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Lateral view of a Female Hexagenia limbata (Ephemeridae) (Hex) Mayfly Dun from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin
Hex Mayflies
Hexagenia limbata

The famous nocturnal Hex hatch of the Midwest (and a few other lucky locations) stirs to the surface mythically large brown trout that only touch streamers for the rest of the year.

Dorsal view of a Sweltsa (Chloroperlidae) (Sallfly) Stonefly Nymph from the Yakima River in Washington
This species was fairly abundant in a February sample of the upper Yakima.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Oldredbarn has attached these 17 pictures. The message is below.
Pittsburgh from Mt Washington...Spence played tourist.
Mario Lemieux and a fan...
"Great seats, man!"
Bruce working a seam.
Little, lovely, wild, healthy, PA Brown.
Louis having to go south-paw. That's Bruce back there supervising.
Bruce and Louis looking the part. :)
Tony warming up for his clinic to follow.
What a sweet stream.
Spring Creek bubble line.
Louis helping Spence land this tiny Brown...
Try and figure this out...Go ahead...I dare you! :)
Yes we had Baetis.
Bruce took this I think...What life a healthy stream produces.
Tony's still at it! Stalking them like a Great Blue Heron.
Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Apr 13, 2013April 13th, 2013, 5:38 pm EDT
I have been a very lucky angler in my life as a fisherman. I have fished in many different places that most of us here may have visited or dream of visiting one day. I have fished the Madison, Gallatin,Slough Creek, the Henry's Fork, and the three spring creeks of Paradise Valley to name the far flung streams. Closer to home I've spent a great deal of time on the Au Sable, the Manistee (both Little and Big), and the Pere Marquette.

This past week I was blessed again when I added 6 new streams to that list and I was guided by a group of angling princes second to none. Boys that are proud of their waters and the heritage that is the Keystone State's. An angling history that has attracted me for all the years I've fly fished.

This will be a basic fishing report and I won't over do it since we all fished hard for the whole week and there is just too much to tell you in one fell swoop.

It started in Feb when I received an email from Tony (Gutcutter) that basically said that I was getting it early enough so I "couldn't weasel out". He and a group of anglers, familiar to all of us here, somehow got the crazy idea that they wanted me to fish with them.

I want to say up front that the angling adventure was top notch, but nothing will ever compare to the way these gents treated me on my visit. They love to fish and they are damn good at it and pretty much spoiled me for a week. I will never forget them and their generosity and warmth. These boys are the real deal and I feel blessed to have been able to share their beats with them and the comradery they showed me on the stream and when we were just hanging out after.

I will only be able to give you a taste, and I hope that if you are ever lucky enough to receive an email like I did you will know better than to weasel out and will load up the fishing wagon as I did and point it towards PA.

The rivers visited...Spring Creek near Bellefonte and State College, The Little Juniata, and Penn's Creek...Then we headed south and I got to fish hallowed waters in my book...The Letort, Big Spring, and the Yellow Breeches. The waters of Marinaro, Charlie Fox, and Ed Shenk among others...

My guides were the newer generation following in the footsteps of the legends...Tony, Bruce, Louis, Shawn, and Eric and each one brought something different to the table. These guys are as obsessed as I am and getting this group off the river was a chore! :)

I left Detroit on Thursday the 4th of April and stayed in Pittsburgh one night with an old friend from Detroit and his family...I spent the next evening in a very nice hotel as the guest of Tony and he took me to see his Pens play the Rangers on Friday night...I think this was thought to be the kicker in terms of getting me there, but it was just the cherry on a sweet sundae!

I got to meet Tony's family...My wife sent her condolences to Tony's wife since she basically married a guy with the same maladies...Hockey & Fly Fishing as her husband. Some of the guys were joking that TroutNut had become an angling version of Match.com...:)

Our first river was Spring Creek. A lovely little stream with psycopathical current issues...I walked in and quickly caught two fish in the 12-14" range and thought, "Hell! This is going to be easy". I was told that these two "easy" fish come as part of your fishing license and after that you are on your own...and I was!

