Saturday, June 12, 2010

Trout fishing - Finally

It's been way too long since my last post. I've actually done a little fishing in that time, but also had a LOT of work, and just haven't been able to carve out the time to do a post.

(Make sure you click on the pictures to see them full sized)

The cabin - I LOVE IT here!

The view of the creek from the cabin

The big palamino trout just downstream from the cabin

This adventure took place on June 2nd. I got a chance to spend a day back in PA on some trout waters. It's a lot of travel for a day's worth of fishing, but I think it's worth it. When I get back to PA and have only a day, I really need to make a decision beforehand as to whether I'll fish the stocked, larger streams, or spend the day on the tiny, unstocked Class A Wild Trout waters. The stream where the cabin is located is a very popular stocked trout stream. I've had many happy days on this water, and basically learned to flyfish on it. As you can see from the picture, it is a beautiful stream, and has some pretty nice fish stocked in - at least occasionally. The palamino trout in the picture was at least 18", maybe 20" long. Even though there are trout literally a cast away from the cabin porch, inevitably I am drawn to the remote tributaries.

Windfall Creek

This was no different. I spent my one day there on a small feeder stream to a larger feeder of the main stream in the valley. This is SMALL, skinny water inhabited by wild native brook trout. The prevailing wisdom says that if you can get a dry fly over them without spooking them, they'll hit it. It's not about the right fly choice - I fished a red #16 Humpy all day. So, at face value, it really shouldn't be that hard.

Little native brookie

Well, it is. The grass/ tree limbs/ fallen trees limit EVERY cast. Most of your casts are roll casts. Nothing is longer than 30-35'. The best looking plunge pools - the ones with the longest deep water - are actually the toughest to catch anything in. Why? You inevitably spook a coupe of 5" brookies in the tail of the pool, and they madly dash into the heart of the pool and scare the hell out of every fish in the area. I found out years ago that the best, most productive water on these streams is the short stretches of pocket water. Might only be 2 feet long and a foot deep, but the current hides the fish (and you) and they don't spook as easily.

Love these natives!

Tough to be stealthy here

I've never been able to pinpoint the allure of these tiny trout . I've caught hundreds, if not thousands of them in PA and NY, and have caught a total of 2 over 10". My fishing partners all think I'm nuts for chasing with them, but I love 'em. They're beautiful, and they're SUPPOSED to be there. They just belong.

I caught a bunch of fish on this day, all small. My weapon of choice for these streams is a 5 pc., 6'9" Winston 3 wt. LT rod. A small box of flies, some dessicant and floatant, extra tippet material, and you're ready to go. And, of course a camera.

Fallen tree

I saw some interesting things on the roadless valley I fished. As I was walking out, I saw a female grouse ahead of me on a dirt road and, as I neared her, she put on a terrific "crippled bird" display. She would come out in the open, drag her wing in the dirt, call to me, and try to lure me away from where I was standing. I had heard about this, but never seen it personally. There was obviously a brood of chicks nearby. I saw the grass move, and smiled as I walked toward the hen. After she "lured me away", she flew back to her chicks. Very cool.

Grouse on a dirt road - sorry for the blurry image

I also saw something that I've never seen or heard of. I welcome ANY AND ALL comments as to this behavior. I was walking and noticed a bunch of butterflies ahead. That's not unusual - there are a ton of butterflies in these mountains, mostly along the creeks. But as I neared, I saw that they were on an old, not-quite-stripped deer carcass. Why would butterflies gather on a deer ribcage??? Did I miss the evolution chapter where they became carnivores?

Butterflies on a deer carcass

More "Carnivore Butterflies"

I stopped along the stream that this tributary feeds into as I left. It is a stocked stream with a fair amount of natural reproduction, too. A pile of stocked rainbows were stacked up under a small bridge. Even though they were very picky in the gin clear waters, it just wasn't the same as fishing for wild fish. I watched them for a while and left. On the way back to the cabin, I saw 2 Eastern Box turtles on the road, which I "assisted" on their journey across the road. Then I came upon a less gracious turtle crossing the road. He wasn't nearly as happy as the box turtles to let me help him along his way!

2 visible trout below the bridge on Cross Fork Ck.

A snapper crossing the road

Living in Illinois is OK, but when I return - even briefly - to the mountains, be they PA or COL, I remember how much I miss them. Short of moving, I really need ot figure out a way to spend more time in the mountains.


spotted face said...

I was hoping you would post about this trip. I thought I saw a comment about you heading to PA on the Troutragous! blog, and was waiting. It was definately worth the wait!!

Great post Wolfy, and I hope you can find a way to spend more than one day at a time there.

As for the butterflies, I need to look that up. There must be some sort of excretion happening that they are attracted to. Weird.

Great pics, too, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Excellent camera work, Wolfy, and thanks for taking me along with you via your post to some great water and some beautiful fish. Small creeks and streams are a wonderful experience.

murphyfish said...

Morning Wolfy,
Great to have you posting again, and what a return, excellent and enjoyable (shouldn’t be surprised though should I?). It really does look like you’ve had a great trip there.
As for the butterflies, I’ve never before heard of or seen anything quite like it, maybe there’s minerals to be gained from the carcass or just something as simple as moisture, I’ll be interested to know more.
Best regards,

Bill said...

PA is pretty good isn't it. Excellent post and I think we feel the same way about fishing for natives. It's amazing how these small fish keep drawing you back.

I've never seen butterflies doing that and I'd be interested to hear what anyone comes up with on the subject.

Seems your trip back was pretty good. Maybe next time around we can wet a line together. Excellent post and pictures once again.

Mark said...

Great post/pictures.

I've seen butterflies do that once before. I can't remember what the dead animal was but they were blue butterflies just like the ones you took a picture of there. It was at Franklin Grove Creek park by Dixon, IL.

Maybe those particular butterflies have evolved a way to find sustenance from carcasses? I don't know but its kind of eerie to see such beautiful creatures drawn to such a grisly scene huh?

Mark Kautz said...

Hey Joe. Good to see you out again. Takes the edge off fishing withdrawl. I've never been to Pennsylvania, but it's beautiful country. Nice thing about our blog community, you do get to see a lot of the world.


Michael Agneta said...

Welcome back to the Keystone state, if only for vacation! Really enjoyed your post.

Anonymous said...

Wolfy, those butterflies want the sodium on the carcass. They are also oddly attracted to chlorine bleach--which of course is a salt.

Greg said...

Great trip report! I'm a first-time blog visitor and really enjoyed the read. I've been itching to do some trout fishing myself, and this didn't help... Seems like a great day of fishing, and I can understand why you'd like to spend more time there.

Rebecca said...

What a great post! I adore all of the pictures and my mouth dropped a bit over the butterflies on the carcus! Wild~
I know why you love those teenie trout and I doubt I could explain why. I just know I have a penchant (although I've been on the salmon kick for several weeks)for the wild ones. No matter their size. Just looking at that tiny one makes me want to ditch salmon fishing tomorrow and head for my secret little mountain streams....

Terry said...

Great pictures. That is a beautiful area for sure.

Anonymous said...

Butterflies are nitrogen-limited because they survive mostly on nectar. They are looking for the amino acids in the carcass. They are also attracted to and drink human sweat for the same reason!