Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Oak Orchard Trip Report - 10/24/12 - 10/26/12

Wednesday 24, 2012
I have never been to Oak Orchard, but I have seen plenty of pictures of jaw dropping Brown Trout over the years.  I decided that I have to go see it for myself because I couldn't take it anymore!!  Luckily, I have a friend (Allen) from home who lives in Rochester, loves to fish, and had some extra room at his place for me stay.

I arrived at Allen's place around noon on Wednesday, got unpacked while BS'ing about what we had been up to, as well as getting our rods rigged up and ready to go.  We decided to try out Sandy Creek for a few hours since we had to get back to Rochester so we could enjoy a nice dinner with his sister and their friends.
There were a few cars at the location we chose to fish, and luckily 2 other anglers arrived at the same time.  We weren't sure which way to go, so when they went down the trail, we decided to follow them to get a feel for the lay of the land.....and the creek.  The trail came close to the creek at one point, so we decided to stop as the other guys kept going down the trail.

As soon as we looked into the water, there was a small Rainbow digging out her nest on the far bank, and about 10 seconds later, two nice Brownies came shooting up from the run below.  Sweet!!  The Brownies actually hung around long enough for a few casts, but no luck on our end.

Allen and I decided to keep working our way downstream since we saw a few kings splashing around here and there.  As we worked our way down to the next little hole a pretty big king shot upstream right past us.  We fished there for a little while and saw a few browns in the hole and a few other kings moved in, but none of them wanted to play, so we kept on moving.

We walked a pretty good ways past some shallow water and came around a bend and saw the other two guys from earlier.  They were in a nice little area with a few kings that were spawning.  A few browns were around too.  There was a few browns in the run above them so we made some casts at them but they acted as though they had already been worked over.

We decided to keep on heading downstream and a very nice log jam that was made up of multiple downed trees, was in my sights.  As soon as I snuck my way into position, two large male brown trout swam right up to my feet and just layed there for a while.  I could also see nice brownie in the tailout chasing another one away.

I had on a small black stonefly with a purple estaz thorax trimmed flat on the top and bottom, with biots criss crossed over the back to make the wingpad and antennae.  I stripped out some line and the two big boys at my feet scooted into the darkness of the logjam, while the one in the tailout was still holding in the same spot.  I made a few casts to the upper end of the log jam and let the fly drift, but no takers.  First cast to the Brown Trout in the tailout was good one.  The fly drifted right down to him, I saw him move, open his mouth, then the line twitched.  Fish on!!  He played nice for a little while, almost like he forgot about the log jam, then all of a sudden he made his move.  He darted into the lumber and it was game over.  Oh well, not bad for the first few hours out on Sandy Creek.

Allen and I kept working our way downstream and found some nice little holes as well as some more kings.  We worked the water pretty good but the Brownies didn't want to play.  We decided to head out a little early and get back for dinner.  We wanted to get out rest since we were getting up early to head to Oak Orchard.

Thursday 25, 2012
I woke up the next morning, looked at the clock.....4:15AM.  Time to make the donuts!!  I got Allen up and we got our gear ready pronto.  We hopped in my truck and headed over to his sisters house to pick her up.  We loaded up, hit the local gas station for snacks and drinks, then hit the highway headed west to Oak Orchard.

We made good time since we left early and Mr. GPS put us darn close to were we wanted to be located.  Luckily another angler was gearing up, so I asked him where I should park and what direction to head.  I parked right behind his vehicle, we got our gear on, and headed down the trail like he said.

We got down to the bottom of the trail and went to go left like our new friend had suggested, but upon looking upstream, we saw about 30-40 headlamps in the darkness, already standing in the stream holding their spots for first light.  After seeing that we looked out in front of us and downstream and there was only one or two head lamps in sight.  That made the decision of where to go, pretty easy for us to make.
As I re-rigged our leaders with fresh tippet and flies, and while Cathy got a spinner with a single hook tied on, we could hear fish jumping and splashing around in the dark.  It was a nice warm morning and as it started to get brighter we waded into the water picked a spot to start fishing.  Other than two other guys, we had the whole run to ourselves.

I thought for sure that Cathy would be the first to hook up with an aggressive brown smashing her spinner, but all they wanted to do was follow it back to shore.  Frustrating to say the least!!  The other two guys hooked up a few small brownies while the guys in the run below us were putting on a show.

I was getting into the groove of using an indicator since it had been a while since I drifted eggs and nymphs for Steelhead and Browns.  I was also giving Allen a few pointers about casting and drifting the fly since he typically uses a spin rod.  He picked it up lickity-split and was laying out some nice casts and getting some good drifts too.