We had a nice run of Baetis early in the day, but the dreaded midge became the bug of the early evening. After the first evening, when I saw them all over Tony's truck, you would think I would have figured it out...I was in denial. They were little black dots with tiny light gray wings...As we stood near the truck Tony pulled out a fly he tied on a size 26 short-shanked hook and damn if it wasn't a perfect match...I was still having none of it.

The next evening, after I had spent an eternity trying to catch a fish that was behind two currents going in opposite directions and another that was going in circles I walked back upstream to find Tony and Bruce playing a version of our Au Sable game of "Nods"...The fish were rising like crazy to these midges and they were taking turns hassling them...If you hooked one you let the other guy go and if there was an obvious rise to your fly but you missed the fish, well you lost your turn.

Charlie Fox has a chapter in his, "This Wonderful World of Trout" called the "Art of Diminution" and he quotes his old pal from Carisle, Ed Shenk, about midge fishing as "fishing with next to nothing". Well our Gutcutter could have written this chapter since he was putting on a clinic on our second evening on Spring Creek.

He is an angler of extremes...He loves to chase massive monsters in the saltwater flats but is also at home with 10x tippet and flies that a thousand of them might not fill a thimble! He also has incorporated some tactics from his saltwater fishing like a sweet backhand cast...These particular fish would of been in a better position for a left hander, so Tony just turned his back to them and did this cast he learned when on a flats boat so you don't hook the guide...Always a good idea. :)

I will discuss it more later, something known as "the look away cast", but when you turn your back on the fish it confuses him to no end...He thinks you have given up on him and that tiny little fly floating over his head couldn't possibaly be coming from the guy that's not facing me and they're hooked...:)

It was wonderful to watch until well after dark and we realized that the only way we were going to get Tony back to the truck was to tie a rope to his waist and hook it to my tow package.

Louis was very helpful to me on one of our days there since I didn't realize just how close I could get to these fish hiding behind boulders etc. I thought of some of the posts that Paul Roberts has posted here about fishing his little mountain streams. I was trying to fight too many cross currents etc and it was insightful.

Shawn stopped by to say hello and we had a chance to chat for a bit...

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Gutcutter
Gutcutter's profile picture
Pennsylvania

Posts: 470
Gutcutter on Apr 14, 2013April 14th, 2013, 4:25 am EDT

What? No mention of Bruce's pet?
All men who fish may in turn be divided into two parts: those who fish for trout and those who don't. Trout fishermen are a race apart: they are a dedicated crew- indolent, improvident, and quietly mad.

-Robert Traver, Trout Madness
Crepuscular
Crepuscular's profile picture
Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 920
Crepuscular on Apr 14, 2013April 14th, 2013, 5:24 am EDT

What? No mention of Bruce's pet?


And no benthic thrust?
Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Apr 14, 2013April 14th, 2013, 11:42 am EDT
Ha! I can hear Bruce saying, "Antonio, Spence is just trying to save your reputation as a world renown surgeon." Should I be revealing that we all have this big part of ourselves that is basically still a 10 year old kid? :)

This site does not do Bruce justice...He is a hoot! A big warm angling fool with a wonderful sense of humor and when he and Tony are together I promise you your sides will hurt from laughing.

Tony had been fishing a section of Spring Creek all day and we went looking for him...We found him somewhere in to his one million plus casts...He had hurt just about every trout in this nice pool and we decided to find something to eat.

Louis called...Louis called all the time...He had some stuff he had to get done, visits with a doctor etc, to try and figure out whats wrong with his casting arm..."Hey. Its Louis...Where you guys at? Any bugs? Rising trout? Where you going tomorrow? Is Spence catching fish?" Eric and I were having breakfast in a B&B fly shop where we had stayed, he had left his cell up in the room, and Louis called the fly shop...The guy is cooking our eggs and the phone rings and he answers it and turns to Eric, "Its for you...Its Louis."

