In York County, Pennsylvania, there is a Catch-and-Release, Fly Fishing Only Section on Muddy Creek. I fished it once previously with my friend Jack ten or twelve years ago. It’s got some pretty nice water. On my first visit there, the water was high and off-color, and I remember doing well catching lots of trout on my Gray Ghost Wooly Bugger. Last Friday, Jack and I headed up to Muddy Creek from his home in Bel Air, Maryland. There is an old abandoned railroad that served as a good easy access on my previous visit, but in the intervening years, it has grown up in most sections to the point that it is impassable. So one must walk along a winding footpath if one wants to fish the upper reaches of the project water.
I decided to fish drys, and that’s all I did from our start about 4:45 PM.
Muddy Creek is stocked, but for the most part, the trout I caught were small, stream bred browns.
A few caddis flies were coming off, and I saw a handful of mayflies floating on the water. I did not catch one, but from a distance I think they were Hendricksons. I saw a few rises here and there. Most of the rising trout would end up taking a whack at my #12 Delaware Adams.
After I caught my first trout, I wondered why I missed the next six fish that took my fly. I suddenly thought, “I better check my fly,” and sure enough, my tippet had tangled about the bend and I was pulling the fly backwards. Duh. Stay sharp, you’ll catch more trout.
Jack had walked above me, and was using three wet flies. I later found out that he caught a lot of trout, swinging them down and across. I admitted to Jack at the end of the evening that I would probably have caught more trout using wet flies or a bugger, but I just wanted to cast and fish dry flies.
By seven-thirty I started seeing some sulphur duns and a few spinners were gathering in the air. I had not brought a flashlight with me, and Jack and I were out of sight and had not communicated with one another since separating more than three hours earlier. I knew he would have to walk past me to return to the car. I was thinking that I should have brought my walkie-talkies along. I was going to wait for him until 8:00 PM, but I delayed my departure for a few more minutes. At exactly 8:05, the pool erupted with more than thirty rising trout. By this time I had switched to a #14 Sulphur Parachute Dun. I stood at the water’s edge at the lower end of a large, garage-sized boulder, and caught several more trout without entering the stream. Just as I released a trout and stood up, five feet away a large black shape boiled the surface and moved away from me underwater. At first I thought it was a gigantic carp, but then I ascertained it to be a beaver. I was startled enough by this event, and he didn’t even slap his tail.
Here is the recipe for this sulphur pattern,listed in order of tying the ingredients:
Sulphur Parachute Dun
Hook: Standard dry fly, #14
Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 Orange.
Wing: Tan colored Hi-Vis or Enrico’s Sea Fibers (same product, different name), set upright into a post
Tails: Six yellow or ginger Microfibetts, split 3/3 with tying thread
Abdomen: Superfine dubbing, Sulphur Orange. The abdomen is reverse wound, from thorax to tail, and ribbed with the tying thread going forward. This tightens up the body and adds segmentation. You ought to see the benefit of this technique on patterns where contrasting thread color is used.
Thorax: Sulphur orange rabbit dubbing
A thorax dun version of this same pattern can be made by winding the hackle conventionally. I prefer to clip the bottom of the hackle half-way between the point and shank. My sulphur pattern preference is to use the Super Floss stretch material in sulphur orange for the abdomen. See: https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/march-brown-spinners/
I ended up staying until almost 8:30 PM, hooking a dozen or so trout. Then I had to get out of there. Still no sign of Jack. I was in unfamiliar territory, with no flashlight, the path winds along the stream bank, with perilous (for waders) barbed wire at one section, my unseen companion, with previous heart-attack history, is seventy-five years old, and I was at least a half mile from the car. I was just a tad concerned. I started downstream, crossed over and found the path. I actually wondered, “What if Jack is not there?” Even so, I tried to believe everything would be OK. After I traveled a short ways, and since I was heading back home to Pennsylvania the next day, Saturday May 4th, I stopped and broke down my Loomis 4-piece rod to avoid tangling the rod in the brush along the path. I put the reel in my vest, and held the rod sections in hand. I had barely enough remaining daylight light to see the barbed wire, but I managed to get past without snagging my waders, and then I finally arrived at the lower section where there is a cleared area by an old camper that probably serves as a weekend camp.
Fortunately, when I could see the parking area, I saw a light on where Jack had parked his car. As I got closer, I saw his standing silhouette at the back of the car, and he had already taken his waders off. He had somehow slipped past me, even though I vocalized “fish on” now and then. He was looking for me, and I still don’t know how he got by me, supposedly traveling along the creek, without seeing me. Anyway, he was fine and had enjoyed some good fishing.
We drove to his house where we had a late ten o’clock dinner of his home-made Maryland crabs cakes. No filler, they were great! The fishing and good meal were a nice conclusion to my visit. These photos will prolong the memories of a good trip.