout only added to my enjoyment. It was a grand early summer evening in Colorado.

Arkansas River – 06/17/2012

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Braided area above Pinnacle Rock

Fish Landed: 6

Arkansas River 06/17/2012 Photo Album

On Saturday of Fathers’ Day weekend Dan, Jane and I had great fun as we took two separate mountain bike rides, enjoyed lunch in Westcliffe while watching a storm develop, hiked the Rainbow Trail south from our campground, and fed the donkeys and horse that occupied the pasture by the entrance to the campground. Jane prepared a great meal of Thai green curry for Saturday evening, and Dan constructed another great fire in the pit at our campsite.

The plan for Sunday was to have a hearty breakfast and then break camp. Jane would drive the Santa Fe back to Denver while I transferred my fishing gear to Dan’s car so we could fish on the Arkansas River again. I decided to revisit the same area where I’d had success on Friday, as I felt it offered the best hope for Dan to have a great day as the braided area spread the flows out and the weather was forecast to be in the mid to upper 90’s again.

Dan was using his new Beulah fly rod for the first time so he was anxious to test it out. Sunday was another very hot day as high temperatures climbed to the mid-90’s, and we started fishing around 11AM just as the sun climbed toward its peak in the clear blue sky. We parked across from the spot where the river divides into three channels and waded across the first two to reach the bottom of the north branch. I gave Dan two lime green trudes, one size 16 and one size 12, and he began fishing up along the right side while I took the left. I started with a gray parachute hopper with a beadhead pheasant tail dropper.

Lifting for Another Cast

It didn’t take long before I experienced a refusal to the hopper and then a brief momentary hook up with the pheasant tail. My optimism proved to be premature, as I went through a dry spell. Meanwhile Dan was getting some action with his lime green trude, so I switched over to the same fly. Eventually I landed a fish or two on the lime green trude before we broke for lunch at 12:30. By lunch we had fished the length of the north braid from its confluence with the main Arkansas up to the point where another short channel joined.

After lunch I suggested we continue on the north braid from the point where the short channel joined to the point where the flow split off from the main river. This stretch contained some faster water with more pockets. I felt that this water would be more oxygenated and the faster riffled current would make it easier to approach fish in the hot afternoon with virtually no cloud cover. The green trude ceased to produce as it had earlier, and I really wanted to work nymphs through the short pockets so I tied on a buoyant Chernobyl ant and added a long leader section of three feet with a beadhead hares ear on the point. I mentioned to Dan that I hadn’t fished the beadhead hares ear as much early in the season as I had in previous years and concluded I was overanalyzing. Dan on the other hand had been fishing a beadhead hares ear since near the start and had landed his two fish on it.

Shortly after making the switch I landed a decent brown that smashed the nymph. In another short pocket I spotted a brown as it flashed up to look at but reject the Chernobyl ant. Two drifts later the same fish snatched the BHHE as it moved through the tail of the pocket. After releasing the fish I lobbed another cast to the top of the pocket and let it drift along the current seam and noticed another flash toward the Chernobyl. Once again on a subsequent drift I hooked but then lost the same fish.

First Decent Fish for Dave

The best action of the day would take place in the hour after lunch in twenty yards of pocket water between the junction of the small braid and part way to the main river. I landed an additional four browns in the 10-12 inch range on the beadhead hares ear. The remaining thirty yards of water were narrower and offered fewer prime holding locations. I covered this water fairly quickly with no luck and reached the junction with the main river. There were some nice deep pockets here, but I couldn’t entice any fish to grab either of my flies. Dan was forced to move to the bank I had just fished because the water was quite fast and tight to the north shore.with thick shrubs reaching out over the water.

Main Channel of Arkansas River

When Dan caught up to me it was approaching 4PM, and we were both extremely hot and tired and thirsty so we waded downstream along the edge of the larger channel to a point across from a small bridge. We were able to cross over here and walk the short distance back to the car. Our day ended with eight total fish landed, six by Dave and two by Dan. We both enjoyed breaking in our new rods and felt that we were fortunate to catch what we did under vary difficult conditions of clear skies, high sun, and warm air temperatures.

Very Focused

Arkansas River – 06/15/2012

Quote

Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Braided area above Pinnacle Rock

Fish Landed: 8

Arkansas River 06/15/2012 Photo Album

Last year in July Jane and I stumbled into a great campground in Colorado called Alvarado Campground. Alvarado is in the Wet Mountain region of Colorado west of Pueblo and east of the Sangro de Cristo range. We had often read of Westcliffe, the small town at the center of the region, and hoped to visit some day. Last summer the run off extended to late July so I was willing to camp in this area even though there were limited fishing opportunities as just about all rivers and streams were high and unfishable. We actually planned to camp at Lake Creek Campground, a smaller place closer to Canon City, but when I reached the turn off there was a large sign saying the campground was closed due to a wildfire. I switched to plan B and drove further south to Alvarado. We enjoyed a great weekend hiking and biking the Rainbow Trail and browsing the shops in Westcliffe on Sunday morning.

