Spring Creek, the Turning

Saturday looked like the best of the weekend for a final shot at fishing Spring Creek thiOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAs season. I’d had good luck here on two previous outings this winter, so I approached the water calmly, ready to accept whatever my fate was dealing. Although the upstate weather forecast had predicted a high around 40 degrees, I would find that intermittent rain and snow squalls put a damper on the pleasure principle.

Last week I’d been taken to task by the midges on the stream. This time I was going to ignore them, more or less, or try to figure an alternative strategy for success. A small hatch of midges did occur at midday, and a few trout sipped at the adults on or near the surface, but the action was minimal enough to stay calm and collected. I was lucky for that. My gloves were in the car (again), and my hands were numb to the point where I would have failed at tying on a 7X leader tippet for the midge-sized artificials.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So I worked at casting tandem flies on a 10-foot leader. With a split-shot pulling down an Egg or a Scud for a point fly, I also drifted an accompanying Pheasant-tail or midge pupa. Eventually I caught and released nine trout, while losing about the same number.

For whatever reason, each trout was taken on the point fly. They were all wild browns, mostly in the 11 to 15-inch range. As always, one of those that got away was memorable.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As another angler pointed out, the ones that get away are always big, or special. My favorite of the day was estimated to be around 18 inches long, which means that, in reality, it was close to 16 inches, but felt like a 20 as it rolled the surface water and then absconded with the fly.

As the scientific closure of winter held me in its clutches, the wild browns fed as if spring was all that mattered now.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Equinox was closing in, at last, and it was time for me to shift attention from these limestone waters. My several sessions here were pleasant ones. My rod of choice had been a mid-flex 8’4″ three-weight. My strategy had been to simulate a heron’s stealth, and to rap my knuckles on a log for luck. Philosophically, my preference to stay focused on the moment gave sway to dreams. Like many northerners, I was more than ready for a change of season.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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16 Responses to Spring Creek, the Turning

  1. Bob Stanton says:

    Nice fish, Walt! Yeah, I too am ready for spring to raise its head, and with some conviction this time around. In fact, I shaved off the beard today hoping that Mother Nature will take the hint!

    • Shaving the beard seems rather drastic there, Bob, but I guess it makes sense. Ma Nature will notice, we hope. Thanks for the compliment, and have a great first week when the sun and earth say Spring!

  2. Leigh says:

    Nice Walt! I have yet to wet a line (or write a post) this year.

  3. Hi Leigh! Been wondering how things were going with you. It’s been a while. Hopefully you’ll be on the water soon. Keep us posted.

  4. Mark W says:

    Walt, that’s a very nice brown, I love the red spot on the adipose fin! I don’t think I’ve seen that before, just the red fringe on the adipose and tail fin characteristic of wild browns.

  5. Thanks Mark. Yeah there’s something about the rich diet found in a spring creek that makes it special for the wild trout (and the folks who get acquainted with the fish). The coloration on some of those browns really comes out from whatever it is they’re feeding on.

  6. Alan says:

    Wonderful specimens for a never ending winter.
    Wish I was with you Walt on this one.

  7. John Wallingford says:

    this guy usually writes about southern NY or PA and i thought there was a Spring Creek in NY or PA. sorry. Jack I have fished montana a few times and i know of Spring Creek and have never fished it. sorry. jack

    • John, Not sure if you wanted to comment here or not, but feel free to inquire. There are Spring Creeks in almost any state I can think of. I generally write on the one in upstate New York.

  8. LQN says:

    beauties, nicely done walt!

  9. Thanks Long, these browns belong to a special population.

  10. Wow, the reds are really pronounced on these beautiful fish. Spots are pretty spread out as well. Very cool, Walt. Really getting the itch now!

  11. Mike, This is the slowest arrival of spring weather that I can recall in upstate, but it’s happening– at a snail’s pace. Finally saw the first redwings this evening. And that means it won’t be long till we’re back at casting. As always, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Much appreciated!

  12. Those fish are gorgeous!

  13. They’re glad for the appreciation, Jim. Thanks.

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