Hemlock Run Redux
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.
By Dave Pearson, PA
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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)
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