As I sit here typing this on Sunday night I am reflecting on what a great Thanksgiving weekend I have just had. It all started on Thanksgiving morning with some much needed time off. I actually got to sleep in for once and woke up at about 8:30, had my morning coffee and headed straight to the tying bench. I had planned a big weekend of fishing and was in need of a few flies. A few hours later I had cranked out half a dozen PFN's, a few Flashback PT's, and a bunch of Al's Rat's. Figuring I was in pretty good shape fly wise I prepped my gear, loaded the truck and settled in for a nice quiet day at home and Thanksgiving dinner with my wife.
Friday morning I had decided to head to one of my favorite wild Trout rivers, Valley Creek In Valley Forge State Park. The temperatures this weekend were on the chilly side (low 30's) in the mornings so there was no sense getting up there super early in the morning. I left my house at around 9:45 and made the easy, one hour drive to the park. Who would have thought, 100% wild fish less than 30 miles from my house! When I got there it was snowing and a quick look at the weather app on my phone showed the temperature to be 31 degrees. I geared up, layered my clothes accordingly and was on the water at about 11:15.
I started with a dry and dropper rig and fished a spot that usually will give up a fish or two. I spent a few hours in that spot going through it 3 times with different rigs and finally got one to eat. The absence of Midges in the air and nothing underneath any of the rocks I turned over had me scratching my head. Finally I switched to an indicator rig and got him to eat a Walt's Worm. I continued to work my way up stream, switching flies and picking up a few fish. The highlight of the day was the hooking and almost landing of an estimated 15" fish. On some waters a 15 incher may be nothing to get excited about, on Valley, that is a real trophy. Unfortunately I did not get a pic as he never actually made it to hand. As I went to net him the hook pulled and I gawked at him as he swam back to the depths. Typically this is the point where I get really mad and say bad words, not this time. I knew this was a real trophy and more importantly I fooled him with one of my patterns, the PFN. I did some research to try and find out how old a wild fish of that size is. There are a ton of variables involved, genetics, food availability, growth season, but in talking with people that know much more than me about this stuff and doing my own readings it seems that fish is at least 3 years old. In that amount of time he has seen hundreds of flies drift past him. The fact that he ate one of mine gave me a real sense of accomplishment, picture or not. I fished till almost dark on Friday and on the ride back home I reflected on the days events and felt good about my fishing. It is a plus anytime you go to Valley and have a good day, add 36 degree water temps and you can understand why I was feeling pretty good about myself.
After my day on Friday and my newly pumped up ego I decided to head back to Valley again on Saturday. It was 32 degrees when I left my house. I figured the cold weather would keep most people off of the water so I decided to fish the water in the park. Bit of advice, If you leave your gear in the truck overnight after a day of fishing and the temps go below freezing, be sure to put your boots and waders on the passenger side floor to thaw them out. You can not put waders and boots on that are frozen solid! I decided to fish from the famous covered bridge up river to Lafayette's headquarters. This section is a great stretch to nymph as the water has a lot of character that nymph fisherman look for.
Again, no bugs in the air and nothing on the underside of the rocks I turned over so I decided to stick with the same rig that I had success with the day before, Walt's Worm on the point and a #18 Flashback PT on the dropper. I also decided unless I see something different I would stick with that rig the entire day.
I never changed the rig and had a pretty good day. They all ate the PT, every time I would think about swapping out the Walt's Worm I would say to myself "if it aint broke don't fix it". Probably good advice.
Sunday found me on the White Clay. I fished the DHALO section and I fished from the confluence of the middle branch up river to the London Tract bridge. I figured I had just spent 2 days on arguably the toughest wild Trout river in our area with moderate success, surely these stocked fish would be a piece of cake. Circle false on that one! I honestly don't think I have ever fished the Clay that hard, and it didn't give up very much. Water was 36 degrees at 11:00 am and only warmed up a degree or two the whole day. I actually did see quite a few Midges in the air, but no risers. I tied on a attractor rig with a PFN on the point and a Rainbow Warrior on the dropper. 5.5 hours and a few fish later I found myself at the bridge dreading the walk all the way back to the lower parking lot. Fortunately a nice guy named Tracy pulled up next to me on my way back. He asked how the fishing was and offered me a ride back down to my truck. Thanks Tracy, you came by at the perfect time!
I hope everybody has as good of a Thanksgiving weekend as I did. Always trying to learn more I find myself now intrigued by the aging of wild fish and the factors that go into their growth. Anyone that can shed some light on this please feel free to contact me. I have already had a few requests and I will be posting a step by step of the PFN. you can read more about it here. Until next time.