Saturday, April 11, 2009

Slumpbuster & Stumping The Schwab

Its been a long time since I was able to have a day or two on the water. A day or two to wind down and get my mind off the realities that accompany the real world. Now during that time the skills diminished quite a bit. I found myself missing strikes, having weak hooksets, and having an altogether unproductive (in terms of fish landed) time on the water. I was officially in a slump. However, it was productive in the fact that I was able to escape and hang out with family and friends and rediscover why I love fly fishing so much.

Landing A Bow On White Clay Creek

ID Adam?

Green Caddis Larva

My first time out brought my brother and I to the East Branch of White Clay Creek, in Chester County PA. It was finally time for my spring break and the East Branch was only 15 minutes across the border from the U of D. The place was packed but we made the best of the situation landing several trout. The upper waters of White Clay Creek offer an opportunity to catch trout in an environment that is pristine compared to other waters found in the tri-state area. Its bounty this particular day yielded a mayfly that proved to be quite the catch as it later briefly stumped a Pennsylvania fly fishing guru.

Landing A Bow @ White Clay

A Stocked Brown.

Quill Gordon?

Same Exact Mayfly.

After White Clay, we headed home to the Lehigh Valley and along the way we received a phone call asking us to partake in a one fly competition the next morning. Having never even entertained the possibility of entering a fly fishing competition before, I was initially hesitant. I was in a slump and was rusty from too much time spent student teaching all semester. However, the thought of entering that contest with my brother and my best friend Adam led to an all systems go. Arriving late Friday night, we tied up our planned flies that would be the ones used during the entire competition.

The competition was held by Rivers Fly Fishing in New Ringgold, PA along the Little Schuylkill River. Six teams of two showed up for the 9th annual competition and a chance to meet the legendary Charles Meck. My brother Matt and I were a pair and Adam paired with his buddy Nate, a rookie fly fishermen. Matt and I drew the honey hole for round one but would take the Dump Hole for round two. A one seed, six seed swap in terms of productivity. So we knew we had to make the best of our situation. The beats were split into hour and a half time slots. For the first 45 minutes of beat number one, Matt and I had not caught a single trout. Switching the side of the stream we were on, we immediately found success as I landed an 11 inch bow and then Matt hooked a 16 incher. For the second half of the first time slot we landed nine fish totaling 116 inches. The biggest a 16.5 inch bow landed at the tail end along the rip rap of the hole. That left us in a good position to win the contest but we had to step up for part two. We had the Dump Hole and the previous competitors had not landed a fish and their judge had no expectations for us. We covered as much water as we could and were able to land two trout an 11 incher and a 13 incher for a total of 11 for 141 inches.

The Competitors Gear Up.

Average Little S. Rainbow.

16.5 Inch Bow.

Back at the shop, I was surprised that we had won the competition and had taken second in the big fish competition by 1/4 of an inch. Adam by himself (Nate didn't have any luck) finished 3rd. Looking back on the comp, it was an awesome experience and it really changed the dynamics of fly fishing albeit for only three hours. Only being able to use one fly and not being able to lose it led to a cautious approach that gradually led to a riskier one as the deadline came. The other fly fishermen were great company and I enjoyed shooting the shit with the judges on the banks of the little schuylkill. The winners received gift certificates that were promptly donated to the local chapter of TU. We also received a complementarily book by Charles Meck that he could sign for us.

The Final Tally

Simple Is, Simple Does


A great highlight of the day was when I had the opportunity to ask Charles Meck, what species of mayfly I found on White Clay Creek the day before. No one I had talked to up to that point could determine what it was. I had used Meck's book to make a guess at a Quill Gordon and he initially thought the same but he broke it down through a series of questions and taking a close look at my digital photos. He actually had to consult other sources to make a proper conclusion as this species of mayfly is very rare in Pennsylvania. He determined that the species, in his experiences were only found on Clark's Creek, north of Harrisburg. The species he determined was a Great Speckled Olive Dun (Siphloplecton Basale) and pointed to his book, Trout Streams & Hatches of Pennsylvania to elaborate upon his claim. In it Charles Meck states that many fishermen, "who see the hatch believe its a quill gordon. The body of the quill gordon, however, is much darker than that of the great speckled olive" (p. 70). He was surprised to hear it was found on White Clay Creek and remarked, "is that the stream that I found a shopping cart in?" which, I found funny because that very same shopping cart is why I lost a large brown last year.

Charles Meck Identifies.

Great Speckled Olive Dun.

She's A Beauty.

Close Up, With Light.

Close Up, No Light.

Two Tails.

Leaving the competition, we decided to fish for some golden bones. At our golden bones stomping grounds I landed my first "hoss" on the fly and another respectable golden ghost.
For the hoss, I somehow launched a cast across the pond between and under two overhanding branches right on the spot, the hoss was feeding. More luck than skill and I was rewarded for the cast when BAM! the hoss exploded after a long distance hookset. The four minute fight strained by new 5 weight rod before he succumbed to the net. He totaled 10 pounds of pure gold. It was an awesome day on the water, that officially brought me out of my slump.


Fighting the Real "Hoss"

10 Pounds of Pure "Hoss"

One Fly Photos courtesy of Randy @

1 comment:

Adam said...

Probably one of the best days ever...

As for your ID Picture, I can assume the family Heptageniidae, but as for the genus I need him under a dissecting scope. I would need to examine its gills.