Sunday, June 28, 2009

Two Days in the Valley

Around Spring Mills

Summers here. And love it or hate it, there's no denying that the weather gods have smiled on us so far this year. Of course it helps to be a fisherman or farmer to appreciate the cool rainy weather that most ordinary people around here have already grown weary of enduring. Both limestone and freestone streams across the region are bank full of cold water and I haven't seen the farms & fields of central Pennsylvania look this lush since the summers of '03-'04. While it's true that prime hatch time is waning here at the tail end of June, that doesn't necessarily mean the fishing is any less satisfying. I had two free days this past weekend to cram in as much fishing & wading as my endlessly aching back could tolerate and when an opportunity like that is knocking, I give it my attention. That's just the way I roll.

A cool front had passed through the region on Friday night and brought with it another shot of moisture, refreshingly cool temperatures and bluebird skies. A small limestone tributary of Penn's Creek was my first choice after dropping into the valley from the Seven Mountains. The flow was perfect with a temperature of 56F at noon and decent numbers of Blue Quills, summer olives and morning sulphers emerging up in the rocky narrows. Even a few rising fish greeted me on this stream that is notorious for it's persnickety nature and the propensity of it fish to feed subsuface even in the face of a decent hatch. How dare they! Two of them soon fell victim to a olive emerger and a Letort Cricket respectively. That ought to teach 'em. But it was the nymph fishing that was the real ticket to angling bliss this weekend. Small nymphs typical of the summer season on our Pennsylvania limestoners took one nice wild brown after another from the deeper lenses in the riffles and pocketwater that were still shaded by the steep walls of the narrows. The fish ran from 10" to 15" and provided excellent sport on a 7' 4-weight bamboo fly rod. Fishing eventually slowed for the day when the sun reached it's zenith and shown straight down on the water. It was time to move on in search of more shaded fly water but I would return to this same stream the following morning with much the same results.

And now for something completely different, as they say...

Dry Fly fishing spoken here.

Painter Hollow

"They call it Painter Hollow because the loggers found a big mountain lion up here -used to call them "painters"- and they tracked him in the snow with dogs and hunted him down and shot him and skinned him out and wore the hides for jackets. Yessir, that's the real story behind Painter Hollow, they tells me. "

All life is fragile.
Just ask anyone who regularly drives I-80.

Penn's Creek Below the Forks

Saturday evening found me on Penn's Creek in plenty of time for the evening rise. Most of the major insect hatches were history already for this season but there were still fishable numbers of Cahills and small sulphers on the water. A suprising number of large perla stonflies were in the air and returning to the water to deposit future progenys -they went unmolested by the trout. Once the sun was off the water the fish began to show themselves on the surface. Lamentably it was their backs they were showing me and not their snouts. I pretty much suck at fishing, as well as most other things, but I suck even more when it comes to fishing emergers. Eventually I got 'em figured out enough to take about 1/2 dozen fish on a size #16 Flatlander Flies© CDC & biot emerger but none of them were over a foot long although they were fat as sausages. A couple of better fish began rising under some riparian fauna just as darkness was starting to envelope the river but I put 'em both down with sloppy presentations before calling it a night. It had been a long day already and a man can only catch so many fish.

The following day the weather forecast called for yet another moisture laden cool front to push it's way across the state. I was giddy as a schoolgirl on prom night at the thought of real blue winged olives rafting down Penn's Creek under cloudy, drizzly skies. Welp, I was all tooled up and ready but my date for the big dance never showed up. I was stood up by Drunella lata and it wasn't the first nor last time I'm sure. I decided to push my way on home but not before bagging a few more browns on a Stimulator/beadhead combo meal.

One of those prefect top 10 summer days in central Pennsylvania. The kind of day where you say to yourself that you wish you were alive.

Just ask these folks.

So get out and kick it hard while you still can, all you dudes & dudettes. You know who you are. Yeah you right there, all the way in the back. Light a fire under it!