Big Pine Creek Stream / Fishing Report

This is from the Slate Run Tackle Shop website, Stream Conditions page:

06-05-12:  Pine is in great condition for this time of year. It has cleared over the past two days to an olive and the temperature remains in the upper 50’s. We still have Slate Drakes, BWO’s, Sulphurs, and some Brown Caddis. Trout are still active on the surface, and providing very good, but challenging fly fishing to some fine trout. The long range weather forecast calls for showers, and cool temperatures for the next week, so you should be fishing!

If you visit the Pine Creek Valley, be sure to stop in for a great deli sandwich on home-made bread at The Slate Run Tackle Shop / Wolfe’s Store.

The last time I was fishing on Big Pine Creek was Sunday May 20th. A tough day fishing-wise. A beautiful day otherwise. I had the best day of my life there on May 17th. That’s another blog post. But on this day, I was expecting to do very well. Wrong. Spent Brown Drake Spinners were on the water, more prevalent than the other 13 different bugs flying about, and I didn’t have any. I had generously given away my last few Slate Drake Spinners to my friends that I’d been fishing with on the previous Thursday trip. They were fishing Friday and Saturday while I was going to the cabin to cut firewood. So I didn’t need any Slate Drake Spinners. Or so I thought. A Slate Drake Spinner might have risen a few trout that were eating those big Brown’s, because being an extended-body size eight, they were a little smaller than the Brown Drakes, but they might have done the trick. But I just about threw my arm off, casting, changing flies, casting, changing flies, casting.

Here are some photos of the day:

My favorite section of PA Rt. 414. That’s right – this is a state highway, and even though this section was replaced in the summer of 2011, parts of it are still too narrow for two cars to pass at the same time. Nice! It’s not the interstate. And that’s another good thing. Off to the left you can see the creek, and the drop-off.

This is the drop-off. About 400 feet. You don’t want your car to go over the edge here; there isn’t much to stop it until you land on the old railroad now walking-hiking-biking trail near the bottom. Part of the trail is visible to the left of center right of the creek. That’s why the State Road Crews can’t make this a two-lane road. It’s practically built into the side of a cliff. A spectacular view of the creek, and the valley both ways, upstream and down.

Manor Hotel across Big Pine Creek from the rear of the Slate Run Tackle Shop. Note the large log pile. And the smoker behind the building. The small green structure with the black roof. Yup. That’s right. Bar-b-Que! They smoke their own. Good place to eat and drink. The original Manor Hotel burned to the ground in a spectacular fire in May of 2004. The stream Slate Run is right behind the Hotel and the log pile.

Pine Creek Valley at Slate Run, behind the Fly Shop, looking upstream. I just happened to catch the turkey vulture just above the crest of the ridge.

March Brown dun. Cool night and heavy dew. Who ever owned this truck had parked it there overnight, which was convenient for these photos. This fellow and the spinner in the next photos were my only companions as I suited up and rigged my rod.

March Brown / Gray Fox Spinner. There was also a Brown Drake Spinner there too, but I made the mistake of trying to reposition it for a better photo, and it flew off.

Nice Pine Creek rainbow, close to 17″ that fell to a 3x long #8 Ephemera nymph, swung just under the surface. This pattern could pass for either a Green or Brown Drake. This solitary fish was the result of 2-1/2 hours fruitless casting to rising trout feeding on Brown Drake Spinners. As noted above, I didn’t have any. But I gave it the old college try and threw enough different patterns to open a fly shop with. See where the fish splashed a drop of water on my lens.

On the way back to the car, I came upon this wild iris in bloom.

In the afternoon, I went to the lower end of the Delayed Harvest Section, first, to have lunch at the picnic tables. I had homemade potato salad, a turkey sandwich, and some corn ships. Oh, and an ice-cold Yuengling. Secondly, I wanted to nymph fish the riffles at the head of the long pool. I hooked a few fish there using a two-fly nymph rig, but didn’t land any. After fishing I sat at the tables having another beer and an agent from DCNR, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – Forestry Department, drove in and stopped. He got out of his vehicle and came over to chat. I found it interesting that a forester was carrying a sidearm. He was actually a warden, but not for the Fish Commission, or Game Commission. In Pennsylvania, we have two separate departments for that. We are the only state in the Union to maintain two separate Fish and Game Agencies.

The annual toad mating was in full swing. Hundreds of toads, along the waters edge, in the water, and even floating downstream, some clinging together in the embrace of their instinct, bobbing along in oblivious delight. I could have gotten fifteen toads together in one shot, You had to be careful not to step on them, there were so many. Their mating calls were incessant.

The mating of the toads. I did see one female with five males, all clinging to her. While perhaps only one was actually giving her the business, I guess. I was going to take a photo of that but it was actually kind of revolting.

Late afternoon light on the Delayed Harvest Section below the bridge at Slate Run. I did very well here on the 17th, but this particular evening there was no major hatch activity.

Before I got into position to take this photograph, I spent an hour and a half parked in the shade at the Hotel Manor taking a nap. When I started fishing I was casting an extended body Slate Drake Thorax Dun Pattern. I hooked one large trout and lost him. I rose a few more and missed them. Or they missed me.

You can see the width of the stream here. I was using a 9-foot 6-weight rod with a 7-weight forward floating line. I like the heavier rod for the big water. It give extra advantages when the wind gusts up. Plus if I’m working a rising trout at 50- 60 feet away, I can cast above the rise, make a ten foot drift, pick it up, one back cast, and repeat. Very efficient to cover the trout. I sometimes fish like this with my left hand on my hip. Making the same cast over and over again, because I’m not stripping in line which then has to be reset to readjust the distance to the target. I finally wandered back to the bank and sat on a rock to rest for a while. As I did, this Slate Drake Dun fluttered by so I caught him / her. She, as I decided to call her, posed quite admirably on my knee:

Slate Drake Dun. This is a heavy hatch on Big Pine Creek. One that lasts, too. These flies will also hatch mid-stream. They do not all migrate to the shallows and edges to emerge. Note the lighter colored forelegs; this is why one Slate Drake pattern is called the White-Gloved Howdy, as if it’s extending for a handshake.

