January 17, 2015 Outing Report
Big Hunting Creek

A hearty group

Camp Peniel bridge pool

Brown on a San Juan worm

Ice always makes fishing a challenge

Time for the fish tales!

Marc's first fish

Ice on the stream

More stream ice

And casting can be difficult

Well..at least the wind wasn't blowing, which is what I was thinking stringing up my rod and tying on a san Juan worm. Not only were my fingers stiff, but the leader kept coiling up in a tight snarl and with cold tears in my eyes I had a hard time tying a good knot. Everybody else was out of the parking lot heading up or down by the time me and Jacob were ready to go, so they either had warmer gear, or nimbler fingers.

I'm not sure what the air temperature was at 9:30, but at 7am the internet said Thurmont was 19 degrees, so I'm going to guess somewhere in the low 20's. I'm always surprised at how many folks come to this outing giving the cold, plus the snow and ice can be treacherous on stream, but if my count was right we had 14 fly fishers: Dave Simms, Ken Bowyer, Bob Kaiser, Lou Reichel, Bob O'Donnell the Chapter president, Carl Smolka, Randy Dwyer, Ian Gifford, Jed Feffer, Jacob Cloyd, Josh Loh, Marc Hutzell, Todd Parks, plus myself.

Before taking off we decided to fish till about 1:00pm then break for lunch to eat and warm up. Cold aside it was a gorgeous winter day in a beautiful place which answers the question of why so many people come out. Catoctin Mountain park is lovely any time of year, but mid winter it holds a special charm. With the leaves off the trees gnarly looking rock formations are visible protruding off the mountain sides, and soaring hawks give it a wildness flavor, although a young man could jog from the Camp Perniel Bridge to downtown Thurmont in no more than 15 minutes. I always stay until sunset on clear winter days and watch the ridgelines illuminate as the sun sets, the darkening sky swathed in pinks and blues.

The water was perfect. Clear, bank full but not flooded, a good bit of ice in the slower sections, but the main stem had lots of good pocket water and slick runs. Years ago Charlie Gelso taught me to not look for the whole fish when the water was this cold, but rather look for a head here, or a tail there protruding out from under rocks. I did my best, but I didn't see a fish the whole day. So I was surprised to hook and land a brown on a San Juan from the middle of a knee deep sun lit pool, very exposed to the blue herons we spotted fishing the same stretch.

Meeting back at the truck, Lou, self designated camp cook, soon had a pot of brats and dogs boiling on the stove and toasting the buns. While we waited for them to cook Lou and I resumed our yearly argument of just where is the president's pool? I say it's the first piece of flat water just downstream of the wall, but Lou says "No! It's not, and that's not even a pool!". However he's more than just a little vague about just where he thinks it might be. We got nothing settled of course, so we'll still have something to point and shout about while cooking lunch next year.

Lunch seems to be morphing into something a little more elaborate than just brats and dogs. We've had a couple different kinds of hot soups in the recent past, and in December Lou said he wanted desert next time. To that end, I brought a chocolate mousse sheet cake and somebody else a fruit cake. I heard a few other suggestions for lunch yesterday too, so maybe this lunch thing is taking the shape of a pot luck.....who knows.

We caught more fish than I guessed at the start, thinking the faint aroma of skunk was in the air, but Bob O'Donnell got one on Sucker Spawn right off, Marc Hutzell one on a Disco Midge, Josh Loh one on a San Juan worm and Todd one on a San Juan worm I think. It seems like another was caught, but my memory being what it is, just won't conjure up who and what on. I do recall all reported catches were the wild stream bred browns, no bows or brookies.

Ken said he looked and found a couple smallish little Black Stones on the side of the bridge, I didn't see a bug the entire day. I did notice above the bridge some evergreen trees right along the stream with small metal tags stapled to them with a tree number, date, and the words 4 holes on them. It took me a couple of trees to notice that the 4 holes were drilled right at the base of the trunk on the beginnings of the root; most looking to have some sort of metal plug inserted, a few not. Why I haven't noticed these tags before I don't know as the oldest dates I saw were 2010, with lots tagged in 2011 and 2012. Jacob thought the holes were used to inject something, I thought maybe to draw sap to test, but now I'm curious, anybody know?? If not I'll email the MD DNR and ask "what up?" Maybe something to do with invasive moths or beetles? I took a couple of pics and will send them to the list serve in a separate email for those who want to look, others can delete.

Waiting on lunch

Camp chef takes a load off

Let the feast begin!

Heading back to the parking lot

It was a great outing, gorgeous winter day with lots of food, lots of company, and some fish caught. Next outing is to Big Spring Pa in February, date yet to be determined. The Chapter has a lot of activities going on in February with rod building classes, stream stocking, etc, but we will squeeze it in someplace. Hope to see you there, and don't forget to get your 2015 PA fishing license!!

Dennis Covert

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This document last modified 01/19/15