Potomac-Patuxent Chapter Trout Unlimited
After stopping at a Sheetz to pick up sandwiches for lunch, we arrived at the Fisherman's Paradise upper parking lot at about 11:30 and surprisingly found plenty of parking spaces. In over 4 hours of fishing, while caddis, sulphurs, and a few other insects were hatching, there were very few rising fish observed. While most of the sulphurs we observed had the sulphur orange color, Dick and I did observe a greenish-yellow sulphur. I had already gone through over a dozen different flies (both nymphs and dry flies) and only produced one swipe at a dry fly. The others were reporting similar results. My 24oz. soda wasn't quenching my thirst and I failed to bring any water in my vest so I made the 15 minute hike back to the parking lot to get some water. On the hike back, I ran into Robert Simpson who had arrived at the parking lot a few minutes earlier. He told me some others were also gearing up. Back at the parking lot, I found Mike Abramowitz, Jim Arnold, and Jim Crowell getting ready. Mike mentioned that Steve Graves wasn't coming. I was carrying my cell phone open in a zip lock bag so I could access it more readily on the stream. This had worked fine on a couple of other trips but this time, my movements inadvertently pushed the right sequence of buttons to call Jim G. in the ICU at the hospital back home. Reading my phone operation manual, I can't figure out how it happened. To get back to fishing, the evening hatch lasted from about 6:30 to 8:45. Everybody that had hiked up to the area around the bridge had caught fish. Robert reported catching a 7", 8", 10", and then a 12 incher. He thought maybe the size increase would continue until he was brought back to reality with another 8 incher. Meeting back at the parking lot, we found Jim Keil, Mark Silinsky, and Bob Muehlenkamp. Jim had had a slow afternoon at Benner Springs but he and Mark were both into fish during the evening hatch at Paradise. Bob had just arrived in time for the group to caravan to TGI Fridays for dinner and then to the hunt club where we met Jason Beckstrom who had fished the Little Juniata. Jason had caught his fair share on the Little J. but said the hatch only lasted from 8:15 till 8:45 and was really heavy the last 15 minutes. In reviewing the days activities until almost 1 AM, it was determined that the pheasant tail nymph was the most productive fly but fish were also taken on top with caddis and sulphur emergers, duns, and spinners. No spinner fall was observed. There were no fish of significant size taken. A highlight of this day was when Dick spotted a young eagle soaring above with a trout in its talons.
Monday morning, Jason decided that he was going back to the Little J. I thought the rest of the group was going to Spring Creek again but found out at the end of the day that Mike, Mark, and Bob also went to the Little J. Dick, Tim, Lou, and I headed out at about 9:30AM to Benner Springs. We made another stop at TCO. While I still had several sulphur emergers in size 14 and 16, the size 14s weren't working and the size 16s that worked for me were left in the trees Sunday evening. In the first 10 minutes a Benner Springs, I caught a 9" brookie on a pheasant tail nymph. After that, it was tough going for several hours. I pointed out a fish to Lou that wasn't interested in my pheasant tail. When I came back to him a little while later, he pointed out that there were about 8 fish there including a couple of larger ones. The two larger ones were in shallower water on the other side of the faster current. From our position it was difficult to get a good dead drift because the current would always drag the fly through at a faster rate. I had Lou move up stream about 10 or 15 feet where he could reach over the fast current with his rod and let the fly drift through the slower water. I left him there to go up stream looking for Tim and Dick. About a half hour or so later when Lou caught up with me, I was struggling to retrieve my pheasant tail from a tree branch. He informed me he had caught one of the larger fish where I had left him. He didn't have a measuring tape but I'm guessing it was in the 15-17" range and the largest fish landed this trip. Congratulations Lou! In the meantime, I managed to retrieve my fly from the tree only to lose it in the stream when the knot gave way after I put it through the hook keeper and tightened the line. I decided not to lose any more flies at this pool because of the overhanging trees and proceeded to spook about 2 dozen fish walking through the pool to get out of the stream. We hiked back down stream to the parking lot where I decided to eat a sandwich and take a nap. After my nap, Tim showed up and had hiked all the way up to the next access point at Big Rock without finding Dick. He marked the point in his portable GPS so he could find the location in the future. Subsequently working our way downstream I located 2 nice fish in quiet shallow water adjacent to a riffle. They weren't interested in my pheasant tail nymph and since I had seen a few caddis on the stream, I tied on a #14 simple three hackle fly. On the first cast, a nice 13" brown smashed the fly. That's when I discovered I left my camera hanging on the bed post a the cabin. I made several casts with that fly and a sulphur emerger to the other fish without any luck. We did get some late afternoon showers but never encountered much rain. However, the temperature dropped in the afternoon as the showers moved in. Dick, Lou, and I staked out some water for the evening hatch while Tim hiked down stream further. While there were a few sulphurs coming off from 6:30 to 7:30, I only saw one fish rise in my section and couldn't produce any strikes with nymphs, emergers, or parachutes sulphurs. Dick invited me down because he had two larger fish coming up for him but not taking his flies. I tried the sulphur emerger and parachute to no avail. I saw a BWO and decided to try an #18 olive emerger. While I was tying it on, Dick caught and landed the larger fish, a beautiful fat 14" brown with a bright yellow belly and many bright red spots. I subsequently caught the other fish, a 13" brown on the olive emerger. In the mean time, Lou had caught a fish down stream from us. I was cold and not much more was happening so we decided to quit around 8PM. Back a the parking lot, Tim returned shortly and reported taking 9 or so a little ways up stream from the bridge. As we were heading for State College to eat, Jim K. called and said they would meet us at Ruby Tuesday's for dinner. He and Robert had done well in Bellefonte but the hatch ended early there also. Back at the hunt club, we learned that Jim A. and Jim C. (we have too many Jims for this report) had fished the afternoon downstream from Fisherman's Paradise but since they weren't having much luck there, they returned to Paradise for the evening hatch and both were into fish. Jason, Mike, Mark, and Bob all caught fish on the Little J. but Jason said it rained most of the time and there wasn't much of an evening hatch and Bob said it wasn't much fun being there. I want to thank Mike for helping Mark and Bob at the Little J.
