The Vernal Equinox? Plus a a larger than life full moon at the perigee of it's elliptical orbit?? Plus the first hatching Baetis tricaudatus mayflies of the new season??? Are you kidding me? I may have been born at night, as the saying goes, but I wasn't born last night. When 3 astronomical signs all converge together and tell you it's time to toss your fishing tackle in the car for the first fly fishing road trip of the year you best listen, if you're smart. It's just that.....I don't know......fishing tackle scares me anymore these days.....
The arc of a fly fisher's season brings him around to the same familiar points along it's trajectory as always. Like the spring baetis hatches for example. The baetis mayflies have been hatching reliably in central Pennsylvania for a couple of days now and the streams themselves are bank full of cold limestone water thanks to an ample snowpack in the mountains and generous late winter rains. Sunday's weather forecast for the next few days called for a mixed bag of precipitation in the morning, followed by clearing skies in the afternoon, with high temperatures in the 50F-60F range. Even for me, this was a no-brainer. I burned a couple of vacation days at work, loaded up the car with my increasingly rusty fishing gear and was waist deep in Spring Creek before lunchtime on Monday.
The water temperature ranged from 47F to 52F and the flow was between 200-250 CFS. Other anglers were few and far between. As one might imagine, at these healthy flows the nymph fishing was by and large superb. And since it's that time of the year again when the suckers are pairing up to do their thing, I fished a bright orange sucker spawn imitation right down on top of the substrate, rarely needing to use anything else. Though I did take a couple of fish on streamers and pheasant tail nymphs almost as an afterthought.
There were decent numbers of baetis duns in the air during the afternoon but the warm, sunny conditions that prevailed put the kibosh on any anticipated dry fly activity. I suspect my fellow anglers who followed after me over the next few days hit much colder/wetter/better conditions to fish in than I did, and probably fared much better on top too.
Not that I'm complaining about the dearth of dry fly action on a couple of delightfully warm spring days. We caught lots of these healthy browns by dead drifting sucker spawn underneath. There were times when those flies appeared to be as big and bright in the water as any perigee full moon drifting by overhead.
Dedicated to the memory of Owsley Stanley, aka the Bear.