Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Archive for ‘June, 2019’

Fishing Trout Brook

Several have said all the feeder streams in this area have native Brook Trout. We chose Trout Brook. We didn’t know where to fish it or what the regulations were, so we just parked at a pull-off, geared up and started fishing. It’s a beautiful little creek. With plenty of logs and vegetation, we had the usual problem of getting the fly caught in them. We leapfrogged all day. Sometimes we will split up on a small stream, keeping in contact with radios or phones. Since we didn’t know the stream or what might work, we decided to stay together. If nothing was biting, or a fisherman was ahead of us, we might quit and go to another stream. We could also try two different flies and see what worked. If someone gets caught in a tree or changes a fly, the other goes ahead, so the fishing stays steady.

IMG_3967IMG_3968

We didn’t do much at first, but then we began catching some, or at least there was enough action to keep it interesting. I hooked three, but they all came off the barbless hook. Kelly caught three nice ones, lost two big ones and lost a few others. Our best luck was at the top. We didn’t know until we got out that we were on posted, private property.

IMG_3969IMG_3971IMG_3975IMG_3976IMG_3977IMG_3978

We ate a granola bar, drank some water and went back to the bottom. Just as we were about to get out, another fisherman drove up. Kelly got out to talk to him. He said he didn’t need much room, so we went up to the next pull-over. The gentleman said planned to fish a BWO (Blue Wing Olive) upstream, then walk back while fishing a nymph (an underwater fly).

It was a nice day, and we got our exercise. We were tired, but needed to do laundry. It’s nice to have a laundry in the campground, but with sheets, towels and a week’s worth of fishing clothes, it took a while. Waiting for the dryer to finish, we noticed a gentleman sitting outside his 30′ Airstream, so we walked toward him. Before I got there, he pulled out a folding chair and put it beside him. It was 84 degrees and hot, but he was in the shade of some trees and had his awning out. I told him I liked his Airstream and introduced myself. He had met Kelly yesterday. His name is Dennis. The Airstream is a 2002 Classic. I told him about our 2005 30′ Classic we used to have. I think it is the prettiest and most energy-efficient model.

Dennis lives in it full time. This is his home, along with his cute, little dog. He fishes, moving around with the seasons. He stays here for four or five months, then moves south, fishing the coast of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. He loves to fish salt water with a fly rod, showing pictures of some big sea trout. He is a retired gun dealer with a lifetime of knowledge fishing this area. Reluctantly, I excused myself to finish the laundry and take a shower.

At about 6:30 people gather for the “Liar’s Meeting”. Butternut Grove is mostly a fishing campground, right on the Beaverkill River, so the like to meet on top of a bank in the middle of the campground to exchange stories of the day. As we walked up, we struck up an easy conversation with Jeff, a retired policeman from NYC. He too has a camper he is keeping here for a month. He had fished the West Branch. That translates to West Branch of the Delaware where he caught 8 fish, “no big ones” he said, but all nice.

I was dying to sit down in one of the eight Adirondack chairs overlooking the river, but these two veterans were talking fish, what to do and where to go. I was all ears and questions. Jeff said most visitors pound the water with dry flies, but “you have to go underneath”. He uses a 11’6″ Spey rod, a two-handed rod that throws the fly a long way. He was using a Leadwing  Coachman, a Caddis female imitation. I asked how they know what to fish and when. ” We just know what usually hatches this time of year, so that narrows it down to five flies”, said Dennis “Then you change those until you see what works. We’re not quite into nymphs yet”. I asked how they know it’s nymph time, and they said to look under rocks in the water. Once they have come out, they will leave their shells along the banks.

They talked about guides using strike indicators that bob when a fish strikes under water, but they didn’t like that. It inhibits the way the fly swims. “OK” I said, “How do you tell when a fish strikes?” “Tightlining”, Dennis said. Keeping the line taught, without drag. “You MUST have at least a 14′ leader. These fish are line-shy”, Dennis said. Then there was a 20-minute discussion of leaders, poo-pooing Euro-nymphing, which I had recently read up on. I was wishing I had recorded the conversation. They used to use Maxima line to make their own leaders, which I had just done, but now they use something else they love. Of course I promptly forgot as they moved on to another topic. My head was swimming with new ideas.

