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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Spring Creek – Again

I paid a short visit to Spring Creek last evening. After all I was in the area for something else, and figured while nearby, why not? Turns out my friend Bill Shuck, a regular www.flymphforum.com tier, mentioning to me in an e-mail yesterday about the “cold front” putting the trout and bugs and fishing “off,” was right. There wasn’t much happening.

The high temperature for the day was barely sixty-five degrees, and the sun never even poked its head out, not even for a minute. I thought the sulfurs would be hatching gangbusters and trout would be up everywhere, but only in my dreams. I had driven down to State College to attend a visitation session for Gloria Humphreys, the wife of one of Pennsylvania’s celebrated fly fishing authors, Joe Humphreys. They were professional and personal friends. Gloria passed away on May 20th.

So after paying my respects I drove to Spring Creek, found a spot, geared up, and tied on my usual two-dry-fly tandem rig, a Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun and my Floating “Sulfur” Emerger – which as noted in the article and links from my previous post, started its life in 2006 as a Floating Caddis Emerger. Orvis added it to their fly catalog in 2013, and have continued it for this year as well. http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=7R6A[/

I discovered two years ago that the same pattern, augmented for size and dubbing color, also does a “spot-on” mimic for emerging mayflies. At least that is the conclusion I have drawn, after hooking well over one hundred trout on that fly last season and this season, all while fishing the “sulfur” hatch.

I walked downstream to a slower, deeper section of water and watched for rising fish. Nothing was happening, there were no rises. I gave it all of one minute, which on Spring Creek at this time if year and time of day, if they are rising, I would have seen a dozen or more trout up. So I walked upstream, knowing what my next course of action would be, but for confirmation, I said aloud to myself, “If there are no trout rising, I’m going to fish the riffs and pocket water. No sense of fishing a pool with no rises.” Yes, I do talk to myself, sometimes it is the only way I can get expert advice. 😉

I stepped into this spot:

I entered the water just below this spot, got some line iout, and when I was only about four feet from the bank, started feeding line downstream to a deeper section.

I entered the water just below this spot, got some line out, and when I was only about four feet from the bank, made a cast downstream and started feeding line to a deeper section. A trout rose to the Floating Sulfur Emerger on the first drift, but he missed the fly. I caught one trout in about eight inches of water maybe three feet from shore. When a lot of fishermen are about, they usually scatter the trout from these shallow sections…for a little while at least. Most anglers don’t bother with this water, they are “pool oriented.” Their mistake. The area between the two rocks, not twenty-five feet away, produced two hookups and three additional rises.

Next I worked my way up to the area in the above photo, standing in water about a foot deep, and by this time I had not moved more than fifteen feet from the bank. I blindly cast about to the pockets, seams, and into the riffles, relying on experience as to where might be a good spot for a trout to be. None of this water was more than a foot or so in depth. Right away I caught this fish:

This first trout took the Floating Sulfur Emerger.

This first trout took the Floating Sulfur Emerger. He hit the fly when it was about eight feet from my rod tip. You can see the front end of the fly in his mouth. I hooked two more right after this one on the same fly, but they wanted no part of having their picture taken, so they rather rudely excused themselves by making my line go limp.

I rose and missed more than a dozen trout in the course of the evening, and it is important here to note; why I chose to fish the shallower water, pockets, seams, and riffs. There were no trout rising in the pools. I did not want to waste my limited time by “looking for rising trout.” The fish in shallower water are generally always more prone to impulsive feeding when something presents itself, even on the surface. These fish are accustomed by now to looking for sulfur duns and spinners, and also Baetis, or BWO’s, so that was my logic behind the choice to fish dry flies in the shallow water. Plus, I could get close to the trout with out spooking them, able to make accurate presentations, short drifts through targeted zones, repetitive if necessary, all while making pretty short casts. Also a factor besides this, there were trees hugging both banks and extended limbs so I had to keep it short. Managing your drift is easier when casting to close range target areas; most of the time I had about six to ten feet of fly line beyond the rod tip. My leader was about eleven or twelve feet long, including the typical George Harvey front-section formula of about six feet of 3x, 4x, and 5x. In this type of water, and in most dry fly scenarios, one does not want the leader to straighten out, but rather remain somewhat coiled and snaked about on the water’s surface in S-curves. This promotes drag-free drifts. George Harvey’s leader designs are from the 1940’s, when gut leaders were still used, and his formulas predate the present “Czech”, “French,” “Euro,” whatever you choose to call it, leader designs, that are being touted these days as “new.” In fact, one of these days, I’ll write a piece on the reality of every single aspect of this “new” method of nymphing – rods, leaders, flies, technique, all being as old as the hills. It’s all hype and marketing.

