The Black Prince Rides Again

Black Prince 013-1A few posts back, I wrote about a customer who had bought four dozen Black Prince wet flies from me. Well, her success with that old classic pattern continues, and has spilled over to another angler she met on the stream. After her success on Penn’s Creek, I had asked her what size she was using. There is more success to this fish story, since he also ordered some Black Prince wet flies from me, and I wanted to share a few of their notes:

Wednesday Sept. 24:

Mr. Bastian,

“I say again: ALL HAIL THE BLACK PRINCE!!

I was this evening at Fisherman’s Paradise (FP – near Bellefonte, Pennsylvania), and again was successful with the Black Prince. FP is a very difficult place to fish in that the pressure there is enormous. But I am learning; I go there in the evening and not only fish past sundown but past last light into the darkness. They are active at this time. I am there fishing with my Glenn Brackett, 7ft. 3wt. bamboo rod, Hardy “Baby” Perfect, Cortland “Sylk” line and the Orvis 4x braided Bimini leader. The last one I caught was a nice fat 10-inch that gave a really good fight. Just gorgeous. Size you ask? #16.

I AM learning how to wet fly fish!!”

Best Regards,
Jean

And she replied to my initial post about the Black Prince:

Thursday Sept. 25:

“Dear Mr. Bastian,

Very nice post. Getting the word out on actually using Bergman flies is important. And yes you were correct: I fished across-and-down. Very traditional stuff. Perhaps I should be out there with that Leonard Fairy Catskill and that little Hardy St George Jr. Now that’s tradition!”

Jean

And she wrote this note after yet another successful evening on Penn’s Creek fishing the Black Prince:

Sept. 28:

“I must say, Mr. Bastian, that the Black Prince is a really something. I do hope you are fishing with your own flies. (Of course I am, just not often enough – 😉 – Don). As a fitting closure to the evening, a juvenile bald eagle, a trout in his talons, flew over my head. Gorgeous.”

Best Regards,

Jean

On her “Black Prince” outing at Fisherman’s Paradise, she met another angler who lives in nearby State College. Since she was catching fish, he was curious what she was using. Jean met Robert, and they talked flies, they spoke of classic tackle, talked about me, since she has been a customer for a few years now, and I had also spent some time fishing with her in July 2012, and he also wondered where he could get this “killer fly.” She gave him my e-mail address, he placed an order for two dozen Black Prince wet flies, #14, and #16.

Here is a letter he sent just yesterday, Wednesday October 22:

“Your quality of work is just outstanding! I have been treating your flies like little pieces of art that get tossed through the air. Have only used them on the creek in one outing so far, on Spring Creek at ‘The Rock’. I fished them in tandem ( #14 and #16), 45 degrees upstream dead drift until 45 degrees behind me, and then swung them across and used a twitch method until it was directly downstream, followed by a hand twist retrieve. (This is) The method detailed in Ray Bergman’s, Trout (1938, 1952). In two hours I landed six nice fish. Two were on the hot spot, right when they started to drag 45 degrees behind, one really good strike during twitching, and three more on the retrieve. This is such a fun way to fish for me, and I will certainly be looking into more classic wet fly patterns in the future. I will give you a full days report soon.”

Robert
This ought to give you all a few ideas…places to fish, and trout to catch!
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Black Prince

The Black Prince wet fly is an old pattern. It is shown on the Lake Flies in Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, by Mary Orvis Marbury. It is also in Trout, 1938, by Ray Bergman. It was a popular pattern and has appeared in other publications as well. The Orvis version has a body made entirely of flat gold tinsel, while the later version in Trout sports a black floss body with a gold tinsel ribbing. Both have red tails, the version in Marbury’s book also has a jungle cock cheek. Hackle and wings on both versions are black, with natural black hackle being used on the original plate fly. I have a photo of that and recognized it as natural black; more of a dark charcoal color.

The reason I am inspired to post this article is that I recently completed an order of four dozen Black Prince wet flies, for a customer for fishing. She wanted them in sizes #12, #14, #16, and #18. The surprising part, not to me, but likely to many of you, is that my customer recently fished Pennsylvania’s famed and reportedly difficult to fish, at times anyway, Penn’s Creek. This is a stream where no stocking is done in a large section of Special Regulation water. The fish are almost all wild, stream-bred brown trout. I received her e-mail message today, as follows:

“ALL HAIL THE BLACK PRINCE!!! A short time ago I had a great afternoon on Penn’s Creek above Coburn with the Black Prince.  I would lay odds that is a fly that has not been seen around here in 50 years!!  And neither have the trout.”
My customer did not specify the size(s) she used, nor did she indicate how they were fished, but it’s a sure bet the flies were simply swung down-and-across. The hooks I used to supply her fishing fly order were modern hooks; I used Tiemco wet fly hooks – #3769. I prefer vintage and antique hooks for display and collector flies; and contemporary, high-carbon steel, mini-barb, chemically sharpened points to get the job done if the flies will be getting wet. Modern hooks are unquestionably better for fishing.
Here is a photo of the version of the Black Prince from Trout:
Black Prince - classic wet fly. The hook size is #6,Mustad vintage style No. 3399.