The Question Everyone Wants to Ask

Our friend, Ed Brownfield, asked the question many want to know the answer to, and he wrote it perfectly:

Greg and Kelly

Love reading your blog although I am not a fisherman.  It seems to be an expert fisherman you have to have lots, like years of experience!  In addition to that you have to spend lots of $’s on equipment, flies, waders, tackle, licenses…..   After investing lots of time and money in learning the sport and acquiring the equipment you have to travel the world seeking the best place to find the fish and then try to out smart them.  I get it, but what I don’t understand is how two very bright guys (that’s you two) keep getting outsmarted by the fish????  I keep reading your blog and following your travels ……you meet nice people, enjoy wine and camp fires at beautiful campsites in the evening, eat great food, and fish for hours BUT you don’t catch fish.  Ummmmmm just trying to understand the lure of failure (lack of bring home the bacon…or fish) or is fishing a way to celebrate a wonderful and long term friendship of two good guys and a way to enjoy the absolute beauty of nature?  I am just trying to get a handle (understand) on  a sport that’s unknown to me.

Your devoted follower
Ed

Thanks for the question Ed. We are hardly expert, although we have been fishing off and on throughout our lives. We grew up trout fishing Virginia’s small streams for Brook Trout, still my favorite fish. Ounce for ounce, the best fighting fish I have seen. They pounce on a fly, jump up in the air three or four times in a tiny pool, run upstream, downstream, duck under sticks, logs and rocks trying to get off the hook. A seven or eight-inch trout is a keeper in those streams and you could keep five of them a day. A native Brook Trout is still the best eating fish I know with a convenient handle on each end for eating and they are easy to clean.

We are as good as anyone fishing smallmouth bass on the Shenandoah or the James River.  We are pretty good with largemouth bass. Fishing across Canada in 2013 we had to learn very different things. Many of the rivers were huge, deep, wild and scary. Over four months we learned we could catch Cutthroat Trout, but they are similar to Brook Trout. They will jump on most anything. We got better with Rainbow and Bull Trout, but it was a whole new game. You have to fish deep, and we like to fish the surface. It’s just more exciting to see a trout jump on a dry fly on the surface, but if you want to catch them, you have to do different things. We found Brown Trout to be even more finicky.

We are amateurs. A professional guide may fish the same stream every day. They talk with each other about what works and where it works. They guide people of all skills. It is often good to fish with a good guide on a river that is new to you. Then you can see what they use, how they use it and where they go. Trouble is that can $300-500 a day or even half day. Some guides are well-worth it. I met a man last night with a 30′ Airstream Classic who fishes all the time. He is here in Butternut Grove for the season. Then he will move south, fishing South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, fly fishing all the time. About 50% is salt water fly fishing. He ties his own flies and makes his leaders. That puts him in a pretty elite group.

These professionals have the best gear, and they also know how to throw a fly. Like watching Ernie Els swing a golf club, it is beautiful to watch. Effortlessly, they throw a fly twice as far as I can. With a flick they “mend the line” so there is no drag on the fly. They can target a rising fish and throw with pinpoint accuracy. I might try to swing my golf club like Ernie Els, but it’s never going to happen. However, the image of a great fly caster is a good thing to have in your mind. Kelly’s father was both a great golfer and a great trout fisherman. He did both effortlessly. Sometimes you get in the zone and for a while you are the master and you begin catching fish.

No matter what happens on a trout stream, it’s always good. Trout do not live in ugly places. Yes, we want to catch fish, the more the merrier, but when you stop and look around, it’s always pretty. I wouldn’t do well playing Pebble Beach golf course, but it sure is a beautiful place to be. I’d rather be on a trout stream, win, lose or draw. The challenge here is to get out of our comfort zone, stretch our abilities and learn new things, see new places, and meet new people.

The esthetics of trout fishing is great, but so too is the exercise. Maybe that’s why we like Brook Trout fishing. You continually walk the stream, fishing up the mountain all day. Then you have to walk back down to the car. Do that every day, and you will become very fit. Wading bigger streams and rivers in deep water is weight-lifting for the legs.

Every river is different. Often different sections of the same river are different. Fishing Penns Creek is vastly different than fishing the East Branch of the Delaware. So on a trip like this one, we are fishing a different river system every two or three days. Thank God for fly shops like Catskill Flies that tell us what to do and what to use. The people we have met on the streams and in campgrounds have been incredible. They readily share their knowledge of the area and in their fishing techniques. I need to take more pictures of them, but their images are forever etched in my brain.

An issue we were well-aware of is pressure. A book and a movie changed everything and brought millions of people to trout fishing – “A River Runs Through it”. On Virginia’s little streams, the pressure was too much, and many streams were fished out. Gradually things changed so you can no longer keep wild trout, and there are very few “natives” any more. Stocking is a necessity. Warming climates didn’t help, and acid rain changed the ph of the streams.

These famous streams we are pursuing get tremendous pressure. Every hole on the Beaverkill has a name and most have parking places. Access is easy, just drive your car to the hole and fish, get back in and drive to the next hole. These are well-educated fish, and you have to do everything just right.