There were two highlights for Monday. First, Mark locked himself out of the hunt club while taking some of his gear to the car. He apparently asked the neighbor next door for help. When the neighbor heard he was at the hunt club he said something along the line of "those guys have been treaspassing on my property for the last 20 years so there's no way I'm going to help you". Mark finally found a utility worker with ladders on his truck. He put a ladder up to the upstairs bathroom window which was open with a screen on it and Mark was able to get back in the house. The second highlight was carrying on the tradition of part of the group getting lost for part of the trip. I wasn't on the trip 2 years ago but Jim Arnold said a group of them got lost thanks to Dennis Covert. Last year, my expert navigation skills got half the group lost on the way to dinner at TGI Fridays. This year, with my vehicles navigation system, I got lost going back to the hunt club with Lou patiently following us as I managed to drive about 20-25 miles out of the way.
Tuesday morning, Jason, Mark, Mike, and Tim were heading home a day early because of work schedules, etc. I know Jason stopped at Yellow Creek on the way home arriving around 9:30AM and was the only car in the lot. The stream was off color and he thought it might end up being a bust. He went to the first pool (I think Molly Gordon) and fish were rising in the eddy on the far side of the stream. Many flies later -- nary a fish. Meanwhile a guy showed up at the bottom of the pool fishing with a woolly bugger. He landed two 20" plus fish. Thus, Jason switched to a big bugger and managed to catch a 12" brown. He moved up stream and caught 3 more browns on an elk hair caddis. Around 2PM, he started to see more sulphurs, drakes, and caddis coming off. Around 3PM, the sulphurs were coming off in force. He went to the head of the pool where the trail ends (I believe this is Red Bank). No one else was on the stream, and the same fly he was using on the Little J. to no avail was the ticket on Yellow Creek. While he missed several fish, he managed to bring 12 to the net. The hatch ended around 6:30PM and he decided to leave on a positive note rather than staying to see if the green drakes would come off. The remaining 8 went back to Spring Creek. Jim A. and Jim C. went to an access a few miles down stream from Paradise. After several hours without much luck, they returned to Paradise around 5PM. Just as they were getting ready to hike up stream, two fishermen returned to the parking lot saying they had just fished the best sulphur hatch ever from 1PM until 4:30PM when it ended! Regardless, Jim A. and Jim C. still managed to catch some fish. Robert and Jim K. went to Millsburg where Robert didn't do as well as the previous days but still caught several fish. Jim K. had his best day without spewing numbers but did mention losing an 18" brown that took off in the fast current down stream and leaped out of the water throwing the hook. Bob, Dick, Lou, and I fished the Bellefonte section that Robert and Jim K. had fished the previous day. While we all caught fish, there was only a moderate hatch of sulphurs producing some rising fish from about 4:30 until 6:30. We all quit earlier than the previous days and thus were able to get dinner at Brothers Pizzeria without being rushed due to their 10PM closing time. As we were leaving the restaurant, I offered to lead the way back to the hunt club but nobody wanted to follow me for some reason.
The highlight of this day was observing Bob retrieve a fly that was snagged on a rock in very strong water that was more than waist deep. This guy has super balance and wading powers but I thought for sure we were going to be fishing him out down stream when he was hanging on to a tree branch with the current pulling his lower body down stream. He managed to retrieve his fly and only get a little water in his waders before climbing out. After the fact, I wished I had captured a video clip or pictures of this incident.
Wednesday morning, Bob and Lou headed back home early. After the rest of us did our cleaning chores we went our separate ways. Bob stopped at the Gunpowder on the way home and caught a bunch of small fish on #16 caddis and #16 BWO. I think Jim K. stopped at the Yellow Breeches on the way home but I didn't hear how he did. Dick and I briefly stopped at the Children and Handicap section of Clarks Creek where we observed a lone fisher. We decided not to continue to the Fly Fishing Only section, instead opting for a couple of hours on the Gunpowder at Bunker Hill Rd. where I caught 2 small browns on a sulphur emerger. There were not many bugs hatching or fish rising during the 2 hours we were there.
We had a great time again this year and everybody caught fish. While the cooler weather affected the hatch, the 12 of us still managed to net well over 100 fish while hooking and losing many others. Many of the fish brought to net were smaller than previous years. No spinner fall was observed during the evenings we were on the stream. Thanks again to Jim Keil for letting us stay at his hunt club.
© Potomac-Patuxent Chapter of Trout Unlimited 1999-2018
P.O. Box 2865 Wheaton, MD 20915
This document last modified 05/24/10