Public Service Rant:
All you fucking cunts who crowd right into another angler's personal space on the water when the rest of the river is virtually empty, and then proceed to break out your cell phone in midstream and yak it up like a schoolgirl are a load of fucking shit.
Sorry about that opening salvo. I just had to get that one off my chest. Ok, I feel much better, now let's get to the fishing.
I took some time off from my court ordered community service obligations this past weekend to get a shot at some of this year's early season dry fly action that have fly fisherman all around the mid-atlantic region looking twice at their calendars. Cloudy skies, a low ceiling shrouding the mountain tops with an intermittent drizzle that lasted all weekend and relatively low water levels (350 CFS) set the stage for some otherworldly dry fly action.
After saying hello to my old friend Tom Doman of Penns Creek Guides, who I bumped into in the Poe Paddy parking lot, it was time to get down to business. It was a little early in the day yet for an emergence so I rigged up my 10' , 4-weight Greys with a stonefly nymph to probe some pocketwater for a few hours until things warmed up a bit. I even landed a couple of nice fish, but that was nothing compared to what Penns was about to serve up on the table.
It had been a chilly night so it took a while for the water to reach optimum hatching temperatures. Around 1300 hours I started to notice a couple of splashy rises right in the riffles. Then there were a few more just downstream in the big pool. A close inspection of the waters surface revealed dozens of little size #18 baetis mayflies pinned there by the cool, wet weather. That was all I needed to see to clip off that stonefly nymph and compound my leader for some dry fly action; a dry dropper rig with a parachute baetis trailed by a small pheasant tail nymph. The first two fish were all over that Flatlander Flies© parachute baetis so I clipped off the PT nymph too and never looked back. The ambient air temperature was in the low fifties, cool enough that I had to wear my fingerless rag wool gloves to be comfortable after releasing a few fish..
Around 1430 hrs. a few minor waves of hendricksons joined in the fray and allowed me to switch over to a larger fly pattern, a Flatlander Flies© biot and CDC hendrickson emerger. These fish were not picky and it didn't seem to matter which pattern you covered the rising fish with as long as your presentation was accurate. The 10' Greys, which is my go to rod for nymph fishing large water proved to be a more than able dry fly rod too.
The dry fly fishing continued for the rest of the afternoon but it does appear the hendrickson and quill gordon hatches will soon be finished on Penns Creek. There were only a smattering of caddis flies around on this gloomy overcast Saturday. When I finally left the river around 1800 hrs. I was cold, wet , tard and supremely satisfied that Penns had showed me one of those magical days that I typically get only once or twice a year there. Little did I know that the best was yet to come the following day.
As nice as all that fine fishing was on Saturday, Sunday turned out to be even better. I had stayed up pretty late Saturday night and didn't get to bed until early Sunday morning so I was still a little tard from only 4 hours of sleep when I first pulled up to the river around 1030 and assembled my gear. The very first thing I noticed was that it was a little warmer out this morning and even though the low ceiling had lifted off the tops of the mountains it was still pretty overcast. A short walk up the streamside trail and a quick jog down to the river and I spotted them right away. Risers! Repetitive risers in the tail of the first pool I came too. Caddis is what I was thinking.
Sure enough, covering those first two fish with an elk and CDC caddis pattern was like shooting fish in a barrel. All the while the numbers of caddis flies in the air and on the water was increasing exponentially. The first grannom hatch of the year was about to explode on Penns Creek. Suddenly I was no longer suffering the effects of sleep deprivation.
From there on out, until about 1400 hrs. the rising activity increased, including solid takes in the fast water, and the catching reached the point of almost being ridiculous. The fish weren't quite as large as they were during yesterday's mayfly emergence, where anything under a foot was a nuisance, but they more than made up for that in sheer numbers and they were all over my Flatlander Flies© caddis pattern like Oprah on a baked ham. All of the fish were gorgeous, hard fighting and in excellent shape.
Yesterday when a couple of assholes and noobs moved right in on me was an exception, on both days I had entire sections of the river to enjoy the hatches and fishing by myself. I'm now done with Penns for a few weeks until the sulphers put in an appearance. It's almost bittersweet to see these fine hatches coming off so early in the year (more sweet than bitter) but there are other waters to fish and other mountain to climb.
This is my 33rd year of fishing Penns Creek. I'm still an apprentice boy by some standards. I've had some truly great days and some real sucky days over the years but it's been a while since I had a 25+ fish day here. This one was a textbook classic. The kind that had you mumbling to yourself about your good fortune in finding fishable hendrickson and grannom hatches this early in the season.............but this was no April Fools Day joke.
Daffodils, another sure sign of spring.
Yeppers, hatches are running a little early this year. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation but I swear I saw a few precursor sulpers and green drakes right after the grannom emergence was done for the day.