Fast foward to 2012 and I had it in my head that I wanted to return to Alvarado in June during runoff to enjoy mountain biking on the Rainbow Trail. I went the the National Forest Service web site to reserve a campsite for Fathers’ Day weekend and discovered that the campground was closed until June 29 to allow time to clean up massive quantities of blown down trees from the week of extremely high winds. This forced me to make a 180 degree reversal, and we targeted Lake Creek, our original July 2011 target destination. Lake Creek, however, does not take reservations and only contains twelve campsites. I planned to not work on Friday, load the Santa Fe with all the camping gear, food and bicycles and travel to Lake Creek and secure a campsite early before the after work hordes arrived. Jane and Dan would then leave Denver after work and join me on Friday evening.

First Stop on Friday Loaded with Bikes

As it turns out, the runoff on Colorado rivers in 2012 is minimal and the Arkansas River flows are at levels usually seen in September, so I planned to stop and fish on my way to snagging a campsite. I loaded the car and was able to depart our house in Denver by roughly 8:30AM. Traffic was heavy in several locations, but I was on the stream fishing by roughly 11:30. I chose the large pullout just up the river from Pinnacle Rock access area where the main river divides into multiple channels, and I enjoy the smaller stream conditions this creates. After putting on my waders and rigging my new four weight rod, I hiked down route 50 to a stretch with a high cliff where the river churned through a narrow chute. I tied on a yellow Letort hopper and dangled a beadhead hares ear and began working the narrow pockets tight to the bank.

I covered quite a bit of water with no action so I began switching the dropper until I tied on a  copper john. Taylor Edrington had mentioned that a copper john imitates the nymph of a yellow sally. This did the trick and as my top fly drifted tight to a large rock that jutted into a nice deep run, the hopper dipped and I set the hook and played a nice twelve inch brown trout. It was a nice test of my new rod, and I was pleased with the lightness of the rod along with the fish handling capacity. I moved on and landed one additional smaller brown before arriving across from my car at around 12:30PM.

First Fish on Friday Was a Beauty

I ate my lunch by the river and carefully observed but didn’t see much insect activity on the water. I decided to walk up the highway after lunch and cross to the northern most channel of the river. This is one of my favorite stretches of water on the Arkansas. I crossed the two channels closest to the road and circled around the junction of channel three with the main stem and began prospecting the juicy riffles of moderate depth that characterize this area. Initially the hopper dropper was not producing and I covered quite a bit of nice water that is usually very productive. In the next attractive stretch I observed several refusals to the hopper and then landed a pair of foul hooked fish. I saw the fish rise toward the hopper and turn away, but set the hook anyway and foul hooked the browns with the trailing nymph.

North Channel above Pinnacle Rock

After the second foul hook incident I paused to analyze what was going on. The Royal Gorge Angler web site suggested fishing yellow flies in the size 16 range in the afternoon in the current seams. My fly had the correct color but the wrong size so I theorized I should downsize. I pulled a size 16 lime green  trude from my patch and converted to a single dry fly approach. In short order a decent brown sipped in the lime green trude at the tail of a riffle right above me. Very quickly two more browns slurped the frauds, but then in the next stretch of pockets I observed multiple refusals. Now my mind began to analyze again. Perhaps my fly was a bit too green? I had some size 16 yellow sallies in my patch so I tied one on and drifted over the area where the last refusal had taken place. No luck. I spotted a solitary mayfly take flight off the water that may have been a PMD. Could they be tuned in to a sparse PMD hatch? I tried the money fly, but this elicited nothing.

At least the lime green trude caught a few fish and grabbed their attention, so I reverted, but this time tied on a size 14 or 12 fly. This fly was much easier to follow in the riffles and glare, and much to my amazement, it began to produce fish. I landed a decent brown and over the remainder of the afternoon up until 3PM I added two more to bring my count to eight on the day. I continued to get refusals to the larger trude, but It seemed to be most successful on drifts where I cast across and let the fly drift down to the tail of a riffle or run.

It was a fun day, and I felt quite proud to have landed eight fish in 90 degree heat with minimal cloud cover. I also felt the satisfaction of casting my new lighter four weight rod and feel the throb of some fish.

