Serendipity & West Virginia’s Elkhorn Creek

Last January while fly fishing the Monocacy Creek, I reached down to scoop a wild brown trout from the water with my net and simultaneously watched my wading stick fall from my hands into the rushing water. It floated downstream ten yards before slowly disappearing under the water. I spent fifteen minutes looking for my lost wading stick before giving up and chalking it up to the third one I’d lost in the past six months. I could’ve never known that losing that wading stick would lead me to fly fishing one of the most unique streams I’ve ever had the chance to fish, the Elkhorn Creek in West Virginia.

I wrote a blog entry here on Wooly Bugged about my trip to the Monocacy. A couple of weeks later a gentlemen named Todd Hubler read that entry and contacted me to ask which part of the stream I’d lost the stick on. I explained and figured I’d never hear from him again. Two weeks later I opened up my email one morning to find a picture of my wading stick and a message from Todd saying we should get together and fish so he could return it to me. I agreed and then life got in the way. I was busy and Todd and I weren’t able to connect. Several months later I had an open day to fish and I decided I’d head east to New Jersey to fly fish the Pequest River. The water conditions were terrible that day. The hatchery was supposed to have stocked the stream but they hadn’t. Before I left I decided I’d walk upstream and look at the hatchery outflow. As I worked my way downstream I saw a gentlemen casting dry flies at rising trout. I headed back across the stream so that I wouldn’t disturb him and then I heard “Wooly Bugged.” It was Todd Hubler fishing below me.  I couldn’t believe it. We chatted and I said we must’ve been destined to fly fish together. It was during this conversation that Todd told me about a stream in West Virginia called the Elkhorn Creek. He spoke of a creek that flowed through the poorest county in West Virginia, McDowell County. It was an unregulated body of water that was populated with a large number of wild brown and rainbow trout. After meeting that day in New Jersey, Todd and I kept in touch and made plans to make a trip to the Elkhorn in early 2018.

In the early morning hours of February 2nd, I sat in my truck making the almost seven hour drive to southwestern West Virginia. I’d done quite a bit of research on the Elkhorn Creek prior to leaving and found the place intriguing. The Elkhorn and its trout have a serendipitous beginning, and while all the details cannot be confirmed, and will be argued about, the story goes something like this. In the early 1970s a trout stocking truck from the West Virginia Conservation Agency was driving down Rt. 52 through McDowell County. Where that truck was heading no one will ever remember, but at some point the truck broke down and couldn’t make it to its final destination. Because of the remoteness of the area, there was no way the payload of fish could be saved. Not far from the truck was a stonewall left over from the coal era and next to that wall flowed the Elkhorn. The driver decided that rather than let the fish die, he’d dump them in the creek and at least give the locals a good week of fishing. The rest is history. That payload of rainbow and brown trout went on to thrive and populate the entire length of the Elkhorn Creek. The existence of these fish went mostly unnoticed until the state was conducting a stream study and they were surprised when they found large brown trout living in this small body of water. The stream sort of became a secret among locals and eventually some TU members fished it and shared it with close friends. There are many unique stories from the early days on the Elkhorn. Todd shared a story of the time a guy crashed his GEO Metro into the Elkhorn. This car stayed in the stream for some time and the wild trout took up residence in and around it. At one point he said you could drift a fly right of the back bumper and watch a wild trout rise and take. All these stories simply add to the mystique of the stream.

I arrived in Princeton West Virginia at 10AM on Friday morning. I met Todd and we loaded his gear into my truck and we headed down Rt. 52. It had snowed the night before and the snow was heavy on the tree branches. The mountains in West Virginia are steep, much steeper than what you’ll find in Pennsylvania. The further northwest we drove the deeper we went into the coal country of West Virginia. McDowell County has quite a history. During the early part of the 20th century they found coal in the mountains. This brought great prosperity and thousands of jobs to the area. Coal mines popped up in the hollows, and railroads, houses, and general stores were built. At one point McDowell County was one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S. But then as technology changed the way that coal was mined, things changed and between the 1960s and 1990s tens of thousands of jobs disappeared from the area. An area that was once vibrant with life and progress suddenly took a turn for the worse. The lights at the coal mining facilities went dark, the wealth disappeared, and McDowell County changed. Drugs became a large problem and the area disappeared from the public eye.

