Archive for caddis

Big Rocks

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on May 23, 2010 by stflyfisher

Stephen Covey, the noted personal development author, has a philosophy on time management that classifies all activities into 4 quadrants – Urgent but Important, Urgent but Not Important, Not Urgent but Important, and Not Urgent but Not Important. Covey preaches that the second quadrant (“Q2”), or those things in life that are not urgent but important, are the tasks we should truly prioritize above all others. They are often preventive in nature, much like regular exercise, which is not urgent, but when delayed or worse yet, ignored, can have significant negative consequences on our health over the long term. They may also be an important aspect of personal development, like the earning of an advanced degree. They are the key to a life well-lived.

Covey illustrates the importance of “Q2” with a demonstration where students are asked to fill a jar with a set amount of sand, pebbles, and rocks. Most students err when faced with this challenge by filling the jar first with the sand and pebbles and find to their dismay, there is no room for the rocks. Covey uses the demonstration as a metaphor for life, placing the big rocks in first, adding the pebbles, and finally pouring in the sand. The big rocks, of course, are the important, not urgent things in life. By placing them first, all of the smaller things fit in around them, leading to a full life of few regrets. By not placing the big rocks first, they never fit in because of all of the little things in life.

I was reminded of this demonstration this last weekend. On Saturday, my sister called and in the course of talking about all of the small stuff in our lives, she mentioned that someone she knew had just lost her husband. The couple had gone to bed the night before and when the morning dawned, this woman woke to the tragic realization that her 40 year old husband had passed on in the night. We talked about what matters most, how short our time in this world can be, and how dearly we must approach our time.

So early on Sunday morning I decided to start my day, in the words of a very close soul, reinvigorating, rejuvenating, and recreating – a definite Q2 activity by Covey’s definition – and a priority. The smallmouth bass spawn was winding down on the rivers and I figured the fish would not be such willing takers after participating in their own “Q2” work over the last few weeks! The river gauge for the West Branch of the Delaware was looking very attractive with flows of 500 cfs and the weather forecast was fine.

I got up early that morning and drove Rt 17 East through that good country of Windsor, crossing a somewhat murky Susquehanna and the West Branch at the Deposit “quickway” bridge. Looking downstream from the bridge, I quickly ascertained that the Westie was flowing like a trout river should; beautifully blue and dotted with whitened riffle water. Best yet was the fact that not a soul was fishing the expansive glassy water of the Gentleman’s Pool.

I made my obligatory stop at the West Branch Angler, which, oh-by-the-way, was sporting a new addition and lots more gear. Larry Finley, the Fly Shop manager, was able to suggest some nymph patterns, including a caddis emerger, that would end up being the ticket. After my stop, I drove downriver on the hard pan river road and by 9:30, I was knee deep in the 48 degree West Branch at Balls Eddy.

The beautiful West Branch of the Delaware River...

The river level, flow rate and water clarity of the river were all perfect. Early on, there were a few caddis coming off, but little else. I rigged up with a small beadhead caddis larvae and a March Brown spider soft hackle and began a slow methodical search for fish. At the head of my favorite pool is a fast riffle with an interesting pocket where rainbows love to hang. In a previous post I referred to this spot as “the rainbow’s den”, but working my 2 fly rig through this wonderful hold did not elicit a strike. I kept moving down the pool, changing flies, adjusting weight, then working back upstream, each time changing my pattern selection a bit.

Around 10:30, the caddis began coming off more steadily. The hatch was certainly no snowstorm, as it can be later in the day, but it signaled that things were warming up and that the trout might be moving a bit. It was at this point that I tied on the WBA-recommended caddis emerger pattern as my trailing fly, behind my beadhead brassie attractor.

After more dredging of the pool, I finally hooked up with a nice brown. This fish did the normal “brown” thing – holding like a rock in the current, then getting pissed off and suddenly reversing downstream to the safety of deeper water. There he slugged it out a while, finally coming up but still swinging like a punched out boxer.

Nice Westie brown...

Getting the first fish to the net is always a confidence booster and I quickly got back to business after releasing this beautiful wild brown.

I have found I’ll often pick up rainbows on the swing when nymph fishing so I never end a drift until I’ve let my flies tail out, occasionally noodling the rod a bit as they hang in the current below me. On one such swing I felt a strong tug and set the hook on my second fish of the day. The initial response was as predictable as hooking a smallmouth; this rainbow launched out of the water like it had JATO (jet-fuel assisted take off) rockets strapped to it and threw another leap into its repertoire halfway through its electrifying fight.

The rainbow with JATO...

I fished a little while longer and had another, much smaller brown, somehow pull off a short distance release (SDR) as it shot downstream between my legs. The stunt left me bent over in the middle of that majestic river, searching my wader crotch for a very hard-to-find #16 caddis emerger! Score one angler-humiliation for the trout…

After extricating myself from that situation, I decided to call it a short but pleasant day on the river and head back to the parking access. When I got back to my car, I lit up a cigar and took time to actually enjoy the end of my trip – breaking down my rod, pulling off my waders, stowing my gear, watching other fisherman pull in and rig up with all the hope in the world plain as the day on their determined faces.

Then I drove home, windows open, puffing away, thinking of the little rocks waiting for me – the lawn to mow, the weeding to do, the breakfast dishes, the dead tree to take down. None of that really mattered, however; the big rocks were already in place.

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Streamers on Cayuta Creek

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Trout Fishing with tags , , , on April 6, 2010 by stflyfisher

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.

Cayuta Creek, still high and snow-melt-green...

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.

This brown was holding under low cover...

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.

The home of a holdover...

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.

Tight Lines…