Wednesday, December 7, 2011
It is December, right? Also, I actually won something.
I didn't get to fish Saturday because my son was very sick, so Cabin fever was at an all time high. Sunday was spent taking care of my wife's Honey-do list, which consisted of shampooing carpets, various shopping destinations, and finding a Christmas tree. A little before dark, I finally had a small window of fishing opportunity. With holiday consumerism causing gridlock traffic, I knew I wouldn't be able to get to a good trout stream before dark. My only hope was to hit the local stream, and look for some carp, or a few leftover stockies from two months ago before the sun went down.
It was cold enough to see your breath outside, a far cry from what it was a few days earlier, when I was catching pickerel in shorts and sandals. As I got to the stream, I saw some movement in a back eddy. Rings were sporadically forming in front of a downed tree in some slack water.
Upon closer inspection, it was a school of bluegills, cautiously sipping very slowly on some size 20 black midges that were bouncing on the surface. They were moving at half speed, almost as if I was watching a video in slow motion. This surprised me because the creek has ice forming on the edges earlier in the morning when I drove over it with the family. Usually by this time of year these fish are hunkered down, and will refuse to move.
I still had on the white woolly bugger from the other night so I decided to throw it about 10 yards behind them and slowly strip my way up from behind them. As I got to the tail of the pod, they all started to spook, one by one, until I finally realized I was stripping too fast and brought my fly to almost a standstill. By this time, there were only two left, and one of them went for it. I stopped dead in front of him as he started to pursue. He circled it about 4 times, and then slowly inhaled it.
I think I can safely say that this is the first sunfish I've ever caught in the month of December. I'm still a little suprised over it. As soon as I released him, I saw some baitfish busting all over the surface in the shallows of the main stream. I ran out onto the bridge to see a group of juvenile bass pinning some shiners up against the bank, and gorging themselves. This again surprised me and from experience, these "mini-blitzes" only ever lasted about 20 seconds. I quickly stripped as much line out as I could and made one quick double haul to the middle of the commotion. Of course it's just my luck that the smallest of the bunch took the bugger.
I admired the fish for a second, and felt bad for him because he had a sore on his face. He swam away just fine though. The sun started to set and the fishing slowed down so I packed up and headed on home to decorate the tree. Didn't turn out too bad.
The weather was quite a different story 24 hours later. The cold spell went away as quickly as it arrived, and it was 60 degrees at 10pm on Monday night. I couldn't help it. I grabbed my gear and ran back to the same hole, crossing my fingers that Lucky the dog wouldn't show up again. This time, I could see quite a few fish, and they were more willing to come out of the shadows.
Believe it or not, the same white bugger yielded this poorly photographed stocked rainbow on my first cast, although I did get a nice pic of him being released.
Unfortunately, the beast didn't show his face, but his younger brothers did. I lost one that was a few lbs after trying to get him to take a fly for about 15 minutes. He finally settled on a san juan worm, but broke me off. Damn carp.
I figured maybe going back to trout might be more fun, so a tandem rig with an egg and a Mono-worm were drifted down along a pitch black run, about 30 yards down from the street lights. After my third cast I was about to call it a night when my rod got hit by a freight train. It was a fun fight, especially since I had no idea what it was at first, but after the 3 aerial moves, I knew it was a rainbow. This fish was ugly, fat, and a nice chunky 16+ inches.
Two quick trips, 3 different species, in PA, in December. That's almost unheard of on a fly rod around here unless you're talking brook, brown, and bow. I'll take it.
Before I go, I'd like to say a big THANK YOU! to Cameron over at The Fiberglass Manifesto for randomly selecting me as one of the winners in his 12 days of Christmas giveaway(which shocked me because I never win anything). I picked up the Buff/Bugslinger package and it came just in time. I could really use a new hat. If you've never read that blog (although judging by the 500+ entries he's been getting every day, most of you have..or maybe people just love free stuff), I highly suggest checking it out. Thanks Cameron!