I saw just a handful of trout rise, and I did not have a great evening on the water, but I had a good evening on the water. Most of the trout that rose took, or tried to take, the Floating Sulfur Emerger, but a number did come up after the dun as well. Another thing I noticed; there were more Baetis in the air than anything else. This is typical – chilly, all-cloudy day, that is what they like. I saw duns on the water and in the air, but perhaps Bill was correct; the cold front had put the trout “off.”

Here is a pic of the first trout to take the sulfur dun:

First trout of the evening on the Sulfur Poly-wing Thorax Dun.

First trout of the evening on the Sulfur Poly-wing Thorax Dun. This fly is a modified design of Vince Marinaro’s Thorax Dun; the poly-wing version was created by Barry Beck. I made further material composition modifications, particularly the use of the Sexi-Super-Dyna-Flexi Floss for the “quill body” abdomen, and I generally use poly yarn for the wings rather than the old “Poly-Fluff” or Hi-Vis” – now called E.P. Fibers he used to use.

Here is an upstream shot of the section I fished:

Section of riffles, pockets, seams 0- shallow, but the trout are here.

Section of Spring Creek riffles, pockets, seams – shallow, but the trout are here. Note the larger exposed and submerged boulders – structure – these create breaks in the stream flow, “seams” where currents of two different speed intersect – creating holding areas for trout, allowing them comfort while having the ease of opportunity to intercept drifting food items. Work these areas properly, either with a nymph or a dry fly, and it’s Game On!

Here is another important point I want to make: In the comment thread from the previous article, Bill Shuck mentioned about how more than once he had been on Spring Creek and spooked the largest trout in the stream just by stepping into the water, because sometimes big trout are near the bank, even in shallow water.” Most of us look for the trout where we expect them to be. Happened to me last night. We all probably spook more trout like this, because while we think we’re pretty good angler / predators, we really don’t pay attention enough of the time. If I had been looking, I would have seen a brown trout about nineteen inches long, up ahead of me, on the right, in just eight inches of water, so close to the bank that the long grass slightly overhung his position. When I was about twelve feet off, of course looking and casting out into the stream, his take-off made a resounding splash, a plume of silt, and a large wake as I watched him scoot off.

Right then, I gave myself a little more “expert” advice; by saying aloud, “Expletive. If I had been looking for that fish, I would have seen him first and been able to make a couple casts.” Here is one more pic of a trout that liked my Sulfur Dun:

Spring Creek 5-29-14 006Enjoyable evening on the water. I learned a few new things, got more affirmation of some of the things I already knew, even entertained myself by singing a little bit while fishing, and had a good time. This is about catching fish though. Don’t let anyone fool you by summing up a poor day or few hours on the water, saying, “It’s just good to get out.” That is, in fact, true. But realistically, how many of those people would continue to fish if they got skunked, again, and again, and again, and again…hardly any of us would go out if we couldn’t hook up now and then.

Hopefully you found a few informative and educational things here and among the other articles on my blog to help you get “tight lines” on future trips.

Spring Creek – First Trip 2014

Yesterday afternoon a friend, his son, and me went to Pennsylvania’s Spring Creek with hopes of catching some sulfur mayfly activity. We did. This article is a brief report on that trip.

The day was bright and sunny, and we selected a section of the stream to fish from the west bank, allowing for the sun to be at our backs. This gave us the advantage by reducing glare and minimizing eye strain, and also hid us from the fish because they have the glare in their right eye. We fished a section flowing from right to left. I always consider that whenever possible.

I started the first twenty minutes or so by giving my friend’s son, Sam, a lesson on nymph fishing. This was a refresher course on a demo that I had given him a few years earlier. As I narrated the approach, casting, targeting, drift management, striking, moving the indicator depending on the depth and current speed of the target area, and hook-setting, I had a couple strikes, and then, the one fish I did manage to hook, was lying in a most unlikely location, which added significantly to the learning impact of the lesson. The trout was holding in just a riffle, shallow, barely fifteen inches deep. Object lesson learned: “Don’t pass up any potential spot, even it you think it is too shallow, at least not on this crick.”

We hooked a few trout on nymphs, then adjourned stream-side for an early dinner of baloney and cheese sandwiches with mustard, before the hoped-for evening hatching and feeding activity. We started fishing again about five PM. Only an occasional trout rose, so I stayed with the nymphs and worked my way upstream through some riffles and pocket-water. I hooked a few trout, but nothing to write home about. For a change of pace I decided to start tossing a dry, or rather, my two-dry fly rig that I started using last year. This set-up is a sulfur dun of various styles with my Floating “Sulfur” (Caddis) Emerger trailing off this fly with about ten inches of 5x tippet. I tie it to the hook bend. After I made about three casts, I hooked a trout on the Floating Emerger. Took his photo as he reluctantly posed for me. The very next cast another trout took the emerger. I thought, whoa, this is gonna be great! Well, it was, almost, but not right away.

My first Spring Creek trout of 2014

My first Spring Creek trout of 2014, taken on my Floating Caddis – Mayfly “Sulfur” Emerger, a #14.

