April 2012 Outing Report
Northcentral Pennsylvania

One of the best features of a rambling fly fishing trip is the unexpected things learned. I knew that lower Kettle Creek got too warm in summer for year around trout fishing, but I had no idea that all of Kettle Creek, Young Woman’s, and Cross Fork Creeks, got too warm as well.

Days before we went a winter storm blasted through the area dumping snow in the mountains and leaving temperatures in the 30’s at night. The locals told us that before the storm the creeks were very low and Kettle had already warmed up to 67 degrees, and the fishing wouldn’t have lasted much longer. Snow melt raised and cooled the water but put down the fishing for us. We caught fish every day, but we worked for them. What we had in mind was the early spring hatches of Quill Gordon, Blue Quill, & Hendrickson. What we found were sparse hatches of Tan Caddis, Midges, and the large March Browns, the March Browns being a bit of a mystery until Joe Robinson managed to catch one.

After checking in at the Sportsman Lodge at Renovo around noon we headed for Cross Fork Creek. I fished this area about six years ago and had some luck so wanted it to be our first stop. Dirt roads parallel both sides of the creek, and the north side ends at a parking lot with an old one lane wooden bridge that snowmobilers use. Gearing up, Lou Reichel, Bob O’Donnell, and I headed up stream, while Ken Bowyer, Dave Simms, and Joe Robinson headed down. Fish activity above was nil and the only amusement on the way up stream was coming on a potty next to the creek labeled Potter Count Shitter. We got to a junction where a small creek dumped in and just above that I managed to pick off a feisty rainbow with an Elk Hair Caddis holding so close to the far bank the fly was literally bouncing off the tree roots. Lou saw a good sized fish in a deep pool just below, but wasn’t able to entice him to fly.

I noticed a woman in some nearby timber obviously hunting mushrooms, so I walked over to see if she was finding any and make sure we weren’t trespassing. She had two Morels in a small grocery bag and said before the storm it had been too warm and dry. She said we weren’t trespassing and confirmed that Cross Fork had some wild brookies that retreated to headwater springs in hot weather, then afterwards was disappointed when I saw the fish I hooked was a rainbow instead of one of the large brookies she assured me was there.

One of Joe's

One of Bob's

Hiking back down to the bridge, Ken, Joe, Bob, and Dave had a pod of rising fish surrounded rising under the bridge. They were steadily taking Caddis and Midges. Lou joined the group getting a rainbow and we all caught fish the first day. We still weren’t seeing any rising fish out in open water so decided to wander up to the lower catch and release area of Kettle and see if there was an afternoon hatch. Huge March Browns flailed the surface trying to get upright; these are big flies and easily spotted even from a distance. But like Cross Fork the only fish we saw rising were under the bridge. A large fish would periodically come up and crash a big dun in a huge sploosh which got our attention, and spent a good hour casting to it. At least three of us got strikes but missed hooking it before giving up and heading back to town for supper.

Ken on Young Woman's Creek

At breakfast we talked to a local fisherman named Matt, who suggested Young Woman’s Creek saying it had been fishing great and it’s really pretty water with about 4.5 miles of catch & release. The road parallels most of it and reminded us of Big Hunting Creek but just a little bigger. In addition to Matt, another guy we talked to at the gas station also recommended the creek so we were feeling pretty good about our prospects. Three hours in and maybe a mile and a half of water covered, no one even spooked a fish. By 10 am the sun was out, it was almost hot, and lots of bugs were out including some impressive Yellow Sallies just no fish. I caught a large stone crawling on my vest whose wings were a translucent olive green, more the color of boiled egg yolk than yellow, and as long as number 12 hook shank. The creek looked good, and we dawdled around awhile hoping fo some rises would begin but after lunch just gave it up and moved on.

The Dog

Heading back to Kettle we stopped in at Phil Baldacchinno’s Tackle Shop for some intel and was met at the counter by his dog, a pointer I believe. The dog played the part of sales rep pretty well, even picking up a pack of raffle tickets off the counter thrusting them towards me in his muzzle obviously wanting me to buy. When Phil came out of the back we asked him some general fishing questions and directions, but after several minutes of confusion I finally just bought some chocolate and went out and waited by the truck. I should have asked the dog.

