Three glorious days. That was how the week started,
three days of daytime temperatures pushing 80 and
night time temperatures in the 50's. Certainly
not mid-October weather.
I got out first on Monday afternoon. As I pulled into
the parking area by the Conestoga River I could see
fish dimpling the river's surface everywhere. Something
told me that sub-surface was the place to be fishing,
though. I tied on a white Suspended 'Gill Buster, and
began working the first big pool. I managed some
interest, and a couple of small sunfish. I moved
down the shore to where a feeder creek runs into
the main river.
The feeder creek usually flows into the river across
a 20-30 foot face, but this evening all the water was
concentrated to a 3-foot-wide outflow area. The heavy
current riffled out of the pool and across the weed bed
before disappearing in the mix of the larger water. Fish
were rising consistently in the current, and I thought I
was on a trout stream. I continued to plumb the depths
with the 'Gill Buster, with minor success. As I lifted
the fly over the edge of the weed bed to recast, a huge
boil of water rolled up beneath it. I quickly cast out
again to the gap in the weeds, and let the fly settle.
After it touched bottom and sat for a few seconds, I
began to work it slowly towards the shore with short strips.
As the fly neared the edge of the weeds, one strip went
solid, and the line began to move, strong and deliberately,
towards deeper water.
"Carp?" I wondered aloud to myself.
As I lifted the rod against the moving weight, the line
stopped moving away and started moving up. A 15" smallmouth
broke through the surface into the air, shaking and twisting.
The once light belly of the fish was now mottled with dark
specks from the time spent holding to the bottom of the
river. It was the best, and only, look I got of the fish,
as the fly flipped out of its mouth and into the middle of
the weeds, the fish returning to the water with an echoing
splash. There went my reason for going sub-surface. Time
to change tactics.
I rummaged through the abundance of flyboxes bursting out
of the pockets of my vest. I selected a green hopper
pattern, the Cahaba X. Well sized to the local hopper
population, why not?
The first cast caught in the outgoing current, and was
immediately sipped under the surface. The large pumpkinseed
ran for the deeper water, cutting and curling against the
flow. I worked the fish into the deeper pool at my feet,
and unhooked it, sliding it gently back to the water.
Longer casts dropped with obtrusive plops into the open
holes in the dying weed bed. Slow, twitching retrieves
brought up large 'gills, numerous sunfish, and some healthy,
acrobatic, largemouth bass up to 14". I missed more than
one sunfish, pulling the fly away as the fish broke through
the surface, only to watch the fish crash down with unerring
accuracy into the space where the fly had just been.
As the light began to fade, I finally captured one of the bugs
flying around me, assumedly what the fish were so voraciously
feeding on. A small brown flying ant, about a #16. So much
for matching the hatch. I got a chance to take advantage
of the gorgeous weather the next two days, the fishing
tapering off over each day, but staying active enough to
keep me returning.
I stayed with the Cahaba X all three days, and it showed the
wear and tear. The only part of the fly that still floats
is the back half of the rear loop of foam. I think it's
time to retire it. The 40 degree weather is back today,
and for the weekend, and until who knows, possibly spring.
But, I'll keep safe from winter's chill by going back to
the warm Indian Summer that started this week off, and
remembering all the wonderful details. ~ Jason