I walked downstream to a pool where my companions were, checked in with them, and since they had a few risers, and caught a few trout, I decided to move below them and try some riffles and pockets. I caught this guy on a #14 Sulfur Poly-wing Thorax Dun:

First trout that took the sulfur dun

First trout that took the sulfur dun in my two-dry fly rig.

I keep both these drys close together because they never alight with the tippet stretched out. The intent is to prevent the two flies from getting into current lanes with different speeds. If I have twelve inches of tippet between the two flies, the two patterns are often only a few inches apart. Trout can see both of them, I believe, and make their choice. The Floating Emerger was rising more trout in the afternoon, but as the hatch intensified, they seemed to prefer the dun, though all along trout continued to hit both flies.

We did not have a heavy hatch, and not a lot of trout were actively rising; it seemed sporadic at best. Still we caught trout. After hooking and raising several trout in the water below the pool where my companions fished, I started back up through the same section of riffles and pocket water I had fished previously, and decided to tie on a #12 Sulfur Parachute Dun. Why a size twelve, you ask? Well, some of Spring Creeks sulfurs are nearly that big, I’ve seen enough of ’em over the last twenty-five to make the assessment with certainty. The other reason, and there are a few are: It was about seven PM, and a larger fly would be easier to see on the rough water I was fishing, and also easier to see as daylight faded into dusk. A larger fly would float better. A larger fly would be easier for the trout to see as well.

So that’s what I did, and trout took the large sulfur dun with no hesitation. The first trout I rose was in a fast riffle, and he smashed the fly; he was about fourteen inches. Every fish that took that fly, whacked it, but then again I was fishing faster, rather turbulent riffle and pocket water and they don’t have a lot of time to think about it. I like the challenge of fishing like this because it is very difficult to get the fly to drift naturally in many of the likely-looking spots. The heavy water allows me to get close enough to almost “dap” the flies on the water, very similar to close-range high-stick nymphing, because often I had only a few feet of fly line extending past the rod tip.

This trout was the fish of the day for me:

Sixten-inch Spring Crek brown taken on a #12 Sulphur Poly-wing parachute Dun.

Sixteen-inch Spring Creek brown taken on a #12 Sulphur Poly-wing Parachute Dun.

And since he, or rather, “she” was a nice trout, she warranted a few more pics:

head out of water, in the net. I always try to keep larger fish in the water, and always do when I'm photographing the fish by myself. And with a net.

Head out of water, in the net. I always try to keep larger fish in the water, and always do when I’m photographing the fish by myself. And with a net. You can see my fingers underneath her. To those unaware, the absence of a kype or hooked jaw, indicates this trout is a female.

And here she is posing in a lovely full-body image:

16" Spring Creek Brown, taken ion a #12 Sulfur Poly-wing  Parachute Dun.

16″ Spring Creek Brown, taken on a #12 Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun.

I took another smaller trout later on:

Smaller trout, about ten inches,

Smaller trout, about ten inches, you can clearly see the parachute dun. When I want to photograph trout like this, I actually bring the trout in close, then before I touch the fish, I turn on my camera and hit the macro button. Sometimes after doing this the trout gets away, but I don’t care, I’m releasing it anyway. Once the camera is readied and “on,” I grab the fish, snap a pic, unhook the fly, and they’re quickly back in the water. I wet my hands first. When doing this I have the fish out of the water for about 5 – 6 seconds.

At this point I want to say, anyone keeping fish out of the water for photographs for more than ten seconds after you have played them into submission, presents the risk of harming the fish through lack of oxygen. Speed it up, preferably, respect the fish, and keep them out of the water as little as possible. Imagine someone holding your head under a bucket of water to take photos of you immediately after you just ran the 200-yard dash. That is the position the trout are in when we bring them to hand. And don’t get them on shore where you can drop them and have them slip and flop out of your grasp and die from trauma after being released. I recently read a study on steelhead trout, tagged with radio collars in the Pacific Northwest, where a significant number were dying after being caught and released. The data discovered that most of these fish died of head trauma, caused by thrashing about or being dropped onto the rocks on shore, and not from being hooked with rod and reel.

And here is the intact rig with the actual flies that did the deeds:

Size #12 Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun

Size #12 Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun with a #14 Floating “Sulfur” Emerger, patterned exactly after my Floating “Caddis” Emerger – the only change is the body dubbing color to ginger and I use orange thread. There was only eight inches of 5x tippet separating the two flies. Both flies are treated frequently with floatant.