This history was swirling through my head as Todd and I drove through the small towns of Bramwell, Switchback, and Elkhorn. You can see the remnants of the coal industry there. While some mines are still operational, many are closed. The old buildings line the landscape. As we got closer to our destination I observed many concrete and stonewalls along the Elkhorn creek. The mountains of West Virginia have taken back their stream. Eventually Todd saw a pull off he recognized and we got out and rigged our fly rods and tried to put on waders in air temps that were below 30 degrees. Once we were ready to go I followed Todd down the road as he tried to locate an entry point he’d used years ago. The stream bank was very overgrown and would probably be impossible to access in the summer months. He found a steep embankment down to the stream and I slid down into the water. The Elkhorn has another downside to it. McDowell County does not have a public sewer system. Many of the residents living along the stream have straight pipes that run human waste, bath and sink water right into the stream. Many of the locals affectionately refer to the Elkhorn as “The Sewer.” There is also a significant amount of trash in the stream as there are no dumps or public trash pick-up in the area. Ironically the sewage in the stream seems to add to the lore of the place, as it seems to aid in what is a very vibrant bug life. Almost any and every type of mayfly you can imagine hatches on the Elkhorn. Lifting an old blanket out of the stream will reveal a large number of aquatic nymphs.

The first run I fished on the Elkhorn Creek.

The first run I fished on the Elkhorn Creek.

A nine-foot fly rod is too long for the upper portions of the Elkhorn. I used my 8’-4wt but a 7’ rod would’ve even been better. I decided to start out by fishing a #18 Red Brassie tied off of a #16 Tan Hare’s Ear pattern. Todd let me take the first several casts upstream into a beautiful run. As a freight train blew its whistle not more than a few yard away, I hooked up with my first Elkhorn Creek trout. It was incredible to hook up with a wild trout in this setting. My first fish turned out to be a rainbow. The fish looked very healthy and after releasing her I was back to drifting my nymphs. The next cast I was into another fish, a stronger fish. This turned out to be a solid wild bow that was over 12” in length. The fight in this fish for early February was incredible.

The first wild trout I caught on the Elkhorn Creek, a small rainbow.

The first wild trout I caught on the Elkhorn Creek, a small rainbow.

The second larger wild rainbow I caught on a Red Brassie Nymph.

The second larger wild rainbow I caught on a Red Brassie Nymph.

Fishing between the stonewalls that line this stream was an incredible experience. I followed Todd as we fished upstream along old concrete abutments and stonewalls. There were so many attempted takes by trout it was hard to count. We caught almost all wild rainbows in this first section we fished. Todd explained that there seem to be specific sections of the creek where the rainbows have taken root and other areas where just the brown trout are. After catching a good number of fish, Todd and I decided to change spots and eat a sandwich. After exiting the stream we washed our hands and used hand sanitizer. Some guys that fish this stream go as far as fishing with rubber gloves on. Either way, it is important to not get the water in your mouth as the stream carries fecal coliforms and things like Giardia (Beaver Fever). Don’t ignore this warning! I promise you, you will regret it.

The stonewalls that were built during the coal era to protect from flooding.

The stonewalls that were built during the coal era to protect from flooding.

That afternoon Todd took me to a section of the Elkhorn that held more brown trout. The stream ran behind small homes, some of which it was hard to believe people inhabited. There is some serious poverty in this part of West Virginia, but the folks there have a way of life and are very cordial and friendly when they see you. We spent the afternoon drifting nymphs under indicators through runs and riffles. We fished under house foundations that stuck out over the stream and caught some beautiful wild brown trout that had a coloration that can only be found on the Elkhorn Creek.

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The house with the foundation that stuck out over the stream.

The house with the foundation that stuck out over the stream.

That night Todd and I crashed in a hotel in Princeton and we were up the next morning at sunrise to head back into the mountains. On Saturday morning Todd took me further upstream closer to the start of the Elkhorn Creek. The Elkhorn starts as a spring that flows from an old coal mine. This in itself is amazing. Many other streams in the mountains suffer from acid mine drainage and have a deadly orange glow to them that supports no life. Somehow, the spring that feeds the Elkhorn is clean and it allows for miles of cold trout water that sees 40-50 degree temps almost year round on its was to the Tug Fork River. Upstream the Elkhorn gets very narrow and smaller fly rods are even more critical.

The view on the upper reaches of the Elkhorn Creek.

The view on the upper reaches of the Elkhorn Creek.

