Potomac-Patuxent Chapter Trout Unlimited
For the second year in a row we left early so we could stop and fish the LeTort before heading over to the Yellow Breeches. During the past 15 years Iíve fished the meadow section of the LeTort several times without landing a single fish. Last year Ken Bowyer came close to breaking the spell hooking a nice rainbow on a cress bug, but lost it when it dove into the cress beds leaving the curse intact. Iíve only hooked fish once; back in 2004 I lightly hooked two browns on a #18 Henryville losing both of them. To say this stream is tough just doesnít adequately describe the challenge. This trip we hoped to find some fish rising to Tricos which would give us targets to fish to, but found no hatch of any kind. Slowly moving downstream I spotted a good brown rising to something too small to see and got a good swipe on a beetle before spooking him when I changed positions and sent him scurrying for the cover of cress. Frustrated I decided to tie on a Coburn deer hair cress bug, weight it, and drift it blind through the slots meandering through the cress beds. I couldnít see the fly, but just watched the indicator, and when it seemed to hesitate and dance slightly I raised the rod forcing a 9 inch brown to burst out of the cress. After a short fight I slid him across the green mat and took a quick picture then let him go. The curse be damned! Booyah!
Ken came by soon after asking ďdoin any good?Ē I told him ďyep, I had broken the curseĒ, and went on to describe my technique of drifting a cress bug blindly through the slots remarking how the fly at the end of the drift seemed to slide back to me through the cress without getting hung for the back cast. I sensed Ken was a little skeptical, but a couple of casts later a small brown burst out of the cress and grabbed the cress bug mid water column producing true believer. It was around noon by then, warming up and time to head out for lunch and check in at the hotel.
The LeTort is a very interesting spring creek and quite spooky in late evening. There is no clear bank, and wallowing through the flooded vegetation I always feel like Iím in a swamp, and itís always in the back of my mind that the next large spring seep is only a step away that might just swallow me whole. ButÖ it holds monster trout, and I would fish it a lot more if I lived closer.
On the way back from the hotel and lunch we stopped to check out the Williams Grove area. A big hand painted sign stated; ďIf the fish guts donít stop the parking will!Ē let me know right away this was a put and take section and we were parking on private property. We fished it for a half hour or so without any sign of fish but kept it in mind for later if the main stem was too crowded.
Pulling into the lot next to the run the first thing I noticed was a couple of young guys drinking beer and fishing with power bait off the wooden bridge. Typical young guys, one had a shaved head and lots of tattoos, the other a long chin beard, both drunk. While I was informing them that this was a catch and release area, artificial flies and lures only, the one with the beard accidently knocked his half full beer can into the water, so, I walked down the path and got ahead of it to get it and when I got back they were tying on Mepps spinners. Figuring I had done my good deed for the day I wandered up stream to fish with Ken.
Walking the path along the upper-most section and looking into the pools for fish, I soon was all the way up to the outlet before finding any. I could see some directly under the big pipe that runs across the stream four foot above the water. Drifting flies next to the pipe and not getting line or leader caught up in the flange bolts is tough enough, but there was also a fresh blow down filling up the entire stream from bank to bank just a few yards below the outlet. I thought wellÖ, probably wonít be able to land one if I get one on, but at least maybe I could hook one. Still using the cress bug I was into three briefly until they hit that tumult of fast water popping the fly right out. The fourth fish I thought was a bottom snag until the bottom moved six inches. Not knowing what else to do I held the rod high to keep tension on the fish and climbed down the wall into the stream. This is an awkward place to play a fish. The rock wall there is about 6 foot high and was only inches from my left shoulder. That pipe was a few yards directly in front and above me, and a tree branch dipped down from above making me keep the rod tip high inside a window opening. For the first fifteen to twenty to minutes I kept as much steady pressure I thought my 6X tippet would stand but still couldnít raise or see the fish which had me thinking large carp the way he was dogging the bottom. Putting a good bit more pressure on the fish and risking a break off I finally was able to bring him up and saw his head break the surface. I could see it was a trout, but didnít know what kind or how big. I knew he was big, but until he made his first lumbering jump out of that froth I didnít know he was a brown trout. My heart pumping harder, I knew all he had to do was turn and shoot downstream a couple of yards into the blow down and it was all over, but another ten or fifteen minutes passed and he was still on had me thinking, well.., maybe I did have a chance. Maybe I could keep him in the chop facing up stream, tire him out, and get him in the net. Several times with a lot of rod pressure I had him up by the wall but just out of reach in the calmer water in front of me, then he would slide back over the six inches and back into the chop. Once he came up close enough but because the surface water was boiling slightly from the gush it distorted everything and I couldnít see him well enough to get my shallow 15 inch C&R net, which was looking woefully inadequate for the task, under him.