This two-dry system works. I plan to try a Sulfur Dun and Sulfur Spinner together, that way the trout won’t treat me with disrespect like they did last year one evening, when the dun hatch fizzled out, and there were tons of spinners in the air, I thought I knew better and tied on a spinner. I ended up casting the spinner to about fifty rising trout, only to hook a handful of them. Turned out the dun hatch reignited and went gangbusters from about 8:15 until dusk, and the trout took the duns to my dismay, but I learned that lesson. I should have recognized that sooner. In the type of pocket and riffle water I was fishing, a Dun / Spinner two-dry fly rig will work. I’m about to test that out. 😉

Here are two links to articles on the Sulfur Emerger I wrote last May 2013, including the recipe and tying instructions:

https://donbastianwetflies.com/2013/05/31/bastians-floating-caddis-sulphur-emerger/

https://donbastianwetflies.com/2013/05/31/bastians-floating-sulphur-emerger-part-ii/

Close Enounters of the Trout Kind

This article developed into a bit of a larger piece, based on my personal years of experience and observations, as a result of my reply to a recent post on Gink and Gasoline. The article has a really long title so I’ll just post the link. I suggest you read this post before continuing here, it will help build my case. http://www.ginkandgasoline.com/fly-fishing/fly-fishing-is-there-a-time-when-anglers-should-admit-defeat-and-move-on/

My personal experience bears out the fact that, as long as a trout keeps feeding, he is not spooked and can be caught. That is where the challenge and appeal to keep trying comes in. Because many trout under the surface of the water cannot be seen from above, most anglers do not realize that a nymphing trout or a trout feeding off the bottom anywhere in the water column will do the exact same thing to your fly that a surface feeding trout does – which we can visually verify because we see it happen. They will look at your fly as it drifts by without taking it, or they swim over, look at it, and refuse it at the last moment. Trout will and do eat our subsurface flies, and many times, of course, we don’t “see” the take, regardless of what type of indicator system used. There is no such thing as the perfect strike indicator or indicator system. Too many variables. But, trout take our nymphs enough of the time, and give us an indication of that so that we have the instant reaction to set the hook and land the fish. This causes us to deem nymphing for trout to be a relatively successful method.  It is the best idea we angler’s have come up with so far, when presenting subsurface imitations at a natural drift.

Of course, you keep casting if you can see the trout feeding, along with his reactions to your offerings. Then maybe after five or eleven or nineteen or thirty-two drifts, the trout suddenly takes, or may never take, but again, if the fish remains in place and continues feeding, then we as angler / predator, are naturally tempted and motivated to continue fishing for that particular trout.

 When a fish takes your fly without your awareness and reaction, they merely spit the fly and continue feeding, and in 99% of the cases, they will not take the same “fake” again. They might look at it; I have in fact seen trout do that plenty of times, but as a rule, a fish will not take the same fly again, that they know from previous experience is not a food item, or if they were previously hooked on or just “stung” with a certain fly. However, there are variables to this assumption. Change the pattern size or switch to a different fly, possibly. It’s like pushing the reset button and the game starts all over again. Any fly the fish has not seen can potentially be taken, so each time we change patterns, we need to be sharpen our concentration a bit more to be prepared for the possibility that we have suddenly picked the fly that the trout will eat. However, sometimes a trout will eat the same fly after being hooked on it.

To follow up my comments above about trout never taking the same fly twice after being hooked, I have two true stories to share. These incidents both took place on Pennsylvania’s Spring Creek in Centre County.

One year in mid-June after the sulfur hatch was over I was nymph fishing one morning using a Cress Bug pattern. Things were going well; I had taken several trout in the first half-hour. Then I came across one of those trout you want to catch; he was a large brown, lying in a narrow current trough about three feet wide. I estimated his size at nineteen inches. He was actively feeding, all sub-surface. I made a couple casts, and on the second or third one, the drift and timing meshed perfectly with his feeding movements, and he took my Cress Bug. I hooked him, he flopped once in the shallow water, and the hook pulled free. To my surprise, he remained right where he was. I watched and waited for just a couple minutes, and he resumed feeding. I thought, “What the heck?” I cast the same fly over him again, and he looked at it several times, but he never took it again. So, I changed flies. During the next full hour, and I know because I kept glancing at my watch, I continued to work that trout. I tried at least a dozen different flies. He looked at almost all of them, took a couple, but ejected them before I reacted. Finally, at the one hour mark, more or less in desperation, I tied on the exact same Cress Bug fly that he had initially eaten, and I guess his memory had lapsed. He ate the fly; I set the hook, and eventually netted him – at nineteen-and-a-half inches, and released him.

A second incident took place that has a longer beginning to it, but I’ll just give the short version. I was with a couple friends one night on Spring Creek above Fisherman’s Paradise, and the Sulfurs were on, and very heavy. This particular night was one of those with tons of insects about, but few trout rising. Will we ever figure that one out? On a previous afternoon a few days earlier, I had located a freely-rising brown trout. The time was mid-afternoon, and not much was happening, but this trout was a steady riser. He was seventeen inches as a matter of fact, because one of my guide clients hooked him, and I netted and measured that fish.

