Valley Forge National Park, Pennsylvania, March 10, 2012
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The sun was beginning to peek over the tops of the trees when Jin and I rolled into a parking lot near Valley Creek. It was chilly a chilly 32 degrees but the weather report said it would warm up to somewhere near 50 so we didn't worry too much about the cold and began throwing on gear and stringing up rods.

Jin had me pumped up all week with stories of how the fishing was on fire at the creek. He spent a short time fishing this section of water the previous weekend and had pulled in a decent number of trout on a dry fly so I was anxious to get my share.

The sun was still low on the horizon when we walked up to the stream, putting the opposite bank in deep shadow. Jin pointed out a section I should fish then left to check a spot upstream. Since it was still pretty cold I decided nymphing was my best option but just as I finished tightening down a small Thingamabobber on the leader and was preparing to cast I saw small dimples appear on the water. Trout were feeding on something on top, probably in the surface film. I watched for awhile and could make out several dark shapes moving back and forth just outside the main current.
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By this time Jin had returned and since he already had a dry fly tied on he began working the water while I removed the nymph hardware and tied on a size 18 Tom Baltz parachute dry fly.

We fished dries for awhile but weren't having any luck. Whatever we were throwing at them, it wasn't what they wanted. The feeding was sporadic and the trout never rose in the same spot twice. After half an hour and multiple fly changes we switched to nymphing. Off came the dry fly and on went and indicator and a size 20 beadhead nymph. We tried. Hard. We went through a bunch of different patterns but only drew one or two takes.

The sun climbed higher but the temperature didn't. Where was the warming trend? I had to break ice out of the guides. We decided to grab a late breakfast at McD's then return to continue fishing. It's pretty amazing how quickly a sausage biscuit and hot coffee will warm a body up. After a pit stop and a side trip to the TCO Fly Shop in Bryn Mawr we returned to Valley Forge National Park.

There was another angler at the parking lot but he headed upstream. The sun was higher in the sky and striking the water. The fish were more active and still eating something just a few feet below the surface. You could see them swim back and forth and every once in awhile there was a white flash as a mouth opened to inhale something very tiny. Jin checked the quiet water next to the bank and saw lots of tiny insect life stuck in the surface film. Very small and tan in color. He swapped his fly out to something close to matching the size and color and picked off a few fish before losing the fly to a sunken branch. I gave him one of my size 20 thread-body nymphs and he got a few more fish.
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We took turns working the area. I would put in a few casts and get the tout all worked up so that when Jin would rotate in he'd pull out a fish or two before surrendering the water to me. I got a couple, but Jin had the hot rod.

We fished this area for a couple of hours then moved further downstream. At a stretch of water shaded by the still leafless branches of dormant trees Jin spotted some risers. We quietly entered the water and spread out across the stream, about 30 feet below the fish. We both began casting. But I thought there was too much line flailing the water so I reeled up and spotted risers for Jin. The fish were feeding, you could see noses poking up above the water as they ate, but they weren't coming up in the same spot as they fed. All you could do was put the fly in the general area and hope for the best. Jin came really close to hooking a few but forgot to say "God Save the Queen."

We fished a bit more but evening was rolling in and we had to bring dinner home so we left the stream and rising fish to make our way back to the parking lot.

EQUIPMENT: We used medium action 4 weight rods, long leaders and tiny dries and nymphs from size 18 to 28.

DIRECTIONS: Valley Forge National Park is open 6am-10pm. From Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and points southeast use U.S. 202 north to U.S. 422 west. From U.S. 422 west take Route 23 west for 1.8 miles then turn left at the exit ramp and merge to the center lane. The entrance to Valley Forge National Park is straight ahead.
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