Lake Creek Campground, Site No. 3

After calling it quits I drove another 20 miles or so to the Lake Creek Campground where I snagged one of the three remaining campsites. I cracked open a beer and ate some snacks and read a fly fishing magazine while waiting for Dan and Jane to arrive with dinner. They arrived as expected around 7:30, and after gobbling a grilled ham sandwich with potato chips, I helped Dan gather firewood. We thought there was a fire ban, but several fires were already crackling at other campsites, so we joined the fun.

South Platte River – 06/12/2012

Time: 5:00PM – 8:00PM

Location: From Deckers upstream to parking lot around the bend

Fish Landed: 0

South Platte River 06/12/2012 Photo Album

The days were approaching their longest length, and I had a new fly rod begging to be tested so I packed all my fishing gear in the Santa Fe on Tuesday morning and planned to drive directly from work to the South Platte River in the Deckers area. The plan worked reasonably well and I arrived at the first parking lot on the dirt road that heads straight from Deckers and was ready to fish by 5PM. Some large dark clouds appeared in the western sky and it seemed much later in the evening than it actually was.

Stretch Above Deckers

I walked down the dirt road a good distance until I was just above the large pool by the bridge at Deckers. Another fisherman was on the opposite shore at the top of the pool, so I decided to drop down to the river fifty yards above him, even though I was on the opposite bank. I began fishing with an orange scud and bright green caddis pupa on a nymph set up with an indicator and split shot and began covering all the deeper slots and runs for 20 yards or so. Nothing was doing. I switched out the orange scud for a San Juan worm and continued but still no action. I also tried a beadhead hares ear and beadhead pheasant tail on the nymphing tandem.

After covering quite a bit of nice water with no results, I elected to go with a dry/dropper setup as the water wasn’t excessively deep. I began with a yellow Letort hopper and dangled a bright green caddis pupa as well as a beadhead hares ear, but these combinations were equally ineffective.

Toward the latter part of the evening, I clipped off the hopper and nymph and went with a muggly caddis and then a light gray deer hair caddis and finally an olive brown deer hair caddis. Frustrated with the lack of success with these dries, I resorted to fishing classic wet fly style. I just read an article in Fly Tyer about situations when wet flies work when nothing else produces. I was in that very situation. I tied on a beadhead bright green caddis as the top fly and an old hares ear wet fly at the point and began cast across and letting the tandem sweep down and across below me. I did this without the aid of a strike indicator, but alas this also proved to be fruitless. I removed the hares ear wet fly and replaced with an olive and black woolly bugger and imparted action, but this also was not effective.

My last tactic was to stop and watch the water for any signs of rising fish. This actually worked as I was on a large rock overlooking the river and there were some beautiful slower moving areas opposite me and the main current. I saw two separate rises toward the tail so I tied the caddis back on and placed numerous casts in the area, again to no avail. I decided to flick some casts to a small current that fed the pool and on one of these drifts a fish rose in the small current area. I set the hook thinking it was on my fly, but that was not the case. Either the fish took a real natural next to my fly or I witnessed a refusal.

New Rod in Action

After attempting a few more casts to the area with sporadic rises, I decided to reel in and call it an evening. My feet felt like stumps from standing in the icy tailwater flows. The Orvis Access is light yet stiff and casts quite well, but I still don’t know how it feels to have the weight of fish on the new rod.

Arkansas River – 06/09/2012

Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Five Points

Fish Landed: 7

Arkansas River 06/09/2012 Photo Album

After my return from Pennsylvania I worked on Thursday and Friday, but was itching to do some Colorado fishing. All the reports were indicating that run off was a non-event in 2012, so Jane and I elected to drive to the lower Arkansas River above Canon City on Saturday. I researched some nearby hikes for Jane, and we packed lunches and hit the road at around 8:30AM. It turned out to be quite warm with temperatures in the low 90’s, but we found a nice spot at the Arkansas Headwaters Five Points access area. Jane set up her chair under a huge cottonwood tree and propped herself there while she read her Kindle.

Meanwhile I put together my Scott 6 weight and prepared to fish the area directly across from Jane’s home base. I began with a yellow Letort hopper trailing a beadhead hares ear, and it didn’t take long before I landed a decent eleven inch brown. As I fished a flotilla of rafts drifted by, but they kept to the middle of the river, and I didn’t feel they were impacting my fishing along the edge. Another small brown inhaled the beadhead hares ear as I worked my way fairly rapidly along the bank hitting all the likely spots that might hold trout. Next a small brown inhaled the yellow Letort hopper and I continued covering the water; however, I was experiencing refusals, and the beadhead hares ear ceased to produce. I decided to swap out the BHHE for a copper john, and sure enough at the base of an island another eleven inch brown gobbled the copper john.