I was not far from that pool as my friends and I despaired over the lack of rising trout. I announced to them, “I know where I might find a rising fish,” and off I went. When I got to the location, there he was, gulping sulfur spinners and / or duns off the surface, rising at a steady pace of sixty to seventy times per minute. Bear in mind the water was covered with bugs, few trout rising, but this guy was aggressively feeding. I had on the usual #14 Sulfur Spinner on 5x tippet. As rapidly as this trout was rising, my cast and subsequent drift over the fish had to be timed to the rhythm of his feeding. The number of necessary casts made to a fish feeding at a fast pace increases accordingly to the rapidity of the rises. I had made about fifteen casts, when I finally worked the time and place of the imitation to his liking. He took my fly, and I hooked him. I played the trout for about a minute or so, and then figured, he’s not that big, I can bring him in pretty quick. When I lowered my rod tip to increase pressure with the horizontal rod angle, the leader parted. I discovered that my leader had severed on the 4x section, above the 5x tippet. There had obviously been a bad spot in the leader. It was about 8:45 PM, and the light was fading. I had to replace both the 4x section and my 5x tippet, plus tie on a new fly. I chose the same exact pattern and size. My first attempt at tying the fly failed, the knot pulled loose when I tightened it up. So I had to tie the clinch knot twice. About five minutes had passed from when I initially hooked that trout.

By this time, among occasional glances, I noticed there was another trout feeding in the spot where the first one had been. Or so I thought. I made about eight casts, the fish took the fly, and I soon noted he wasn’t fighting very hard. I worked him in closer and netted him – along with my #14 Sulfur Spinner in his jaw still trailing the tippet and broken section of leader. I believe that was a case of the trout being stimulated by the abundance of food. Plus he had been caught before.

Fishing a single nymph rather than a tandem rig, and making accurate casts to have the fly, not the tippet, present to the front or slightly off to the near-side of the trout will help to minimize flossing, which was referred to in the Gink and Gasoline article.

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.

Tricos and Baetis on Spring Creek

Yesterday my neighbor, Jim, and I went fishing on Spring Creek, Centre County, Pennsylvania. This was a prearranged trip through a customer who lives near Altoona. His name is Bruce; he’s bought my DVD’s, commented here on the blog, and recently bought a set of seven color variations of samples of my Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger, along with the recipes and instructions. Bruce and I have been in e-mail contact for the past seven or eight years. We started planning this trip about three weeks ago.

I have not yet received my new camera, and I could just simply forget about this, but I wanted to write a review of the trip yesterday, so I’ll make an effort to paint pictures with words.

A fourth companion, Ed, who used to own a rod making company in Beech Creek, also joined us. I’ve known Ed since the 1980’s; he used to display and sell at the Susquehanna Chapter Trout Unlimited Annual Outdoor Show. We’ve seen each other on occasion in recent years at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, New Jersey. Unfortunately Ed has some health issues that prevent him from fishing, but he wanted to come along and offered to cook lunch for everyone. About that, “Such a deal!” my wife Lou Anne, would always say. We met at the bridge at the park in Milesburg at 9:30.

The Fishing:

There was heavy fog in the area, though I had worn my sunglasses for the drive down. The water flow was low, but the stream is larger in that section, so there was plenty of water. We rigged up and dispersed, staying relatively close together. I wanted to fish the section below the bridge that is normally rough and tumble riffs and white water, and pretty difficult to fish and wade in early season. I had tied a #20 Flashback Pheasant Tail nymph on a twelve or so foot leader, to a 5x tippet, one #4 split shot, and to start, about two feet under an indicator. Second cast, “Fish on!” Fifth cast, after lowering the fly another foot to fish the slightly deeper water beyond where I took the first trout, “Fish on!” With nymphing, most anglers would simply keep casting. I learned and have always believed and taught my students over the years that an indicator should be one that is easily moveable, because a cast with set rigging in one place may not be correctly set up for making another cast even two feet away from the previously fished drift lane. Effective nymph fishing is all about versatility and constant observation, making necessary adjustments to your rig so that your presentation is correct for every location you fish. Rigging adjustments of the indicator placement also includes adding or removing split shot. I constantly make adjustments in my rig, changing patterns far less frequently than making other adjustments of weight and indicator placement.

Jim fished the junction pool with Bald Eagle Creek and took one fish swinging a #16 winged wet fly, not sure of the pattern; it was basically a Ginger Quill, but had a brown hackle and dark quill body. After two trout in the first three minutes, I over-confidently thought I was going to kill ’em. Wrong. I fished hard, thoroughly working the seams, riffs, and runs all the way to the mouth, for more than an hour, with nary another strike. I motioned to Jim that I was going to head back upstream. I entered and fished first pool below the bridge with the same nymph.

