As the orange glow of the rising sun ascended and spread over the cornfields and back lit a barn and silo, my sleepiness flipped into excitement. I hit the snooze one too many times to be on the water at sunrise but the sight of the sunrise over the Central Pennsylvania farms builds the anticipation inside of me. My trip to the Catskills may have spoiled me, as quick trips near my home haven’t had quite the same level of enthusiasm. Today I’d be fishing a larger stream, with cold water, and the chance for bigger fish.
I let out a sigh as vehicles were parked at the first two access points I drove past, but at the third spot there were two folks getting ready for a hike but no anglers. Pushing the tip section of the rod into the ferrule, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. It was nice to be back on the water.
The water was slightly off color as strong storms the previous week added water and turbidity to the streams. Throughout the week, I had been checking gages to ensure that the flow levels had nearly returned to average conditions before committing to driving a few hours to fish.
Working upstream along a run and into the seams of a fast riffle with a nymphing rig, I switched out flies to manage weight and improve my drifts, but there were few signs of fish. After about an hour into fishing, I hooked and landed the first trout. Continuing my recent trend, it was a smaller trout, about 10 inches in length.
Concentrating on good casts and drifts occupied most of the day. Changing between dry-dropper and nymph rigs, I was able to catch four fish, all about the same size. Water temperatures stayed between 60-65 degrees, but things just never heated up for feeding fish. Even though I struggled to catch fish, my time on the water was relaxing and helped me to continue to focus on different techniques.
I never saw another angler, maybe they all knew better than me. But until my solitude was interrupted by some kayakers, I had the river to myself. A new fly for me, a brown and red perdigon I recently learned from Tightline Productions, fooled two of the four fish I caught. That will give me another option to use as a dropper and nymph. In New York, I had done so much dry fly fishing recently, that my casting and line management of a nymph rig needed some clean up.
There are days on the water when you can’t figure out the recipe to catch lots of fish or big fish. Today was one of those days. Frustration can set in when things are difficult. Tangles can lead to more tangles, and you can spend more time tying knots than fighting fish. Attention to improving my skills and enjoying the setting kept my mindset positive and my focus clear. Driving home, I thought back to watching the sun rise over the fields and the excitement and peaceful feeling it generated. That feeling stayed with me all day, I would take moments to look around and observe a heron flying over, the bright purple flowers of Joe Pye weed, and the beauty of the water. Holding onto the positive feelings and appreciating my experience helped me catch those fish today.