Monday, March 29, 2010

Green Up

Given that this is our very first post here at WRWT since the United States of America as we know it ceased to exist, I thought I might dwell on some of the more refreshing constants in this ever changing world. Spring is now infusing the hills and hollars of central Pennsylvania with bountiful sunshine and green grass along with ample rain and blanket hatches of baetis mayflies to warm the hearts and minds of casual and serious anglers alike.

A cool front recently pushed it way across the region dropping the overnight air temperatures into the mid-twenties with daytime highs never quite hitting the 50F mark this weekend. The thermometer was probably still somewhere in the 30's as I waded across the creek and started up the old abandoned Millheim Turnpike toward some favorite pocketwater in the Narrows above the old Turnpike Toll House.

It would be too chilly for any dry fly fishing this morning so I anxiously selected a #12 Flatlander Flies© green Rhycophilia caddis larva to begin my days fishing since I knew from Greg G's previous seining efforts that this section of stream held robust populations of this popular caddis fly. I was already sorry that I left my fingerless rag wool gloves at home and I hadn't even gotten my hands wet by landing a fish yet. Hopefully the air would warm up fast once the rising sun crested Shriner Mountain.

And warm up it would, but not from the benevolence of any solar furnace, but rather from the accommodating way in which these wild browns pounced on that Rhycophilia imitation like they hadn't strapped on the old feedbag since last November. The water temperature was only 46F at 2pm but nobody told the fish about it and they fought like they were in mid season form. It seemed like every pocket and lens where you expected a fish to hold had one, bless their little cold blooded hearts, and even spots where I'd never before taken a fish would produce for me today.

This can be a tough little limestoner, even for experienced fly fisherman, so I was a little surprised at how fast the fishing was on such a bright and sunny, albeit chilly, day. We've had two good water years in a row now and the fish are fat and healthy with appetites to match their girth.

Waterhouse Gap Run
A perennial freestone tributary.

All in all it was a great day of nymph fishing on one of the toughest little limestoners I know, but the joy would not end there for the best was yet to come. After a sumptuous feast of pork bellies, burgers, beer and bluegrass music at the Elk Creek Cafe with my good friend Mike B from NoVa, we made plans to breakfast the following day at the Feathered Hook Inn in Coburn then jam it on over to Spring Creek for some highly anticipated baetis action in the face of an oncoming toad floating deluge that was bearing down on central Pennsylvania. It would turn out to be a text book baetis day that we'll both remember until someone is changing our diapers for us.

In short, it was the mother of all spring baetis hatches. Prior to the emergence, Mike put on a nymphing clinic for all the Spring Creek Regulars while yours truly took a very public and crushing skunk on the chin. Then the rains moved in and all hell broke loose. Mike's a former duffer turned fly fisherman and is a really great guy. In fact, he still spends most of his free time setting up hot dates for Tiger Woods, so that keeps him pretty busy to say the least.

A steady light drizzle slowly increased in intensity into a cold wind driven rain driving most of the fair weather fisherpersons & duffers off the creek. The baetis duns were now pouring out of the riffles in numbers that I don't think I've ever witnessed before. You would have thought you were on the Henry's Fork in Idaho as literally every square foot of stream surface was covered with freshly hatched duns that were too cold to take flight. And the trout responded by going nuts. Even I caught a few fish once I got my trip together.

Oh the Wind and Rain
Photo Credit: Mike B.
It was just our luck that we happened to be positioned at a spot where converging currents made presenting a drag free drift a real challenge but once we dropped down one fly size, lengthened our tippets and executed downstream mend casts, even those persnickety fish fell prey to our respective imitations. We finally packed it in around 5pm as the hatch started to wind down and since all our gear was now thoroughly drenched. I apologize for the lack of photos from this event but heavy rain and cameras are heap bad medicine. You'll have to take our word for it.

Fun Fact #4: These flies are virtually useless in a driving rain storm. Worse than nothin' they are. We'll be jettisoning this pattern post haste and replacing it with the Bowman Baetis©

Mike absolutely murdered those stupid trout on his Bowman Baetis© pattern while I went through two whole bottles of Frogs Fanny substitute trying to keep my CDC dry. It's a killer pattern and the wild Spring Creek browns will be the first to admit it.

If my gear isn't dried out yet, it soon will be. They are calling for sunshine and highs in the upper 70's for this weekend. Those Grannoms are right around the corner too. Bring 'em on!