Friday, February 17, 2012

Dries, Beer, and Snow

Since I've gotten serious about fly fishing I have heard stories about Spruce Creek. Some good, like the fact that many famous people have fished there, including presidents. Some bad, this involves the fact that the majority of the stream is closed to the public and the fact that they put large pellet fed fish in the stream. The latter strikes a nerve with me, I don't believe that anyone should be able to own a creek, stream, river, or run (what the difference between these is almost impossible to figure out). It just doesn't seem right, there are definitely selfish reasons for me feeling this way. I want to be able to fish and enjoy the beauty of any stream that I want. Just wake up and think "I think I'll go to ------- creek today" then just leave. Sadly, this is not the case, but luckily there is a small stretch of this stream that is open to the public. I had stopped there last year just to check it out after fishing the Little Juniata River, and decided that the next time I was in the area, I was gonna fish it. This section is called the George Harvey section, and is named after the very influential fly fisherman and instructor. As I understand it Penn State purchased this section and opened it to the public. This is a beautiful piece of water, there are nice pools, riffles, and runs throughout this small section of stream.

Having a whole day to fish, because my wife and daughter were off shopping, I decided that this is where I was headed. I got to the stream about 10:00 am, the sky was over cast and I am pretty sure that the temp was about 30 degrees, the water had the limestone green tint to it and from what I can tell, it was up a little. There were a few cars in the parking area, and not knowing this stream, I wasn't sure if that was going to amount to too much pressure or not. It turned out to not be that much pressure at all. Starting out, I hiked down to the bottom of the open section and began to work my way up stream. I missed a fish almost immediately, I knew that this was going to be a good day. I picked up three fish between 10-13" all on skuds, then decided to take a break for lunch.

First 2012 Fish On A Dry
 I met a guy in the parking lot and BS'ed with him for about 30-45 minutes while I ate. He told me that if I walked up the road I would run into "the Penn State hole" and that this was a nice and productive hole. As I started to walk up the road it began to snow. Now, I'm not a fan of cold weather but when it starts to snow and you're already in a beautiful place it always seems to make it that much better. When I got to the hole I did what I always say I'm gonna do but I'm always to anxious and impatient to do, I watched the water. After sitting there and watching for about five minutes I noticed a rise, then another. Well earlier in the day I saw midges coming off but saw no risers, so I knew what to do. Tying on a Griffith’s Gnat I could hardly even wait to get the fly on the water. It's been a while since I've caught a fish on a dry, well, since fall, and I don't know about you but if I could fish with dries every time productively, I would. So I waited to see the fish rise again and the after about twenty seconds I threw out the first cast, the fish took the fly immediately, I set the hook and the rest is history. I brought my first fish of the year on a dry fly to hand, not a big fish, but a decent brown with some beautiful color to him. I love that buttery color that wild browns get when they are in a fertile stream. After that I noticed that there was another riser on the other side of the stream, this fish was not so easily caught but I got him on the fourth cast. It was a smaller fish, but fun nonetheless. 

That was it for the risers for the day I also only hooked into one other fish, a huge bow that took a San Juan Worm but shook me off before I could bring him in. This, for the second time this year, I'm sure would've been the biggest trout I've ever caught. I had one on a Spring Creek that I would guess would be around 20+ inches, and this was the same. Oh well, it'll come.

After having a great day on the stream I figured I'd stop in at the Spruce Creek Tavern to get some food and beer. In my last blog, I said I would start to review beers, well, this provided me the perfect opportunity to do so because they had Spruce Creek Lager on tap. Before I do this review, I have to say that the brewers of Spruce Creek Lager (Otto's Pub and Brewery) also make my favorite IPA, Slab Cabin. They have a small brewery and restaurant in State College so you know that the beer is going to be fresh, and it was. It has the straw color of a Pale Lager, and I think this beer used to actually be called a Pilsner. The malt taste is a little overwhelming making it sweeter than what I want out of beer, with little to no hop flavor. The head on this was about 3/4" and didn't last long. If you are an American Lager lover then I think you'll enjoy this beer and on a scale of 1-10 I think I'll give this beer a 7.

On the topic of beer we bottled and kegged the Honey Weizen that we brewed about a month ago. After sampling it out of the bottle, the beer turned out great. The carbonation is still a little on the weak side out of the bottle, but I suspect that this will only get better with time. We will be tapping the keg this weekend and I don't expect it to last long. I'll try to get a pic to post so you can see what it looks like before it's all gone. We also brewed the next batch, this was brewed exclusively for the spring party that I'm planning. It's in the fermentor now and I'm gonna try to stay out of it for a month, it's gonna be hard.