October Fish Camp 2012

This was the 6th October fish camp since 2006, and I believe the most beautiful one of all for fall color. It looked more like mid month than the first week. Adding to the color the Savage River was running a pea green from the dam down past the 7X pool, and then a translucent pickle green down river from there. I was told the lake had turned and was dumping algae into the river, then later told it was definitely an algae event but the lake hadn't turned yet.

Still Pool

Mike and Lou

I met Lou Reichel and Mike Abramowitz at the Mickey D's in Westernport at 9 am. We decided to fish the North Branch, Lou wanted to go down past the cemetery near the ghost town of Warnick. The sun was out by this time and temps were pushing up into the high 70s and it didn't take long to strip down to T shirts.

I can't help but think of the North Branch as anything other than a big fish river and spent all day dredging the slots and holes with large woolly Buggers and other weighted flies, but in the end I pounded the water all day without even a bump. That afternoon we did make our way up to the Still Pool below the dam, taking in tow Rodger Johnson and his son-in-law Jeremy along the way who we found in the parking area.

At the top I was surprised to see the old main channel choked with weeds and the Maryland side of the upper island the new main channel. I fished my way up to the Still Pool and saw half dozen fishermen had some trout surrounded out towards the middle. Jeremy came along about then so we sat down on the rocks and watched awhile. We did see a couple fish caught, but with it already looked too crowded so we started back down fishing our way back to the parking area, and then headed for Big Run to set up camp.

Big Run Camp

Wading the stiff current of North Branch all day over all those softball to basketball sized rocks that tilt and shift with every step always gives me workout. I did slide off a rock and splash in once but managed to stay relatively dry. So with back, ankles, and legs aching, getting to the camp site and the tent set up and the Chili on the stove was a pretty gratifying feeling. Sitting around a roaring fire Jeremy said he caught three fish out of the Savage, two brookies and a brown, I think the only fish caught all day.

Saturday Dick and Ken decided to head to the North Branch, while the rest of us hit the Licks and upper Savage. Lou, Mike and I went to Poplar, Patrick Masler to Spring, Rodger and Jeremy the upper Savage.

It was beautiful. Lots of gold and crimson leaves lined Poplar, and I hooked and lost a brookie on my first cast with a realistic caddis. Hooking up on the first cast is always a bad omen for me and for the next two hours it was a series of tangled line in the mountain laurel and spooked fish. It took me a little while to figure out most of the fish were in the runs instead of the pools holding in narrow slots of shallow water tight against the leaf line. I put my best sneak on only to have fish shoot out of the leaf cover and zig zag upstream to disappear under a rock. I was really surprised at the size of some of these Brookies and how colored up they were. I don't know what constitutes a trophy wild brook trout in most people's minds, but several of these guys looked to be in the 10 to 12 inch range, definitely trophy fish in my book.

I was about to give it up and head to the Savage when I heard a rise and saw the rings slide out from under a sweeper close to the far bank. Crawling on my hands and knees to get into position among high weeds along the bank I wondered why all the books describing these sorts of tactics never mention the spiders big and ugly enough to make me want to scream, or the bees that have a keen interest in seeing their reflection in my sunglasses. Somehow, even with all those distractions I did get in casting position and make a few drifts.

Third drift the fish slid across current and without hesitation sucked in my Henryville. I got skunked the day before, and the week before that on the One Fly, best I can recollect that was my first fish since the Whitefly outing in August.

I think most of the boys fared little better, except for Patrick who later showed us the most beautiful Brook trout pics ; blood red bellies, white fins, and dark green to black on top. Not counting the 2 and 3 inchers, he landed 10 fish in two hours; one looked to be around 11 to 12 inches, he had a great morning.

Ken's Cutthroat

North Branch Brookie

Dick caught two Brookies that morning on the North Branch in the pool down by the lower cable and a small brown on a Simple Three hackle up at the still pool. Ken caught one brookie and his first cutthroat on the North Branch. Leaving the North Branch for the Savage Ken got a couple Browns, one on a Daddy Long Legs, and one on a Simple Three Hackle. Ken said they stopped in at the fly shop on the Savage, and Mike the owner told them he got a 20 inch brown on a #26 Cream Midge. So there are big fish in the savage.

I found my way down to the lower savage after lunch and got another nice Brookie and a very nice Brown, both on a Chartreuse San Juan Worm. It was steak night so I decided to get back and start setting up. A little later Rodger and Jeremy came in, Jeremy saying he got a couple small Brookies on the upper savage, and Patrick reported two Browns on the PhD Pool on Caddis. Lou got three small Browns in the 7X pool.

Dennis's Brookie

Grilled steaks, baked potatoes, cole slaw, fresh veggies with big cookies for desert were on the menu and man didn't it all taste sooo good! Bellies full we clustered around the hearth and burnt a lot of wood, told a lot of stories, and was late getting to bed. Next morning was colder, 41 degrees when I rolled out of the sleeping bag. Coffee and breakfast cooking out in the cold open air always smells way better, and hot oat meal is a good way to warm up from the inside out.

We were beginning to thin out a little. Jed Jeffers had to leave Saturday, and a couple more were breaking camp on Sunday. Patrick fished the upper pools of the lower Savage and reported very green water but did get a small Brookie and a Brown for the effort. Dick landed a Rainbow on the PhD Pool on a Bead head Brassie, and I got a few small brookies the best maybe 9 inches on Realistic Caddis.

Monday Morning Dick and Ken broke camp and headed out, leaving just Mike and me. I hit Spring Lick again for a couple hours getting a Brookie I spotted rising in a pool 40 yards upstream. Crawling into position I made a few casts but couldn't raise him until I lengthened my leader out to about 11 feet with 7X tippet and tied on a #22 BWO. Who says these guys can't be fussy. It was just a another 9 incher but as I brought him another one of those large colored up fish swam and darted with him almost all the way to the net. Later I found Mike on the Savage on my way out, and he said he got two Brookies that morning.

North Branch

North Branch Blue Hole

The fishing was tough! We caught a few but just a few. I think the weather, the food, and all the color made up for the lack of fish though. And it was a sight to see all those brilliantly colored Brookies in those small streams.

For the next few years I'll be mentoring my grandson in hunting and May 2013 will be the last outing I will be coordinating. If someone has an interest in keeping this campout going, I usually reserve the pavilion right after the first of the year. There have been years I wasn't quick enough and other groups got the first weekend in October and I had to reserve the second.

Dennis Covert