I am geographically challenged when it comes to home water. There is a paucity of quality trout water in the immediate Pittsburgh area. I visit my home stream often, but by necessity, mostly in my head. When I close my eyes I can see it and hear it – it is Spring Creek in Pennsylvania. I have caught my share in its water, though I do not claim any expertise and there are many that know her moods better. Spring Creek is the first stream upon which I cast a fly – and so shall remain my home water.
I started catching fish consistently on Spring Creek when I discovered the magic of the cressbug and black ants (fished wet). Those two flies seemed change the course of my fishing there and became my standard Spring Creek flies – excepting of course sulphur time.
On Spring Creek the water can seem barren at times – and then a hatch brings fish from the depths, and the water is suddenly alive with fish. It can be very humbling to see all those fish materialize out of a pool that earlier had left you empty handed. It is generally not the kind of stream that you can walk along blind casting dries and expect too much (at least I never have done well that way). So I came to Spring Creek on this trip with my handful generic, non-imitative, unweighted wetflies, which I fish without added weight – with a bit of trepidation. Was it unfounded?
Well the first section that we fished was unproductive. It looked nice and we saw fish as we hiked in. There was a shady bank with nice runs up under overhanging trees – very fishy looking. Started fishing and then…kayaks and canoes started floating by every five minutes and that was a bit discouraging. I don’t know if fish get used to these and learn to ignore them – but I found it hard to fish with any kind of focus in the face of this floating onslaught. So we moved on. We traveled 3 hrs to get to the stream – and so were not getting a terribly early start. So I filed this stretch away for future exploration earlier in the day (or maybe late in the evening) to avoid the plastic hatch.
No Kayaks and canoes on this stretch – and I started catching fish right away. I landed 4 and had several others on in a short stretch of pocket water. And I learned that even on a rich limestone stream, in the middle of a sunny day, fish can be caught pretty handily on a fairly large, non-imitative sakasa kebari fished without weight. A few years ago I would have had my doubts but now I know…
However…just before dark we went up to another stretch of stream where I knew I’d see lots of fish eating small sulphurs (ephemerella dorothea). And it was a feeding frenzy. Just as it got dark the water was boiling with fish – fish were rising everywhere. And none of them wanted my sakasa kebari. This did not surprise me at all. Well – I figured maybe a couple would take the larger fly especially as it got dark – but no luck. During a super hatch fish get dialed in – this is not news.
If my fly had been smaller (it was at least 5 times the length of the tiny sulphurs) maybe I’d have coaxed a few, maybe some different technique could have done it – who knows…So in the midst of an instense hatch maybe large generic sakasa kebari are not the best choice (no real surprise). I’m pretty sure a size 18 or 20 sulphur emerger would have cleaned up though.
All in all a successful half day on the stream. Chalk another one up to tenkara one-fly. It works even on rich limestone streams…except when it doesn’t.