Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Alone on a Freestone

After getting chased from the water Saturday evening (tornado watch), I was determined to get back to the creek as soon as I could.  Lucky for me, that was the very next day.  Sunday I got back out on a local freestone stream known for its rugged terrain and fast water...as well as the stream raised rainbows and browns in its pools...  

Got the car parked and my 7'9" 3wt St. Croix Avid put together, and headed off down the railroad tracks that parallel this part of the creek.  As I walked i was pleased to note that a few of the popular holes close to the road were vacant, which seemed to be a promising indication of an open stream farther down the tracks, away from the road.  About a quarter mile in, I disturbed a small doe that bounded up the hill before I had a chance to get my camera out.

As I walked I recognized many familiar landmarks from my one and only trip to this creek last year...while a few things had changed, this high-gradient stream in southwestern Pennsylvania was still very much as I remembered it.

Eventually, about a mile or so down the tracks, the stream came back toward the rails, and passed beneath an old metal bridge.  Almost there...

At this point, I decided to go ahead and throw a few loops.  Crossing the bridge, I swung my green bucktail through the transition water where these rapids emptied into a large, slow pool...a rare feature for this stream. Within a few casts, I brought a small rainbow to hand.  This creek isn't stocked with adult trout like many streams in this part of the state, but rather, a few years ago, it was stocked with fingerling fish, that were then allowed to grow and mature in this natural environment.

From here, I turned away from the tracks, and headed down a dirt road used by ATVs and off-roaders, until I came to a pool I'd fished last summer, and started fishing my way back upstream, swinging wet flies and small hairwing streamers, since the trout didn't seem to be reacting to the sparse hatch of caddis that was coming off.  I was picking up these small rainbows pretty regularly, anywhere from 6 to 10 inches long.

Before long, I found my way back to the tailout riffle of the large pool that started up by the bridge...

Fishing a small pocket of slow water up against the far bank, I caught my nicest fish of the trip, a chunky brown about 15 inches long.  In the fast water with the 3wt it was an exciting battle, and by the time I netted him, the fish was very tired, so rather than keeping him out in the air for a photo op, I got him back in the water as quickly as I could.

As I fished my way back up, past the railroad bridge, I hooked a few more rainbows, eventually stopping to get a drink of water and enjoy the scenery.

Eventually, my fishing brought me back toward the area where I'd parked, and with no indication of a significant hatch on the way, I decided to make my way up the steep gravel bank with the benefit of sunlight.  There were a handful of light cahills in the air, but similar numbers had been present for over an hour, and I hadn't seen a single rise to anything all day, so I decided to head for home.  All in all a really relaxing day on the water...and I didn't see even one single other person all day.


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