First Fish Landed Saturday on Arkansas River

I Fished Left Channel Around Island

The river divided around the long narrow island and the raft traffic took the slightly deeper straight channel to the north. I was quite excited to fish the left channel as it was devoid of raft traffic and looked like it contained some nice pockets and runs. It was 12:30PM or later and I told Jane I’d return for lunch within an hour, so I deferred the left channel and returned to her base camp for lunch. We decided that after lunch she would take the car and search for the Red Canyon Park to hike, and then we planned to meet back at our base camp at 3PM. In retrospect this did not allow enough time to drive to Red Canyon Park which required 20 miles one way, a hike and then another 20 mile return drive.

Jane Relaxes

I walked back to the left channel that made a big bend around the island and continued to fish with the hopper and copper john but didn’t manage any more fish until I reached a deep run where the channel deflected off a large vertical rock and then fanned out in a nice deep run. I covered the water with some casts of my hopper/dropper but this deeper water screamed for deep nymphing. I clipped off the hopper and copper john and tied on an
Arkansas rubberlegs and below that a RS2. I flicked the nymphs up into the deep run and on the fifth drift noticed an unusual movement in the indicator, set the hook, and landed a 10 inch rainbow.

Cactus in Bloom

I continued working up along the bank and up to 25 feet out and landed two more fish before I retired at 3PM. One of the remaining fish gobbled the Arkansas rubberleg along the edge of a current seam and this fish probably was in the 10-11 inch range. The last fish fell for the RS2. Jane was returning to the picnic area just as I walked up, and she told me she spent most of the time driving. Clearly we should have alloted at least another hour to our scheduled meeting time.

Zoomed on Arkansas Rubberleg

We packed everything back in the car and returned toward Canon City where we stopped at the Royal Gorge Angler where I met Taylor Edrington and asked him a series of questions about our trip to Argentina. I also purchased a new Orvis Access four piece 8’8″ four weight rod for myself and a Beulah four piece 9′ five weight rod for Dan. The Orvis rod is much lighter than my Sage four weight, and I’m quite anxious to test it out.

 

 

Northwest Branch of Perkiomen Creek – 06/05/2012

Time: 10:00AM – 1:00PM

Location: Forgedale

Fish Landed: 7

Northwest Branch of Perkiomen Creek Photo Album

Tuesday was a day of work for Marcia so I used it as an opportunity to fish the NW Branch of the Perkiomen Creek at Forgedale only five or six miles from the Yost house. I ate a light breakfast, rounded up the dogs, and gave them a treat for their good behavior and left the house by 9:30AM. By the time I drove to Forgedale and climbed into my waders and strung my rod I began fishing at 10AM. It was another pleasant day with highs forecast to reach only the seventies again.

I began fishing in some private water just below the Forgedale Park but I was only guilty of trespassing for twenty yards or so. I tied on a Chernobyl ant with a beadhead hares ear dangling from the bend. I experienced a couple refusals so I switched the Chernobyl for a yellow Letort hopper. Suddenly as I flicked an underhand cast to the middle of the tail of a nice pool beneath some large overhanging branches a twelve inch brown smashed the hopper. I photographed this fish and moved on up to the stretch next to the small park which is actually simply mowed grass between the stream and the road below a large iron bridge.

12" Brown from NW Branch of Perkiomen Creek

I wasn’t getting much action on the BHHE so I exchanged that for a beadhead pheasant tail as I feel that better imitates the nymph of the sulfurs, and I know they are present in large numbers on this stream. I began catching small browns with increasing frequency over the next couple hours as I worked upstream to a point just opposite the state game lands parking lot where I had parked. All the fish snatched the BHPT and they were in the 7-9 inch range. It was a challenge to cast with my nine foot rod while avoiding the canopy that reached out over the stream and I lost quite a few flies in the process. I also experienced a larger than normal long distance release ratio on fish that darted out and grabbed the pheasant tail but shed the hook before I could land in my net.

Nice and Clear on Tuesday

I needed to check in with Southwest Airlines at 1:25PM so at around 1:00PM I climbed up the bank and returned to the car to use my iPhone to get A54 as my boarding number. I drove to the Barto Hotel parking lot to obtain a better cell phone signal, and as I did so apparently passed my brother. My brother, Jim, and I had agreed to meet at the game lands parking lot so after securing my boarding number I gave him a call. We met in the Forgedale parking lot and decided to forego more fishing and returned to Marcia’s house where we hung out until Marcia and Greg returned home from work.