Timing: the damned problem we have issue with may speak to our weakness. We need to be fishing at the same time as cocktail hour. The Golden Hour is just before sunset. I get up early, and by sunset I want to be fed and in bed. Summer is not the best time for trout fishing, as the waters warm. However, I am pleasantly surprised that the opportunities are still good.

We want to catch fish and show pictures of these beautiful fish. Hopefully we will be able to do that. Today is another opportunity. Thanks for the great question Ed.

Moving to Roscoe, NY

Friday, June 28, 2019

I told Kelly to go fishing for a couple of hours while I caught up on posting. We didn’t know what to expect for WIFI at our next campsite. It didn’t take much convincing and he was off.

I finished posting, straightened and swept the Airstream. Then I loaded up, cleaned and put the awnings up. I took the trash to the dumpster and saw Wyatt weed-eating around his house, so I went up and thanked him for running such a nice campground. He is an understated, hard worker. Few take care of a place as well as this.

Some might think I was doing the work while Kelly was playing, but that is not the case. It’s my Airstream and I enjoy making sure everything is taken care of and in its place. It’s also a team-effort. If we both did all that, we would have left an hour earlier, but we are here to fish the famous trout streams, and this is surely one of them, and it’s right at our front door. He is also by far the better fisherman.

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esopus_Creek: Esopus Creek /ɪˈsoʊpəs/ is a 65.4-mile-long (105.3 km)[1] tributary of the Hudson River. Originally known as the Esopus Kill, it takes its name from the Esopus tribe of the Lenape Indians when the Dutch settled here. In Dutch a “kill” is a stream bed or body of water, so many streams have “Kill” after the name.

As I finished up, Kelly came up and asked if I was leaving him. He was smiling and had caught six fish, no great size, but six fish. He used mayfly imitations. OK, maybe we were gaining on this northeast fishing.

We were about to head out as our new neighbor, Bud, came up with his cute, little boy, Jacob. The boy was maybe four and stood shyly between his father’s legs. Bud is an electrician and lives in the mountains an hour or so from here. He loves New York and is proud of its beauty, “if you just ignore the city”. Kelly talked about his son, Hunter, also an electrician. We had a nice chat for 30 minutes.

As we turned to put the steps up, we noticed they were coming apart and about to fall off. Was that the big bang we heard when we hit that big hole on the interstate? We got out the rivet gun and rivets. One rivet had broken, so we had to drill it out. After several size trials, we found the right ones and had them replaced in short order. Before I left on this trip, I thought I could lighten up my toolbox. This was just a reminder of why you need to be prepared. 

IMG_3948

On to the Beaver Kill. It wasn’t a long drive to Roscoe, NY – about an hour and a half. The route took us west on 28 along the East Branch of the Delaware River, then 30 across the huge, beautiful Pepacton Reservoir. Martha and I had driven this a couple of years ago when it was precariously low. Now it is full, pristine and beautiful. There doesn’t appear to be a house on it. No wonder NYC has such good drinking water! We turned south on 208 and needed gas and something to eat. 

IMG_3950

We arrived in Roscoe, a thriving, little town with five fly shops. It felt like arriving in Fernie, British Columbia, “where the fishing starts”, as our guide, Dean, told us in Calgary in 2013. We filled up with diesel, but couldn’t find a place to park the trailer for lunch. The campground, Butternut Grove, was only 10 minutes away, so we went there and checked in with Lauren.

We had to parallel park in a 27’ spot for a 25’ trailer, but we did OK. Well, the back end hung over the line a couple of feet. Lauren said her husband might move it later. Apparently the state inspectors say you must have 15 feet between trailers. We were right next to the Beaver Kill river, our target stream.

IMG_3965

Hunger was making us a bit grumpy, so we went back to town and had a nice lunch at The Courtyard restaurant. Feeling better, we drove back downtown and went into Catskill Flies. Two men were busy tying flies as we looked around. Joe started talking to us as he tied. A board behind him listed nearby streams, water temperature and the flies that should work. 

IMG_3951

A friendly, easy talking gentleman, Joe continued feeding us valuable information at a pace I couldn’t keep up with. Hell, I wouldn’t remember the listed flies on the Beaver Kill, much less all the others, so I took a picture of the board. Kelly and I looked at the assorted flies. There were hundreds of different flies in assorted sizes, all of which are beautiful works of art. If I were a fish, I would eat any of them. I always think bigger is better. I mean why would I eat an ant when I could have a big, juicy grasshopper? But I am not a fish, and a trout might choose to “sip” on hundreds of midges, which are 1/30th the size of an ant. I can’t see an ant when I throw it, much less a midge or a sulphur. Then of course you have to be able to tie it on your line, which has to be about half the size of a human hair. I have a hard time even when I use my dental loupes.