It is very difficult to find access to the water because of the brush, briars, trees, etc. Once you get onto the stream, a canopy of tree branches envelops you. There is some beautiful water hiding here and it is no wonder there are large trout that can live in this water. We worked our way upstream and caught a handful of wild brown trout. There are some large old concrete forms and foundations that are overgrown with weeds and trees now that the stream flows past. It makes for a unique backdrop and the trout love to hide next to them. Eventually Todd and I had enough of getting tangled in the trees while trying to put perfect drifts in tight areas. Todd wanted to head downstream and show me areas where the Elkhorn opens up to wider and deeper water and fabled larger fish.

One of the concrete walls that feels out of place on the Elkhorn.

One of the concrete walls that feels out of place on the Elkhorn.

We headed a few miles downstream and jumped in the water. There was a nice deep flow of water below the highway underpass and I could actually see a couple of large brown trout feeding in the shallow water near the bank. I cast my nymphs upstream of them and immediately one of the brown trout went after my indicator and two times tried to take it, taking it almost to the bottom of the stream. Todd suggested floating a glow bug on top of the water. I tied on a #14 Pink Glow Bug and cast again upstream. This time the fish took again but the hook didn’t hold and I watched a beautiful wild brown trout sink below the surface. On the Elkhorn, once the trout feels the hook, you’re unlikely to see them again. On my next cast however the glow bug sank and I saw a good-sized wild rainbow dart off the bottom and take the pattern. It was awesome.

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Todd and I split up to cover move water for the rest of the morning. I caught numerous wild rainbow trout that morning. By lunchtime we’d met back up and fished more water together. We intermittently caught fish throughout the afternoon. We didn’t catch any giants although at one point Todd had a fish almost yank his rod out of his hands and he swears it was a giant. The closer to the Tug Fork River you get, the water gets much deeper and the opportunity for larger trout certainly increases.

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Todd and I fished into the early evening hours until the sun had dropped below the mountains and we could barely see the freight train rolling buy on a bridge above us. At that moment I wished I had an additional day or two to explore more of the stream. We drove out of the mountains and Todd told of a day he’d caught a 100 fish back in the 1980s. After dropping Todd off, I started my long trek home. It was a unique experience and one I’ll never forget. Thanks for sharing Todd.

Falling for Trout In The Club

At times it’s nice to fly fish to large trout without having to think too much. When I feel this way, I typically head west to the Yellow Creek Trout Club (“YCTC”) in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. I try to get out to YCTC once a quarter and experience catching big trout throughout the different seasons. I never fished the club when there was snow on the ground and figured it would provide for a nice backdrop with temperatures forecasted to be in the 40s. I met the owner Steve at 7:00am on Saturday morning. The club road was slick but with four-wheel drive I was able to get down to the club pavilion without much issue. I was the first person in the lot. I walked over and took a look at Yellow Creek.

Yellow Creek looking picturesque in the snow.

Yellow Creek looking picturesque in the snow.

The water flow was perfect, but the clarity wasn’t. The water was a murky green color. There were only a couple of inches of visibility and I knew the fishing was going to be tougher than I expected. I was glad I’d brought my box of steelhead flies because I knew I’d need some bright colors to cut through the murk. I pieced together my Scott 9’-5wt fly rod and tied on a 9’-5X fluorocarbon leader. I ran two feet of 5X tippet to a #18 Rainbow Warrior Nymph, and off the hook bend I tied a bright orange and yellow Y2K pattern with a gold bead head. My Y2K pattern is one of the brightest patterns in my fly box. After I was rigged up I headed down the footpath in the snow and made sure to open a couple of hand warmers.

Once I arrived at the first fishing spot I pulled out my thermometer and took the water temperature, it was 34 degrees. I knew that before the sun hit the water, it was going to be difficult to move fish. After drifting my set-up for an hour through a hundred yard stretch that I knew held a lot of fish, I had no takes. I decide to move the Y2K pattern to the top position and tie a Squirmy Wormy off the hook. A few drifts later I hooked up with a nice rainbow trout that took the Y2K.

The first rainbow trout I caught on Saturday.

The first rainbow trout I caught on Saturday.

Several casts later, I hooked up with another solid rainbow. Their fight didn’t seem quite as voracious as you might expect with fish their size. After releasing a couple of trout and spending a solid two hours not catching anything, I decided to walk back to my truck to get my GoPro batteries that I’d left on the front seat of my truck.

The second beautifully colored bow that I caught.

The second beautifully colored bow that I caught.

