June 18th, 2007

Rod and Creel
By Dave Pearson, PA

I got on the water for a few hours late Saturday afternoon. The goal was to bring home a couple of trout for dinner. Bear in mind that I didn't actually promise trout for dinner; that would have shown a certain lack of humility which the fishing gods would have taken as a personal affront guaranteeing a hook-free day for the fish and the big goose egg for me. No, I merely said if I was lucky enough to catch a few, and they were of edible size, I would bring home a couple. If not, I'd stop at the market on my way home for some flounder or something. Maybe spaghetti.

So, I brought my wicker creel. And since it looks so good with the creel, I packed my bamboo 4 weight. Who am I trying to kid? I would have brought the boo anyway, creel or no, because it suits me and suits this particular stream. But the combination of wicker and bamboo is a classic and it felt right. It was too hot for the tweed jacket.

Dave tying

I got on to the water at about 4pm. The stream was running at summertime levels, that is, low. Really low. We really need some rain. I just hoped the water wasn't running at summertime temperatures. I got out the thermometer and checked. Nope. Running at a cool 68 degrees. So the trout should be in shade or up toward the heads of the pools; preferably both. Better yet, just downstream from a spring in the shade at the head of a pool. Anything to lower the temperature a couple of degrees and increase the dissolved oxygen in the water. They wouldn't have gone far; that will come later in the season when the heat is unbearable and the dissolved oxygen content of the water is nil. Then the trout will travel upstream or up the tributaries to more comfortable climes where it is easier to breathe. But as long as the water temperature drops to the high 50's to mid 60's at night, the fish will be in the same stretch of water they were in earlier in the season; just in the coolest parts of it.

Local stream

Just downstream from where I entered the water the stream bends to the left. There is a small riff at the beginning of the bend which sweeps the water to an undercut bank. I wouldn't call this deep water, but it's deeper than anywhere else in the small pool and the small riff is delivering a good shot of oxygen to the undercut.


I eased back from the stream, walked well below the pool, and crept within casting range. Low, clear water means far and fine casting. I tied on a small beetle, size 16, and popped it to the head of the pool. It took a short ride down the seam to the undercut bank and BAM it was pulled under the water like it was sucked down a drain.

The brown was larger than I expected and I toyed with the idea of releasing it in favor of a smaller fish; but too much of that and I'd be eating spaghetti for dinner.

I slit a gill and held the fish in the water. The water washed red as the fish lost consciousness, then life. I cleaned the fish and put it in my basket. I also put in a handful of ferns to help the air in the basket circulate and keep the fish cool. Even if this practice had no practical purpose, I would have done it anyway. I really like the smell.


I caught a second fish in short order, a wee bit smaller than the first. He joined his companion in the wicker basket. Dinner was secured and my place as the great white hunter remained intact. I thanked the fishing gods and stopped to rework my leader.

Mountain Laurel

I used to buy tapered leaders and they worked well enough. They got the fly a good distance from the fly line and I was able to get a pretty good drag-free float with them. The main problem I had was I managed to go through them at a really good clip. I was as (as they say) mad as a hornet when I discovered that Orvis tapered leaders had about 3 inches of tippet on them. Then I found out you were supposed to tie on a length of tippet to brand new tapered leaders fresh out of the packet. The leaders lasted longer. Then I furled my own. These lasted forever. And they worked fine.

But never being one to leave well enough alone, I started fooling around building my own leaders of mono. I'm using a modified Joe Humphrey's formula. 13 inches of .017, 12 inches of .015, 12 inches of .013, 9 inches of.011, 9 inches of 2x, 10 inches of 4x, and 20-22 inches of 4x. This is the basic formula. If I want to taper to 5x, I'll chop the 4x piece to 11 or 12 inches and add about 2 feet of 5x. If that collapses when I cast I'll lengthen the 4x and shorten the 5x. If I need 6x, I'll chop the 5x and add the 6x, and so on. The 6x tippet was a bit frayed by those two fish, so I put on a new section, tied on a new beetle and headed upstream.

Small stream

I took a few more fish before calling it a day and just to satiate my curiosity, at each spot where I took fish, I also took the water temperature. Wouldn't you know it? At each spot that yielded trout, the water was 2 to 4 degrees cooler than the rest of the stream. ~ Dave - (black gnat)

About Dave:

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: pdewey2@aol.com

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