Little Lehigh Fly Shop
A delightfully cool autumnal morning breaks on the Little Lehigh Fly Shop. This shop first opened it's doors in 1993 in a small field-stone springhouse along the heritage section of the creek -much to the relief of local anglers. Ironically, it's the only authentic fly shop -albeit a little on the small side- serving the numerous limestoners in the Lehigh Valley.
While the abbreviated rains that we've had recently have done very little to ease the effects of the long term drought that has been plaguing the central part of the state, the waters in the eastern third have fared slightly better (emphasis on the word "slightly") so I aborted my weekend jaunt to State College and got reacquainted with an old friend right in my own backyard -the Little Lehigh Creek.
My good buddy and close personal friend, Jerry Girard of the Delaware Valley Fly Fishers sets up the tent for todays Heritage Day festivities. Sponsored by the LL Fly Shop, the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum and the Del Val Fly Fishers, Jerry was on hand today to buy, sell or appraise fly fishing memorabilia & antiquities, as well as answer any questions in regards to their history. He sure knows how to put up a mean tent too!
Jerry also serves on the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Association in Boiling Springs, Pa. Formed in 1998, the PFFMA preserves the legacy of Pennsylvania fly fishing and it's role in the preservation of our natural resources. It's collections include artifacts & oral histories from Vince Marinaro, Chauncey Lively, Charlie Fox, George Harvey, Joe Humphreys, Jim Bashline, Sam Slaymaker, Ed Shenk, Ed Koch and others.
Jerry is such a fish catching machine that he doesn't even need to cast his fly in the creek. He also throws one of the tightest loops I've ever seen coming out of a "slow action" bamboo rod. Here he is delivering his knockout punch on the lawn.
Devonshire BridgeMy disappointment over the lack of baetis activity soon faded to the back of my mind as I picked up a couple more wild browns from the deeper lenses in the stream bottom. That's when I first saw them; out of the corner of my eye I noticed a rise tight to some in-stream woody debris. Then another one. I looked up and saw a fairly dense ball of trico spinners dancing in a shaft of sunlight. I had figured the trico hatch had pretty much waned for the year but evidently I was mistaken. It was now 11:30 am and I was searching franticly for a small box of midges that I kept deep in the bowels of my vest. Found it, there were still two (2) #24 foam-winged spinners in it which had been tied by my friend Greg Glitzer, a brilliant and extraordinarily talented fly tier from Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Greg ties these tiny spinners with wings cut from very thin closed cell packing foam so they float like a cork.
It's late October and it should be baetis time here in the valley. Today's bright & sunny bluebird skies put an end to that. After soaking up some history down at the shop, I decided to sample some of the open water outside the Hertiage section on the Little Lehigh, upstream of the Queen City Hatchery. Things started inauspiciously slow as the trout showed absolutely no interest in my black foam indicator beetle. I knew this section of stream supported a healthy population of wild brown trout so I switched over to a small beadhead nymph, headed for the nearest section of pocketwater and went down after 'em. Viola', my third cast with the nymph and I was into my first fish of the day.
By this time of the year I figured these wild browns had seen every fly in the Little Lehigh Fly Shop and then some, so I was nervous as I rebuilt my leader down to 6X and knotted on one of Greg's beautifully spartan trico spinners with a #6 perla stonefly nymph dropped off the bend of the hook. Ok, you got me -I was just kidding about the perla, it was really an Acroneuria nymph. Still kidding, it was just a straight trico spinner. Seriously!
Head's were now poking above the surface of the water and occasionally you could hear an audible slurping sound coming from a good fish. The kind of sound that an experienced angler usually associates with the spinner falls of sulphers and green drakes. I won't say the fishing was easy because it wasn't, but for the next hour and a half I was lucky enough to finish off the season with a bevy of fine wild browns from all the spots where you would expect them to be during a good spinner fall. This wasn't the first time I ended the season on an exciting note by successfully fishing one of Greg's flies on a Lehigh Valley limestone stream. Thanks Greg!