After a little while, Jim came up and I commented that I was starting to see a few small bugs in the air. The number of these insects steadily increased in minutes. I thought they were Tricos, but I couldn’t see the tails. Guess it was just the lighting, or perhaps my need for new glasses. Jim finally caught one and positively identified them as Trico spinners. No trout were rising, and it was about eleven-thirty. I decided since the nymphing had been fruitless, that I would prepare for the hoped-for trico spinner fall and rise of trout. So I added 6x tippet, rummaged through my fly boxes and tied on a #22 Trico Spinner in anticipation of some surface action. That paid off. The heaviest part of the rise probably occurred after we departed for lunch, but I managed to take two trout that I saw rising, stung a third, and had three more rise and miss the fly. When Jim arrived, having hooked a couple fish, we gathered Bruce, who had landed six, from upstream and headed for our lunch rendezvous with Ed at Fisherman’s Paradise.

Lunch:

When we pulled in, Ed had the grill smoking. Nice! This was indeed, such a deal! Ed had thick, juicy elk burgers sizzling away, with the addition of hickory chips to the fire. Added to this were sliced whole wheat buns, a jar of Ed’s home-canned hot peppers, sliced, garden-fresh tomatoes, big, but nice and thin, sweet onion slices, a bag of chips that Bruce brought, plus a batch of home-made potato salad from yours truly. I included the recipe at the end of this post, for anyone interested. It’s pretty good.

Our picnic table was right beside the stream. As we enjoyed our lunch, we saw a mature bald eagle soaring high overhead. We also saw a huge congregation of Trico spinners in the air, thirty to forty feet above the water. I started watching for rises as we concluded our meal. When we were done eating, we put a few things away, and then I saw it: a rise! When I saw another, I said, “I’m gonna make a few casts; heck I still have that Trico spinner on my leader.” This particular Trico Spinner pattern is simple:

Trico Spinner

Hook: Straight-eye dry, #20 – #24.

Tail: Three fibers of light dun Microfibetts, divided with thread

Abdomen: White Uni-thread 8/0, started at thorax, wound back, divide the tail, then forward so the body is two layers

Wing: Sparse white E. P. Fibers

Thorax: Black Rabbit dubbing

Retrieving my rod from the car, which by the way, was a nine-foot, five-weight with a six weight line – way too heavy for low-water fall fishing in most people’s minds – more on that later; I walked over, stood at the water’s edge, since wading is prohibited in this area, and started casting and observing. I had a small audience by now, another fellow had joined Ed, Jim, and Bruce. Working the first trout I saw rising, he came up with a nice swirl, but missed the fly. A minute or so later, I hooked the first one. I landed and released that one, and I rose and stung a second trout in short order. Even though there really was not a major rise in process, Jim commented, “These fish must be looking for those spinners.” Surely, Jim was correct; the trout have had Trico spinners on the daily menu for a few weeks already. Trico hatch number two in the fall begins fifty-nine days following the emergence and mating of the first Tricos in July.

A few minutes after my first trout, I hooked and landed another. I rose two more, then Bruce asked, “Where are we gonna fish this afternoon?”

“We can go below Bellefonte if you want to,” I replied. We made arrangements to go downstream, below town, just below the entry of a small tributary named Buffalo Run.

The Afternoon Fishing:

We parked our vehicles and got out. I spent the first half-hour sitting and talking with Ed on a convenient stream-side bench, catching up on things, watching the water for rises. Saw none. Bruce hooked a couple trout on nymphs at the head of the pool. After a while, I started fishing with that Trico spinner anyway, thinking I might interest a fish or two. I know, using a Trico as an attractor or search pattern isn’t high on most angler’s list of regular tactics, but that’s what I did. To no avail. Jim hooked a trout or two on nymphs.

After about an hour, Ed departed and the three of us walked downstream to the old bridge abutment near the sewage treatment plant. By then I figured if I was going to catch any more fish, I better rig up with nymphs again. So I did. I tried a pink San Juan Worm, but in a few minutes lost the whole rig on brush that hung out from the bridge abutment. When I re-rigged, I put the same fly on, but in wine color. Hooked a nice, acrobatic rainbow about thirteen inches in length, who stayed on long enough to give me some action, complete with a couple jumps. Then he got off, saving me the trouble of getting my hands wet. About 4:40 PM Jim and I decided to head upstream, to catch up with Bruce who had started fishing his way upstream a half-hour or so earlier. He had not done a thing. The three of us were ready to call it a day.

The Finale:

When we got below the long, flat pool above an island, we saw rises. Quite a few of them, stretched out over a couple hundred feet of the length of the pool. Bruce asked, “What do you think they’re takin’?”

“My best guess is blue-wing olives,” I replied. “The light is less intense, we’ve had a bit of cloud cover this afternoon, and they’re the bug in season,” I added. We decided we could not walk away from this potentially entertaining opportunity. We went along the railroad tracks some distance, to a spot just below the middle of the pool, and I sat down to detach my nymph rig. Removing shot, indicator, and nymph, I tied on a section of 6x tippet, and then knotted a dark-bodied BWO Thorax Dun pattern, #20 to the tippet. The wing was gray E. P Fibers with a dark dun hackle, clipped on the bottom.

