WILD TROUT STREAMS
I was invited by a friend to join him for a day on a private wild trout stream in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. He is a featured tier at the winter shows and a member of our local chapter of TU so we had met over tying but had never fished together. I had no expectations other than knowing that he seemed to be a good guy and any time you can get the opportunity to hit some wild trout water in this area you take it. The water had been offered by a fellow fly fisherman who guards his resource with great tenacity. He allows fly fishing only/catch and release fishing, so we were indeed honored to have the opportunity to fish this water.
We met at 8:30 and proceeded to don our regalia while finishing cups of coffee as we prepared to hit the stream. After a few casts near a bridge close to where we parked, we began the trek through the forest to the holes farther up the stream. This was wild country! We were both armed with 9 foot 5 weights but given the terrain and what turned out to be the quarry, a 7 and a half foot three weight might have been a better choice of weapon. The woods were dark and deep and the lack of evidence of human activity was quite refreshing. The only sounds were those of the wilderness inhabitants, the gentle rustling of the forest, and the quiet gurgle of the stream. The mossy ground was covered with the debris of branches and leaves and we found ourselves glad that we are both short in stature as we ducked under branches while negotiating the "trail".
This was water unfamiliar to me. I am used to the lusty flow of freestone streams but this was thin, stained, slow moving water that looked anything but "fishy". But my companion assured me that he had been here last week to do some "recon" and there were fish here. I took his word for it and forged ahead. When we arrived at the first hole he wanted to try I found myself faced with some casting challenges. The bank was nothing but trees and other overgrowth so nothing but a roll cast was possible. There was no visible top water activity so I tied on a small brassie and did my best to cast as far as I could into what seem to be a flow that would carry the fly into what might be fish holding water. The water was barely moving so I had to coax some motion out of my offering. This did not look good.
The take was almost imperceptible. The line did not jump or move, it stopped but I lifted the rod in hope and there was weight on the other end. Then the weight moved and it was on. It was not long before I had a 9 inch beautifully colored wild brook trout in hand. I marveled at its delicacy. The vivid colors and soft skin were something that I had not often experienced so this was a moment to savor. I wet my hand to hold it, snapped a picture, and executed the release so that he could go back to his life almost certain of the fact that he would not be disturbed in this manner again in his lifetime. From downstream I heard my companion's drag scream and looked toward him in time to see him landing a nice 12 incher. Only a real fly fisherman will understand this: The skunk was off and although it was early, the day had already been a success.
I continued for another 45 minutes in the same hole without any more action. I decided to stop and consider the situation. I am used to brown and rainbow trout, primarily stocked fish or at least the progeny of those stockers, but this was a different situation. Remembering a movie I had seen of Lee Wulff fishing for brookies in Labrador, I tied on a flashy red and yellow marabou streamer that I had tied but laid forgotten in the recesses of my streamer box. I recall Lee saying that brook trout are not very sophisticated and will hit any flashy offering. I had nothing to lose. Two casts and this time the hit was violent. I was into a nice fish. He made a few nice runs but soon I had him in the net. It was a beautiful 14 inch wild beauty with deep coloration and delicate countenance. I took a quick picture and back he went.
We decided to move along and work our way downstream through this wild area. A few more fish came to the net but it was not really hot fishing. We soon discovered that once a fish had come to our fly, caught or not, the area stopped producing. These fish may have been aggressive but they were also pretty spooky. But the weather was awesome, the stream beautiful, and the camaraderie top notch. We worked our way back toward the entry area for a break.
As we got our vests off and the straps of our waders down, we settled into a conversation that only those afflicted with the mental illness of fly tying can have. As we were contemplating the intricacies of whether or not to tie the hackle convex side up or down on a parachute, the owner arrived on the scene and joined the conversation. We bantered back and forth for quite some time. He had his thoughts and we had ours. As we wrapped up our conversation he offered this. "You guys seem like nice fellows. You can come here any time you want. Just let me know." That is the camaraderie of fly fishing. A show of respect receives respect, and the prospect of more great fishing. Tight lines!