Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Rivers’ category

Fishing Upper Willowemoc Creek

Sunday, June 30, 2019

It’s amazing how it cools off here at night. At some time during the night, with the windows open, I pull up the blanket. The only sound is the flow of the Beaverkill 15 feet away.

Charlie, who we met on the East Fork of the Delaware River, recommended fishing the top of Willowemoc Creek if we wanted to catch a lot of small Brook Trout. We stopped into Dette Flies in Livingston Manor. Of course we bought more flies. Most of the interest is in the lower Willowemoc, where the fish are bigger. A nice young lady told us where to go and what to fish with. A young man brought in a broken rod he had rented while others were asking about where to go and what to fish with. This is a nice store with everything you need. As Kelly talked to her, I looked at their rod collection. 

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We took a short drive to “The Power Lines Pool” and checked it out. It was Sunday and 5 cars were in the parking lot, one with a camper. We explored the pool and downstream. It’s a beautiful river, but the wind was blowing hard. The combination of a lot of fishermen and wind makes it pretty tough, so we opted to go way upstream.

It’s a pretty good drive to the upper Willowemoc. The river is beautiful in its entire length. We missed a turn and passed a sign for fishing Fir Brook. It’s a gorgeous, little creek that looks like a spring creek with crystal clear water with beautiful vegetation surrounding it. That wasn’t our destination, but why not give it a quick try. It was obviously fished and walked a lot. We had no immediate luck, so after 30 minutes we got back on track for Willowemoc Creek.

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As Charlie suggested, we drove as far as we could and parked. He didn’t say whether to fish up or down. We fished a few nice pools down before deciding to fish up. It’s a small stream and a bit difficult to fish, but we did OK. We caught about 15 small Brook Trout and probably lost 15 more, several of which were nice ones. Finally we ran out of stream and got out. 

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We knew the road was on our right, so we started walking that way, but couldn’t find a road. Walking back down the stream would be difficult and time-consuming, so we plodded through the woods. Of course thoughts of being lost enters your mind, but we reminded ourselves we were between the stream and the road. Finding a woodland road, we followed it. It was probably a 4-wheeler road used for hunting, so who knows where it might go. Fortunately, it came out on our road. Then it was probably a 2-mile walk back to the truck. We were tired when we got there.

As we drove back, we thought about all the flies we have bought and haven’t even fished many of them. We keep falling back to what we know best – small streams.

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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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

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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? 

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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. 

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

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Pretty muddy Penns Creek

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Poe Creek

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Poe Valley State Park with a great beach

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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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Fishing The Savage River

Friday, June 21, 2019

We know fishing the northeast is technical, meaning you have to match the hatch, and the fly has to be presented without drag. There are lots of hatches, so depending not only on the time of the year, but sometimes even the time of day, the hatch will change. These are things we are not good at, but I recon we are going to have to learn. We brought hundreds of flies, but we never seem to have the right things, and end up buying more.

On our way down the mountain on a narrow road, we came up on a truck stopped in front of a tree that had fallen across the road. Walking down to the truck, we met Tom, who had a strap tied to the tree. He had chopped the remaining trunk where it had broken with a hatchet. Then he tried to pull the end across the road, but the trunk was now locked behind another old tree stump. After standing, looking at the tree for a while, Kelly suggested getting a bottle jack to lift it over the stump. I never would have come up with that one, but I do have two bottle jacks. We had to lift it, then put RV leveling blocks under it so we could move the jack closer to the stump. Finally we got it above the stump and Tom was able to drag it. Suddenly, as we celebrated our victory, I saw the power line shaking over my truck. The other end of the tree was on the power line, and I envisioned the line dropping onto my truck. While it wasn’t  broken line yet, it might be soon. I jumped into the truck and quickly backed up as Tom slowly dragged the tree. A telephone pole folded my side mirror forward. Luckily, it folds that way and didn’t break. Tom was grateful for the help and gave us some tips on where to fish.

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First we fished the tailwaters below Savage River Reservoir. Kelly fished at the bridge and down, while I fished up toward the dam. We changed flies frequently. It is always more fun to fish dry flies on top of the water, where you can see the fish strike. I had two hits and two misses. The river is moving fast where I fished, so it is hard to maintain a perfect drift, but I had enough to warrant better action. Who knows? Well somebody knows. Is it the wrong fly, the wrong time of day or the wrong presentation. I think the fish are probably there, but they have seen LOTS of fishermen, flies and presentations. I saw one fish come up, inspect my dry fly and then disappear. 

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This part of the river is slippery with big rocks, making it hard for a 72-year old to walk the stream. It was a bad idea to walk and fish at the same time. By 12:30 I was tired, frustrated and hungry, so I climbed the steep bank and walked back to the truck. After a phone call, Kelly came up. He hadn’t had any luck either.

We went down to the Savage River Fly Shop and talked with the very nice owner, Tom, who was free with information on what to do and how to do it. We bought 8 small sulfur flies that he told us to fish without casting. Any drag on the fly would tip off the fish, so he recommended dabbing – holding the rod out over the stream while dangling the fly in the water around and under big boulders. We dropped downstream a ways and tried the suggested technique. Nada, nothing, zilch. Wrong time of day for dabbing? We dropped downstream and tried it again with no luck.

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Then we drove up to a beautiful, little feeder stream, Middle Fork, and Kelly fished. I followed and took pictures. He had several decent rolls at his small Royal Coachman. It’s just the way it works. Then a big one hit. Kelly only felt it for 10 seconds before he got loose. That one would keep him awake that night. He kept seeing the flash of red or orange on his belly. He had one more nice strike before we got to private property and had to quit. 

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