I got the word on Memorial Day – the Drakes have started on Penns.
Or, more precisely, the Drakes have started on Penns at Weikert. As
I expected, since we'd seen Yellow Flags (wild iris) out that morning
along the creek a bit farther down. As of Monday, nothing was spotted
upstream at Johnson's or Blue Rock and the Sulphur hatch was still
coming off gangbusters at Ingleby. But the Green Drake hatch was
gathering strength at Weikert and in a couple of days the first
Coffin flies would make their appearance. The Duns and the Coffin
flies will overlap for a few days, then the hatch will peter out
in a light flurry of Coffin fly snow a week or so after the first
Duns appeared at Weikert.
By Dave Pearson, PA
A couple of days after the hatch starts at Weikert, it will begin at
Johnson's and Blue Rock...and later still at Ingleby. And on up the
entire length of Penns. The bugs' hatch time is governed by water
temperature. Upstream remains cooler longer than downstream partly
because upstream is at a higher elevation, and partly because the
water upstream hasn't been out of the ground as long as the water
downstream has. But bankside cover plays a part, too. Penns is
smaller upstream and more remains hidden in shadow. The sun can't
directly warm the water as much as it can downstream where the
water is bigger and more open. So, the hatch migrates upstream.
If you get the word early and have been granted access to the upper
reaches of Penns, you can fish the Drake hatch for a full three weeks.
But you have to follow the bugs...upstream.
This year, I've decided to sit out the DrakeFest at Penns Creek.
Really. There are altogether too many people and too many bugs.
And I mean too many bugs in number and kind. The Drakes may be
on, but they are far from the only bug gracing the waters of
Penns Creek. Golden Stones are about. The Isonychia are starting
to make an appearance, The Sulphur hatch is starting to wind down,
but is still a presence. At least two major hatches of Craneflies
are still going strong. The Blue-Wing Olives are revving up. There
are enough Caddis to provide a distraction and the occasional ant
is plopping into the water. I need a place where the fish have fewer
choices and where they haven't seen every bug imitation under the
sun presented with wildly varying degrees of finesse by an army of
anglers. So, I went to a smaller less well-known stream where the
Drake hatch is more of an actual event for the fish and not just
one more ingredient in a bug stew.
Here is what I've found thus far. In the first couple of days of t
he hatch the fish are feeding on emerging Drakes. Dun imitations at
this stage of the game are useless. I watched fish after fish
swirling after emergers and if they missed entirely and the dun
escaped to dry its wings on the water's surface, it was left unmolested.
Sometimes these floats were short (an inch or two) and sometimes they
were quite long (several feet) but in every case where the dun made it
to the surface, it was free to dry its wings and fly to the trees.
At this stage of the game, I needed either a nymph, an emerger, or,
if I wanted action on top, a Sulphur pattern that floats in the film.
The fish took no Drake Duns from the surface, but they would take
Sulphur Duns...for the first two days of the hatch. On the third day,
I could use the Drake dun pattern as a searching fly during the afternoon
and early evening. The Sulphur pattern worked better but they weren't
ignoring the Drake Dun pattern and they would take the occasional Drake
natural from the surface. Later in the evening they were back onto the
emergers though they would take a swipe or two at the Coffin flies that
were just starting to make an appearance above the riffles.
And that's about it. The last time I got out I was to meet Gillian on
the stream in the early evening for a few pictures of plants, bugs and
fish. The afternoon that day was hot, the water was low, the Drakes were
coming off here and there, and I was catching fish on Sulphurs. As evening
came so did a remarkable thunderstorm (it was like standing under a
waterfall, only with hail!) which left both Gillian and me soaked to
the skin. My camera was drenched. Gillian's was in a Pelican case and
survived. She got a few pictures; mostly of me...and the stream.
I'll try to get out a couple of times in the next week and let you
know how the Drake hatch turns out. Thus far, though, the best dry
fly to use during the Green Drake hatch really IS a Sulphur. ~ Dave - (black gnat)
Dave Pearson lives in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania with his
loving wife, Gillian, and two dogs, Casey and Booboo.
His passion is small mountain streams. He teaches guitar
for a living. You may contact Dave at:
Hemlock Headwaters Archives