Fly Fishing Beaver Creek

Late last week I really had the itch to catch some trout. I was coming off an unsuccessful weekend of chasing trout on the West Branch of the Delaware River where the bug hatches were scarce and fishing involved trying to coax a wild trout to take a #22 Sulphur Emerger. Welcome to summer fly fishing for trout. I had been reading about a stretch of stocked private water out in western Pennsylvania called Beaver Creek. I called the stream manager and he said that the water temps were cold, water flows were good, and there were still some bugs on the water. I told him I’d be there on Saturday.

 An upstream view of Beaver Creek.

An upstream view of Beaver Creek.

Saturday morning I was up and on the road by 3:00am because I wanted to hit the water early. It was a three and a half hour drive to Farmington, Pennsylvania, which is the only town close to Beaver Creek. I met up with stream manager Daryl at the local Sunoco and he took me down to the Beaver Creek property and gave me an overview of the water. He mentioned the creek was seeing Caddis, Yellow Stonefly, and Slate Drakes during the previous week. He said dry flies with a yellow body were a sure meal ticket. After small talk, I rigged up two rods, my Winston Nexus 9’-7wt for streamers and my Scott G2 for throwing nymphs and dry flies. I hiked downstream and found some water that looked good to start wetting my line. The first thing I noticed about Beaver Creek was that it wasn’t like many of trout streams I’ve been accustomed to fishing. Large, deep, slow pools, connected by waterfalls characterize Beaver Creek. While the waterfalls create some disturbance in the water, they don’t create long runs of riffles that you’d dead drift your nymph through. So I threw my Hares Ear and Pheasant Tail prospecting rig into the pool and it barely moved an inch. I immediately knew I probably wasn’t going to have the patience for this type of nymph fishing. I reeled in and grabbed the streamer rod and started throwing an Olive Rabbit Hair Zuddler Minnow and stripping it through the pool. Almost instantly I had an aggressive hit by a brown trout. They have this tendency to roll on streamers as they strike. This fish rolled, but missed. I threw another ten or so casts with a couple misses, but no fish. Then I saw a rise. I nipped off the nymphs, tied on some new 6X tippet and tied on a Yellow Humpy fly. I cast my line into the shade of a large rock and overhanging tree. The fly sat and sat and then suddenly a fish rose and took a terrestrial on the water next to my fly and then “wham,” another fish crushed my fly. I set the hook and I had my first Beaver Creek trout. I captured this fight on the GoPro and it is in the video below. It was a beautiful rainbow that was in the 16-18” range. I continued fishing this hole with the Yellow Humpy and caught two other trout, including a tiger trout.

Eventually I moved downstream and found a nice section that was lined with rhododendron bushes on the far bank. These bushes provide perfect shade for a trout to ambush from. I tied on an Orange Stimulator fly and placed casts up under the bushes. I had several large brown trout come up to my fly and I was either too early or too late on setting the hook. I must’ve missed a half dozen fish in that spot. As the sun rose higher in the sky, the fish were uninterested in my top water flies and I decided to explore. Further upstream the creek narrowed and I found a spot that looked nymphable (water worthy of nymphing). While I stood there tying on a small pink egg pattern, I noticed a shadow in the water and saw what looked like a huge hook jawed rainbow. I prepped my line and sent a couple of slow drifts close to the fish. On the second trip through the current he took and I was hooked up with a good fish. I fought this fish for ten minutes. I only had 6X tippet on my leader and the fish was so heavy I had a hard time getting him close to the bank because of the fear of breaking my line. At one point I attempted to net him and he was so large he didn’t fit in my Fisknat net and literally jumped right out of it. After the fish swam upstream, I was finally able to get him in the net again and balanced keeping him in it. Wow, what a fish. He didn’t fight like a steelhead, but he sure looked like one. This fish measured 24” and had to weigh several pounds.

 The 24" rainbow I caught on a small pink egg pattern.

The 24" rainbow I caught on a small pink egg pattern.

After catching the big fish I headed back to my truck to eat lunch. By mid-afternoon there were a few more people on the creek, including the Orvis guides and their clients from the nearby Nemacolin Resort. Once I finished eating, I headed further upstream to explore more of the water. I caught a couple more fish on emerging Caddisfly patterns, all on the surface. As the afternoon started turning into evening, I decided to head back to the spot I’d fished in the morning where I missed several good fish on top. When I got there I was unable to encourage any trout to take from the top and this lead to me tying on the Zuddler Minnow again. This time I tied on a white one. On my first cast, I threw the fly under the rhododendron and it landed on a rock under the surface of the water. Almost instantly, I watched a large tiger trout come out of nowhere and start attacking the fly as if it posed some kind of threat. It took multiple swipes at the fly before committing and I set the hook. It was awesome! This fish was close to 20”. Once I released the fish, I put my fly back on the other side of the creek and started stripping the line and “wham,” a good brown trout took the Zuddler Minnow.

 The beautiful brown trout I caught on a white Zuddler Minnow.

The beautiful brown trout I caught on a white Zuddler Minnow.

The fight this fish put up was unbelievable. The brown was close to 20” as well. As I continued to strip my streamer, I heard a hello from behind me and was greeted by a nice gentlemen that I’d seen fishing the creek earlier that day. He was there with his wife and he introduced himself as one of the shareholders of the creek property. We chatted briefly and they invited me up to their campfire for a freshly grilled German Brat dinner. The sun was low in the sky and I was hungry so I took them up on their offer. The rest of the evening I spent sitting by a campfire, enjoying some great food from Pittsburgh and swapping stories with a fellow fly fisherman. I really appreciated the hospitality. One thing you can always count on when fishing is that when you run into a fellow fisherman, it doesn’t matter age, race, gender, or anything else. Fishing is one thing you'll have in common and it will make for friendship. We talked into the dark and then I said my goodbyes and started the long trek back to southeastern, Pennsylvania.

 One of the rainbows I caught on a Yellow Humpy.