Trout 3, Ebisu 1 . . .
Streams that for whatever reason hold a sparse number of trout, perhaps two or three per mile, can make even a stocked trout fishery a challenge tenkara can handle.
Handle of pine: the Ebisu this time out. The 12-foot rod’s more limber 5/5 flex allowed tighter casts within side channels the width of city sidewalks. Runs walled by spring green, everything from tenacious native saplings to the shallow-rooted immigrant Japanese Knotweed.
The traditional tapered line with six feet of 6X tippet landed soft hackles and nymphs with stealth along promising seams. The pine handle gives the Ebisu the feel of a baseball bat tapering to a 1-weight graphite tipped with a matching fly line.
The Philadelphia Phillies, hosting the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates, in that order, brought me to Philadelphia for a few days. Valley Creek, French Creek, and Pickering Creek were nearby. The Wissahickon, The Schuylkill, and The Pennypack were within range. Waters borne on the pages of Philadelphia on the Fly and Small Fry: The Lure of the Little.
What mattered more than destination this time was the full fishing experience with all of its supporting details. Spring fishing offers riparian zones flush with wildflowers and songbirds and streams, some marginal at other times of the year, now with trout, holdovers, survivors from the weeks following the opener.
Reports of “little black stoneflies” were replaced by the actual witness to a few scattered rising Hendricksons approximated by a size 14. Forage of the moment took many, more meaty, forms: tiny black tadpoles, parent frogs, crayfish, and earthworms all were sighted in and along several streams. The flows were solid, clear, and warmer than expected given the long winter that had encased the Northeast in snow for three months.
My India Hen and Herl and Silver Ribbed Deer Hair and Black soft hackles in size 12 fit just as well a hatchling tadpole. They were that small; the squiggling creature’s head and tail resembled a comma.
Both patterns worked.
Trout, the simple fins to face direct encounter, were few. Again, these were scattered survivors of the opener. Natural forage was on their menu. Artificial colors and sweeteners had been by now learned to be avoided. Imitation, a general for the surveyed stream forage, called for some personal combination of thread, feather, perhaps fur and various glitter of some material, the blacker, the better.
Tussles on the Ebisu were strong, yet static, a kind of slow motion take that saw trout drop the fly three out of four times along two wades of a mile and back.
One rainbow in the net serves posterity enough. One rainbow a caudal fin short of a foot. The fish landed, and all the fish lost, were appreciated in light of the effort involved to lure their strikes.
Insights on fly pattern awareness, as well as sightings of Baltimore orioles in full song and flight, wildflowers like the Mayapple, wild Mustards in abundance, plus a single Jack-in the-Pulpit, made a satisfying spring weekend of baseball and fly fishing that ended: Trout 3, Ebisu 1.
– rPs 05 13-14 2015