A sleepy atmoshere has once again returned to the village of Forks, home to some of the most exquisite dry fly water in the state. The hatches of sulphers and cahills (Stenacron interpunctatum?) that ran concurrently with the green drakes for the past two weeks can once again take center stage. Waiting in the wings for their turn are the slate drakes (Isonychias) and the larger BWO's (Drunellas) of summer.
The low clear water that has been prevailing across the region lately has set the stage for some of the finest dry fly fishing I've seen since last season's larger-than-life grannom emergence. Despite the low water conditions, water temperatures remained cool throughout the day. This Penn's Creek tributary was 55F at noon on a bright sunny day and fish were actively midging the tail of the pool in the above shot. Real men don't fish midges, so I moved on in search of hatching insects that I could actually see.
Stillhouse Hollow Beat
Where did everybody go? I pulled up to a favorite stretch of river a little after 5pm on a Saturday afternoon and there might as well have been tumbleweeds rolling through the parking lot. Already the fish were up and working the start of the evening emergence of cahills and sulphers. The low clear water made those emergers and duns easy pickin's for the normally recalcitrant wild brown trout of John Penn's Creek, and for the next 3 1/2 to 4 hours I experienced what was, up until that point, some of the best dry fly fishing I had all season. There were plenty of rising fish but this was also one of those rare times during the year on Penns when you could actually pound up a few fish by prospecting likely holding water with a large dry fly since the fish have been conditioned to seeing lot's of big bugs over the past few weeks. The Cahill hatches rarely ever get as thick as the sulphers, grannoms or tricos but they're large (#14-#12), brightly colored (cream-yellow-orange) and provide a nice burst of activity right before dusk at a very pleasant time of the year when the other major hatches are starting to wind down. For that reason, they'll always have a place in this anglers fly box.
Splendid Dry Fly Water on Penn's Creek
It's a good thing the cahills and sulphers were on the menu tonight since I spotted very few Drunella duns under the bright sunny skies and I didn't see any Isonychia shucks or duns on either Penn's or it's tribs. Although I suspect that by the time I write this that both of those hatches will be well under way also. Water temp. was 68F at 6pm and the flow was around 175 CFS. I saw only two other anglers on this section of the river that night.
18" Wild Brown Trout
The following morning at 7am found me scanning a new favorite piece of dry fly water that had all the makings of some honkin' big fish habitat; deep and cold, with stable banks and lots of in-stream structure. This mornings water temp. was 58F. While climbing into my waders I started to notice subtle -almost delicate- riseforms here and there all around the huge pool. A closer inspection revealed a virtual smorgasbord of spinners, both leftover and those still falling, from the night before. If I thought last night was some purty fast fishin' I aint seen nothin' yet. As the rising activity slowly increased, I was now starting to hear the audible slurping sounds that are typical of brown trout feeding on fully spent sulpher spinners. They were easy too, from the time I entered the water until the sun came on full around 10:30 or so trout after trout took a #16 sulpher spinner for the real thing and then proceeded to walk me around that pool like they owned the place as I fought them on the reel. A concurrent hatch of tan caddis was coming off at the same time and some fish were on them which meant a change of flies on my part but the real star of the show this morning were the seemingly endless rafts of spent spinners drifting down the silky smooth currents and prime feeding lanes of Penn's Creek. To borrow an old line of Bud Lilly's from when he was a boy camping and fishing on the shores of Yellowstone Lake; "There were so many rise forms it looked like it was raining out there". This morning I saw only one other fly fisherperson on the creek and he was headed for different parts altogether.
Upper Elk Creek
The water has dropped considerably in the upper part of Elk Creek over the past two weeks making a stealthy appraoch, and maybe even some cloud cover, a prerequisite for success. A good shot of rain could only improve the fishing up here -and everywhere else for that matter.
This classic central Pennsylvania block house style homestead, built out of huge logs sometime between 1805 & 1825, radiates permanence. The three windows upstairs along with the door and two windows downstairs is a classic signature of the 2nd generation of german/dutch settler's homes in the area.
A local green drake fanatic in disguise?