Looking up I noticed Ken had come over and was taking a few pictures, I told him I was going to try and wade across the gush and land him in the shallow water off to the side of the opening on the his side of the run. Getting there was a little perilous, but I made it with fish still on only to find I couldnít maneuver the rod high enough or back far enough on that side because of the pipe and the wall to force him over. Making it back through the chop I took up my old position and tried, again, to put enough pressure on him to net him. I got him in front of me and had the net in the water when a boil obscured him and he bolted upstream, whirled around, then with the force of the current behind him shot into the blow down and was off. I donít know what spooked him, maybe the net, but I think from the position I was in I was never really able to put enough pressure on him to properly tire him out, he just hunkered down on the bottom and let the chop roll over him until he finally decided it was time to get outta there. I saw his full length clearly in the shallow water and on several lumbering jumps and he was well over 20 inches with a lot of girth. Trout surely do love those Coburn Deer Hair Cress Bugs!
Afterwards, Ken and I decided to eat the other half of our sandwiches on the bench by the furnace when I spotted the same two guys bait fishing from the bridge. When I went over they told me they were fishing legal, but I could see the bright orange power bait on the stream bottom, so I suggested they pack it up and find a place to fish legal; at which point they had suggestion for me that had nothing to do with fishing. I said ďOkay, fine, Iím calling the Game wardenĒ. The one with all the tattoos said ďOkay, fine, if youíre calling your boys then Iím calling some of mineĒ. A guy standing nearby gave me the wardenís number and I called, but, according to the guy with the number no oneís there a good bit of the time, this apparently being one of those times. At this point a couple of things were clear; first, my boys, the wardens, werenít home and not coming, but most likely, their boys the thugs were; and second, we couldnít leave Kenís brand new SUV in the parking lot for the boys to modify while we were downstream fishing. The guy who provided me the wardenís number said these guys were local outlaws capable of about anything. So I told Ken we should probably pack up our lunch and relocate up to the Allenberry Inn parking area. On the way out a couple of car loads of young fellas pulled in, Iím guessing the boys. I should probably just learn to mind my own business.
We found some nice water downstream of the Allenberry Inn within ear shot of the bluegrass festival going on at the pavilion, and remembering seeing those worm nests earlier I tied on a chartreuse San Juan worm. I immediately caught three fish, all small browns, while Ken began talking about the faint odor of skunk. Usually this situation is reversed and itís me watching Ken catch all the fish with me on the lookout for skunks.
As the evening wore on, a large mink provided some entertainment as he worked the crevices in the rocks along the shore for his supper, while the big Hexagenia began to make their appearance. Ken remarked that they were flying closer to the water than usual, instead of doing their undulating dance high above. These guys were an inch and a half to two inches long with tail, and why the fish werenít slurping them up with abandon is a mystery to me. The only fish we took during the entire hatch and spinner fall was one brown each on size #22 and #24 Griffiths gnats, thus putting an end to Kenís dry spell. We stayed and fished till dark but not even one White fly came off.
The next morning we were back at the same spot looking to cash in on the huge Trico hatches we were hearing about, but they too were no shows. Even without a hatch we got a lot of refusals and false takes on Trico patterns, and Ken did take a fish on a #22 female dun, the only fish of the day. Heading towards home we stopped and fished Mountain Creek before getting some lunch. Itís the first time Iíve ever fished this creek and it reminded me a lot of Big Hunting Creek. Ken said Mountain Creek is a put and take stream and I made a mental note to come back next spring when fishing for the pan. Back in Maryland we looked at Owens creek, and fished Big Hunting, until the heat drove us off, then a quick look at Little Hunting. Big Hunting isnít as low as Iíve seen it, but still pretty low and we thought a little murky for some unknown reason. I drifted some ants without any luck, and Ken said he got a swipe on a beetle in the log pool.
No White flies, and only the two of us, but it was still a good outing. We broke the LeTort dry spell, and landed a total of eight fish between us losing four or five more. Just seeing those big Hexagenia in those numbers is worth the trip, and when the fish are on them it can really be great.
The next outing is to Yellow Creek September 19th. Ken and I are making it a day trip but Iíve heard rumors others may be staying over. Come along and join the fun.
The following is a short video of this outing.
© Potomac-Patuxent Chapter of Trout Unlimited 1999-2018
P.O. Box 2865 Wheaton, MD 20915
This document last modified 12/29/09