Black Prince – classic wet fly. The hook size is #6, Mustad vintage style No. 3399. The hackle on this fly was applied after setting the wing, using an old-fashioned technique. This method combines the winged wet with the effectiveness of a soft-hackle.

Black Prince

Thread: Danville Black Flymaster 6/0

Hook: Standard wet fly hook, sizes #2 to #18 – large hooks, full hackle to replicate Lake Fly style.

Tag: Flat gold tinsel

Tail: Scarlet hackle fibers of a section of red duck quill – may be two matching slips paired, or a single slip of duck or goose wing quill, as was done almost exclusively in the 1800’s

Ribbing: Narrow gold tinsel

Body: Black floss

Wing: Black duck or goose wing quill, matched and paired; may also be natural crow

Hackle: Black

It is the tiers discretion to apply the hackle as a false or beard style hackle, or as a soft-hackle collar, which may be wound either before or after placing the wing.

If one desired to replicate the Orvis version of the Black Prince, use fine flat gold tinsel for the tag, make the body from medium flat gold tinsel, use a scarlet dyed quill section for the tail – traditionally in the 1800’s, scarlet ibis feathers were used for this – and add a jungle cock cheek.

Like so many classic wet flies, trout do not see them, and one ace-in-the-hole trick you can tuck up your sleeve is to hit the water with something different than what everyone else is fishing. How about the Black Prince?

Next on my customers custom order – the Grackle, another old classic pattern.

Fishin’ Report

Despite the less than favorable weather patterns lately, specifically referring to a general lack of rainfall and low water conditions, I thought I would present some information that might just spark your interest enough to plan a fall fishin’ trip.

Most streams in this part of Pennsylvania are experiencing low water levels, however there are a couple exceptions. The two locations I want to point out are Big Pine Creek in Lycoming County, and Penn’s Creek. Back over Labor Day weekend, there was some heavy thunderstorm activity in the Tioga County and northwestern Lycoming County regions that sent Big Pine Creek’s flow from a little over 100 cfs to more than 1200 cfs. Since then, Pine has been running well above its median daily statistic from data of 94 years. Today, after a spike to 350cfs on October 8th, Pine is flowing (at the Cedar Run gauge) at 209 cfs.

Penn’s Creek at the Penn’s Creek USGS gauge also spiked yesterday to 150 cfs and is presently spot on for its median flow at 89 cfs, with 83 years of data. Water temperatures in both streams are in the mid-fifties.

The fishing report for Penn’s Creek has Slate Drakes hatching most days from about ten AM until 2 PM, and there is also activity of October Caddis, Blue-wing Olives, and Crane Flies. Nymphs of these species would also take fish, along with some attractor drys, terrestrials, and streamers.

Following up on my fishing trip (article posted here on October 4th) to Spring Creek on October 3rd, the lower three miles of Spring Creek also has adequate flows to permit fishing, where you’re not having to worry so much about spooking the trout. There are no Slate Drakes on Spring Creek, but there are sporadic hatches of caddis, tricos, fairly regular but spotty, around mid-day, and #18 BWO’s in late afternoon. The flow at Milesburg spiked at 260 cfs on October 7th, and has leveled off at 139 cfs, right on the median flow.

For more information contact these fly shops:

Penn’s Creek Angler – Bruce Fisher, (570) 922-1053

McConnell’s Country Store and Fly Shop – (570) 753-8241

Slate Run Tackle Shop – (570) 753-8551

There are direct website links to all three fly shops on my links listed on the right. Get out there and wet a line. I’d be going out myself this weekend, but I have plans to work at the cabin with my huntin’ buddies in preparation for deer camp. Tight lines everyone!

PS: Oh, I have to add this, the band Flipside, with whom I sat in on drums a couple weeks ago on Mustang Sally; they are playing this Sunday from 5 – 8 PM at the Trout Run Hotel. It’s an odd time, but in between “games.” I saw the keyboard player / guitarist / band leader at another bar this past Monday. We enjoyed the cheese steak special and a few beers at The Crippled Bear. We already worked it out for me to sit in again on Sunday. Ride, Sally, Ride! I’d have someone video it, but my camera is broken and I have not yet replaced it.