That evening I treated Jim, Marcia, Greg and my nieces Erin and Kyra to dinner at Union Jacks. My final day in Pennsylvania was a lot of fun.

Manatawny Creek – 06/04/2012

Time: 2PM – 3PM

Location: Downstream from Eggman’s farm

Fish Landed: 0

Manatawny Creek 06/04/2012 Photo Album

Fishing on Monday was more about spending time with my sister and revisiting favorite places from my childhood than catching fish. I got up with the Shafers and had a quick breadfast before they took off for work. I left the house at 8:15 and drove to my sister Marcia’s house near Landis Store, Pa. I elected to take a longer route than normal so I could check out the stream conditions of the NW Branch of the Perkiomen Creek near Forgedale, Pa.

Sure enough when I drove along the stream it was clear and slightly higher than usual, but definitely fishable. I continued on to Marcia’s and was greeted enthusiastically by her two dogs, Emma and Olivia. Marcia only works at a nursery on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so we decided to drive to a favorite Pennsylvania Dutch market to buy a few items, and then continue on to Pleasantville for lunch and then drop by the Manatawny Creek to check conditions.

We executed this plan to perfection and purchased some ribs for dinner at a butcher shop next to the restaurant where we had lunch. Much to my amazement, the Manatawny Creek was essentially clear, but also somewhat higher than normal. We chanced upon two clumps of wild mint near the stream so we decided to return with our fishing rods and a pot to transplant some mint back to Marcia’s house.

Marcia Gets Ready to Fish

By the time we drove back to Marcia’s house and loaded our fishing gear into Marcia’s second Outback fishing wagon and returned to the stream it was around 2PM. It was a pleasant day with temperatures only going to the low 70’s, so I was hopeful we might catch something in the middle of the afternoon. Marcia carried her five gallon bucket containing all her fishing needs to the bank directly across from a deep hole and began lobbing power bait. Almost instantly she snagged bottom below a large stump right above the deep hole, and I tried to wade in and dislodge, but it was quite jammed and I ended up breaking her line.

Retreiving Bait from the Bucket

I was impressed as I watched my sister tie on a new hook and bait her hook. Meanwhile I decided to walk downstream a bit and enter below and work my way back to her spot with flies. I tied on a Chernobyl ant and added a beadhead hares ear dropper. I worked my way upstream with no success and arrived downstream and across from my sister who had switched from power bait to a worm. She was allowing her worm to drift downstream along the bank and underneath some overhanging brush. Suddenly she exclaimed that she felt a bump and then another. Her worm was eaten so she added a fresh morsel and let it drift downstream again, and then she shouted, “I got one”. I looked on in anxious anticipation as she reeled in a 2.5 inch chub and then asked her to pose with her trophy.

Marcia Proud of Her Catch

I covered the deep hole with my flies and as I did that, I spotted two or three rises forty yards upstream. I exited the stream below Marcia and walked her bank to the spot where I’d spotted a rising fish. I placed some nice long upstream casts in the vicinity of the rises and thought I saw a fish refuse the Chernobyl. I clipped off the large foam attractor and tied on a size 16 olive brown deer hair caddis and several casts later brought in a four inch silver chub.

I moved upstream a bit more to a place where a nice deep run ran along the left bank and under a large sycamore tree. This looked like nymph water and if there were any remaining stocker trout in the Manatawny they had to be here. I rigged up with nymphs and thoroughly covered the run, but no fish materialized, not even a chub.

Peppermint Transplanted from Stream Bank

I returned to Marcia’s fishing hole and discovered her digging out some peppermint and fuzzy spearmint which she temporarily rooted in a pot for the drive home. When we got home she transplanted her “keepers” to nice pots and watered them. We laughed about our monster chubs and prepared a great dinner of barbecued ribs and a monster salad with fresh garden asparagus.

Cedar Creek – 06/03/2012

Time: 7:00PM – 9:00PM

Location: Allentown Park above the rose garden

Fish Landed: 0

I was convinced there would be no fishing on Sunday, and that I would be catching up on my reading at Jeff and Joanie’s house. I got up at around 7:15AM and went for a 50 minute run on the Ironton rail trail which I could access within two blocks of the Shafer house. We had a nice breakfast, and I watched Jeff as he changed the shank on his golf club and then made a temporary repair to his broken rod tip.