Well...we are standing in the river and Bruce hands the phone to Tony and Tony starts walking towards the rivers edge...With us in tow. As he's getting out he bends down and lays Bruces phone on the ground and tells Bruce, "Hey. Here's your phone...Be careful." Well Tony had spotted the snake and had sat the phone down next to it...When Bruce bent to pick it up Tony said something about being careful where you place your hand...Bruce spotted the snake and nearly jumped out of his waders...Well...You had to be there. :)

Louis...I want you to hang in there buddy...I went through the back issue and was told at one time that ice hockey and fly fishing were done for me. I was depressed beyond belief...Someone will figure out what's up with your arm and give you some route to get it right again...Be patient my friend...You know I'm thinking about you...In the meantime keep working on that left hand casting...When you are right again being able to cast with your off hand might come in handy.

"benthic thrust"...Hmmm...Bruce is going to have to explain this to the Troutnut readers...All I'll say is that I've seen it and it ain't pretty! ;)

Spence

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Apr 14, 2013April 14th, 2013, 12:15 pm EDT
Benthic thrust and a photo of a snake? I'm a little frightened of the implications... Not sure I want to hear Bruce's explanation.:)

Thanks for the reporting, Spence. Sounds like you guys had a blast.

BTW - that piece of water in your challenge? Hmmm.... I like it! If my guide approved, I'd run some deep nymphs through that slot where the water turns dark. Or, a heavy streamer on a sink tip...
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Apr 14, 2013April 14th, 2013, 12:36 pm EDT
Thanks for the reporting, Spence. Sounds like you guys had a blast.



Yep!

You are correct...You don't want to know. ;)

In terms of the challenge...I think that you are correct and would have an easier time of it using the methods you suggested...A quarter stick of dy-no-mite might work as well...:)
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Lastchance
Portage, PA

Posts: 437
Lastchance on Apr 14, 2013April 14th, 2013, 12:53 pm EDT

What? No mention of Bruce's pet?


And I was down to my last pair of underwear!
Jmd123
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Apr 14, 2013April 14th, 2013, 2:31 pm EDT
It sure as heck must be warmer in PA because I haven't seen any snakes in my neck of the woods yet! Just looked today too, amongst the melting snow...I would guess that poor snake couldn't have bit anyone if he wanted to, probably moving about as fast as a snail...

Jonathon

P.S. Looks like a fun trip Spence, if a little cold...four of my five favorite spots are still closed for the season (less than two weeks though!) and the Rifle is probably blown-out from our latest heavy precipitation. Heck, by this time last year I had already pulled out a 14 inch brown outta there! Probably overrun with steelheaders right now anyway...
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Crepuscular
Crepuscular's profile picture
Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 920
Crepuscular on Apr 14, 2013April 14th, 2013, 2:40 pm EDT
"benthic thrust"...Hmmm...Bruce is going to have to explain this to the Troutnut readers...All I'll say is that I've seen it and it ain't pretty! ;)


I too have witnessed it and it is disturbing...

Benthic thrust is explained here:

http://www.troutnut.com/topic/6762/2/Trico-Spinner-as-requested
Martinlf
Martinlf's profile picture
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Apr 14, 2013April 14th, 2013, 5:12 pm EDT
Hey Spence, I was going to call, but since you're posting here I'll just ask-- where are we fishing tomorrow? All kidding aside, thanks for the good words. Another buddy and I fished Spring last Friday and it was good, though all nymphing. Landed my second biggest SC brown. I may just stick with the southpaw after I'm patched up. Seeing the orthopedist tomorrow, and it will get straightened out in time.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Apr 14, 2013April 14th, 2013, 5:34 pm EDT
where are we fishing tomorrow?


Ha! Actually I'll be hanging around the house until I head to the airport to pick up my wife...So, I guess buddy I'll be doing my fishing in my memory standing along side you, Theodore Gordon, and the boys...in your beloved Spring Creek.

