Penns Creek – 05/31/2013

Time: 8:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: No Kill Area

Fish Landed: 2

Penns Creek 05/31/2013 Photo Album

Would Friday repeat the exciting green drake day that we experienced on Thursday? The weather forecast called for another day of heat wave with highs of 92 and humidity. That certainly didn’t bode well nor did the fact that I was leaving at 4PM to return to Lewisburg for a cookout with some fraternity brothers.

Jeff and I awoke at 6AM and hustled our belongings to the car and departed without showers (no hot water) to the no kill area of Penns Creek. The drive from Lewisburg to Weikert cost us 45 minutes, and with the hot conditions this was valuable time early in the day before the air and water heated up. We munched down some muffins in the parking lot, prepared to fish and hit the water by 8AM. We decided to circle downstream a bit and prospect some hot spots and then work our way upstream.

Jeff was kind and let me have first casts on three quality spots. Inept casting in the first location caused me to hook a tree limb and then disturb the water. The second location was also a proven winner from past experience, and here I coaxed a rise to the green drake dun and set the hook. I was attached to a large fish that began to dive and shake its head. By applying side pressure I worked it back and forth and saw enough of it to know it was in the 15 – 20 inch range. Unfortunately after fighting the fish for a minute or so and just as I reached for my net, the fish made a quick turn and swam toward my legs. What was I to do? Should I put my legs together to block the fish and get bowled over at the start of the day? I allowed the big guy to swim between my legs and that was game over. The fly caught in my wader cuff and Mr. Brown escaped to fight another day. Knowing the sun and heat would probably produce difficult conditions only served to enhance my frustration and embarrassment at this turn of events.

Jeff and I moved on to hotspot number three while I continued to mourn the loss of a nice fish. Number three did not yield any fish despite numerous drag free drifts cautiously lofted from a reasonable distance. Next we prospected some nice slicks and flats in a faster flowing stretch to no avail. Meanwhile there were remnant spinners from the night before as well as an occasional dun, but the surface did not contain the density of food that was present the previous evening or even what was witnessed in the morning.

A Slightly Closer View

A Slightly Closer View

After some fruitless casting and observation we approached a nice deep pool from the left bank and Jeff spotted a rise within several feet of the high grass along the bank. He suggested that I cautiously work my way closer to the water and cast to the fish that showed its wherabouts. As I manuevered into position several additional fish rose and sipped an unidentifiable food from the surface. I began casting the green drake foam body dun to a fish that had risen several times, but my offering was being ignored. I switched to the positions of the other risers hoping they wouldn’t be as selective, but this didn’t improve my success. Meanwhile a fish rose higher in the pool and toward the right center, so Jeff positioned himself to fish to this new prospect. Periodic gusts of wind disturbed the tall grasses and leaves on the trees, and I observed numerous black ants on the wood logs that I was standing on. Could the fish be sipping these terrestrials in the slow moving pool?

I brought in my green drake dun and added an eighteen inch length of tippet and then attached a parachute fur ant with an orange wing post. These two flies were quite visible as they drifted back toward me while I made multiple casts ten to fifteen feet across and above my position on the bank. I was covering the lane of the fish that had risen the most frequently. On perhaps the tenth drift a fish slid to the surface and sucked in the ant. I set the hook and battled a decent brown that appeared to be around 14 inches and quite husky. I was quite pleased to have coaxed a fish from this deep slow moving pool in the morning heat, and even more proud that I’d duped it with a trailing ant. Observation and adaptation did pay dividends in this instance.

Jeff and I moved on and attempted to focus on the less obvious lies where fish might hide and try to sneak food on a hot clear day. Shade, cover and depth were the three key ingredients that seemed to yield opportunities. One such spot soon presented itself and Jeff once again gave me the pleasure of making the first attempt. As I prepared to cast I actually spotted a rise in a tight nook along the bank. I believe I still had the green drake dun and the trailing ant on my line at this point as I began methodically working my flies from the tail of the pool to the small eddy at the head. Near the lower end where the current ran along the bank a fish swirled at the green drake but did not take, so I had a refusal on my record. Eventually I delivered some nice casts to the edge of the current seam just above a bush that was hanging over the water, and on one of these drifts a fish assaulted the green drake. Again the battle was on, but this time I managed to overcome the valiant efforts of a sixteen inch brown. I photographed the silver warrior and returned it to the cold lair to fight another day.

16" Fat Brown

16″ Fat Brown

I caught up to Jeff and we continued on our way through several attractive areas as the sun reached its peak and beat down on us relentlessly. When we reached a long stretch of riffles and pocket water above a long pool I decided to add a beadhead prince dropper and prospect some juicy pockets and slots of ideal depth, but this yielded no takers so we moved on again.

Just beyond this point we reached another nice pool and Jeff suggested that I climb a high bank and then descend back to the creek and cast downstream. Normally this approach is very difficult as the fish will see the fishermen above them, but this location was a small eddy and the fish faced downstream as insects drifted backwards along the bank. I was very stealthy and when I got in position above the eddy I noticed several nice gulping rises tight to a log against the bank. The sound had that hollow large fish ring that causes ones heartbeat to ratchet up a notch or two. I placed several casts in the vicinity but not tight to the log as I wished, but on the third or forth cast my leader sank and as I lifted to recast, the sunken leader sucked my fly under the water and into a subsurface tangle of sticks.

Six Foot Black Snake

Six Foot Black Snake

I uttered a few choice words and stealthily tip toed along the edge of the bank to a point where I could dislodge my fly. I backed up slowly and retreated 5 – 10 feet and watched the water carefully. Much to my amazement a fish rose again but slightly further downstream and away from the log and bank. I made a few downstream casts with plenty of slack and allowed the green drake to drift over the point of the rise with no results, but on the third or fourth drift I saw a movement and sip and set the hook. Unfortunately the weight on my rod tip only lasted for a split second and the fish escaped.

I surrendered to the cagy fish in the eddy and climbed back up the steep bank to a point slightly upstream and then crossed to meet Jeff on the other bank. We continued working upstream in the afternoon heat but the action was extremely slow. By three o’clock we were in a nice stretch of water with numerous shadows and the sun disappeared behind some small clouds occasionally. In one of these places Jeff made some precise long distance presentations and managed to coax a fish to the surface. He set the hook and found himself attached to an active brown that charged up and down the pool. After a live demonstration of expert fish fighting techniques, Jeff scooped the brown into his net and sure enough he held another 17″ specimen.

We moved on a bit further but it was now approaching 4PM and I did some mental arithmetic to determine I needed to begin the return hike so I could drive back to Lewisburg and perform my official registration and then shower and meet my friends by 6PM or shortly thereafter. We made the 45 minute hike down the railroad bed to the parking lot where I packed everything in the trunk of my rental car and said my goodbye to Jeff who planned to stay for the evening spinner fall again.

I was totally fatigued from the hiking and heat and humidity, but I felt the satisfying glow of catching a few beautiful central Pennsylvania wild brown trout in one of the more challenging environments I’ve ever fished. My friend Jeff is truly an amazing fisherman who combines keen observation skills, ridiculously expert casting skills, and the patience and stealth to approach these educated trout. Added to these already advanced skills are his ability to examine insects and tie his own effective imitations that take fish under the most difficult selective conditions. My hat is off to the person who displays a Penzzz license plate.

Healthy Penns Creek Brown

Healthy Penns Creek Brown

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