July 2nd, 2007

Hemlock Run Redux
By Dave Pearson, PA

Last week I told you of a marvelous yet totally fictitious stream which flows in the central Pennsylvania mountains Hemlock Run. This figment of my imagination represents the commonalities of hundreds of small waters which tumble down the mountains. Thus, I need not "kiss and tell" but can still share tips and techniques which work on these waters. I'd rather have an army of anglers in search of larger than average natives descend upon the region or the whole state and spread themselves out among many different streams than come and fish one particular stream. The fishing will be better for everyone. These waters are quite small and frail and can't handle much pressure. I fish a lot. I fish many different small streams. But I only fish each stream a handful of times each year.

Hemlock Run

Now, where did we leave Hemlock Run? Ah, yes. It's later in the season, the water is low, the fish are crowded in the pools, they are all hungry, and they are all wary. They will eat almost any well presented fly provided you don't get close enough to present it. At least that's how it seems.

Hemlock Run

I noted that there is a fish at the tail of the pool which you must take if you hope to take the larger trout in the deeper portion of the pool. But how to do it? Joe Humphreys notes, "Lip currents are a trout's best friend." So, to foil the lip current and get a drag-free drift, pile your leader on the water a bit above the lip of the pool with a slack curve cast. Better yet, work off to one side and lay your line on the shore and curve the tip of your line and leader into the pool. Remember, you are at least 20 feet away. Or, if there is room, get out of the water, position yourself on shore at the side of the water with 20 feet of land between you and the water. Get your fly in the water. You may not be able to see your fly, or even much of the pool, but you will be able to hear the take. Or, you will see your line jump forward. The fish are rarely subtle this time of year. A good presentation over a happy fish will most often result in a violent strike.

Hemlock Run

Sometimes an upstream and side-stream presentation are impossible and you are left fishing your fly downstream. This has a certain advantage. The fish see the fly first. And, if you kick out enough line without disturbing the fly from its natural drift, you can present the fly for quite a distance. But be careful as you set the hook. It's easy to pull the hook from the trout's mouth if you fish downstream.

Hemlock Run

The brush on Hemlock Run is really tight and traditional 10 to 2 casting will hang you up in the trees more often than not. Use a side arm cast. Do it from your knees if you have to. Cast from your wrist. Really. Just use your wrist. A short casting stroke will tighten your loops and help you cast with accuracy.

Hemlock Run

Perfect your side arm roll cast. If you can't let your line drift behind you in preparation for a roll cast because your back's up against a rhododendron or some other pile of brush, pull the line on the water as you lift your rod in preparation for the cast, then snap it forward in one continuous motion. This will load the rod and get the fly upstream.

Do not pause or the cast will collapse. The key is to keep the line in motion. You can get quite a bit of distance this way.

Hemlock Run

Sometimes, thing are so choked on Hemlock Run, that you have trouble getting the line onto the water to make a roll cast. To get the line on the water, here's what you do:

Hold the fly in your hand. Strip out about 10 feet of line in addition to your leader. Gently wave your rod tip back and forth in such a manner as to get all the line in motion in the air. Now, let go of the fly. The line is still in motion in front of you. It's wiggling like a very long snake and none of it is touching the water. Stop wiggling the rod and raise the tip slightly. Pause for a fraction of a second. The line will start to fall. Before the line touches the water, snap the rod forward from your wrist. If you time this out correctly the line will shoot forward from where you stand. This cast takes practice and the timing is crucial. Learning this will take some time but is well worth the effort. After you can consistently cast with 10 feet of line out, try it with more. This is a great cast to get to all those impossible places where the big trout are.

Hemlock Run

And Hemlock Run has some truly magnificent fish. And they can be had this time of year. It just takes stealth and a bit of casting ingenuity. ~ 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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