Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bicycle Day

Water, water everywhere but not a drop to stand in and wave a stick. The recent wave of relentless moisture laden fronts pushing across the region has left all but our spring creeks and the tailwaters running at near record flows. I reluctantly canceled a trip to Penns Creek this week when flows up there crested 6,000 CFS late Saturday night. Just when you're all tooled up to kick start the new season by chasing some grannoms and hendricksons everything has to turn to shit. The first order headwater streams will be the first ones to clear and run off, and just might offer some decent fishing at these elevated flows given that the water temperatures should be warm enough.

So it was time to get reacquainted with an old friend that I haven't fished in almost 20 years -Tom's Creek. No doubt the droughts of the past couple of years have been unkind to this (and other) Pocono freestoners but headwater springs should maintain a minimum base flow through most summers. Most Class A freestoners have resiliency in this aspect. This is a pretty small watershed and 48 hours after the last rain event flows are still up but it's eminently fishable with heavily weighted nymphs. Water temp. was 48F at noon and would warm up to 50F by late afternoon. I was hoping to meet and fish a decent quill gordon hatch if I was lucky. I would even settle for a hatch of blue quills or caddis flies.

Tom's Creek Gorge
Tom's Creek is a beautiful little Class A freestone trout stream in a near wilderness setting on the eastern edge of the Pocono escarpment. Today the entire stream, as well as the small isolated gorge that it flows through for 2.1 miles, is part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The only down side is you'll have to run the usual gauntlet of Pocono-style lodges, complete with heart shaped bathtubs, to get there. Prior to being incorporated into the DWGNRA it was owned by the Egypt Mills Rod & Gun Club from about 1901. The club's land was eventually sold to the state in 1973 as part of the Tocks Island Dam Project which, thankfully, never saw the light of day.

The Tom's Creek Picnic Area parking lot was empty when I pulled in around 11 am Tuesday morning. Except for a couple of intrepid hikers, I had the whole gorge to myself on this soggy spring day so I tossed a sack lunch in my hiking pack and made a day out of it. But the fishing was tuff right from the start. Cool water temps and the lack of any visible insect activity made nymphing with heavily weighted caddis larva imitations, pheasant tails and copper johns the only logical choices to cut through the ample water column and get to the bottom where the fish were hunkered down in the turbulent flows.

Later in the afternoon a few sporadic blue quills and caddis were spotted in the air above the water but that fishable quill gordon hatch will have to wait yet again for better timing on my part. Relentlessly nymphing my way upstream through the gorge produced 5 wild browns from about 7 to 12 inches over the course of 5 hours. Poor doin's in my book, but I'll take it at a time when so many other of the Commonwealths trout streams are out of their banks and unfishable after a long interminable winter.

Every little mountain tributary, rivulet and spring was bursting at the seems with running water.

Egypt Mills

Springtime in Pennsylvania. There's no place else I'd rather be at his time of the year.

Light in the Forest

What a treat it was to have this entire place to myself on such a glorious spring day.

I'm sure even Dr. Albert Hoffman would approve.

No bicycles were used in the making of this post.

Thanks for looking.


Bowhunter said...

Wade great job as always. You always seem to find some wonderful looking water. The gorge water looked mighty fishy, landing 5 ain’t that bad in those conditions. Looking forward to some more great reads.

Matthew D Dunn said...

As always.

Wade Rivers said...

Mother Nature is the one who deserves all the credit. I just show up and try not to muck it up to much.


John W said...

Great report Wade! I used to hunt along the banks of Tom's but never got there when it was carrying enough water to be fishable or for that matter when I wasn't chasing whitetails or grouse.

Wade Rivers said...

The last time I was up there was back in the summer of '92. The water was low and clear and I think I got a few small browns in the upper parts of the creek. The place looks pretty much the same to me now as it did 19 years ago 'cept all the trees are slightly bigger and the older, larger hemlocks (which all looked fairly healthy) all have tags attached to their bases.

I won't grouse about high water. I'll take high, green water over low and clear any day.

Anonymous said...

My father took me to Toms a few years back. We caught some nice Summer fish on Ants, Beetles, etc.
The most memorable part of the day was when we spooked a VERY, VERY LARGE bear and he went crashing through the woods. I never realized they can run that fast--I would have been easy pickins in my waders.
That will keep you looking over your shoulder the rest of the day!!

Wade Rivers said...

Are you sure that wasn't Greg G crashing through the woods? I seem to recall him being mistaken for that tent crushing, cooler raiding Hickory Run bear a few years back :^)

Mark said...

I've always wanted to fish Tom's Creek after reading about it in multiple books about fly fishing in Pennsylvania. I think your pictures perfectly capture what I imagined it would look like in my mind.


Wade Rivers said...

Yo Mark,
It's a nice pleasant diversion when water levels are up and the fish are little less persnickety. Right after a summer rain is usually a good bet. It's no Salmon River though :^)

John W said...

I have had many encounters with black bear in the upper water gap just below Dingmans Ferry. Some of which came down to less than 20 feet but never did I feel threatened.

Wade you need to check out the stream that flows through Geo. Childs State Park. There are some wonderful photo ops in there (not to mention a couple of trout).

Wade Rivers said...

I'm all over it like Oprah on a baked ham.

P.S. Rogue Pocono bears are the number one problem facing our nation today. Don't take my word for it, check out what happened last Friday night on the N.E. extension of the turnpike near Bear Creek Road.

The Morning Call:

They never really come right out and say in the article, but I'm betting it was a grizzly. A soulless, godless grizzly :^)