A friend who knew I was going to be fishing the area came by to join me. That wasn’t definite, especially with this particular friend, because you never know what he’ll get in to. I was kind of thinking of leaving before he arrived, but when a friend comes to fish with you, I did the right thing and stayed longer. He fished soft-hackles, I continued to cast my Slate Drake pattern, but neither of us rose a fish. I finally gave in to desperation, took off the dry tied on a  a #8 black beadhead Wooly Bugger and hooked this 18″ brown in less than five minutes.

18″ brown trout and #8 black bead-head Wooly Bugger. Sometimes desperation is a good thing.

Not too long after I released this fish, maybe twenty minutes, I called it a night. My precious, mallard wing-eating puppy dog, Abigail, had been at the cabin all day and I figured I’d better start back before darkness set in so I could let her out. I had a brisk quarter-mile walk to my car, put the rod in the car, took off my vest and waders, and hopped in the car. I had the wonderful drive through that beautiful valley ahead of me. Sunday evening. Fifteen miles to Morris. Leaving Slate Run, past Cedar Run, through Blackwell. Fifteen miles of driving without passing a solitary vehicle in either direction. That’s solitude for you. And by the way, no cell service either. I can’t wait to get back over there since the stream conditions and fishing are so — perfect.

On Monday morning, I sat at my vise and developed a perfect, two-tone, yellow on bottom, brown on top, foam extended body, three tails for a Brown Drake Spinner. So far, it’s just a body, a prototype. ready for a size #12 Tiemco 2488 hook. I need to finish a few flies. It will be suitable for duns and spinners both. But one thing is sure; with this new Brown Drake weapon, the trout will never do that to me again.

5 comments on “Big Pine Creek Stream / Fishing Report

  1. Terry Chapman says:

    Hi Don! Enjoyed your pine trip! Including the potato salad bit plus the long nap. That’s the way to enjoy life even when you don’t have THE fly. Also, how does a 6 weight drop down a delicate presentation or doesn’t that matter?

    Terry Chapman

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Terry;
      Thanks for your comment! In all that was a really good day, the weather was perfect, almost too perfect, bright and sunny. But as always, the best time to go fishing is when you can. To answer your question, the 6-wt. rod, 7-wt. line – look at that water. That section is over 150 feet wide. It was flowing about 600 cfs that day, fast-moving water in this stretch, with plenty of surface movement and currents to screen the heavy line. I neglected to mention anything tactical about my leader; it was about 14 feet long, for the drys, tapered to 5x, with a good 6 feet of 3x, 4x, 5x. The long leader design allows for ‘delicate’ presentation even when a heavy line is used. On all my Spring Creek trips this year, and I’ve made seven with over 160 total trout caught, I used the 7-wt. line every time but one. And the time I didn’t, I wished I had. Wind.
      Spring Creek is small to Pine by comparison, you know, you fished it with me! Parts of Spring Creek are barely 60 feet wide, some are narrower. The first time I fished it this year, my 6-wt. rod was already rigged due to a trip on Big Pine Creek the day before, with the 7-wt. line, and I wanted to fish. At the time I thought, “My leader is 12 – 14 feet long, the line weight won’t really matter.” After all the water was not low and clear. Laziness or more descriptively, eagerness kicked in, and I fished with it. Good thing that day – the wind was gusty at times. My companions were nothing short of amazed how I could cast a dry fly with accuracy in the wind, compared to the 4-weight rods / lines that they were using.
      I like light rods, but you know what, on larger rivers one is always better off using heavier tackle. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to use a 3 or 4 weight outfit say, on the West Branch of the Penobscot, or Kennebec. Or even the Delaware. But I know folks do. It’s not so much the weight of the rod / line that allows us to fish properly, the leader length and taper is the terminal end where presentation occurs. But for low, clear water and spooky trout, then the light rods and lines come into play and are more effective. Personally, my lightest rod is an old early 1990’s Sage RPB, which was an RPL but on a blank. It’s a 3-wt. I don’t own a 3-weight line. I always fish a 4-wt. on it. That’s the rod I always used when conducting stream-side demonstrations on nymph fishing on Spring Creek. Great set up…my favorite rod for drys and nymphs on Spring Creek…but after this season, maybe not so much anymore. The heavier rod / line allows me to punch the cast more when I need to.
      Hope you don’t mind my ‘detailed’ reply! Thanks for your comment and good question!

      • Terry Chapman says:

        Thanks for all that info Don. I have had an 8′ Orivs graphite All Rounder since 1983 when, somewhat low on cash, I traded in a few of my Dad’s hand-me-down pistols, and used the money to purchase the rod from Orvis–I believe it was $375, a Prince’s ransom to me then.
        It served me well until MA fishing tailwaters like the Swift where delicacy on gin-clear waters is the big deal here. But I do use a 5-weight in windy weather which works pretty well.

        Terry Chapman

    • Hi Terry;
      I have an eight foot Orvis All Rounder, but I won mine in a raffle. 😉 I bet you wish you would have never sold those handguns; they go up in value almost as much as gold. And they’re useful. Thanks! :mrgreen:

  2. […] fruitless casting to rising trout feeding on Brown Drake Spinners. … Read the original: Big Pine Creek Stream / Fishing Report « Don Bastian Wet Flies ← An Education in Fly Fishing at Grand Opportunities 2012 | the … Women's […]

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