Spring Creek Turn-Around

The weather seemed a pleasant interlude between the waves of blizzard and polar OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA temperatures. Stepping into Spring Creek (near the Caledonia fish hatchery in upstate New York) I didn’t think I’d need the gloves I’d left in the car, but after three hours of non-productive casting, my left hand got so numb I couldn’t tie a necessary blood knot to save my life. I floundered into the snowbound woods and blew on my hands to get me functioning again. A half hour later I was good to go, and luckily, the air suddenly felt mild enough to certify a case of hope.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEarlier, on arriving at the tiny, garage-sized parking lot provided by the DEC, I found it filled with four other vehicles. Squeezing in on the ice, I suited up and began the short walk to that rare upstate commodity– an excellent trout stream free of ice in winter, thanks to the relatively constant water temperature throughout the year.

Public fishing space below the hatchery is limited, to say the least. The most popular and “productive” locations were occupied by earlier arrivals, but the good news here is that no matter where you stand, you’ll see fish. To catch them is another matter. The wild brown trout here have seen it all, and they’re often smart enough to deflate the egos of the most experienced angler.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Throughout the morning I tempted the fish with all the usual suspects– midges, streamers, scuds, emergers, and soft-hackles– without luck. I had to listen to anglers talking about their jobs, their marriages, and fishing successes– all of which is fine, of course, until you can’t “turn it off.” And it really sucks when you’re not catching fish.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut then I caught the turn-around. I got myself warm and comfortable, and more confident. There was one fly in the arsenal that I hadn’t yet tried. I tied it to the 6X leader point, attached a split shot well above it, and keyed in on a nice looking fish. It took. Finally.

And in the next 90 minutes I caught and released another half dozen browns, most of them well above a foot in length. Wild and colorful, and well-conditioned by the excellent nutrients synonymous with limestone flows.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Driving home, I encountered strong winds and a heavy mix of rain and snow. With a month of northern winter still ahead of me, it was good to have spent a day with the fishes, like having swallowed a shot of tonic for whatever lies ahead.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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14 Responses to Spring Creek Turn-Around

  1. Kevin Frank says:

    Those are some nice browns. I still haven’t caught a fish in 2014 yet.

    • Thanks Kevin, it felt good tangling with them again. Because of the weather, I hadn’t been in the water since New Year’s Day, and we didn’t catch any then. These are my first of the year. You’ll be connecting soon.

  2. Oh wow oh wow how beautiful are those fish! The tails are like sails on those, Walt. That sure is some tonic you’ve got yourself there. Safe to say just looking is tonic for the lot of us! Well done.

    • Yeah the fish were pretty, Mike. I felt like I could sail away on those graceful looking tails on a couple of them. I’m here to say that our time is coming again. We’ll be casting on the streams and rivers like before! Thank you much.

  3. LQN says:

    Walt – It feels like eternity since i’ve fished. I’m glad you got out there even in the cold and were rewarded with some nice browns!

  4. It felt like an eternity to me, as well, Long. I’m not used to waiting so long between casts. Thank you, and I hope the fishing gods allow you to cast in comfort very soon.

  5. Les Kish says:

    Hi Walt. I have a hard time packing gloves too. Never did care to fish while wearing them. However, I usually stuff a small hand towel into the chest pocket of my waders. It comes in handy for drying hands that have been dunked into the water. Sometimes it gets dropped into the water, dang it.

    Nice colorful post-spawn browns. They’ll be fattening up soon.

    Happy fishing!

  6. Wearing gloves while fishing seems like overkill to me unless it’s really, really cold, and then they can save your digits. Carrying a small towel is a good idea if you’ve got the room, which is something else I often don’t have. Thanks and best fishes to you, Les!

  7. Bob Stanton says:

    Hey Walt, I’m still here, still hanging around, despite my computer being down for the last month plus. I’ve got some catching up to do, but I’m reading RR when and where I can – as always, great stuff!

  8. Bob! There you are! Hold still a minute. You’ve been MIA and, seriously, I’ve been concerned. Was ready to send out the Rivertop Cossacks to do a search of your woods. Last I heard, you were off to scout a stream, I think it was, in the forests near home. We’re glad you’re back with us. Take your time with the catch-up, and let us hear how winter’s been treating you in the environs of western PA.

  9. Alan Petrucci says:

    Walt what a wonderful day.
    That brown looks to be in great shape, his tail is like a canoe paddle.
    Well done.

  10. A “canoe paddle” to help sail away on the clean waters of a new season (when the ice & snow retreat), Alan. Hopefully you had a fine day, too. Thanks much for reading.

  11. Ah, good for you! Some gorgeous looking fish there. Sounds like a perfect break before the last big winds of winter.

  12. Yes, thank you David, the outing has sustained me for a bit, even now against some pretty ferocious winds earlier in the day, and -2 degrees F.

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