After stopping at my truck I headed upstream to quieter waters since there were quite a few club members who’d shown up to fish the warming air temperatures. Heading upstream would prove to be a serious mistake. I walked across the stream and worked my way up the north bank. I came to an area I’d caught large fish before, and after two drifts I hooked up with a giant rainbow trout. This fish fought hard for five minutes and then I landed him in my net. A beautiful heavy fish.

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I caught one more trout in this spot before slowly working my way upstream. I got to a section where it looked to be an easy step down into the creek and as I took my first step I could feel myself losing my balance. I tried to catch myself on the bank, only to have my fishing boot slip on a rock. And in slow motion I dropped into the water sideways. I could feel 34-degree water rush into the upper part of my waders. I got back up as quickly as I could and then felt water trapped by my wading belt slowly makes its way down my legs to my feet.

The section of Yellow Creek where I fell in.

The section of Yellow Creek where I fell in.

It wasn’t the worst fall I’ve ever had but it may have been the coldest. Everything was soaked, my shirt and jacket, my gloves, everything! I attempted to fish another 50 yards upstream and it just got too cold. I made my way back to the parking lot. I had one piece of dry clothing in my truck and I knew it wasn’t going to cut it in these temps. I grabbed my dry shirt and headed over to the pavilion where a member had a fire going. I hung my stuff and warmed up for bit realizing my day of fishing was most likely over. Sometimes fishing trips don’t go as expected, but that’s all part of the adventure. After trading some fishing stories with a couple of club members, I grabbed my still wet clothing, got to my truck, broke down my gear and headed out for a long, cold, wet drive home.

What’s your best falling in the creek story? If you have a moment, share it below.

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Cool, Calm, & Fishless In Pennsylvania

The first couple of weeks of the New Year have brought less than favorable weather conditions for spending time outdoors. We’ve had multiple days of below freezing temperatures, sub-zero wind chills, and almost every body of water in Pennsylvania is frozen solid. Even some of the spring creeks have been seeing ice on the edges of their banks. Against my better judgment, I have ventured out in search for trout three times since the end of December. 

The Monocacy Creek just below the St. Francis Center for Renewal.

The Monocacy Creek just below the St. Francis Center for Renewal.

During the first weekend in January I headed over to the Monocacy Creek in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. There was a section of the creek I’d never fished that runs behind the St. Francis Center for Renewal property and I wanted to check it out. I didn’t bother hitting the water until lunchtime. There are a couple of parking spots off of the south side of Bridle Path Road just before the bridge that crosses the Monocacy. It was so cold that day that I had to leave my truck running as I attempted to tie nymph patterns on with 6X tippet. I also discovered that wading boots don’t fit as well in freezing cold temperatures. It was like trying to shove my feet into a shoe that was three sizes too small. After I was geared up with my 9’-5wt fly rod I walked along the western bank of the Monocacy until I was able to duck into the woods and escape the biting wind. The creek looked great for January and I was confident I’d find a wild brown trout to take either my Frenchie Nymph or Black Zebra Midge. I fished hard that afternoon, drifting my nymph through every probable fish lie. Unfortunately the only things I hooked into were some submerged sticks and leaf debris. Is it just me or does that debris get worse in the winter months? This portion of the Monocacy is not very well marked. Down below the Covenant Christian Academy there is an orange electrical chord stretched across the creek. It seems to indicate the end of a section but there are no signs. I’ve viewed maps online that show you can fish all the way to Illick’s Mill Park. If anyone reads this and is familiar with the Monocacy, please comment and let me know. There are railroad tracks that follow the Monocacy throughout this entire section so access is not difficult, but knowing where you are legally allowed to be is tough. I also explored upstream above the Bridle Path Road Bridge. Up here the creek narrows significantly. There are some great holes and the stream runs behind a large development and again, it is impossible to know if you’re trespassing or not. When in question, I back out.

The slower moving water in Illick's Mill Park.

The slower moving water in Illick's Mill Park.

I headed back to my truck and drove down to Illick’s Mill Park and fished the water in the park. While trying to step over line stretched across the ground to stop Canadian Geese from invading the park, I watched several trout sipping midges on the surface. It was getting dark and the air was frigid. I tied on a #20 Black Zebra Midge with a black bead head and dropped it off of a natural Hare’s Ear. I took off my indicator and cast my line upstream ahead of the fish. I was shocked to see my line stop and when I pulled I saw I’d moved a good fish off the creek bottom. It turned out to be a beautiful brook trout. It must’ve been left over from spring stockings, but it was beautifully colored and a large fish. I released him quickly to avoid freezing his gills and desperately tried to warm my hands as I headed back to my truck to call it a day.

