First outing on the summer/fall schedule and the weather couldn’t have been more pleasant. The temperature at 2pm was around 80 degrees with low humidity under a cloudless blue sky .On the drive up to Boiling Springs I was accompanied by PPTU’ers Edward Todd Carver and Tim Bowers. Cruising through the Catoctins and into southern Pennsylvania we noticed how green the landscape was, totally lacking that dry brown cast that mid-August can sometimes have. Pulling into Boiling Springs we stopped at the Yellow Breeches fly shop so Tim and Todd could get licensed up, a grueling web based process whose outcome is by no means guaranteed and makes everyone involved a little anxious until the printer finally acquiesces approval and spits out the required documentation. Waiting …….. We shopped the fly case and talked to the proprietor about what patterns were currently effective. He listed the usual suspects, terrestrials, midges, crane flies, caddis, and the evening emergence of the large Brown Drake, but as of yet no whiteflies. Well dang! The outing was planned to hit the peak of the whitefly hatch but once again Mother Nature reminded me her schedule is her own.
Once at the parking lot at children’s run, we geared up, wished each other luck and struck out. Tim caught a nice fish, a rainbow I think, on his second cast with a flashback foam beetle, followed by 3 more, 2 browns and another rainbow all within twenty minutes. I was fishing the same beetle and never drew look. One thing I’ve noticed about this river over the years, anglers who catch fish seem to find if not stumble on success in their own subtle ways, the variations might be slight, but enough to fool the fish. Success for me was a micro caddis nymph that I let drift close to the wall at the head of the run. Three fish later, a 16" brown, a small rainbow and an almost black brookie the run was suddenly swirling with bits of algae that stuck to the leader and fly on every cast making a good drift impossible. It slowly sunk in that the algae had to be coming through the outlet tube from the lake, curiously I walked up to the road and looked over and saw two guys with spinning gear pushing the algae mat around at the head of the spill way. Creating a hole to fish through? Who knows why people do the things they do? This influx of algae seemed to highly agitate the fish. They darted around and through it, whether it was from getting food swirling amongst it or they just didn’t like it I don’t know. Whatever the reason it was time to leave the run and by this time the algae was at least as far down as the foot bridge.
Bumping into Tim at the truck he asked me where all the algae was coming from. We decided to grab a quick snack and drink, before heading down into the main stem and begin looking for an evening spot to fish. Picking up Todd along the way we walked as far down as the Allenberry and joined a herd of anglers already assembled below the dam and stationed in the better riffles. Deciding this to be a little less than optimal we headed back up into the main stem and found some likely spots among the other hopefuls and began to wait for the drakes. As the evening wore on I noticed I had two suckers and a very large carp industriously feeding out in front of me but no trout, a little later a good fish revealed himself by flashing on the bottom grubbing in the feeding lane in front and to the left of me. 30 minutes later Tim had picked up a couple of trout on a soft hackle, and I tried several patterns over the fish in my front that had quit grubbing and was now occasionally rising to something light to cream in about a size #20. Changing flies several times I lifted him twice and once he gave chase but at the last moment declined to take. This reminding me of the something I recently read in Ed Engle’s Fishing Small Flies where he was quoting Marinaro’s contention that; “Once a trout has made the decision to turn down stream and chase the fly it will never refuse it.”(39) Yeah,.. ok.
Around 7:45 I noticed a few brown drakes fluttering about, living large in a size # 8, and if eyes did not deceive an early evening whitefly. Of the 14 or so anglers I could see stretched along the river, only 2 that I could tell were hooking up with any regularity, mostly I think because they were the lucky few who had a good pod of fish working out in front of them. I think I heard them both at one time or another call to people close that they had on caddis so it didn’t sound like they were capitalizing on the drakes either.
Sometime around 8 O’clock I happened to glance over my left shoulder to see a squadron of whiteflies lifting out the shallows next to the bank behind me. Tim spoke to get my attention, I said I saw and was in the act of tying on a #14 emerger as we spoke. For the next 30 minutes or so the hatch increased in the gathering darkness from squads of flies here and there, to a horde of fluttering white dots on the now dark oily surface of the creek. Ironically, only a few fish were on them, and the white dots that danced in my casting area went completely unmolested. Even though it was almost dark I told Tim I was off to find a better spot. I waded ashore, Tim agreeing coming up behind me and we walked 100 yards upstream and cut in. Entering the river it was too dark to see anything rise but I could hear a fish gulping in front of a half submerged limb next to the far bank. After much frustration I managing to tie on a fresh #12 snowshoe emerger pattern, wondering all the while why I didn’t bother learn how to use the knot tying tool I bought after Robert Simpson demonstrated it at the November meeting, Finally on, I cast it toward the gulps. On the third drift I heard the gulp and lifted the rod, a minute later I landed my first and only trout of the hatch. Listening for several minutes and hearing no more gulps in the now complete darkness we decided it was time to head for the truck. We stumbled across Todd in the dark parking lot who said the action was also slow where he was at and only saw one other angler getting hook ups.
The good news is even though the fish weren’t keyed in on the whiteflies the hatch has finally started and if last night was any indication it is going to be a good one. We caught some fish, a couple up around 16", and enjoyed a beautiful summer afternoon and evening. The evening air was cool and had a hint of spice in it reminding me of Indian summer and the autumn yet to come. Like the kid’s say; it’s all good.