Penn’s Creek Success

Through my friend and fellow fly tier, Eric Austin, of Delaware, Ohio, I was invited to join him and a group of other anglers for a few days of fishing Penn’s Creek while staying at a private cabin near Weikert over Memorial Day weekend. We hoped to see some green drakes, and as things turned out, we did. The first evening we fished the Cherry Run Pool, and afterwards we were guests for dinner at a cabin on the pool. Dessert that night was homemade blueberry and pecan pie that I had baked that afternoon. Kept in a wooden pie-saver, they were actually still a tad warm when we served them after dinner. I did not know it beforehand but pecan pie is Eric’s favorite. Incidentally, Eric is one of the contributing tiers for my upcoming book, Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892.

There were Great Red Spinners in the air, a few sulphurs about, plus some caddis and a few Blue-wing Olives. Our fishing start time was delayed by a passing thunderstorm, so we did not actually get on the water until after 7:30 PM. I took one sixteen brown on my March Brown Sexi-Floss Spinner, size #10, hooked and lost another decent fish, and rose a few more. Most of the other fellows took some trout as well.

On Friday we all traveled over to Bellefonte and fished on Spring Creek. We had sulphurs hatching there and everyone had a good day, mostly taking trout on drys. I was using my tandem Sulphur Dun and Floating Sulphur Emerger that day, which I had written about in a separate post on the success of that tandem rig during five previous trips to Spring Creek this May. Friday evening saw us back at the Cherry Run Pool on Penn’s Creek, and upon our arrival there, on the water floated the greatest number of March Brown duns I have ever seen anywhere in my life. The air temperature was quite cool, it was drizzling a little, and the duns drifted and fluttered helplessly on the surface, many of them unable to get airborne due to the cold temperatures and drizzle. Along the entire several hundred yard length of the pool, fish were up. The six of us stretched out along the pool. I was using my BXB March Brown Extended Body Dun, and caught some fish just by standing on shore and casting to rises near the bank. All six of us took some fish; at the end of the evening I had three smallmouth bass, two chubs, and two brook trout, which were actually both of decent size.

The following photos are nearly all from Saturday, when we traveled to Coburn, Pennsylvania, stopped at The Feathered Hook Fly Shop, and then drove downstream a short distance to fish. We parked along the road and basically fished an adjacent short section of the creek. A couple trout were rising already at eleven AM. Bruce got into position and hooked and lost one, then Eric Austin took Bruce’s place when he moved. Eric worked several rising trout under some overhanging tree limbs. He rose a few of them, but did not connect. Eric then moved downstream where he took a nice trout. Bruce caught one near where Eric had been fishing. Our host and camp owner, Tom Wilson, had a few things to take care of, plus he had heard that the green drakes started well downstream the day prior, and he wanted to certify that with the possibility that we might fish that hatch in the evening. Me, I took my time and decided to have lunch before I started to fish. I walked Abigail a little bit, got out a lawn chair, ate my sandwich, had a beer, relaxed and watched the water and my companions. When I did get in the water, it was upstream from the rest of the guys. I saw sporadic rises, rose a few fish, but it was tough. I failed to connect with anything. At that point, as I was sitting on a mid-stream rock, around 2:30 PM I saw a green drake dun. Then another, and another. Before I left that spot, as I was just sitting on a midstream rock, watching the water, I counted eleven green drakes duns. There were sulphurs hatching on the increase, some caddis and a few other bugs, but still nothing other than the odd single rise here and there. When I did cover a rise with a sulphur dun it was to no avail. I finally walked back to my car, pulled out the lawn chair, grabbed a beer and sat and watched the rest of the guys fish. We saw a few more green drakes taking to the air, counting a total of twenty-three in addition to those I had already seen.

By now Eric and Bruce had taken five nice trout. Bob had settled into position where Eric started, casting to three or four rising trout – the same fish that had been rising for about five hours – and for over three hours, he had a couple rises but did not connect. About 3:45 Tom returned, and came over to chat with me. He said the drakes were definitely on below Weikert. We then watched Bob casting to those rising trout. Tom said, “He’ll never catch any of those fish, he’s getting too much drag.” And then he turned and walked over to talk to Eric and the other fellows, who had all returned to the cars within a few minutes. I kept watching Bob, and no sooner had Tom walked away, when Bob set the hook and had a bend in his rod. “Fish on!” I exclaimed. I got up quick and grabbed my camera.

