So after I squared up with the man I walked outside to have a look at the creek and to see if anyone was catching any fish, which is where I bumped into the same lady from the fly shop. We began to talk for a bit again about fishing and the camera that she had bought for her husband. She explained that her husband used to fly fish quite a bit, but had gotten out of it due to kids and a career. Now both of them were getting back into it, and they love it so much that they go as often as they can. She asked where I was from, to which I replied Pennsylvania and to be more specific Waynesburg, seeing as how no one has heard of Fredericktown much less Clarksville. She explained that her husband was originally from Waynesburg but now lives in Morgantown. Then she asked me if I was staying at the resort, which I wasn't, but before I could get any more out she was offering me the extra room at their cabin. I really believe that she was sincere in her offer. I was moved by this even though I turned down the offer. I already had a place to stay if I had wanted but was undecided at this point. I can honestly say that everyone I have ever met on the stream with a fly rod in tow was a friend. It's almost like fraternity of sorts. Now there are times that I get frustrated due to lack of etiquette, but that is a whole separate post.
Now onto the fishing. I scaled the creek in my car up and down twice before deciding on where I was going to set in, keeping in mind I wanted to stay close to the road to keep an eye out for my buddies John, Heath, Albert and Willie. I tied on a rig that I usually start with on cold weather days, a Black Woolybugger and a fly that I came up with that my wife dubbed the Hritz. It is really just a midge pupa tied with peacock herl, some flash, and a glass or metal bead on a size #18 or #20. Surprisingly it works great in PA, especially this time of year. I was there for about an hour with no sign of life before my friends showed up. Normally I would have taken the water temp by now, but I knew what it was already. COLD. After some BS-ing while the others rigged up we hit the river in force. Heath seemed to have the touch landing two nice rainbows on a Cream Suckerspawn, which is our go-to fly when there is nothing really happening. Heath and myself then set out upstream hitting every patch of good looking water on the way. Heath picked up one more on the Cream and I lost one on a Split-Wing Nymph Size #20. Due to some dry pipes, a little bit of hunger, and some frustration we turned back to the car. I always seem to lose track of how much ground I have covered until the walk back. I did take the water temp before heading back to the car and it was a cool 38 degrees. We all conversed over a beer comparing how the day's events had unfolded for each of us and where the next move was going to be. I knew it was up, but how far was the question. I wanted to go to the iron bridge in the middle of the catch and release, and Heath wanted to go to the public access area to fish one of the side channels with the assumption that the water would be warmer since it is closer to the springs. I was walking back to the creek with a mission this time: don't get skunked. Heath picked up one more, but I was still coming up empty handed.
After some hole sharing I dug my heels in with some determination. It was starting to get dark and I just kept working the hole changing my approach every few casts. Finally it all came together when I landed a nice 18 to 19 inch rainbow. I felt that the fish fought decently considering how cold the water was. After landing and taking a photo I released the fish, checked my rig and restored my net. I walked back up to the hole and on the first cast I had a fight on my hands. This fish went crazy! It was pissed, and not happy to have a hook in its mouth. He flew from one end of the hole to the other, ran at me, and broke water before he was tired. At this point it was dark so I turned on my headlamp and netted him. After another photo I released him. I felt like I spooked the hole with my light so I headed for the car.
On the long drive home I thought about catching those two respectable fish back to back like this right at dark, and it reminded me of something Meatball (John) said earlier. "If the fish ain't bitin' then the fish ain't bitin'. Might as well have a beer." Well tonight just goes to show that you can't catch a fish unless you are out there trying. I always like to say, "Can't catch any fish if you're sitting on the couch." I use this a lot when I'm trying to coerce someone into going for the day.
One last note because I feel there is some confusion about where you have to pay to fish when it come to the Elk Springs Resort. The river is open through the resort and in front of the lodge and fly shop. The only places that you have to pay is where the river is spring fed and at the hatchery. I also posted the rules of the Catch and Release for those of you who are interested.