We checked the Kettle put and take areas, and there may have been fish in those places, but there were scads of fishermen as well, and with no other place in mind we ended up back at Cross Fork. The fish by the bridge were still rising, and I left Ken and Joe there and hiked up further than the day before. I found some fish in a deep hole under a rock that was tough to fish because of a dead tree in the hole and a hemlock growing over it. Nymphs brought several hook ups and 3 or 4 to hand, but after awhile I tired of casting in and around all the brush and headed back down. Joe and Ken had been into fish and we hung around and fished through some rain landing a couple on realistic caddis. When the rain didn’t look like it was going to subside we headed for the barn and put on the feed bag. Lou, Dave, and Bob also left Young Woman’s and found a section of Kettle Creek with rising fish, Bob hooking up a few times on dries.

At supper we compared notes and had a brief talk with Matt who suggested the upper Kettle area near Ole Bull Sate Park. Next morning we got there just as the stream and some ponds were being stocked by somebody, not sure who, and as we rigged up a guy stopped and talked to us who owns a nearby lodge and is the current president of the Kettle Creek TU chapter. The ponds were on some private ground, but the owner allowed access to walk through to get to the creek. It was pretty chilly, the high 30’s, and winds were forecasted around 25 miles per hour, so it felt like early spring. This was a very picturesque section of the creek, but after a few hours of fishing and covering at least a mile of Creek with only a bump or two we decided to give it up and head down to where Lou and the boys found fish the afternoon before. The sun had come out and there were grouse drumming on the hillsides as we walked in. The current was stiff, and It took a little while to get our nymphs weighted right, but once we got them down to the level of the fish we began to get hook ups. Flies tied with chartreuse, red and pink in Egg Patterns, San Juan Worms, or Crystal Meth did the trick. These were just 13 inch fish, but in that swift water they really put up a fight.

The last day we were off to Spring Creek, and for hours most of us stayed withing sight of the trucks where we found lots of fish rising in the no wade section at Fishermen’s Paradise. There were yellow/cream flies I took to be midges in the air and I’m pretty sure that’s what the fish were on. These fish can be kind of choosy and better just ignored, even with flies down to a size #28 the fish are wary. The first drift or two of a fresh fly might bring a fish up to look, smell, or even bump a fly with its nose, before curtly turning away in a snobbish refusal. Over the next few hours Joe, Ken, Dave, Lou and I fished without a hook up until Joe finally scored with a Cream Midge. Then, suddenly, the fish were taking larger flies. Joe, saw a big fly drifting my way and told me to see what I thought it was, but it got waylaid before getting down to me. They didn’t look all that yellow to me but they must have been Sulphers, and switching over we caught a couple on Sulpher and Craneflies patterns, but still a lot of false takes where the rise just ended in a splashy slap. Around 3:30 Bob strolled back down stream to check in and reported the fish were jumping. He had landed a half dozen or more which was all we needed to hear. Frustrated with the snobby browns and glassy water we headed on up.

On the way up stream I could see fish rising from the path and almost all the pools and slicks the first half of the way up to the bridge were occupied. I lucked out and no one was at the bridge or in any of the pools immediately below, which is what I was hoping for. Crossing the bridge I could see a dozen fish rise to something, and tried my Sulpher. A fish took the dun but most just ignored it. I thought I could see BWO’s coming off and switched patterns getting another fish or two, but they still weren’t what the fish were after tearing up the surface. I started digging out my fly boxes and found my emerger box, and on an Olive emerger I got a fish first cast, and then another before the fly wouldn’t float any more. As I started tying on the conglomeration of emergers I had with me the situation turned into one of those fish story afternoons that sounds like a lie; the fish would hit any emerger pattern drifted near them. I looked at my watch and called Ken but he didn’t answer, it was 5:30.

In the next hour or less I lost track of how many fish I hooked. I only had about seven or eight emerger flies with me, and once soaked I’d put them on my patch to dry. Soon they were all soaked and I’d remove the driest looking one, blow on it a few times and throw it back out. The Deer Hair pattern in #12 worked best and floated the longest, and early on I could get two or three hook ups before having to change flies, once soaked they sunk after one fish or sooner. Even sunk they worked to an extent and the fish would hit them as drowned flies. I LDR’d more than I landed, and landed around 8 or 10 then the hatch and rising just petered out. I never got a hold of Ken, but as it turned out all the guys were in pools below me having some successes of their own.

The weather tripped us up a bit, and the fishing was far from easy, but we still caught a fair number of fish. The scenery was beautiful. We didn’t see any of the areas elk but saw other wildlife including an osprey that Joe spotted. The food was good, I gained four pounds. We feasted every night on Yuengling drafts, pickled eggs, stuffed chickens, and beer battered shrimp, full racks of ribs, and hot apple pie with ice cream.

Dennis Covert



Yellow Stonefly

Large Nymph

Joe at Potter County Stonehenge

March Brown

Spring Creek Trillium

Dennis caught this one

The Crew at Dinner