Here are the photos I took that day:

Eric Austin,

Eric Austin, working several rising trout in Penn’s Creek below Coburn under the trees.

Eric

Eric is still casting to those fish…note the nice upstream mend in his line.

Bruce

Bruce covers a rising Penn’s Creek trout.

Eric

Eric moved downstream, where he later connected with three nice browns.

This is the first in a series of photos with Bob playing the nice trout - after more than three hours of casting to this fish, he finally got the "right drift."

Fish on! This is the first in a series of photos with Bob playing the nice trout – after more than three hours of changing flies and casting to this fish, he finally got the “right drift.”

Bob

Bob brings the trout in closer.

Bob works the trout closer to the net.

Bob works the trout closer to the net.

The fish is not ready to give up.

The fish is not ready to give up.

Closing on on the net.

Bob eventually led the trout to the net.

Bob netted this trout, and from my location, I estimated its size at nineteen inches. This was the sixth trout taken that day, by him, Bruce, and Eric, all on various sulhur dun patterns, ranging in size between 16″ and 19″, in just a 125-yard section of Penn’s Creek. This was in the Trophy Trout Section, and these fish were all of legal harvesting size. Eric took three of the trout on the Swisher-Richards No-Hackle Dun, a favorite pattern of his. Bruce had two, and Bob, just one but it was the best fish of the day.

Penn's Creek, May 25th,near Weikert. Each light greenish-yellow spot on the water is a green drake dun.

Penn’s Creek, May 25th, near Weikert. Each light greenish-yellow spot on the water is a green drake dun. This is in an open water section with no special regulations.

A zoomed-in image iof the same section, this shot provides a better view of the green drake duns.

A zoomed-in image of the same section, this shot provides a better view of the green drake duns on the water.

A cabin neighbor of Tom’s, Ed Torchia, was fishing here. He took a nice smallmouth bass that was rising. Bruce, in our group, landed a bass about 17″. Fish were up in this entire section. I tied on one of my BXB Green Drake Thorax Duns and went below the dam to the tailout and landed the only trout I saw rising, the fattest ten-inch brown I’ve ever seen in my life. I guessed if that fish had been eighteen inches he would have weighed four pounds. Most of the fellows took some trout. The highlight of the evening for me was an 18″ brown that I saw rising, and he took the Green Drake dun on the second or third cast. That fish got off just as I was netting it, so there is no photo of my story. You’ll just have to trust me, but I have a witness, Tom saw me playing the fish and got a look at it as it flopped over the rim of my net. I later hooked and then lost another trout of about the same size.

The real delight of the evening was that of the six anglers in our group, four – Eric, Bruce, Bob, and Dean, had never seen a green drake hatch in their life. It was pretty spectacular. Ed stopped by Tom’s cabin later in the evening and said that this pool, from 2:30 to 3:30 PM that afternoon, produced the largest hatch of green drake duns he had ever witnessed, and he’s spent years on Penn’s Creek during the drake hatch. In all it was a great weekend. New friendships were made, fellowship shared, fish were caught, cigars were smoked, beverages quaffed, fish stories were told, and plans were made to do it again next year. Thank you to my friend Eric for the invitation, and thanks to Tom Wilson for hosting us at his camp.

Penn’s Creek Angler FlyShop

Last week, I was invited by my friend and fellow fly tier from Delaware, Ohio, Eric Austin, to join him and a group of his friends to stay at a private cabin for some fishing on Penn’s Creek. I’m pleased to say that Eric is one of the contributing tiers for my book in progress, Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892. Eric and I met on-line some years ago when he bought my first DVD,Tying Classic Wet Flies. Since then we’ve been in occasional contact, but more so over the last year during his tying of the flies from Mary Orvis Marbury’s 1892 book, Favorite Flies and Their Histories. It was great to finally meet Eric in person and to fish together to boot.

We had a great time and some good fishing, but I plan to write more about that outing in a separate post. This writing is to publicize a fly shop that has been in business since 2007, but one that I was previously unaware of: Penn’s Creek Angler. Formerly located on Pennsylvania Rt. 45, the Penn’s Creek Angler Fly Shop recently moved into the village of Weikert into the old Weikert Store, right next to the Post Office. It is in a great location near one of the best, if not the best, trout streams in the state of Pennsylvania.

The web site address of Penn’s Creek Angler is:  http://www.pennscreekangler.com/

Here is a photo of the shop:

Penn's Creek Angler Fly Shop, located in the former Weikert Store on Weikert Road.