I spent some time chatting with Joanie and checked out her herb garden as she clipped Italian parsley to make a batch of tabouli for dinner. After lunch Jeff remembered Cedar Creek as a stream that we might fish as it springs from the ground near Dorney Park and runs to the Little Lehigh over a short distance with minimal tributaries to affect the clarity. There is no USGS stream gauge for Cedar Creek, so we decided to take a drive without our rods and gear to assess if we could fish there.

We arrived at the parking lot by the barn above the rose garden and tip toed through the muck and debris left behind by Friday’s storm to the bank. From the parking lot I thought the stream looked brown, but as we got closer we realized the brown was the stream bottom. Cedar Creek was perfectly clear and fishable! We continued up the road to Cetronia and then looped past Dorney Park and walked to the stretch that Jeff called the hog trough. Apparently some locals purchased some large trout and dumped them in Cedar Creek. We could see them beneath the surface and they did get the juices flowing as they moved about in the pool. Jeff called Joanie and asked if she could move dinner up to 5PM to allow for some evening fishing.

As Jeff started the gas grill and Joanie prepared dinner, some huge dark clouds appeared in the western sky and the sound of rumbling thunder came to our ears. Eventually the rain began, and it came down in sheets again. We bunched my fishing gear toward the center of the porch so it wouldn’t get wet again. We enjoyed a wonderful pork tenderloin dinner in the dining room while the rain came down outside. After dinner we debated whether to wait out the storm or drive to Cedar Creek. I suggested we go to the stream and worst case we’d return without fishing, but best case we’d be there when the rain stopped. That was the plan we followed.

We arrived at the same parking lot as earlier in the day while it continued to rain, however, at a slower pace. It didn’t take long before the rain stopped and we walked over to check out the stream. My spirits sank as I noticed the water had risen to the top of the bank and was now quite murky. Jeff on the other hand was undeterred and suggested that we strip streamers along the bank. That’s exactly what we did. I pulled an olive woolly bugger with a black tail from my fleece book and clipped a split shot above the fly and began casting across and allowing the bugger to swing to the bank and then stripped it back toward me. I actually had one momentary hook up but then couldn’t coax any more action.

I met up with Jeff and he had caught two while fishing the foot or two of slack water between the bank and faster current. He showed me the stripping and twitching technique he was using and I attempted to emulate it. Jeff also exchanged rods with me and gave me his black woolly bugger with a body made with flashy chenille. I managed another temporary connection with Jeff’s rod while he looked on but couldn’t achieve the ultimate accomplishment of a fish in my net.

We fished the streamers until dark, and Jeff landed three or four fish, but I grew weary of the lack of success and we quit at 9PM and returned to Whitehall.

Tulpehocken Creek – 06/02/2012

Time: 1:00PM – 2:00PM

Location: Palisades area

Fish Landed:0

I slept in until 10AM on Saturday, June 2 after the stormy ending to the previous day. When I appeared downstairs, Jeff asked if I wanted to fish? I was convinced that the Friday night storms had blown out every stream in Pennsylvania, but Jeff told me they were holding back water at Blue Marsh Dam in Reading and the Tulpehocken Creek, which flows from the dam, was holding steady at 350 cfs, slightly above the normal reading for early June.

I was here to fish, so we decided to make the trip. Our food supplies remained in the van, so we reloaded our clothes and drove to the north side of Reading. The parking area and surroundings were greatly improved since my last visit. We munched down some snacks and climbed into our waders and grabbed our rods and descended down the bike path to the stream. We bushwhacked through some fairly dense vegetation and went to the lower end of the stretch where we found a fisherman just upstream. We observed the water for a bit and saw a fish rise three times, but agreed it was too close to the fisherman just above.

We reversed course and hiked back up the path a ways to thirty yards or so above another fisherman. I decided to wade toward the far bank where there were a series of deadfalls and work a dry/dropper combination. Initially I tied on a large foam beetle, but the fly was poorly tied and the thread wraps on the head of the fly slid up over the eye. I clipped off the beetle and replaced with a Chernobyl ant for a bit and then added a beadhead hares ear. I was making some decent casts tight to the bank under overhanging branches, but there was no reward for my efforts. Jeff meanwhile was working a terrestrial tight to the right bank.

I approached a nice deep run and swapped the Chernobyl for a yellow Letort hopper, but again no fish showed interest. This run looked ripe for deep nymphing so I undertook the task of clipping on a small split shot and strike indicator and added a light yellow caddis pupa and emerald caddis pupa. But before I could cast into the run, a man in a uniform arrived and began talking to Jeff. After a brief conversation he shouted that I might want to get out of the water as they were about to release water. He informed Jeff that they were raising the gate six inches every hour and the flows were expected to move from 350 cfs to over 2000!