The morning was tough for all of us and the other two guys in the run only hooked a few.  I had two nice brownies on, but as soon as I hooked them I could tell they weren't hooked fair, so I broke them off right away.

It was getting close to lunchtime so Allen decided to head back up to the truck to get my grill as well as the burgers and dogs.  One of the guys in the run decided to leave so I figured that I would swing a black Egg Sucking Leech with a hot orange bead on the front, since there was a little more room to work.  It was actually pretty darn hot by this time and everybody was fishing in a tshirt......yup a tshirt on October 25!!

I worked my down the run and got towards the end where a big logjam made a nice current break with dead water upstream of the logjam.  Fish had been jumping and splashing in this area all morning so I was getting a bit anxious to feel a tug.  Since I had a mono leader on and the only weight was the beadhead on the fly, I was casting upstream a little to give the fly time to sink, it would drift, then the line would come tight and swing thru to the hangdown.

I only had a few more casts before I would finish the run and it would also be time to take a break, so I made the most of it. I made the same type of cast that I had been making, and as the fly was sinking and drifting, the line jumped, so I set the hook.  I felt some good heavy headshakes and there was a nice boil at the surface.  YEEHAW!! I hooked a big brownie, or so I thought anyway.

The fish stayed deep for most of the fight and didn't make any big runs up or downstream.  I kept a nice deep bend in the rod and the fish came up and rolled at the surface.  I had a somewhat better look at the fish and realized it wasn't a brown trout since all I saw was red on the side. So much red that I actually thought it could have been a coho, but again I was wrong.  I fought the fish a little longer and one of the other guys nearby came over and offered to net the fish for me.

I led the fish to the net head first and my new friend scooped up a big rainbow in full spawning colors.  The first words out of his mouth was "HOLY SH#&$" and I was thinking the same thing in my head.  I couldn't believe it at first and just stared at it in the net while Cathy came over to get my camera for a few quick pics.  I wish I would have gotten a length and girth on this big buck, but just comparing my open hand to his slab sides and how wide he was across the back was awesome.  The thickness of his pedunkle was impressive too!!

I kepted him submerged in the water as much as possible and Cathy took some quick photos the moment I lifted him out of water.  He didn't take too long to revive, but I held him a little longer even though he kicked a few times.  Off he went in a burst of power.

After enjoying a streamside lunch, we all kept fishing the same stretch of water since we had it to ourselves now.  A few more people came down, but everybody gave each other plenty of room (for the most part.....darn creepers) and had fun.

Cathy was the next to hook up on one of her spinners.  She let out a shout and Allen and I stopped what we were doing to give her a hand.  She landed a very nice brown trout and was stoked since she had put so much time into her efforts so far.

I switched over to a small soft hackle fly that would resemble a blue wing olive except this one was tied a bit bigger and on a stronger hook.  There were a few bugs hatching here and there so I thought it might be good to switch to something more natural.  I worked the water in front of me for a while then decided to work my way upstream a little, then work my way back down.

About halfway up to where I was headed, I see the indicator twitch like it had did before on sticks and stones, except this time when I set the hook all hell broke loose and a little bright chrome steehead goes nuts!! He tore ass across stream, jumped at the far side, then rocketed up stream so fast I couldn't keep up with him, then like they always do he turned 180 degrees and came right back downstream.  Luckily the line stayed tight enough to keep the hook lodged in his jaw and I was able to lead him to Allen who did a great job getting him into my tiny net.  Hey I thought Oak Orchard was known for it's brown trout? LOL!!

It was getting towards the end of the day and a few more guys left so we slid down to where they were since they were doing pretty good catching brownies all day.  Allen hooked two or three in a short span of time and also hooked a big king too.  It was pretty cool to see the fish in front of you while they were moving upstream and also chasing each other to protect their territory.

Allen took a smoke break and got in the shade because it was actually pretty darn hot out that afternoon.  I took a little break as well and drank a bottle of water.  I asked Allen if I could hop in his spot until he was ready to go and said "sure...hook one up bro!!"  About 10 minutes later, the indicator jumps and a nice brownie in the 5-6lb class starts head shaking.  She came up and thrashed around a few times and Allen netted her for me.  YEAH MAN!!  Finally landed my first Oak Orchard Brown Trout!!

We fished a little while longer but we were all beat and decided to hit the road and head back to Rochester for dinner and a few cold brewskies.

Friday 26, 2012
Allen and I were up at about the same time as the previous day since we wanted to get to that area again and get a spot.  We both assumed it would be a bit more crowded since it was Friday and boy what a difference a day makes!!  The parking area on the side of the road looked like it was filled up, but luckily there was just enough room to fit one more vehicle comfortably.  Cathy had to work so Allen's friend Chauncey came with us and we all got ready as quick as we could and made our way down the trail.  Once we were at the stream we could see that most of the good areas were taken up, but the good spot at the top was unoccuopied.  We hung out on the bank until a few guys started heading towards where we wanted to go, so we waded out and made sure we had a good area to fish at sun up.