Penn’s Creek Angler Fly Shop, located in the former Weikert Store on Weikert Road, next to the post office. Ha! The license plate on my car, “The Nymphmobile” is visible in the foreground. See: https://donbastianwetflies.com/2012/02/09/nymphs/

Penn's Creek Angler sign.

Penn’s Creek Angler sign. www.pennscreekangler.com

The phone number at Penn’s Creek Angler is: 570-922-1053.

By the way, the famous Green Drake hatch has started on Penn’s Creek. There were large numbers of duns below Weikert, near the Penn’s Creek Campground, last Saturday afternoon and evening. In fact, one of the locals told us he didn’t think he had ever seen such a heavy, concentrated hatch of duns, occurring in the mid-afternoon, heaviest activity from 2:30 to 3:30 PM. We arrived about 7:00 PM, and my personal view was the density of Green Drake duns was pretty incredible. I’d never seen that many anywhere in my life. I caught an eighteen-inch brown on my BXB Green Drake Dun pattern that evening. More about that and our fishing in another post.

Freshly hatched Green Drake dun.

Freshly hatched Green Drake dun. Photo by Don Bastian. The large Green Drake female duns can have bodies nearly an inch-and-a-half long.

Check the Penn’s Creek Angler Fly Shop website, there is lots of information there, photo galleries, and fishing information. Shop owner Bruce Fisher also has a cabin for rent; it’s located right on the creek.

Big Pine Creek Stream Report

Some parts of central and south-central Pennsylvania got a lot of rain from Sunday evening, May 13th through yesterday, May 15th. However the north central and western north-central part of the state did not get as much rain, since this recent rain was mostly a southwest to north east moving system. For anyone who thought of making a weekend fishing trip to the Little Juniata or Penn’s Creek, those streams are going to be running pretty high, as in get your kayak and life vests out and leave the rods at home.

In fact, as an edit to this post just a half hour after I made it; I just checked flow data on Penn’s Creek. Here are the current flow stats:

Penn’s Creek spiked yesterday at almost 3000 cfs, and is currently running at 2000 cfs. No fishin’ there boys and girls. Maybe in a week, considering the mean flow on Penn’s Creek for May 16th is 619 cfs. The Green Drakes had started last week on Penn’s Creek at Glen Iron, but now all bets are off.

Except Big Pine Creek. The Green Drakes are starting there, and there’s over 50 miles of water from Waterville to Ansonia in some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire state of Pennsylvania. That is in  comparison to the ten miles that usually hosts the hundreds of anglers for the Drake Hatch on Penn’s Creek, where it can get so crowded you need a shoe horn to squeeze yourself into a fishing spot.

Even Spring Creek is running high – up and quite off color now, but that settles down in 12-18 hours; however…

There is some good news if you still want to fish! Here is the stream report by the Slate Run Tackle Shop for May 15-2012:

05-15-2012:  Pine is in great shape at this time. We missed most of the rain that went through in this last couple of days.  They are still predicting some thunder storms tomorrow. If we survive them, we are on our way to a great weekend of flies and fish. The size #14 olive has started to hatch, along with Gray Foxes, Sulphurs, Slate Drakes and a few Green Drakes. This next week will probably provide fishing to most of the Drakes. Luckily we only received .65 of and inch of rain in the last 11/2 days. Clarity is good. Level is above average, but very fishable.

Added by me:

Kettle Creek, Sinnemahoning, Young Woman’s Creek, Slate Run, Cedar Run, Little Pine Creek – there is fishing NOW and there will be (most likely) good fishing through this weekend, since the weather will be clear for the next several days. I’m fishing tomorrow…but then I have to work the weekend cutting firewood at the cabin, but looks like Sunday may be an all-day sucker for me as far as fishing goes…I’m now planning to be on Big Pine Creek…anyone care to join me? :mrgreen:

On Big Pine Creek – #12 cornuta BWO’s in the morning, Slate Drakes, Green Drakes, sulphurs – a mixed bag – there should be good dry fly fishing. It doesn’t get much better than that. 🙂

Check the Slate Run Tackle Shop link for more info: http://www.slaterun.com/

Thankfully Pennsylvania has a lot of good fishing! I decided to add a couple photos to this post:

An angler plays a trout in the Delayed Harvest Section of Big Pine Creek near Slate Run, Pennsylvania. The March Brown hatch on Pine Creek this year was the best since the 1970’s. Exceptional dry fly fishing on Big Pine Creek this season. Photo taken April 26th – Don Bastian.

Big Pine Creek, below the village of Waterville.

The gloom of late afternoon on Big Pine Creek. Don Bastian photo, April 26. This is a big beautiful valley, and when conditions are right, can provide great fishing. Conditions are currently right.