IMG_3955IMG_3954IMG_3953IMG_3952

Joe was busy talking about flies, as we busily picked out some. Caddis, we were fixated on caddis. Then caddis come in probably 8-10 different forms. Sheez! My head was swimming as Joe kept talking. I started recording. What a nice guy! He would be a great guide for a day, but he was going home for a wedding. Coincidently, he was camped in the same campground.

IMG_3956IMG_3957

We decided to scout the East Branch of the Delaware River that comes out of the bottom of Pepacton Reservoir at 49 degrees today. We parked where Joe told us to and walked over to the stream – a river really, crystal clear with a steady flow. We walked upstream a bit and met a tall, handsome gentleman coming out from fishing. He carried two seemingly identical rods. We asked if he had any luck. He said he couldn’t quite cast far enough to get to feeding fish on the other side of the river. Funny, it didn’t look very deep. He said it takes a lifetime to learn how to catch these fish. Charlie was his name, and he was great about telling us where to go and what to use. He carried two rods, one rigged for dry flies and one rigged for nymphs. He had all the right gear and obviously knew what he was talking about. We chatted for 30 minutes. I wish I had recorded that. We thanked him and walked down to the stream.

Hundreds of caddis flies floated down the stream, flopping and flapping to get off the water. They emerge from the bottom at they hatch. Books are written on this stuff. Charlie said they weren’t taking the flies off the surface, so he was fishing an “emerger”. We didn’t buy any of those – Sheez! You can see why these fish get big and fat. These are big, juicy bugs by the thousands. In crystal clear water the fish can see you walking about. They can see the fly line, and you have to figure out what form of the mayfly they are eating. Fish were slapping the water all over the river from halfway across to the other side. 

IMG_3959

IMG_3960

Kelly fishing upstream

 

Like a deer hunter getting “buck fever”, we got excited and decided to give it an hour and see what we could do. We hurried back to the truck. Charlie was taking his gear off. We asked if we should wear waders. What kind of people were these from Virginia? Yes, the water is 49 degrees coming off the bottom of the reservoir. We had been wading without waders for a week, but those waters were about 62 degrees. We put on our waders. It was a very hot 78 degrees, and I looked forward to cooling off in the water. I had left my good chest waders at home. There was just too much stuff for this 4-month trip. Kelly put on his chest waders while I put on my waist-waders. I had on a thin short-sleeve shirt. Three more cars pulled up as we headed out, from New Jersey, Florida and Delaware, and ours from Virginia. One car from New York was already parked.

Excited, we slowly waded into the cold water and started casting to rising fish. I brought my small rod because it is lighter and presents the fly more gently – wrong choice. I couldn’t quite get to the fish. Stalking a big fish near the opposite bank, I slowly crept closer, trying not to let the line spook him. Two guys came across to my left, and two guys were above Kelly on my right. We might have been put off by this, but there were plenty of fish, and some big fish.

I needed to get a few yards closer. It was easy walking in this river, but it was deeper than it looked. I was there, just in range when the water seeped over the top of my waist-waders. Suddenly I was cold as the sun went behind the mountain. My short-sleeve thin shirt was no longer the right dress. 

The guy to my left was good, very good, maybe a guide. He and his buddy were talking as they fished. As I backed out, he headed toward the big fish under a tree. He asked my permission to go there! A bit tired of unproductive casting, I watched him a while. He threw it nicely. I wondered what kind of rod it was, what kind of line was on it,how long his tippet was and what fly he was using. No one was catching anything, but he said we would all have fish. I asked when that would be, and he said 8:45. It was 6:30 now, and I was cold. I would never make it two hours longer. 

IMG_3962

Kelly was casting to a fish that never moved. Why would it? Food was being delivered to it steadily, and he was ignoring anything Kelly put in front of it.  He changed flies for the forth time and threw again. Later, as we drove home, we wondered what they were eating. We realized even if you had the live fly and threw it perfectly, the fish has hundreds to choose from and might not choose yours. You just have to keep throwing and hope he finally chooses yours.

Sleepy Hollow Campground

Thursday, June 27, 2019

_1GW1779_1GW1780_1GW1781_1GW1782_1GW1783_1GW1784_1GW1785_1GW1786_1GW1787_1GW1788_1GW1789

Wyatt runs a very nice campground near Phoenicia, NY.

Fishing Esopus Creek

Thursday, June 27, 2019

We drove upstream where our friend in the hardware store told us to go and fished for several hours. Kelly went to a big hole where a feeder stream enters. I went up the feeder stream.

