North Central PA Trip Results
I got a much later start after my meeting on Tuesday (4-20) and decided to fish the George Harvey section of Spruce Creek. On the way I passed a few stretches of the Little "J" and given more time would have given that a try. Fishing is quite a bit different in PA (than in the Smokies), since so much of the streams runs through Private Property. However, the Little J has been opened up in the last couple of years with Navigable Waters claim. There is a lot of private property, but there were a number of pullouts and you can walk up into the streambeds and then fish up/down stream.
The thing I learned on this trip, is if you don't see a bunch of cars, you're probably in the wrong spot...more on that in a bit...
There were lots of cars in the pullouts on the Little "J" (Grannom Hatch), so I made my way up to Spruce Creek. Spruce Creek is a very famous stream in PA (and around the world for that matter), but the only section that is public is in George Harvey Park, which is about a mile North of the town of Spruce Creek. And its only about a half mile of stream...of course what I didn't realize, was that its somewhat braided through the park and the small rivulet that you can see from the parking area and along the first 100 yards of the trail is not the stream, but a small side channel...Not knowing that I wasn't really fishing the main creek, I dropped in at about 6:30p and fished my way upstream for about an hour or so. I managed to catch about half a dozen Browns (all on a dark brown xCaddis dry, on a curved hook). I also got lots of rises and refusals, but in general it was good to see so many fish in a 6' wide stream. I brought a nice sized Brown (14+) up for a peek at my fly, but he quickly rolled back down and out with a splash.
After leaving the stream I spoke with a very nice couple who lived in the area, and they informed me that I wasn't fishing the main stream at all , and that fish up to 30" are caught from time to time on the main stem, not too far over from where I was....
I woke up on Wednesday (my day off to fish...) and was torn between going back to Spruce Creek, which would add time to my overall trip up to Binghamton (and force me to leave the stream by about 6p to make it to the hotel at a reasonable time) or try some new waters north of where I was, and somewhat on the way to NY (which is what I decided). I reasoned that if I fished Slate Run and Cedar Run, I could fish until dark and make it to the hotel by 10ish....
I drove up through the Pine River Canyon to Slate Run. Its beautiful country that you should check out if you are ever in the area...although I'm not sure why you'd ever get up there by accident...Its a long way from everywhere...
There were quite a few cars on Pine River (good sign). Everyone fishing was casting downstream or nymphing (bad sign). Its really too early in the year to be casting dries up here, but I didn't let anything like common sense get in my way...When I pulled up the road for Slate Run, I quickly realized there were quite a bit fewer cars (bad sign). I found a spot about 2 miles up that looked pretty good (although it was nearly straight down) and I rigged up.
Slate Run is a beautiful mountain stream that I would fish even it didn't contain fish...which is a good thing because I didn't even sniff a fish for 3 hours....until I came to this one pool...
Losing the fish of the year (so far)
So as I'm slowly making my way up to the pool I see about 60 yards ahead of me what seems to be a rise form. I wait a minute more and it happens again. After the third time I realize that, for the first time that day, I know there is at least one fish in this darn stream. But the pool is very quiet, so I'm going to have to cast at least 60 yards up and across, as quietly as possible, to have any shot at this fish.
I pull out more line in preparation (which amounts to more line than I would use in an entire year fishing in the Smokies). I lasso it around my head and flick it backwards (in true Brad Pitt fashion) and pull it forward in what may be the best cast I have ever made, and drop the fly three feet to the left of the next set of rise rings...but close doesn't count....I let the line lazily coast away, hoping I didn't startle the fish. I'm amazed thirty seconds later when another ring appears in about the same location.
I pull out an additional 3 feet of line, pick it up off the water and while I realize that its even more unlikely that I would cast my Husky xCaddis better than the last cast, astonishingly, that's exactly what I did. This time the fly landed three feet above the rings. I hold my breath and watch for what seemed like an eternity...had I scared him?...was it the wrong fly?...why are oranges orange?...Its always amazing what thoughts pop into your head when you are trying to concentrate...
You already know whats about to happen, I told you at the beginning of this section now didn't I.... I should be happy with the perfect cast and drift, right? Well, after what felt like a winter in Buffalo, up comes the fish...and he sips in the fly. Almost instantly, the water starts boiling and the line makes a hard jerk to the right. I had hooked him and set it well and he was peeved.... My 4wt doubled over and lurched from the right to the left as the fish came half out of the water and made a hard turn to run up the pool.
It didn't take long, really. It was probably over within 5 seconds. The Davy Knot that I had been so happy to learn, had finally failed and slipped through the fly eye. And that sickening slackening of the line when its lost a fish signaled the end of a fight lost too quickly, and a fish never completely known...It had to have been 18 inches or more (with emphasis on the more...). My fly rod had never been tested like that before, so its hard to be sure...(sigh)
After losing that fish and fishing a for another 30 minutes, or so, I decided to change things up and give Cedar Run at try. Its only about 15 minutes from where I was on Slate Run to where I started on Cedar Run.
Cedar Run was on a road that was much rougher than Slate Run and there were even fewer cars; as in, my car was the only one there. I stopped at a point about 2 miles up from the Pine and started in. In about 2 hours of fishing I never saw a fish with the exception of the 3" brookie that I pulled out of a small pool. Its a nice stream that is regulated for trophy trout (with a slot and limit), but it didn't appear to have any fish in it. At least, none that were looking up. I'm sure that's not the case, but there was no one else fishing it so I'm sure I was there at the wrong time...
Silver Creek/Fall Brook
This evening I fished Silver Creek and Fall Brook inside of Salt Spring SP. The water was supposed to have been stocked a week or two ago, but again it seemed devoid of fish. I did manage to catch a small rainbow on Fall Brook, but other than some nice canyon scenery, it wasn't worth the effort. There is a beautiful waterfall on Fall Brook, if you ever make it up this way...but no one else was fishing (again).
In general, up here if you don't see cars, the fishing isn't worth the effort...there are no/few secret streams here, so go where the locals are and you'll have more success...I also think its still a few weeks early for dries on the streams up here. There were bugs hatching, but just not the kind of top water action we are seeing in the SE....
If I ever get the chance I would like to go back:
Spruce Creek - Definitely worth the effort
Slate Creek - Tough fishing but worth the effort
Cedar Run - Very similar to the Smokies but with much bigger fish (apparently)
Now if I can just schedule a few more meetings....
"Even a fish wouldn't get into trouble if he kept his mouth shut."
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