Streamers on Cayuta Creek
Sometimes you get the fish and sometimes the fish get you. That thought kept playing in my mind as I traveled west towards Cayuta Creek early Sunday afternoon. Last week’s trout outing, not posted herein, had been the first of the year with STFF Sr. Staff Hydrologist Dan. We fished the Delayed Harvest / Artificial Lures Only section of Muncy Creek, near Sonestown, PA. Though Muncy Creek was gin clear and flowing beautifully that day, Dan and I did not see a fish, nor even a sign of one. Stoneflies were coming off intermittently, so the morsels were there, but the water was a toe-numbing 38 degrees, and it took hours before the bright sun lifted air temps from 15 degrees F to the high 40’s, which was the time we proclaimed, “no mas”.
Cayuta Creek has always been good to me, and I was hoping its bounty would fend off “the skunk” I picked up on Muncy Creek. My first view of the Cayuta as I crossed the creek at the Waverly exit, however, made me wonder about the day’s prospects. The creek was on the high side of behaving itself, and its color was a murky snow-melt green. I headed north on Rt 34, hoping the upstream special regs section would be running a little sweeter, but when I arrived there, I was still a little concerned about the water level and clarity. I skipped the hip waders and donned my chest waders, as the creek was certainly much higher than I’d seen it on my last visit. Based on the creek’s color, I figured dark or very bright-colored flies would be the rule.
I fished a nice stretch of riffles, runs, and pools, adjusting weight and using a san juan worm and picket pin tail fly. At one point I had what felt like a strike on the swing, but that was the extent of it. Stoneflies and caddis were coming off and here and there I heard isolated splashy rises.
I decided to change my tactics after watching a spin fisherman take a few nice trout downstream from me. I tied on a white marabou streamer and added some weight to it to get it down on the swing. It wasn’t long before I had the first of many small browns whack my fly as I stripped it on the swing. After a few more “stockie” browns, I hooked a nice holdover as I swung my streamer under a low-hanging tree.
Despite the decent afternoon hatch, the trout seemed to be keying in on movement and flash. I continued with the same set-up, caught a few more trout and missed a number of short strikes and follows. At one tree undercut, I watched another very nice brown rise up from the murky depths and whack my fly as I stripped it from just under a root overhang.
I rested this hole and returned, only to experience similar results. This brown was hungry but not foolish!
I left Cayuta Creek around 6 pm, but honestly could have fished straight to sunset. I’d forgotten how much fun it was to “chuck meat”. Even the smaller stocked trout would nail the streamer with authority – a totally visceral experience when compared to nymphing or dry fly fishing.
One lesson I learned on this trip was the need for mini sinking-heads for small stream streamer flyfishing. I believe casting is easier and more accurate with a sink tip line than by using a floating line with a long leader and a big split shot near the fly.