The feeder stream begs for a dry fly, and I tried several with no effect. This was a beautiful stream I could have fished all morning, but we had no cell service, so we were unable to communicate. Should anything happen, there would be no help, so I decided to go back. Climbing up the rocky bank with lots of vegetation, it was a prime spot for snakes and I chose my steps carefully. My last one was not good. I slipped on a slanted boulder, fell hard backward, smashing my rod on a rock and tumbled head over heel back down the bank. All I could think of was to keep my head up. Finally stopping, sprawled out on what I thought was a snake-infested bank, I assessed the damage. Just a few bruises and a smashed reel. Luckily, I didn’t break anything – myself or the rod. I limped back to the big pool.

IMG_3939IMG_3940IMG_3941

Kelly hadn’t caught anything, so I went up to another big pool ahead. An hour of fishing different things produced nothing. Defeated again, we headed back to camp. We were tired. We have been fishing every day for a week with little luck, but more than that, we were not accustomed to 9 hours of exercise every day. Lunch and a nap helped ….. some.

When we got going again, I noticed a bug on the window screen. Kelly said it was a mayfly. There was another on the door. OK, new strategy. We rummaged through our fly boxes, pulling out mayfly patterns. I opted for dry fly while Kelly chose a nymph. Walking upstream to a big pool, a fish struck on the first cast, but missed the fly in fast water. A second hit the second cast and missed, and I was suddenly energized. There would be one more hit and miss before I got a wind knot in my line. Kelly had been a couple hundred yards downstream, but was now walking up. He had caught three brown trout and lost a nice one. Things were looking up. By 5:00 and no more hits, I was tired and headed back to camp. 

IMG_3942IMG_3944IMG_3945IMG_3946

After a shower I felt better. We fixed a salad, rice and Cordon Blue from Omaha Steaks. It was excellent. 

Fishing Esopus Creek

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Tags: Phoenicia Hardware Store, Phoenicia, NY, Esopus Creek. 

It was a clear, beautiful morning at our campsite on Esopus Creek. We could see no hatch or fish rising, so we decided to go to the hardware store in Phoenicia which also sells trout flies. A lady at the counter said good morning and went on mumbling to herself – something about her brother not being there this morning. We found the fly counter, and it was a good selection. Once again, we bought flies, this time stonefly imitations. We hadn’t seen a stonefly, but that is what is supposed to be hatching at this time of year. the nice lady helped us, and told us a couple of places to fish. She works as a bartender also. You have to be versatile to get by in Phoenicia. Kelly asked where we could get a coffee, and she said Brio’s. 

IMG_3929

 

Once in Brio’s Pizzeria, we decided breakfast might be a good idea. Kelly asked the nice waitress which of two selections would be best. She said, “Well, that’s hard, but judging from your southern accent, you would like the eggs with sausage gravy biscuits.” I chose the breakfast burrito. Both were good.

IMG_3933IMG_3932IMG_3931

Esopus Creek is a beautiful stream with clear, rushing waters. We fished it hard for a couple of hours in front of camp. We had a couple of flashes, but nothing else. Surely this stream is fished a lot throughout its length. We were tired and hot when we quit. 

IMG_3934IMG_3935IMG_3936IMG_3937IMG_3938

After a rest and lunch, we went back out with the same result. This is such a pleasant spot, it’s fun just to sit in the shade of big trees and watch as others try their luck. People have different techniques. We could only guess what they were using. A few small fish were caught. If fish are there, they are well-educated.

Grueling Moving Day

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

With rain last night, stream conditions weren’t going to get any better, so we decided to move on a day early. Once we got on a main road, we would call Sleep Hollow Campground and see if we could get an extra day. We packed up, hooked up and headed out. With no cell service, we used the truck GPS to set the course for Phoenicia, New York. As we headed up the gravel road, I took a left turn. Kelly said we had come in from straight ahead, so I pulled over. It’s hard to turn a trailer around on a gravel, mountain road, but we probably could have done it in this spot. I was on the GPS route, and after some discussion, we opted to stay on it. Wrong decision! It was a long, curvy route up and over a mountain for 45 minutes until we finally found a narrow paved road. It was a pretty drive, but not what we were looking for, and we were low on fuel. Surely there would be a gas station somewhere. Wrong again.

By the time we got to the pretty town of Mifflinburg, the route took us right through downtown on a narrow, busy street. I wasn’t sure I could get the trailer through, but there were tractor trailers coming the other way – right through downtown! there were no gas stations still! We were headed toward I80, so there had to be something ahead, but there wasn’t. We got on the interstate figuring we would find a station at the next stop, but the interstate was blocked! It was shut down with two trucks with flashing lights blocking both lanes. We had to get off and go right back through town.

In a circuitous route, we finally found a crowded Sheetz station. There were only two diesel pumps and at one of them, a big truck was camped out with no nozzle in its tank. A passenger was walking his pit bull. Kelly went up and asked him to move, which he reluctantly did. I circled around the busy lot to get a straight shot to the tank while Kelly stood in the lane. 

