Heading into this past weekend I was finally expecting a proper spring weekend. The daytime temperatures for Saturday were forecasted to be as high as 75°. I was excited to get out and fly fish anywhere in Pennsylvania because for the first time in three weeks water levels were perfect. The list of streams I’ve wanted to fish during the spring months has been steadily growing. Although I had my sights set on Big Pine Creek, I decided I’d head to the Yellow Creek Trout Club. If you’re asking yourself why I’d head to club waters during the middle of April, you are justified. However, I had a great opportunity to meet-up with fly fishing artist Andrea Larko to chat about a project I’m working on and do some fishing. Big Pine Creek would have to wait.
On Saturday morning I was up early and driving west on the Pennsylvania Turnpike towards Pittsburgh. I arrived at the club pavilion around 7:00am and started gearing up while I waited for Steve to arrive. The sun was rising and the bright morning light reflected perfectly off of the middle of Yellow Creek.
I knew that climbing air and water temps, combined the warm sun, were the makings of a great day of fishing. After Steve arrived we chatted for a bit. He explained that the club was stocked with fresh rainbow and brown trout the week prior and that the fishing had been steady. After we parted ways, I headed upstream to start fishing at the Black Hole. I planned on working my way downstream until lunchtime when I was supposed to meet Andrea. I decided that Saturday would be the day I’d try fishing the infamous Squirmy Wormy for the first time. On Friday night I’d stopped at TCO Fly Shop and picked up a pack of red and green worm segments and sat down and tied a dozen patterns. I tied them on a #14 hook with a 7/64” gold bead in the center. Everything was held together with some Danville’s 210 Waxed Flymaster Plus thread. It wasn’t rocket science and my rig ended up being a Y2K pattern with a Squirmy Wormy dropper fished under an indicator on a 9’-5X leader.
As I started working my way downstream through slow moving pocket water, it was apparent to me that the Squirmy Wormy would live up to its reputation. Within the first forty-five minutes of fishing I hooked up with three rainbow trout that were in the 18-20” range. And when these fish took the Squirmy Wormy, they took it aggressively. There was no nibble or hesitation, it was an outright take.
And it wasn’t another thirty minutes that on a straight dead drift, I hooked up with the largest rainbow trout I’ve ever caught on a fly rod. It was amazing. When this fish came up off the bottom and started shaking its head I was laughing and freaking out all at the same time. I fought this fish for several minutes and eventually had to land him by hand as it was too big for my Fisknat net. I put the measuring tape to this fish and it came in at a whopping 24.5”. I did not take the time to weigh him, but I’d estimate he was a 5-pound or better fish.
Continuing to move downstream until lunch, I caught a dozen good rainbows. I was also witness to an incredible midge hatch that had the trout chasing emerging bugs non-stop to the surface. It was a splash festival and I couldn’t for the life of me find the right emerger to mimic what they were eating.
When the lunch hour arrived, I headed back to my truck to meet Andrea. I recounted my story of the giant rainbow and I told her she needed to get her waders on because she was missing out on some great fishing. She decided to take me downstream to the lower property boundary to her secret spot. Unfortunately when we arrived, there was someone fishing her secret spot so we made the best of it and fished upstream. After shooting some video for the Wooly Bugged YouTube Channel, we drifted some nymphs and both picked up some smaller fish. Eventually we decided to move upstream, taking the time to throw a fly at the resident palomino trout that no one seems to be able to catch. We ended up settling on one of Andrea’s favorite riffles on the club property.
We fished this water for a good hour and during that time Andrea had at least three occasions where she hooked up with very nice fish and unfortunately they broke off mid way through the battle. It happened so many times we started laughing, but eventually Andrea netted a rainbow and then hooked into a trophy that she brought to hand. It was neat to watch and film on camera. As the afternoon moved on into evening, most people had left the club and Andrea and I were the only ones fishing water upstream near the pavilion. I hooked into three more rainbows while fishing in the early evening twilight and Andrea looked on and laughed as I hooked them on this crazy fly called the Squirmy Wormy. It was so much fun. Thanks Andrea for a wonderful day of fishing.
For any of you who’ve never heard of Andrea Larko, she is an artist for Simms, Able Reels, and Montana Fly Company, and is also a founding member of Abel Women. Her accolades go on and on and you can read more about her here. And of course she is an amazing illustrator, oil painter, and all around artist. If you’re interested in purchasing a decal or print, check out her work on her Etsy site.