The plan was to go to Erie for Steelhead. We had tied the flies, booked the hotels, and formed our car pools, and then spring came early. At two weeks out I was becoming a little concerned, the fishing reports talked of low water, warming temperatures, and the creeks devoid of fish, but then it began to rain a little, and the fishing reports brightened. Watching the weather reports the forecast called for rain just before we were to leave with more while we were there so we thought all was well, but the forecasts were wrong, and 48 hours out we heard a lot of the fish had spawned and returned to the lake. We briefly considered going to New York, but flows were well over 1200 cfs on the Salmon, and last year’s experience of high water was still fresh in our minds.
Recent Steelhead trips have convinced us of the need for a backup plan, and this year’s back up was to go to Western Maryland. A couple guys dropped out, the remaining four of us emptied our fresh stocked vests of steelhead gear and reloaded for trout.
Reports were that the Casselman had been stocked and was fishing well, and the stoneflies out. So, Bob O’Donnell, Dick Friis, Ken Bowyer, and I made reservations at the Casselman Inn in Grantsville and headed out.
Dick and Ken were a little ahead of us and wanted to stop and fish Town Creek on the way up before going on to the Casselman. Ken said there were three other cars already in the Mulford road parking lot when they got there, which was not surprising considering the weather. Ken landed three fish, a rainbow on a Griffiths Gnat, an albino (golden colored) rainbow on a Prince nymph, and a sucker on a pink San Juan worm, the sucker larger than either trout. Dick got a rainbow on a prince nymph and an albino rainbow on a pink San Juan worm. Ken said they left around 1pm the temperature a very pleasant 81 degrees.
Bob and I got to the Casselman around 11:00 am and drove River Road from the turn off at US 40 all the way to the last pull off before the PA line, most of pull offs already full and angler’s vehicles. On the way back we found an empty pull off about 200 yards from the metal bridge and decided it was as good a spot as any to have a go. The sun was out with a light warm wind that reminded me more of June than late March. As we unloaded our gear and rigged up we could see Stoneflies hanging above the river and watched a lady angler land a trout. Putting on my waders I a fish rose out in front of us and the anglers just up river quit giving Bob and I nice stretch of river to spread out in.
Out on the river I tried an Olive woolly bugger then switched to wets but no go. At one point there so many stones fluttering about above the water they sparkled like clouds of glitter. Fish were rising, just not where I was at. But as luck would have it the couple who were fishing below me and hooking up regularly left. Taking up their spot I soon had three nice rainbows to hand on Brown Stone dry and lost another on a woolly bugger. Bob had been snapped off by a big fish he’d been playing with on a Humpy Adams, after which I suggested we go up river to some deep holes between the iron and old stone bridge.
Fishermen were clearing out opening things up a bit, but at the big hole we had some local teens come down and watch us fish, muttering something about us old people in their hang out spot. They were polite but I could tell they were impatient for us to leave so we headed up river and left them to their own sports. I lost a good fish that ran up river after the hook set getting off by diving under a sunken log then landed my last of the day on a Woolly Bugger in a deep pool 100 yards below the stone bridge. Bob had worked his way up to the Bridge and ended up with 3 on a Woolly Bugger and 5 more on a parachute Adams, landing the most fish that day.
Dick and Ken were down at a place Dick calls the Farmers Pool. Ken said there were plenty of Stones coming off there too. Ken got another rainbow on a Simple Three hackle, and another Albino on a Pink San Juan, Dick a rainbow on a Prince Nymph and an Albino on an Ant.
Friday was just crazy; it was one of those days that will linger in the memory for awhile. It was another foggy morning and I expected the river to be chock full of anglers after the crowd we had on Thursday, but the river was fairly empty in places. It started out slow enough for me; I caught one on a Prince Nymph Bob landing four on his Prince before he left to head down river. I began to notice that when my flies passed through fish they would dart out of the way then settle back in their lie. I got the idea that maybe the fish had seen so many traditional nymphs and boogers that they were spooked. I tied on bright red San Juan and hooked and landed a fish on the first cast. I caught another and had a chase or two then they quit, so I changed Colors, caught a couple more then switched to Chartreuse and repeated my success. This is the way I spent the rest of the day, fishing colors. The fishing would slow down and there were periods when I would go for an hour or two without much action then it would heat up again. By the end of the day I had landed 32 trout maybe 34, I may have lost count, five of them albinos, and lost at least fifteen more.
Bob found Bob early afternoon, he was already having a good day, but after telling him of my color swap outs he switched to bright egg patterns and sucker spawn and ended up with 19 landed losing 6 for the day.
Dick and Ken were down at the lower bridge pool. Ken fished a variety of flies including a red Beadhead Brassie, Pink San Juan, and a Parachute Adams & Griffiths Gnat. He landed 15 and lost 5 more getting two bookies in addition the rainbows and albinos we had been landing. Dick got 24 or 28 fish not real sure, and two of them brookies fishing Pink San Juan worms and an Ant pattern.
That night over dinner I tallied it up, and for Friday only the four of us had around 125 hook-ups and landed at a minimum 92 trout. How crazy is that!! It was a beautiful day. Not as sunny as Thursday and maybe a tad cooler, but flowers were blooming including some bluebells that must be at least 3 weeks early. We had all fished hard all day and as we left McDonalds that night after our usual ice cream deserts we were walking a little stiff.
It had rained a little Friday evening with some rumbling and lightening, and by Saturday morning the Casselman looked like chocolate milk. Bob and I rolled over to the Savage and after standing around comparing notes with Steve Fletcher and Frank Bowles who had been fishing there a couple days we rigged up and walked down to the 7X pool. Standing on the suspension bridge I could see the rock snot swaying in the current below, and decided I would not do nymph fishing that day. It was raining just a little too hard and we hadn’t seen any rises and after 30 minutes or so I told Bob we should head for the truck. On the way back the sky suddenly brightened a little and the rain stopped. Checking the PhD we saw some fish rising, and decided to give it a whirl. I crashed my leader unstringing my rod and spent the next several minutes fixing it, then spent the next hour switching flies. I had started out fishing small Olives that the fish didn’t even give a glance, but after seeing a few flitting in the weeds next to the bank I switched back to the #24 pattern and took both the browns that were rising to my front. I think the paste floatant I was using was congealing making the flies look un-natural, and after not putting any on the last fly both fish rose and took without any hesitation. They did look at a #24 grey midge I’d had on earlier that they may have taken if it were undressed, but after a couple of drifts even I was noticing the floatant on its fibers. Sounds crazy I know, but I believe it was the problem.
It was a good outing. It wasn’t the original destination, but a trip that will live on in my memory banks for awhile.