The large brook trout I caught in Illick's Mill Park.

The large brook trout I caught in Illick's Mill Park.

Last week Pennsylvania had some truly whacky weather. It was cold at the beginning of the week and then it gradually warmed into the 40s and on Friday it reached almost 60 degrees. This warm weather was accompanied by heavy rain. The combination of warm air and rain resulted in many of the frozen creeks breaking up and ice jams were everywhere. It made for some great photographs. Over the weekend I had traveled to northwestern Pennsylvania to do some hunting and on the way back I decided I’d stop in and fly fish Spring Creek. Every creek or river I crossed on Rt. 80 heading east was ripping. The USGS on Spring Creek had hit peak on Saturday and I was hoping by the time I arrived Sunday afternoon it would be fishable. I stopped in at TCO State College to grab a couple of midges because I forgot one of my fly boxes. They asked where I was fishing and I told them Spring Creek and they said I was braver than they were. In twenty minutes I found out why they said that.

Spring Creek was running higher than normal with all the rain and snow melt.

Spring Creek was running higher than normal with all the rain and snow melt.

I parked at the Benner Springs Fish Hatchery access area and once again had to leave my truck running so I could warm my hands while tying #20 midges onto 6X tippet. Once I got rigged up I fished the water below the Shiloh Road Bridge. Spring Creek was running high and cloudy, and hardly resembled the beautifully meandering Spring Creek of April or May. The branches dangling in the water were covered in ice shaped like strange blown glass horns.

Abstract shapes formed by ice on branches on Spring Creek.

Abstract shapes formed by ice on branches on Spring Creek.

I drifted nymphs on a 9’-6X leader with a small indicator. I had to use a good amount of weight to get down in the fast current. After twenty minutes my hands were in a lot of pain from the cold air. I worked the water up to behind the hatchery and was unsuccessful at moving anything other than a few sticks and tree limbs. Eventually I had enough of the insanity and decided I head south on Rt. 322.

A view of Clarks Creek in January just after the ice went out.

A view of Clarks Creek in January just after the ice went out.

 On my way back through Harrisburg, I got off at the Halifax exit and drove over to Clarks Creek to see if the rains had moved the ice out. Sure enough, Clarks was open! I parked on the game lands off of Rt. 325. The weather was a few degrees warmer an hour south of State College. I assembled my Orvis Recon fly rod and headed into the woods. The first section of the creek I came to still had some ice on it, but above and below, the creek was clear for hundreds of yards. I drifted a Y2K pattern above a midge and had no takes. Clarks Creek was the first place where I saw three or four trout while trying to quietly walk the creek bank. I worked my way upstream to the large logjam at the 90-degree turn in the creek. It was peaceful and there wasn’t another soul to be found. Unfortunately there wasn’t a fish to be found on the end of my line and I walked back the way I’d come. I was cool, calm, and fishless and that was ok. I walked the path out to my truck, broke down my fly rod, cleared ice out of the eyelets, and thought of spring temperatures. In a couple of months it will be March and 50 degrees will feel chilly.

Here's to warmer weather that's just a couple of months away.

Here's to warmer weather that's just a couple of months away.

Ice Water, Private Property & The Little Juniata River Railway

On Saturday morning I found myself up before first light driving toward Cambria County, Pennsylvania to fly fish Chest Creek for the first time. It took just over three hours to make it to the small town of Patton. As my GPS signaled I was getting closer to my final destination, I noticed the amount of snow on the ground was more than what I’d encountered just south along Rt. 22 near Gallitzin. The evening before when I’d researched Chest Creek, it hadn’t occurred to me that the overnight temperatures in Cambria County had been consistently low enough that creeks might freeze over. Sure enough, as I descended a long road down toward the creek, I could see that Chest Creek was frozen. I arrived at a bridge and got out to look at the water. Ice on both banks of the creek had reduced Chest Creek to a small channel of water that winded its way through snow-covered ice downstream. From what I could see, some areas upstream were entirely frozen over. I pulled my truck into a snow covered parking spot and decided I’d hike upstream to see if by some stroke of luck I might find open water that no one knew about. After pulling on my waders and rigging up my fly rod I slid down to the creek bank in the snow and tried drifting a double nymph rig in the small channel that cut through the ice. No luck. I figured the trout were tucked under the ice in deep pockets of water. A hundred yards upstream I was shocked to hook into a rainbow trout. I pulled out my net to land it and up out of the water came my nymphs. I watched my first Chest Creek trout disappear into the winter water. Another 50 yards upstream I found the creek was entirely frozen over for as far as I could see. I decided I was fighting a losing battle. I climbed out of the creek and walked the railroad tracks back to my truck.

