Monday, March 22, 2010

Baetis Summit 2010

The RBF Pro Staffers
L to R: Bunyan, Bowhunter, Dropper, Glen G, Chief, Agrontrutta, Johnny Paycheck.

This past weekend marked two of the most eagerly anticipated events on the Pennsylvania fly fishing calendar; the Vernal Equinox and the RBF Pro Staffers 6th annual Baetis Summit on Spring Creek in Centre County. In keeping with tradition, the weather for this prestigious event turned out to be a delightful, if not down right intoxicating, harbinger of spring and the oncoming season. Couple the great weather with a bunch of well fed Pro Staffers and you have the recipe for a potent spring elixir of trout fishing, sunshine and camaraderie. Man I love these guys - every single one of them. Not in the biblical sense of course, more in a brotherly love kind of way if you know what I mean.

Spring Creek
Ambient air temperatures rocketed into the upper sixties, water temps were 53F at noon and the water levels were around 200 CFS and still dropping from substantial rains earlier in the week. The color was limestone green and my cholesterol levels were around 960. My gross weight is down to 243 lbs. from a high of 260 at this time last year. Life is good!

Baetis tricaudatus mayflies and wild brown trout, what can you say about them? The little ephemeral sailboats started trickling off right on cue around 14oo hrs. and by and by the trout seemed exquisitely bored by the whole show. There were a few exceptions if you were in the right place at the right time as fellow Pro Staffer Agrontrutta was fortunate to be. He brought his dry fly game and managed to take a bevy fine wild browns on top that very first day while the rest of us were content to nymph up a few to keep things respectable. There were even rumors floating around of a Pro Staffer or two who got skunked up but I'm chalking this up to nothing more than wild innuendo.

Welp, the reason for the trout's apathy to the baetis mayflies soon became apparent the following day (Sunday) when Midger observed schools of suckers taking advantage of the elevated water flows. They were already pairing up for the spawn and dropping protein bombs in the form of sucker eggs in the shallow riffles of Paradise.

I don't have much experience fishing sucker spawn for wild trout but that all changed on Sunday. Fortified by a bottle of the Chief's Gran Pescador 14 % Hard Cider (trust me, it'll make your Buffalo Run) I was lucky enough to stumble across a few pods of spawning suckers myself and all of a sudden my season was off to a very satisfying start. They weren't everywhere, so you had to hunt around to find them, but once you did you could stand in one spot and hook a 1/2 dozen wild browns in short order. Good solid fat fish that were beautifully colored up the way spring creek fish should be. Call me a sucker if you want but a size #14 Flatlander Flies© sucker spawn cluster imitation (aka Velveeta Emerger) is now a staple in my early spring fly box.

From where the sun now sets, I will fish aquatic insect imitations no more forever. Even though I did get into a few baetis sippers late Sunday afternoon on a Flatlander Flies© CDC baetis emerger, nothing can erase from my memory the tenacity in which those trout took my sucker spawn imitation. The strikes were savage and you could see the tip of your fly line shoot forward like an indicator on each one.

These brown trout sure can be capricious. One day the pool is alive with feeding fish while the next day the same pool can appear barren of any signs of trout at all.

Sucker School fishing is in session. Where do I sign up?

Antolosky & Midger
Handing off the baton.

Bunyan Brownie
Bunyan actually stumbled onto a bunch of spawning suckers on Saturday and he racked up the highest numbers (of brown trout) brought to hand that day, but his sage advice seemingly fell on deaf ears.

Counting Coup in Sucker School
L to R: Bunyan, Agrontrutta, Bowhunter, Mutt Lange, Chief, Glen G.

Piscatorial education. Even Chief Logan was taking notes.

Parting Shot: The Rock
Site of Philip Benner's original Iron Furnace in 1793. According to folks like Eli Whitney, Benner's iron was the best in the world at that time. I imagine the trout fishing back then wasn't too shabby either.

Alas, I'm now back at in the soul crushing hell hole they call work and suffering from Post Sucker Spawn Stress Syndrome. And it's raining again in central Pennsylvania...

Parting query: What's the deal with Egg Hill? Where did that thing come from??