Cayuta Creek has become an old friend. With the coming of each early spring I find myself drawn to her. Part of that attraction is her beauty. Sweet and petite, her waters bring out the best of early spring, before wildflowers and green leaves fill the woods around her banks.
And part of that attraction is her ability to help me shake off the dust and lose the rust after a winter spent indoors. Her trout, some stocked, some holdover, and some wild, are always there waiting and often times willing.
Early season fly fishing on Cayuta is largely a stonefly game – little black stones – though traditional nymph patterns and streamers can also work well. Some years, like last year, the unusual early season weather brought caddis and mayflies in abundance leading to some very good dry fly fishing.
I usually fish Cayuta Creek at least once before the opener with fly angling friend Dan, profiled here before. We’ll meet up at a pull-off, rig up with nymphs or wet flies, and fish down or up – more or less walking the length of the special regs section above the Wyncoop Creek Road bridge – catching up, commiserating, celebrating the new season, and conjecturing on what the year might bring.
We met up the weekend before the opener and Cayuta Creek did not disappoint. It was Good Friday in more ways than one! I fished my standard early season pattern – the venerable picket pin – but this time it was one of my own. I fished it as the tail fly to a weighted prince nymph and to my delight, caught a feisty brown on my third cast.
Dan and I fished the lower stretch of the creek that day and found one particular section that was loaded with hatchery browns. We caught them dead drift and on the swing with our nymphs and wet flies. Sometimes they’d even jump a fly stripped in for another cast.
I fished Cayuta the next day, this time on my own, and I did nearly as well. The sun was out and later in the day little black stoneflies were hatching with abundance. They fell like heavy snow, on and off it seemed, and would float and skitter clumsily downstream. The trout did not ignore them, rising aggressively as they sailed down the creek. Unfortunately, I was ill-equipped. I did not have anything that matched those stoneflies, though a black caddis seemed to draw the trout up for a look. A picket pin fished weightless on the swing worked pretty well, though greasing one up to make it float would most likely have been better (again, ill-equipped – no floatant on hand!).
I returned to Cayuta Creek the Friday after Opening Day. I found a very different creek on that overcast and cold day. The water was up and had a dark green stain to it, no doubt the result of snow-melt and recent rains.
I fished a nymph with a picket pin tail fly and found little success and I wondered at one point if this disturbing finding on a section of the creek that allows artificial lure use only had anything to do with it…
Later I decided to switch up to a streamer – a picket pin streamer tied by Dave Pelachik of JJ’s Jigs. I fished it upstream dead drift, then stripped it on the swing. Wading downstream, I swung the weighted streamer through a deep run and felt a solid whack and then the head-shakes of a good trout – one bigger than the stockie fare. After a good tussle I landed a brown in excellent condition, heavy-bodied, silvery colored, and quite possibly a wild trout from what I could tell.
I fished a little more, lost another decent trout and had a few more swipes from what seemed to be stockies. At one point, a nice older gentleman stopped by to check things out. He spoke to me from roadside, across the creek and I could tell from our conversation that he was an experienced fly angler. He was new to the area, having moved from Pennsylvania and thought he’d check out Cayuta Creek. I fed him with all sorts of good information on this favorite little creek. After a while of pleasant chat, he bade me good luck and told me he’d leave a glass bead midge larva pattern he’d recently had luck with on Kettle Creek. In a way I suppose, it was my ‘little gem’ thanking me for all the praise…