I hurriedly made some upstream casts with my pair of nymphs and then moved back toward the bank where Jeff remained and made a few casts across and down. It was evident that the flows had already increased from just a few minutes ago. I reluctantly reeled up my line and joined Jeff on the bank, and we agreed we only one choice and that was to return to the car and then to Whitehall.

The highlight of Saturday was attending a pair of minor league baseball games featuring the Pawtucket Red Sox vs the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. The Pigs won the first game but lost the second.

Little Juniata River – 06/01/2012

Time: 11:30AM – 7:00PM

Location: Area where the river moves away from the road above Spruce Creek at a house and railroad overpass

Fish Landed: 5

Little Juniata River 06/01/2012 Photo Album

Jeff and I slept in the Odyssey van on Thursday night at the Union County Rod and Gun Club again. We decided to take showers and were optimistic that we could fish Penns Creek by Sunday if not Saturday as the flows continued to gradually fall to the high 700 cfs range. Meanwhile we used our smart phones to track flows and conditions on other central Pennsylvania trout streams. The Little Juniata had fallen to the 300’s, slightly above average for this time of year. Unfortunately the TCO fly shop in State College listed the Little Juniata drainage as dirty, so that raised some concerns.

When I awoke I felt a definite change in the weather as the air was thick with humidity. The maintenance man at the club mentioned to Jeff that the weather forecasters were predicting two inches of rain. The woman at the small supermarket confirmed the forecast for heavy rain. We packed our gear, grabbed some breakfast and headed west to the Little Juniata River near Spruce Creek, Pa. under partly cloudy skies. The sun popped through off and on but there were also some large gray clouds in the sky.

We stopped at the Spruce Creek Outfitters to buy some supplies and get advice on what flies were working and then drove along the stream. The water was a bit high and an opaque milky green color, but it appeared fishable. We parked on the left side of the road opposite the stream and hiked up the road .3 miles to a path that cut down a bank behind a house. Jeff decided to work some eddies near the road while I elected to go under the railroad overpass and explore the series of four or five nice pools on the north side of the tracks. I began fishing with a beadhead hares ear and a prince nymph with a split shot and strike indicator, but this combination didn’t produce. After thoroughly fishing one pool I switched out the prince nymph for a beadhead pheasant tail. I used one that I’d found on a tree branch that was a bit larger than my others, and it had a flash strand from the tail to the hook eye.

At the top of the second pool along the inside of the current seam I foul hooked a 12 inch brown. Initially because of the lack of clarity of the water, I thought I had a monster, but once I brought it around to the edge of the stream I could see that the powerful fight resulted from being hooked in the dorsal fin. I moved up to the head of the next pool and snagged to the bottom and broke off the flashback pheasant tail. I selected the largest beadhead pheasant tail in my patch with a flashback wing case and tied it to the end of my line. Along the current seam at the top of this pool I hooked and landed a nice 13 inch brown and photographed it. In the same general area I landed a second eight inch brown on the pheasant tail.

13 Inch Brown from Little Juniata River

Location Where 16" Fish Was Taken

The next pool had a long flat ledge rock along the opposite bank with a large submerged rock partially visible in the cloudy water at the tail of the pool. I remembered this pool as the one I’d had good success on during my previous visit to the Little J when I landed several nice trout on a small CDC olive dry fly. I began prospecting the pool with drifts upstream and then fanned each succeeding cast outward until I had covered two thirds of the flow to the opposite bank. On perhaps the tenth drift as the flies began to swing at the tail of the pool in front of the submerged rock, the indicator darted sideways and I set the hook. I battled a nice fish and looked for signs that it wasn’t foul hooked. I was pleased to get a glimpse of the fish as it fought and clearly the line was coming from its mouth.

16" Brown from Little J Was Best of the Trip

I played the fish back and forth several times until I finally coaxed it into my net. The fish stretched an inch beyond the internal width of my net, which Jeff later measured at 15 inches, so my Little Juniata brown was a sixteen inch fish, and the largest of my Pennsylvania trip. I continued working up through the remaining pool, and Jeff arrived and circled above me to the tail of a long wide smooth pool below the next railroad bridge.

The river angled away from our bank over a shallow gravel bar and then dropped off to a deeper run where two currents met. I waded up along the bank to a point where I could wade out across the shallow riffles to fish the V above the junction of the currents. I had no luck in this area, but I was now positioned to fish two marginal areas along the north bank under some overhanging tree branches. In both these small runs of three to four feet in depth I landed small eight inch browns.