Just like the day before, as we stood in the dark we could hear fish splashing and jumping throughout the run.  We waited until it was legal time to fish and waited a little longer so we had enough light to see what we were actually doing.  On about my tenth cast, the indicator stops so I set the hook and a nice colored up bow comes up throwing water.  He wasn't huge but it was a good start to the day.  I got him in popped out the chartreuse estaz egg in his jaw and he was on his way.

The guys down below were hooking fish pretty good but not as steady as the previous day.  The run we were in was filled with people so we held our spot as best as we could since there was shallow water above us and a nice deep drop off in front of us.  We could watch fish nose up out of the deep water into the shallow water and either run upstream or turn around go back to the deeper water. 

About an hour before lunch I had a little flury of action.  Like the day before it was getting hot and the sun was high so I decided to put on a little black stonefly with a purple thorax like the one I used at Sandy Creek.  I would work the water in close for a few casts, then lengthen the cast a foot or so, work the area some more, strip out another foot and so on and so on.  After covering the water with the longer casts I reeled in some line and started the process over again.

A couple of casts later and the indicator actually darts up stream so set the hook and a male brownie in about the 22"-24" long class, decides to put on a little show.  I land him as quick as possible, get the hook out and let him on his way.  I check my tippet for nicks and two casts later I hook up again in the same drift as before.  This time it was a female brownie in the same size class.  I guess those two were buddies and were traveling partners.  Hopefully they were able to spawn together too!!

I made the walk up the hill at lunchtime to get the grill while Allen and Chauncey held the fort down.  Man was I hungry and as soon as the burger and dog smoke hit the air, alot of guys starting placing their order!! It was a hoot hearing some of the and turf, grilled cheese, filet mignon, cambells soup, hamburger helper.......

After lunch we went back to the same area because it was still pretty darn crowded and you could tell more people were showing up for the weekend. Allen hooked a couple and lost them and Chauncey was having a tough time since it was his first time fly fishing.  I worked with them on their mending and drifting a little while and they better.  I thought for sure they going to get some hookups cause we were really seeing some browns move by us at that point.

I took a break in the shade for a little while to out of the hot sun and to enjoy the surroundings while watching the other guys catch hook up.  I head Allen make some noise so I look upstream and see his rod bent over with a head shaking fish on the end of the line.  Even though Allen's shoulder was sore he did a great job of fighting and landing his first migratory brown trout on a fly rod.  Way to go Allen!!

I hopped back into the mix and decided to put on my Steelhead Tellico Nymph to give it a try.  It has a purple body with dyed purple peacock herl on the back, ribbed with blue wire. The collar at the front of the fly was a light blue grizzly hackle wrapped a few times. As before I worked the water in close and worked the line out in increments until I hit the slot on the far side.

It was pretty dead for a while and at this point I was covering the far slot.  I made the cast and got a real good mend in the line which set the indicator up perfectly for a nice long drift.  It made the entire dead drift and right at the end of the drift, the fly gets yanked so hard I saw the indicator jump and I felt the hit too!!  A dime bright steelheads shoots stright up out of the water and proceeds to thrash up the water all around us.  She bolts downstream, head shakes, then rockets right back upstream, turns around again and heads right toward the angler just downstream of me.  She jumps up as high as his head and lands right next him, getting him all wet and proceeds to keep jumping across stream.  Finally she calms a bit and Chauncey was right there with the net.  OH YEAH!!  Now that's a pretty steelhead.  As clean as could be with a belly that was as white is ivory.

About an hour or so later I was lucky enough to hook up again, and this time it was nice male brown trout. I was pretty excited since it was one of biggest brown trout I have ever hooked.  This guy took the same fly that the steelhead took as well.  The indicator barely twitched so I did a little 6" strike of the rod, then what was on the other end came alive and rose slowly to the surface.  I could see the nice kype right away and the coloration on his sides were remarkable.  Man was he strong!! I couldn't do anything but keep a good bend in the rod and hope the hook held.  Although he didn't run far, he made that up with heavy headshakes and bull dogging down deep.  He took a little line here and there but for the most part it was a tug of war.  Finally he tired out and came to the net.  WOOHOO!!  He wasn't as big as some of the other browns we saw landed, but he sure was respectable and he definitely made my trip even better.

That was about it for the day since I wanted to head back to Rochester a little early since I was heading over to Pulaski the same evening.  I am definitely looking foward to next year and will be making this trip again!!  It was great to see Allen and his sister, as well as meeting their friends and spending the time on the water together.

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