Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pastures of Plenty

I recently had the opportunity to spend an entire week in the Karoondinha Gorge. The fishing itself, particularly the dry fly fishing, was nothing short of fantastic, as it always is at this time of the year. The weather patterns were dominated by a couple of cool, cloudy, overcast low pressure fronts that moved through the area while the surface of the creek was dominated by abundant hatches of sulphers, caddis, cahills, baetis, march browns, green drakes, etc., etc. Highlights included fishing with my good friend & fellow Pro Staffer Glen G on a day when the fish rose in waves pretty much all day long, from 0700 hrs right up until darkness enveloped the stream. Another was landing a 19" wild brown (measured on the handle of my landing net) during a sulpher spinner fall on Friday night. I subsequently fumbled that fish back into the water while trying to snag a photo in near total darkness. Just as well, I suck pretty bad at flash photography and there was no way I could pull off a hand held exposure on the stream in the dark without one. I know, I'm a wuss.

Bonnie Bells Majestic View
Along the Siglerville-Millheim Pike.

The Great Plain
Upper Penns Valley.

Poh Valley
This is the view looking east from Pine Swamp Road as it negotiates Pine Swamp Gap. That's White Mountain in the background. The dome of Tunnel Mountain can also be seen marking the eastern terminus of Poh (Poe) Valley. Pine Swamp road was originally an old wagon road that Daniel Musser first hacked of what was then a howling wilderness to transport his virgin timber from his sawmill at the junction of Big Poe & Little Poe Creeks to the mills in Millheim (aka Home of the Mills).

Nature abhors a vacuum.

Fast water at the foot of Sawmill Mountain provided some lonely but exciting nymph fishing shortly after daybreak on these mornings in May. Flows ranged between 250-300 CFS during the entire week.

Efflorescent scene deep in the Ralph W. Abele Memorial Glen.

Wash day on the Nairobi?

A virtual Gitmo.

Glen G now officially own this pool. At least the trout think so. The man is a fish wrangling mo-chine.

Shortly after this shot was taken, Glen went over and hugged a couple of those trees and launched into one of his druidic rants. Just keeeeeeding! It was really before the shot was taken.

In the Ingleby flood plain.

For my money, there's nothing quite as exhilarating as being waist deep in a peaceful but fast flowing river just after daybreak. By the end of the week even green drakes were emerging in decent numbers in this stretch, although I suspect they were just precursors to the main event as the main burst was still a few miles downstream. It was quite a sight to wake up to but the fish were more interested in the morning caddis hatch. I'm just glad they were interested in something. You know how persnickety brown trout can be.

Mornings are my favorite time to be on the river at this time of the year. Most of the dedicated evening hatch matchers are still sleeping off their hangovers, the parking lots are virtually empty, I can actually see my fly on the waters surface and you can have long beats of any type off water you prefer all to yourself.

The fish were pretty active in the mornings too. On Saturday morning, my last day in the gorge, I caught 14 fish just by prospecting an Elk & CDC caddis in the riffles. Sure, most of those fish were only around a foot long but two of them were your quintessential fat 15" Penns Creek browns. All taken on dry flies.

It was a great way to put an exclamation point on as fine a week of angling as I've had in some time. Little did I know at that point that Tea Creek would add it's own little magic touch during a short 45 minute sortie on my way back home across the Seven Mountains.

The Old Duck Pond
Around Reedsville, Pa.

Here's what Woody said...

It's always we rambled, that river and I
All along your green valley, I will work till I die
My land I'll defend with my life if it be
Cause my pastures of plenty must always be free

-Woody Guthrie

Thanks for looking.