This post will not contain a photo of myself attempting to escape the clutch of a rising river. It will show a photo of the wild brown that my fishing partner had on the line as I struggled to regain my feet a short distance downstream. Luckily the air on this January day was relatively warm, about the same temperature as the water where New York’s Spring Creek joins the big Oatka. Yes, the day’s finale on the trout streams had me driving home with the heat cranked high and with my clothes as wet as a fish.
Morning had begun with quiet majesty. An adult bald eagle flew in front of me as I left the Town of Greenwood. On arrival at the creek, Tim and I viewed the movements of trout from the railroad bridge above the water. I began my fishing at the upper end of Spring Creek’s public water with special regulations. Tim moved downstream past three other fly fishers to the lowest beat of this limestone creek. The sun appeared dimly and the snow melted fast.
I tied a #14 Hare’s Ear to the 9-ft. leader with 5x tippet. I added a #16 Scud to a foot of 6x tippet, then added a #22 Midge Emerger to a length of 7x. Each of the flies had a beadhead, and the 8-foot cane rod laid them out without a snarl. Eventually a half dozen trout, wild brooks and browns, came out for the quick release. Each of them had taken the little brown midge that Tim had given me before we left the car.
Foregoing lunch, we moved from the special regulations stretch and walked to the state fish hatchery that was founded long ago by the renowned Seth Green. Fishing is allowed on Spring Creek where it flows by the hatchery grounds, but only during business hours, from the east bank, and with artificial lures. The fish are wild, for the most part, and so well-fed that they are difficult to catch (at least for the anglers out today). To watch these healthy-looking trout in the clear rooms of their riverine home can make you dream of what it’s like when they suddenly go on a feeding spree.
We decided to have a look at Oatka, the big stream that this water enters just a mile or so away. The Oatka was rising fast, nearly bank-full already and the color of coffee ice cream. We were there, so we hastened to give it a shot, replacing 8x leader tippets with steelhead gut and a streamer or two. It felt a little treacherous stepping three feet into the creek and not knowing where the next step might be leading to, so we turned around and headed back up to the junction pool where Spring Creek makes its entrance.
I saw a fish in the seam where clear water mixed into brown Oatka. Stepping to a depth that reached my knees, I let the streamer drift and come to a halt. At first the weight felt like a rolling log. I pulled a massive sucker from the water and, with a laugh, raised it for a photo on Tim’s camera. Sucker and I returned to the intriguing seam of water. Then Tim shouted. It was his turn. No doubt this one would be worth a picture, so I pivotted in the flow, lost my balance with a tumble to my knees, then lost it once again.
Damn that water felt cold! Pouring into vest and waders, flowing in to cover everything but my nose and hat. I crawled out like a trout still fighting the hook. Pouring the river from my pockets, I found the camera and got a decent shot of a wild 17-inch brown trout in the net. We had to laugh as I stood there shaking off water. Nice finale: good trout, photogenic sucker, and… “flounder” (thankfully unsuitable for You Tube files).