Jeff Tries a Different Fly

I continued working up along the north bank while Jeff cast from the middle toward the left side. In order to progress toward the bridge I waded through some very deep but slow water that approached the top of my waders. Just above the railroad bridge the river split into three branches that merged together under the bridge. I followed the right branch facing upstream under the bridge and then to the right. In a nice deep run here I foul hooked a ten inch brown. I was attempting to find a path up to the railroad bed so I could use the bridge to cross, but it became evident that I would have to hike quite a distance north through some dense vegetation to reach a point where the bank was short enough to gain the railroad tracks. In addition the trains were quite active, and I was concerned about being on the bridge when a train approached.

Jeff Below Railroad Bridge

I did a U turn and waded back downstream a bit, then cut up to the woods and worked my way through some dense vegetation to avoid the deep wading challenge. By this time the sky was clouding up, and I could feel light drizzle or mist occasionally. It took a while but I ended up going back in the edge of the river and wading downstream to an open area across from the large pool where someone had built a bench and a rope swing. Jeff was waiting near this point and began fishing again. I elected to continue retracing my steps to the series of pools. I stopped at the productive ledge rock pool where I’d landed the 16 inch fish and gave it another shot. I fished the pool half heartedly for a bit, and then clipped my fly to the guide and went downstream in search of Jeff who had gone back to the eddies and pockets near the road.

I stopped briefly at the long riffle just above the first railroad bridge and spotted two random rises. Upon seeing these, I removed my nymphs and tied on Jeff’s parachute sulfur. It was a welcome transition to change from slinging nymphs to casting a visible dry fly, but the fish weren’t cooperative with my change in approach.

After fifteen minutes or so, I reeled in my line and continued downstream in search of Jeff. I found him near the point where the river moves away from the road, and we walked back to the car together and ate our snacks for dinner. We debated where we wanted to fish for the evening hatch. Jeff suggested the nice pool across from the parking lot, but I was inclined to return to the long riffle above the bridge where I’d seen a couple rises. I changed from my sunglasses to regular glasses, put on my headlamp, and added a layer beneath my raincoat.

We once again walked up the road to the same path down the bank and Jeff jumped into some sweet runs above the eddy. I continued back to the long riffle and once again began to notice sporadic rises. I drifted the sulfur over the rises to no avail so I decided to look closely at the water. I spotted quite a few small mayflies and was able to seine one using my net. When I inspected closely I observed a size 18 or 20 mayfly with a black body and smokey gray wings with a tinge of tan. I tied on one of my CDC olives and covered the water, but my hatch matching didn’t bring any success.

I decided to go back upstream to the series of pools and look for rising fish. As I waited and watched the water, Eric Stroup, a local guide and expert on the Little Juniata came downstream with two clients. I asked him what we might expect for an evening hatch, and he told me the sulfurs were over and the only thing that might happen would be a cornuta spinner fall. He gave me one of his cornuta spinners and I showed him one of four I had in my box with a dark olive brown body. He told me this would probably work as well. I mentioned the black body mayflies I’d discovered earlier, and he identified them as paraleptophlebia, and he said they don’t seem to bring fish to the surface.

After unsuccessfully fishing a couple of the pools, and seeing no rising fish, I decided to return and check in with Jeff. When I reached him there was a dark cloud in the northwest sky, and we could hear thunder, so we decided to walk back to the car. While doing this the wind kicked up and the leaves turned inside out and we could hear the rain hitting the leaves to the west. The rain reached us and we pulled up our hoods to avoid getting wet over the last fifty yards of our return.

We quickly got out of our waders and tried to keep the car as dry as possible but it was difficult and the rain intensified and ran off the tailgate. Once we got in the car we debated what to do next. We were out of cell range so we couldn’t look at any weather radar sites nor could we check stream flows. I’d spotted the Spruce Creek Tavern as we drove through town, so we decided to stop there and check it out for dinner. The casual restaurant was quite crowded, but we were promised a 15 minute wait so we decided to stay and have a warm meal.

After dinner we checked out the Marshall House B&B where we’d stayed on our last trip, but there was a For Sale sign and no one answered the doorbell when Jeff rang. We continued east on route 45 toward State College and the skies opened with steady rain pelting the minivan. When we got closer to State College where we could get a cell signal, we checked the radar and saw several bands of heavy rain north and south moving across Pennsylvania. The USGS streamflow graphs were showing vertical lines for Penns Creek and the streams in the area, so we decided to leave central Pa. and return to Whitehall where dry beds awaited us. It was a good decision as Jeff drove through waves of heavy rain on interstate 80. We arrived back at Jeff’s house at 1AM and crashed into our beds.