I guess itís become a ritual. The first thing Ken Bowyer and I do after parking next to the run below the lake is to go stand on the walking bridge and peer down into the water and look for fish, this trip with Lou Reichel in tow. The fish can be hard to spot at first, hanging just above a dark bottom and just below the ripples of fractured light. But cupping our hands around our eyes to shut out the light two shapes slowly appeared, fourteen or fifteen inch fish, their bodies slowly undulating in the current. I have to admit we were a little disappointed, the shopkeeper at the Yellow Breeches Outfitters said the stream had recently been stocked and we expected to see fish stacked up here. But the sight of those two was enough to get the blood flowing and we headed for the truck to rig up.
Walking back up to the parking lot our group was growing. Steve Fletcher and Bob OíDonnell were next to the truck, and Dave Simms was walking towards us. Before long Will and Zack Amland would pull in, and Charlie Gelso met up with us in early afternoon.
After making a few cursory casts in the upper run I began to walk down its length trying to spot fish. I got all the way to the confluence of the main stem before seeing any sign of fish when a chub rose to take something off the surface. Wading in to watch I soon saw some larger shapes in the deeper water slide along the far edge where the bank dropped off into trough. Tying on a Deer Hair Cress Bug I followed its drift as it twisted and turned in the current. At the end of the pool there was a quick flash as a ten inch brookie ambushed it, putting a nice little bend in my 4 weight. I thought wellÖ this is going to work, but the next several drifts only produced a few chases.
The wind kicked up slightly and I noticed that when the sun slid behind a cloud the back of my neck was noticeably colder. I replaced the Cress Bug with some Pink Crystal Meth in a size #16. There are large brown Suckers in this crick and I could see three of them in a line tight against the bottom in the deeper water. I know these Suckers spawn in winter, just not sure exactly when, but I have had trout react to patterns like Crystal Meth as early as late December and suspect they imitate a drifting egg sac . Within the first dozen drifts I landed two more brookies , missed a couple more, and then the action just stopped.
Working my way back up the run I came across Ken, he found some fish and had hooked two on a #14 Orange Propylene Parachute he was using as a strike indicator for a dropper. He said they were good hard takes but lost them both before landing; this is a barbless fly area and fish wriggling off not an uncommon experience.
There are usually some fish holding below the chop at the lakes outlet so I meandered on up and found Lou nymphing the chop line. I was watching Lou fish when Charlie Gelso sauntered in asking how the fishing was. We bantered a little but I could see he was anxious to fish, so, he headed back to rig up and I headed for the other side of the outlet and put my Cress Bug back on. The current on that side has a back eddy the current swirling back in on itself, so once the fly is in the water itís just a matter of watching the line. At times fish can be seen swimming out of the chop into the slack water to inspect the fly then either taking it or sliding back under the chop and out of sight. A smallish brookie took the Cress Bug and I almost landed it but it fell off the line as I brought him up; then, missing the next strike I hung my bug in the tree branch above. Lou left the spot directly across from me, Will and Zack taking it up. They each landed a brookie within minutes, getting both on Root Beer Crystal Meth. I foul hooked a 15 inch brown that took awhile to subdue, then put up my rod and took some pictures. On the way out I spotted Charlie across the road fishing the lake. Walking over to see how he was doing, he said he had landed a fish and was working on another.
The sun was out and the temperature must have been in the 40ish range by mid afternoon, and out of the wind it was quite comfortable. I found Bob and Dave at the picnic table, Bob said he landed a nice brookie at the confluence, on a woolly booger I think, and Dave had a couple on but lost them. Ken appeared about then saying he hooked two more, one on a Green BH Copper John and another on a Pink San Juan Worm, exclaiming that both of those also managed to escape before coming to hand. I told him no big deal, you were just gonna letíem go anyway, and it just saved ya from getting your hands wet.
Grabbing my camera I was able to get a good picture of a midge resting on my truck, then took a few of the guys. Charlie and Lou were sharing space at the outlet, Charlie getting one on a cress bug, and was then dipping a Serendipity Midge when I walked up, telling me he just wasnít feeling the love and was about to change flies again.
It was late afternoon by this time and some of us had plans to stop at a local diner for soup and coffee so we loaded up. On the way out we spotted Charlie on the wall, his little three weight with a severe bend in it from what turned out to be a fourteen inch brown.
With options somewhat limited in January, Yellow Breeches Creek is a great winter outing destination. The fishing varies from year to year but we always have a good time and I believe we have always caught some fish. Water conditions in the run were great, but the flow was heavy and off color in the main stem, heavier than I wanted to wade anyway.
The shopkeeper at the YBO said 300 brookies had been stocked in the run and 400 larger fish in the lake. We didnít really see all that many fish holding in the run, so maybe the brookies are down to the main stem. I heard some streamside chatter that a high water event had washed some of the brookies down, which surprises me a little, I didnít realize the water ever got that rowdy in the run. Anyway, if they were washed down, my guess is at least some will move back up, the water coming out of the lake being warmer than the main stem this time of year.
We saw some midges but I didnít notice any stones crawling around. However, some warm sunny weather would probably make another trip back up worthwhile.