Kurt the Theodore Gordon reference is for you and explains why this old dutchman would never seek to "solve" the current issues in Spring Creek with anything other than a dry fly. T Gordon fished the creek back-in-the-day as they say. :)

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Apr 14, 2013April 14th, 2013, 5:42 pm EDT
And I was down to my last pair of underwear!


We were afraid of that...I guess you headed home then, just in time. :)

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Gutcutter
Gutcutter's profile picture
Pennsylvania

Posts: 470
Gutcutter on Apr 15, 2013April 15th, 2013, 3:54 am EDT
BTW - that piece of water in your challenge? Hmmm.... I like it! If my guide approved, I'd run some deep nymphs through that slot where the water turns dark. Or, a heavy streamer on a sink tip...


I would certainly approve. I have done so in that exact spot myself. With good results.
The stream is so thick with sculpins, a dead drifted sculpin pattern, right on the bottom is deadly there.
Bruce has done terrific there with heavy nymphs.

But I wouldn't try that approach when there were fish rising throughout that whole pool. That's just me. Your mileage may vary.
All men who fish may in turn be divided into two parts: those who fish for trout and those who don't. Trout fishermen are a race apart: they are a dedicated crew- indolent, improvident, and quietly mad.

-Robert Traver, Trout Madness
PaulRoberts
PaulRoberts's profile picture
Colorado

Posts: 1776
PaulRoberts on Apr 15, 2013April 15th, 2013, 11:20 am EDT
Wonderful! Thanks Spence. That is a pleasure to read. Sounds like such fun, and neat to see everyone in action.

Great time of year in those eastern streams. Gosh I love them.

Try and figure this out...Go ahead...I dare you! :)

What's wrong with that pool?? There's at least one 15er in there.
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Apr 15, 2013April 15th, 2013, 1:15 pm EDT
Spence -
Kurt the Theodore Gordon reference is for you and explains why this old dutchman would never seek to "solve" the current issues in Spring Creek with anything other than a dry fly.

Ha! Very good. Mr. Lore strikes again! :) Let me play Skues to your Halford a wee bit though. For me, method choice is usually all about figuring out what the fish are up to and deceiving them with presentations that address their current activity. Though I prefer to fish at, on, or near the surface, that preference doesn't always impress or sway Mr. Trout. Sometimes I'm in the mood to throw a dry fly regardless, but I usually let my finny friends make the choice.

BTW - Gordon was no purist. Remember his Bumblepuppy streamer? LOL Jeez, what an ugly fly...

But I wouldn't try that approach when there were fish rising throughout that whole pool. That's just me. Your mileage may vary.

I don't think you'd be surprised to find that our truck odometers read the same, Tony.;)
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Apr 15, 2013April 15th, 2013, 1:30 pm EDT
Kurt...Tony...Next time...This trip belonged to some other place and time, if only it exists between my own temporal lobes, not neccesarily about anything more than approaching them on my terms...Even if they won. I was fishing with some serious ghosts and I was trying to show my respects.

Kurt...Some of them old time flies would rankle our modern sensibilities for sure...I was just looking at some flymphs the other night tied by Hidy and he used these up-eyed hooks and they look nothing like those tied today.

I told Eric that most of us that can catch a fish or two started as young boys with cruder tackle and methods and it was there we were hooked and learned how to talk with trout...If only on a primitive level.

My buddy Bill's nickname was Bluegill Bill and he can fill a freezer...
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Apr 15, 2013April 15th, 2013, 2:08 pm EDT
Even if they won. I was fishing with some serious ghosts and I was trying to show my respects.

On a serious note - I can certainly appreciate that sentiment, Spence. Even if the only trip I ever make to the Letort occurred in inclement weather, I'd still throw a Jungle Cock Jassid with a tip of the hat. I'd even tie up some X-hackled thorax duns for a go - after the master's style, of course.;) If one of them actually caught a fish (even a tiddler), it would be a consecration. A fishing trip like yours is really more pilgrimage. It is wonderful that you got to share it with good friends who know the water, as well as vicariously with those of us who could only be with you in spirit.

Petri Heil!
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman

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