Finally, we found our way back to I80 and it was open. Later we heard on the news there was a bomb threat. Could that have been the reason it was closed? We traveled east on 80 to I84 and then I87 past New York. These roads are in terrible condition! Ruts and jarring holes bounced the trailer around. Hitting a big bump and hole on a bridge, there was a loud bang. I thought we had broken a stabilizing bar, but we never found a problem. With heavy traffic and jarring bumps, it was a long, all-day drive to get about 300 miles. Geez! Kelly called Sleepy Hollow campground, but no one answered, so he left a message. A few hours later a man called back, saying he had a place. 

It was 6:00 when we finally checked into the 100-site campground beside Esopus Creek. Wyatt checked us in. We had requested a stream-side site, and he had on for us 😊. Then he guided us into the site. At the end of a hard day, I was very happy for the help. Wyatt was a UPS driver, and he runs a great campground. For such a big campground, it is very pretty and well-maintained. The year-round campers maintain their trailers and sites nicely. 

All the days tensions subsided as we sat beside beautiful Esopus Creek outside Phoenicia, NY. This supplies Ashokan Reservoir, which is the water supply for New York.

IMG_3927

Fisherman’s Paradise and Fishing Creek

Monday, June 24, 2019

We had passed an overlook several times, so this time we stopped to get some pictures of this beautiful area

_1GW1702_1GW1698

We knew Fishing Creek was muddy, but that was our best choice, at least of the streams we knew about. We stopped at a convenience store for some coffee. As Kelly was getting in the truck, a fit, middle-aged guy walked in front, and Kelly asked, “Where’s the best place to go fishing around here?” With a quick smile, he asked, “Trout fishing?” “Yeah”, Kelly said. “Fisherman’s Paradise. Two presidents have fished there. You’re just 20 minutes away. Just put it in your phone for directions. It’s a spring creek.” We thanked him and searched Fisherman’s Paradise to quickly find directions. A spring creek wouldn’t be muddy.

As we drove south on I80, we thought, sure, it’s a pay-to-fish place. With the luck we have had, that was fine with us. As we arrived along a large crystal-clear spring creek, a sign greeted us. It is a state-run facility as a model for sustainable trout fishing. There were a few fishermen as we crept up the road admiring the beautiful stream. The road ended in a big parking lot and a large building. Now fishermen steadily walked up and downstream with a purpose. We have never seen so many, totally-geared up trout fishermen. They all looked like guides with the best waders, fishing shirts, vests, rods, nets, hats and sunglasses. I should have gotten some pictures, but my purpose was fishing. I walked around reading signs discussing the history of this place, once a private, pay-to-fish place, lined with fishermen. As the water quality deteriorated, the state bought it and gradually restored it. Using barbless hooks, no fish can be kept. 

IMG_3911IMG_3914

I noticed Kelly had been talking to a man, so I walked over and met George. He was very familiar with this stream, coming every year. He said he tries to come during the sulfur or midge hatch. Unfortunately, it is between hatches now. He had a license tag that read, ANGLER surrounded with a Trout Unlimited frame. He is from Connecticut, and was working on a project for UConn. At first I thought it was Yukon, and I couldn’t figure out what he was doing. Coming in on the middle of the conversation, I didn’t want to make him retrace everything. What I did get was that he didn’t catch anything this morning. He targeted several fish that he saw, but couldn’t move them using a #20 fly. That is tiny! He said the fish didn’t even look up, so I asked why he didn’t try something under water. He just smiled. One, it’s not as much fun, and two, spring creeks have heavy grasses in them. If you go under water, you are going to get caught in them. If George hadn’t caught fish, what chance did we have? Surely there was some answer to attract these rainbows and browns. 

IMG_3912

George said if we liked wading, we should go downstream a mile to a bridge. We thanked him and headed down, passing fishermen along the way using a variety of techniques. None were catching fish, at least that we saw. For several hours we tried our best with no luck. After a hour of trying a few dry flies, I tied a dropper nymph, knowing that would do the trick. That means tying a small underwater fly to a large dry fly. That way you can see a strike and control the depth of the nymph. Nada, nothing, so I moved the nymph deeper. Nada. Wrong nymph? between hatches? Wrong time of day? We didn’t see anyone else having any luck either. By lunchtime, we were hungry, tired and frustrated, but this sure is a beautiful stream, like a large version of Mossy Creek at home. 

IMG_3913IMG_3915IMG_3916IMG_3917

OK, let’s go back to Fishing Creek and try that. We picked up a hamburger at McDonalds in Coburn and drove to Fishing Creek. It was still muddy, but we fished it hard for a couple of hours in a couple of places with no luck…..again. Well, we weren’t skunked. I caught one small, beautiful Brook Trout. 