It took me fifteen minutes to find cell coverage after leaving Chest Creek, and once I did, I reassessed my situation and did a little research online. I decided to head over to eastern Blair County and explore Piney and Clover Creek for the first time. The only concern I had was that there is little to no information published online about these two streams. I’m sure some folks want to keep it this way, but for someone wanting to explore, it is frustrating. I drove to Clover Creek first and attempted to access the creek at the highway bridge on Rt. 2013. There were no signs on the stream and no clear place to park. It appeared a majority of the creek flows through private property. I didn’t see any "no parking" signs at the end of a stone road that intersected Rt. 2013 so I parked and hiked down to the creek with my fly rod. Clover Creek dumps into the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River about 50 yards downstream. I walked to the mouth, threw some small nymphs in a few pockets but did not hook up with any wild trout. Rather than knock on doors looking for creek access, I decided to drive back west a few minutes to check out Piney Creek. There is a Lower Trail parking lot at Grannas Station and I briefly parked there to check out access to Piney Creek. There is a small trail that cuts down to the mouth of Piney at the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River. But again, as you walk a few yards upstream, the creek appears to flow through private property. I headed back to my truck and drove up Lower Piney Creek Road. This road follows Piney Creek up through a small hollow, but all the surrounding property appeared private. There were a few houses and portions of the woods were posted with no trespassing signs. If you look on a map there are state game lands that straddle the creek but the creek doesn’t appear to ever cross into the game lands for public access. Not feeling comfortable accessing Piney Creek, I figured I needed a new game plan if I wanted to get any fishing in. If anyone reads this blog entry and has experience fishing Piney or Clover Creeks, please contact me; I’d like to chat with you.

Somewhere in the gorge looking downstream on the Little Juniata River.

Somewhere in the gorge looking downstream on the Little Juniata River.

With half my day gone, I decided to head thirty-five minutes north to fish the Little Juniata River (“Little J”). I arrived in the town of Barree around 12:30PM. It was cloudy and cold and as I drove across the Barree Road Bridge I didn’t see a soul on the water. I didn’t see any cars as I drove along Mountain Road to the lot at the end. The parking lot was empty and I looked forward to taking advantage of the lack of fishermen in the area. I pulled my waders on for a third time and rigged up my 9’-5wt Scott G2 with a 9’-5X leader. I tied on a tan Hare’s Ear Nymph as my lead fly and dropped a #20 Black Zebra Midge off the hook bend. I started the long walk back the trail that follows the creek and eventually heads up the western edge of the mountain. I walked a good distance, not all the way to the confluence with Spruce Creek, but a good ways.

A classic scene on the Little Juniata River.

A classic scene on the Little Juniata River.

Once I got on the water, I started drifting nymphs and working my way back downstream toward the first railroad bridge. It was cold with the air temperatures hovering around 42° and the water temperatures not far behind, just barely hitting 40°. I put a lot of drifts through many good-looking runs and riffles. I could not move a fish. It wasn’t until later in the afternoon as I got close to the second of the two railroad bridges that across the creek I finally hooked into a wild brown trout. It took me by surprise as it grabbed my midge nymph. It was great to feel the tug of that fish on the Scott.

The first wild brown trout I caught on the "Little J" on Sunday afternoon.

The first wild brown trout I caught on the "Little J" on Sunday afternoon.

Another fat wild brownie I landed.

Another fat wild brownie I landed.

Several casts later I hooked into another trout below the bridge abutment. Within 15 minutes I went from no fish to four fish. It was incredible and the third fish I caught was a real beauty. I felt fortunate to stand in the creek and release that fish back into the current. I didn’t see another person all afternoon on the Little Juniata. It was just me and the constant flow of train traffic on the Little Juniata railway.

The buttery wild brown trout I caught on a #20 Black Zebra Midge.

The buttery wild brown trout I caught on a #20 Black Zebra Midge.

As daylight faded, I walked along the east side of the creek along the trail watching a freight train move parallel to me. I was asking myself what it must feel like to start a company that ends up growing so big that your name appears on the side of a hundred truck trailers stacked on a train moving through the Pennsylvania mountains. The sound of the train cars rolling along the track faded into the distance and I could hear the sound of the train horn faint in the distance.