Bruce entered the water below some rising fish. I chose to stay on the bank, kneeling or sitting as I targeted some rising trout close to shore. After some futile attempts at these fish, which were in very shallow water, I decided to move upstream, above Bruce, where the water was deeper, hoping for better luck. Here’s where my nine-foot, five-weight rod with six-weight line came in handy again. Some of the trout were rising against the far side. The railroad tracks were behind us, so there was unlimited back casting room. Unlike Jim and Bruce, I stayed on the bank. Working a few trout, soon I hooked and landed one in the middle of the stream. Eventually I was targeting the trout rising along the far side. The nice thing about the heavier rod and line: I could pick up the entire line, make one back cast, and one stroke forward – and be right back on target. No stripping, no unnecessary false casting, no having to reset my accuracy and distance to the target. This tactic makes for more effective and more efficient fishing, simply because your fly spends more time on the water and less time in the air. And this was possible with the heavier rod and line, despite the fact that I was making fifty-to-sixty foot casts. I learned that earlier last year one day on Spring Creek in the Paradise, when the wind was gusty and brisk. My companions (all using three and four weights) wondered how I could cast so easily in the wind, even to rising trout against the opposite bank. Remember too, that with the addition of a couple feet of 6x tippet, my leader was probably fourteen feet long. I hooked and landed two fish, lost another one, and had four more miss the fly. Bruce and Jim each took fish as well, we were all using various BWO dry patterns. What a great way to close the day of a fine fishing trip!

When we returned to our cars, as we were taking our boots and waders off, Bruce got a cellphone call from Ed. He had gone to Fly Fisher’s Paradise Fly Shop in State College. The fishing report from every angler coming into the shop was: everyone was skunked. And Bruce questioned again Ed to make sure, there were no reports of other anglers taking any trout that day. That made us all feel even better. It’s especially rewarding to be able to catch trout under adverse conditions and circumstances. The best part of the day was not the fishing, it was the camaraderie, the great lunch, and the promise among us all to do it again.

Potato Salad Recipe:

My wife, Lou Anne, made potato salad from a recipe. And it was really good, heavily spiced with crushed dill. But I seldom use a recipe for most of my cooking, unless I’m preparing a dish where exacting recipe components and quantities are necessary. When I make potato salad, macaroni salad, pasta salad, etc., depending on how much I make, I always estimate or “eyeball” the amount of the spices, seasonings, and dressing.

This can be made in as small or as large of a batch as you desire, from a few servings, or perhaps where some leftovers are desired, to a large casserole dish for a family or church picnic.

Use any kind of potato. It’s even OK to mix varieties, a few red skinned taters add color. Three to ten potatoes will make a small to a large batch, depending on the size of your taters. Wash them of course, but I do not peel them. Dice into bite-size pieces. Cook 10 to 11 minutes. You can taste if you like. They’ve got to be done, but not Al dente, nor do you want them mushy. Drain. Use two to four hard-boiled eggs.

1/2 to a whole white or sweet onion (more for a larger batch), diced, red onion may also be used

Two to three stalks celery (more for a larger batch), diced

I like to saute` my onions and celery in butter or light olive oil until they begin to caramelize. These are added to the cooked potatoes. If you want to skip this step, simply pour the hot potatoes on top of the diced celery and onion in a dish and leave at room temperature. The heat from the potatoes will soften the onions and celery somewhat, but I prefer the added flavor from the caramelized vegetables.

Seasonings to taste:

Primarily you’ll need mayonnaise, 1/2 to 1-1/2 cups, depending on the size of your batch. It’s best to add some gradually and mix it in, then you can usually see if more is needed. I don’t like soppy potato salad.

Additionally you’ll need: Salt, pepper, crushed dill, garlic powder (not garlic salt which is mostly salt!), or garlic and rosemary ground mix, and paprika. A little rosemary by itself is also good. I also add one to three tablespoons of vinegar, sometimes adding and mixing it to a small bit of Italian dressing, like when the bottle is about empty. Pout the whole blend over the salad, I generally do this before adding the mayo. Also, a little mustard can be added, either yellow, Djion, spicy brown, or a horseradish mustard. Another nice variation is to add some blue cheese crumbles to the potato salad. I dice my eggs and mix them throughout, but one could also slice them and arrange them on top. Paprika sprinkled on the finished salad is a nice touch. The same basic recipe can be used for macaroni salad. You can eat it fresh made, but it’s always better after it has had time to steep in the fridge. Enjoy!