IMG_3918IMG_3920IMG_3921IMG_3922

The fly shop said Poe Creek had fish in the upper section above the bridge, and Kelly was determined to catch some. I opted to take some pictures as I followed along. It is such a beautiful stream, it was fun to relax and enjoy the views. I’ve never been on an ugly trout stream. They may vary greatly in size, shape and surroundings, but they are always pretty. 

Raccoon, I think

Raccoon, I think

Poe Creek

Poe Creek

_1GW1709_1GW1710_1GW1716_1GW1719_1GW1722_1GW1748_1GW1741

By the time we got back to camp it was 6:30, and we were tired. We built a fire, fixed a drink and discussed the trials and tribulations of another frustrating day. Still, we felt lucky to be able to do this. Thank you Martha and Rhonda!

Fishing Poe Creek and Penns Creek

Sunday, June 23,2019

We were excited to fish Poe Creek this morning, where David said we could keep 5 fish. Trout for dinner – yum! We figured we would fish half of it in the morning and the other half after lunch. On the lower part of the stream, it turned out to be deeper than it looked from the road, and a little difficult to walk. I walked downstream 300 yards and fished up while Kelly fished up from the truck. One hour later and four fly changes, we had no hits. OK, change the strategy, fish together with one fishing a dry fly and the other wet. No hits #!&*. There were a lot of bugs of all varieties on the stream. Were we fishing the wrong things? 

IMG_3900IMG_3901IMG_3902IMG_3905

A full morning produced nothing. We fished the top section below the dam, but again, nothing. We disagreed about the cause, but my guess is there aren’t many fish left in there. They last stocked in May, and the water isn’t very cold. In Virginia they say all the stocked fish are caught in the first 24 hours. You figure one person can keep 5 fish and say 10 people fish it every day, it won’t take long to fish it out. We did get a few hits from small fish, so some may be reproducing.

OK, let’s run some errands and fish Penns Creek below Coburn. I know it’s the middle of the day, a terrible time to trout fish in the summer, but what else are we going to do. Two spring creeks come into Penns Creek at Coburn, which keeps the water cold, making it fishable all year. We drove along Pine Creek, a beautiful, fairly big spring-fed creek. You can’t fish it as it is all private property. Maybe if you stayed at a lodge, you could fish it. Maybe you could pay a landowner to fish, but we went back to Penns, picked a spot and fished for 2 or 3 hours. A little less muddy than yesterday, we could not really see where we were walking. It’s shallow, so you could easily walk across its 30-yard width, but we had to feel our way around the rocks. Using the flies we bought from Tess, we had no hits. Then we randomly changed flies a number of times. There was a small hatch of small, tan flies, but nothing was hitting the surface. I tried a couple of things that looked similar with no affect. If the water was more clear, we could see how it would be pleasant to wade around on a summer day trying to catch a big trout. Tired and defeated, we felt like the two guys we passed yesterday. 

IMG_3909

This is beautiful Amish country sans tourists. With pristine farms and cute, little towns, it makes pretty driving wherever you go.

IMG_3910

Pretty muddy Penns Creek

IMG_3907

Poe Creek

IMG_3904

Poe Valley State Park with a great beach

IMG_3903

Poe Valley State Park with a beautiful lake fed by Poe Creek.

_1GW1738

Despite our frustrations fishing, it was a good day in beautiful country.

Scouting Penns Creek and Fishing Creek

Saturday, June 22, 2019

As we packed up at Bumblebee RV Park, Andy came by to say hello with his dog, Charlie. We chatted for a while. This is a nice campground with very nice owners. Since Lisa and Andy work remotely, their WIFI system is great. They have owner’s WIFI, camper’s WIFI and full-timer WIFI, so there is plenty of capacity for everyone. With an excellent shower house, good water and electricity, we are going to miss these conveniences. 

IMG_3886

_1GW1693_1GW1694_1GW1696

We drove 4 hours northeast, mostly on 220. Again, it was a beautiful, uncrowded highway through the mountains. We didn’t trust our phone GPS as we turned onto a gravel road 11 miles from Poe Paddy State Park, especially when a sign pointed to Poe Valley State Park. Were we going to the wrong place? Creeping along, we finally came to Poe Valley State Park and a paved road. There were lots of houses and cabins and a lake with a big swimming area. It was cool here in the mountains, about 72 degrees, a great escape from the summer city heat. We were sure we were in the wrong place when we saw a sign for Poe Paddy State Park 3.5 miles ahead. 

