Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Trip North

The northern counties of Pennsylvania offer some of the best wilderness in the state. As a matter of fact I would argue that it is the best wilderness in the state. I love going to this area, and I’ve been traveling up here for years. Every time, I see something new that has me in awe and thankful that I’m within close driving range of this majestic area. So, when someone mentioned taking a long weekend to journey there for some fishing, I jumped at the chance. 

The trip started with a friend and I fishing in the Quehanna wild area. The Idea was to hit a secret spot that someone had informed me of, to catch “huge” brookies(well huge for mountain brookies anyways). When we got to the spot the water was low and gin clear. We did see a few fish rising but couldn’t get a take. Moving up stream, we got into a few dinks, so that part of the trip wasn’t a complete bust. 

We arrived to the campground and decided that we were just going to get camp set up and hang out the rest of the evening. The cabin was nice but small. I don’t think you would really want to spend much time in there and we didn’t. 

The next morning we met up with a few guys and we were off to a small stream in the area that had a brook trout enhancement project. I’ve never heard of this before but it doesn’t surprise me that it exists. Brook trout are a beautiful fish and should be protected. It was rough fishing, due to the blue bird skies and gin clear water. I was also still trying to recover from the night before. As we reached the stream my discomfort grew, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to fish at all, but once I got my rod out and strung it up the fog in my head began to lift. It took awhile but walking around the stream, sweating, and focusing on fish helped me feel better.  I got the skunk, as did most of my fishing partners.

After being thoroughly humbled on that small stream we packed up and headed back to camp. Getting back, we devoured a sandwich, and tried to come up with a plan for the evening. As we did so, another one of the guys showed up and got his camp set up while we remained indecisive. Most of the stream in this area are small and could only handle so many people at a time. We made a decision on a stream, went to the stream changed our minds, then went to another. 

The stream we picked looked promising enough, but again the blue skies and the clear water kept the skunk smell on me, and it was beginning to grow stronger. I don’t get skunked very often, and driving a good distance with the expectance of catching “piles” of fish and then catching nothing can be infuriating. Luckily I had good company, and amazing scenery to lighten the burden of my fishing incompetence.
That night the decision was made that we not only needed bigger water to fish, but we needed some fish that were willing to take what we were offering, and although you can’t always predict this, fishing for stocked fish can certainly help. At this point our party had grown to seven and the smaller streams of the North Country could no longer handle our group of rambunctious and eager fly fishers. It was off to Pine Creek for  the next day with hopes of cloudy skies and rising fish. 

It didn’t take very long the next morning to realize that part of our wish had come true, as we awoke to cloudy skies, and by the time we hit the water, it was raining. If you fish you know this is a good thing. The rain eases the minds of weary trout, and breaks up the surface of the water so we are not as easily seen. Pine Creek is a gem of a stream, and if not for the water warming in the summer, it could be one of the best streams on the east coast. It has ample food, good structure, and is just the right size to throw out those long casts that everyone dreams of.  We made the right choice.

After the morning session of fishing, we all met back at the parking lot for lunch. At this point the pressure was off because everyone had landed a fish. We moved further downstream as the rain continued and that’s when the March Browns started to show. Fishing on top was good for the next couple of hours and I managed to pick up quite a few good sized fish. I also did something that I have never done before…. I hit the trifecta (brook, brown, and rainbow) and not only did it in same day but from the same stream. The evening was not as productive because the rain had picked up and the temperature dropped pretty rapidly. At that point though, it didn’t matter. We got our good day of fishing in, and everyone could now relax a little easier. 

That night we hung out indoors, there was good conversation, good beer, and excellent food. It’s amazing how much better a weekend can seem if you get just one good day of fishing in. The weekend would have been good regardless, but it sure did help.