You may have noticed that I missed last weeks blog. I apologize for that as my goal when I started the site was to blog once a week. Realistically, I know that there will be weeks without a post. If I do miss a week, like last week, I want there to be a good reason and 3 days in central Pennsylvania fishing Penns Creek is about good as it gets. I was fortunate enough to get invited to the Ciardi Ciardi & Astin fly fishing invitational. This exclusive, invitation only event, was hosted by Dan Astin at his beautiful Camp Honey Creek. Dan has his property listed, and it is available to rent through the Home Away dot com web site. I took a bunch of pictures, but the pictures on Home Away do a far better job of Showing off Dan's beautiful property. To see the pictures, or to book a trip click the picture of the lodge below. Located in the heart of Pennsylvania's Limestone waters Camp Honey Creek is a fly fishers dream come true. If you are headed to the central PA area check out CHC, you will be glad you did!
As mentioned this was a innovation only event. I was fortunate that my longtime friend, John Massey, was able to find a spot for me. John is a manager at the Christiana Cabelas store. Cabelas, along with many other great companies like Straub Beer, The Passionate Palette, and Penns Creek Guides were sponsors of this great event. It was a proud moment for me to see my name and company logo on the event banners along with so many other great companies. This really validated what I am doing and made me feel like I belonged.
The actual event day was to be on Monday and we were there a day early. As beautiful as the camp is and as excited as we were about the event, for me, the main reason to head to Central Pennsylvania is for the Trout rich, Limestone bug factories that have made this area famous. We headed out to Penns to try to catch the evening rise. Having never fished this river before it didn't take long for me to realize I wasn't in Kansas anymore! I have spent my fair share of time chasing wild fish around here, but let me tell you this area is NOTHING like our fishing down home! The first thing I noticed is Penns is a big river, much bigger than any river I have Trout fished before. Size wise it is similar to the Brandywine, but that is where the similarities end! The bug life in this river is insane! As soon as we got there I turned over a rock, one rock, and found no less that 12 Grannom Caddis cases, half a dozen Hendrickson nymphs, and several smaller, un-identified clinger nymphs. All under one rock! The trees were full of Caddis flies and toward the end of the evening I managed to stick 2 good fish on a LaFontaine Sparkle Pupa. Fish quality, bug life and river size are some of the obvious differences to our local fishing. One that is not so obvious is the river flow. The Central Pa rivers have a much higher gradient than what we are used to locally, even the water that looks like it is moving slowly is actually ripping. It is very easy to end up on your wallet in this river (thankfully I did not). Never again will I scoff at people using a wading staff, for the first time in my life I wish I had one! We fished out the evening and headed back to the camp for dinner.
After burgers and dogs on the grill we all gathered around the fire pit so Dan could lay out the events for the following day. We were to go to a beautiful mountain lake in Poe Paddy State park for a sunrise breakfast (he was not kidding about the sunrise part as the wake up call was 4:30 AM) After breakfast we would fish out the day and meet back at the house for dinner.
My buddies and I decided to fish the same area as we did the night before and we were on the water by 8:00. I decided to walk up river a good ways from where we fished the prior evening and it took me about an hour to get to the spot where I started to fish. Plenty of Caddis were coming off, but no fish were rising to them, so I tied on a nymph rig consisting of a Caddis Pupa, a Caddis Larva and a #16 Flashback PT. The fishing was buy no means easy, but I did manage to land 3 fish while fishing out the morning. Long around 12:30 I was feeling the effects of 2 late nights, 2 early mornings and several hours of wading through a tough Penns Creek. The sun was high, the bugs had stopped and I was tired. I took my pack off, laid down and took a nap right there on the river bank. Why is it that outside sleep is some of the best sleep we ever get? About an hour later John walked up just as I was waking up. We sat on the side of the river and talked for about another hour. This was nice as John and I have kinda lost touch over the past few years and it was good to re-connect. Here are some of the pictures from the morning.
Back at the house we were treated to more Hors d'oeuvres and drinks than any man should have access to. All of this before a seven course meal prepared buy the Passionate Palette with beer pairings by Straub Brewery. Dan gave a very nice speech thanking everyone being a part on the weekend and he made a special mention to one of my buddies Rick. Rick is the camping lead at the Cabelas store, he was also in the 101st Airborne and was medically discharged from the Army after being wounded in Iraq. As he stood up to acknowledge the applause for his service I had chills, it was a class act to acknowledge his service, the reception was even better. Now, on to dinner. It may come as a surprise that I really am not a beer drinker. Go figure, my last name is O'Neill and I don't really like beer. My ole man always says my mom picked up the wrong baby from the hospital. At any rate the only thing to drink on the table was beer so I figured when in Rome...The pairings were very good and for the first time I understand the "experience" of eating and drinking paired food. Some of the beers were quite tasty with the foods we were eating them with. All was going well until about course #5 then I could feel the effects of designer beer, some with 7.9 % alcohol. I slowed way down and finished out the meal and had a great conversation with Tom Doman of Penns Creek Guides about the area and what it has to offer. One way or another I will be back on a regular basis. I understand now why so many people have re-located to the central PA area. It is truly a fly fishers dream!
First and foremost I need to thank Dan for inviting me to take part in this great event, your generosity is overwhelming. I also need to thank my buddy John Massey, I am glad we got to spend the weekend together and I hope we can do it again soon. I would also like to thank all the new friends I made over the weekend. It was truly a great experience, one I won't soon forget. Till next time...