Then the narrow road turned back to gravel and followed a gorgeous trout stream – Poe Creek. Finally we arrived at Poe Paddy State Park, happy we weren’t in the wrong place. There was no office, so we stopped and found an information board with a map of the park and campground. We had reserved site #146 for four nights, since we had three streams to fish in this area, and the campground is on one of them – Penns Creek. The sites are huge in this nice park but here are no showers, power or water hookups.

After setting up, we drove to the end of a road and walked along an old railroad bed. This was a logging camp years ago, the train being used to haul lumber. Now it is a beautiful bike/hiking trail along Penns Creek. The river was muddy and flowing pretty fast. Seems to be our trademark when fishing – camped right on the river, but too muddy to fish.

IMG_3887

We have a printer in the Airstream that we use to print fishing licenses on the internet, but there was just one problem – no WIFI and no cell service. With our cell booster, we got one bar of service, but it was not enough to get on the internet. As we started to drive out of the parking lot, a warden drove up. I rolled down the window and asked if they sold fishing licenses at the Poe Valley Park office. No, he said as he got out of his brown truck and came up to the window. “You have to go to Milheim hardware store over the mountain”. Of course we know nothing about where we were. He could quickly see we were going to get lost, so he pulled out a map showing us where to go. He also told us they stock “the heck out of Poe Creek”. Then he showed us where Fishing Creek was and where to fish it. Turns out he is a school teacher, teaching physical education and history, and works as a warden part time. He was a fit guy with a big, easy smile. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest and a tool belt with a pistol, flashlight and other gear. I asked if we were in a rough neighborhood, and he just laughed. Why he took so much time with us, I don’t know, but he said, “Look, I’m headed home in that direction. I have to make a quick stop to check people at the boat launch, but you can follow me”. What lucky people we were to find a guy like this! His name is David Martin. Pennsylvania is lucky to have a guy like this.

After a quick stop at the boat launch, David brought us a copy of the rules and regulations with a list of all the trout streams – Geez! Then he takes a right on a gravel road going up the mountain. It’s a narrow road with a fair amount of traffic. You have to hug the edge to pass other cars and trucks. Tom stopped to pick up a big chain someone lost in the middle of the road. As he was picking it up, he looked back and yelled, “SLOWDOWN!” I hadn’t even noticed the car behind me that had obviously skidded to a stop. It was Saturday and everyone was out. At the bottom of the mountain we turned right to follow Penns Creek into Coburn, where he stopped at The Feathered Hook Fly Shop. They didn’t sell licenses, but a nice young man inside brought us two printed maps of the roads, towns and streams on it. Milheim was only 2 miles down the road.

IMG_3894IMG_3895

IMG_3892

Seeing we were in good shape now, David said he was going home to take his wife out to dinner. We thanked him profusely and went into the fly shop. This is quite a fly shop with everything in it. The wall is lined with fishing boots in every size! I looked around while Kelly talked to Tess. She said the trout can see better than you think in cloudy water, but the time to fish is late in the evening. Apparently there is a hatch at that time. Memories flashed back to the Columbia River with our guide, Rod, out of Castlegar, BC, when there was a huge mayfly hatch from 6:00 until dark. He had said there was no real sense in going out until then, since the fish waited to gorge on big mayflies. 

IMG_3891IMG_3890IMG_3889IMG_3888

Tess is quite the fisherwoman, having fished her way across the United States recently. We told here we had fished our way across Canada in 2013, so we traded favorite trout streams. Her favorite is Penns Creek. She told us what to use, so we bought $40 worth of flies. With the hundreds of flies we have, why do we never have the right ones? We could tell she knows what she is talking about and later decided to see if she could guide us, but she was booked up. Too bad. It would have been fun and educational to fish with her.

Using the map they had printed for us, we headed over to see what Fishing Creek looked like, and maybe get in a little fishing. The trouble was the map listed route numbers, but the road signs were in street names. We found Fishing Creek in Lamar, but couldn’t find the right way to the area Tom had told us to fish. We stopped to ask a gentleman sitting with his wife in the shade of their garage. He told us which way to go, but we still couldn’t find it. We were embarrassed when we passed by him three more times. I was ready to give it all up, and I was ready for a drink when Kelly talked to a young man at a gas station. With fresh directions, we finally got on the right track. 

As we headed up Fishing Creek, once again it was muddy. We passed two seasoned fishermen walking up the road. They looked tired and grumpy, but I slowed down and asked how they did. One said, “We’d have done better at the water treatment plant. At least we’d have caught something brown!” That’s what I needed, a good laugh. I guess there are brown trout in this stream. 

After cruising the stream a while, we headed back home. It was 6:00 and we were tired, but the decision for tomorrow was easy. Everything was muddy except Poe Creek near our camp, and Tom said it was well-stocked.

IMG_3896