Spring Creek Trout Unlimited Chapter Stream Project

This is a report on a recent stream improvement project from the Spring Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited, based in Centre County, Pennsylvania. The Chapter recently completed this project on the lower end of Spring Creek, very near its confluence with Bald Eagle Creek at Milesburg.There will also be another project to plant trees, the information is included in this post. I took the information from an e-mail sent by Chapter Vice-president, Robert Vierck. The following is from Bob’s Chapter e-mail notice:

The construction phase of the Lower McCoy Bank Stabilization and Buffer Buddies program was completed on June 25th – on time and within budget.  This is due to all the efforts that our volunteers put into this project – really well done with great cooperation from all. Some information:

1.  We had a total of 18 volunteers on June 24, and 17 volunteers on June 25.

2.  We were able to complete 95% of the construction of the mud-sill on Monday with final rock placement this morning, (on July 3rd).

3.  We installed 5 multi-log vane deflectors using 25 ‘ logs today, (July 3rd), before we broke for lunch.

4.  A total of 160 tons of #6 Limestone rock was used to stabilize the stream between the two locations.

4.  We planted grass seed and covered it with straw.

5.  The final seeding was extremely wet as the storms came – but some valiant volunteers finished the seeding.

6.  The deflectors and mud-sill stood up very well in spite of being tested extensively by a major storm on June 27th.

Here are some of the photos from the Chapter e-mail:

Spring Creek, in I believe, the project area before work was started.

Spring Creek, at Milesburg, Pennsylvania – in the project area before work was started.

The project included a hands-on youth session.

The project included a hands-on youth session. Here a chapter member looks on as some participants “catch bugs.”

Informal session on aquatic entomology.

Informal stream side session on aquatic entomology.

Checking out that fly rod!

Checking out that fly rod grip.

Work progresses for the installation of a log vein.

Work progresses for the installation of a log vein. I believe there were also personnel from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

This was a very successful project. We were able to construct the longest mud-sill to date on Spring Creek, and install five multi-log vane deflectors in two-and-a-half day’s work. On July 3rd we actually watched a fly fisherman catch a nice brown trout behind a rock next to the new mud-sill.

Included here are some of the Chapter photos of the project.

More are available on our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/springcreektu and on the home page of our website – http://springcreektu.org/

Still working on that log vein installation...

Still working on that log vein installation…the large hand-drills are used to drill through the logs for placement of steel re-bars to anchor the logs to the stream bed.

Looking

Looking downstream toward part of the project area.

Upstream view

Upstream view at a log vein site. There is a second log vein upstream, just to the left of the utility poles on the right-hand bank, and a third one, submerged between the two.

Area of limestone rock rip-rap.

Area of limestone rock rip-rap, looking upstream from the bridge at the park in Milesburg. The ground has been seeded and mulched with straw. This will help to secure the stream bank and greatly reduce erosion. The submerged rocks also provide cover for trout and habitat for aquatic insects.

Once again, thanks to all of our volunteers.  We are now planning the planting stages….keep tuned.

October 7th & 8th our chapter will need 15 volunteers to assist in the planting of trees and shrubs in Milesburg. The in-stream work is complete. Now we need to do the planting along the bank. We will be obtaining the plants and other materials from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. At present we are awaiting contract approval from the landowner – FirstEnergy.  The above dates are tentative, pending approval from FirstEnergy.

 

To volunteer contact Bob Vierck   (vpres@springcreetu.org) or call: 814-360-3702, or e-mail Jim Lanning (jlanning@ncikrg.org)

I’d like to add that this project is great news. it is sure to enhance the fishing in this section of stream. In fact the last several years have seen good developments for Spring Creek and increased and enhanced angling opportunities. In 2007 the old McCoy dam below Bellefonte was removed, and the Spring Creek Trout Unlimited Chapter and PA Fish and Boat Commission work installed log veins and stream improvement devices in that section. The dam removal opened up to fishing a new stretch of about one-quarter mile that was formerly inundated with water. The McCoy dam had been in place since the late 1700’s. The three-mile stretch of Spring Creek between Bellefonte and Milesburg is a great summer fishing location. Even in the hottest weather the water temperature seldom exceeds sixty degrees in this stretch because of the influx of cold water from the big spring in down town Bellefonte.

The PA Fish and Boat Commission also opened to wading the upper section of Fisherman’s Paradise, just two years ago. This is above the park area and upper parking lot where the grass in mowed. This section was always difficult to fish because of the trees, brush, and no wading law. Additionally the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institute at Rockview opened up the formerly closed to trespassing “canyon” stretch of Spring Creek between the Paradise and Benner Springs. Finally, a formerly closed-to-fishing section in downtown Bellefonte was also opened to fishing. The new water is between the High Street and Lamb Street bridges, if you don’t mind fishing “in town.” In all, these combined changes have added almost a mile of “new” fishing water to Spring Creek. And the entire section of open, accessible water on Spring Creek is all Catch-and-Release. It is one of the best wild brown trout fisheries in the state of Pennsylvania. Give it a try!