After weeks of being incarcerated by relentless winter weather, we finally got out to fish today. I met Douglas and his friend Rob out in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, where we fished two spring creeks. Under partly sunny skies, the air temperature was in the mid-forties, yet it felt much warmer except when the breeze kicked up. We fished the first stream only briefly - this creek was low and sits in an open park where the wind was unobstructed by trees or hills. We didn't catch anything, but we did get to see a redtail hawk feed on a wild rabbit it had caught right next to the parking area. Here's a short video I took of nature at its most brutal yet fascinating best.
We left that spring creek and went to another that typically fishes well on days like today. The water here was low, too, and deep snow lined the banks. The boys had walked to an upstream area while I headed off to a spot well below them. When I reached the water, there was no one in sight; I had the stretch to myself. The breeze here was calm and bright sun fell through the sky and revealed the stream bottom in all but the deepest runs and pools of the creek. Little blue-winged olives hatched in fairly good numbers, drifting on the currents and through the air. A pair of mallards fed on the insects along the opposite bank, picking them one after another off the water surface. No trout rose to take the olives, despite what appeared to be perfect conditions.
I tied on a small, weighted nymph that usually works well here, and worked it deep through the runs and riffles, working my way upstream. After about an hour or so, and covering a couple of hundred yards, I had hooked a single fish and failed to bring it to net. I also had just had an hour or so of time out on the water where the only things that passed through my mind were the fishing and the immediate world around me. No fish, but still a very good time fishing - the perfect escape.
As I rounded the bend, I was met by Doug and Rob, who had worked their way downstream. They too, had not had any success, yet they seemed to be enjoying just being on the water - I had heard them laughing and joking well before I saw them. We talked some and wondered how some days a stream that we know holds lots of wild fish seemed empty of them. We have been on this stream when the olives are hatching in fewer numbers than they were today, and the fish are up and taking them like candy. Yet today, the fish were on holiday. It happens, and it is exactly why we keep coming back.
We were about ready to leave, and Doug asked if he could try my outfit to see how my more traditional nymphing set up differed from his Euro nymphing. After a few casts, he morphed into his best Joe Humphreys imitation and had us laughing. Here he is showing us Joe's tuck cast:
Sharpen your hooks!