Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, May 26, 2012
The sun was below the tree line and the morning was still pleasantly cool as I shared a covered picnic table with another angler at ‘The Run’ in Boiling Springs, Pa., munching an energy bar and sipping a Starbucks double-shot mocha iced coffee I picked up at a gas station while making a fuel stop. My table-mate was a local and was concentrating on rigging up a long leader for his Orvis 3 weight rod.
He blood-knotted several lengths of monofilament together, tapering down to what I estimated was 6X, made sure the entire leader was straight before pulling out fly box from his vest. He flipped through several leaves before plucking out and tying on what looked like a white oblong piece of something, around size 14, that I couldn’t identify. It looked strange. No hackle, CDC or deer hair. No dubbed body or thread wraps. It looked like a white dab of something tied on a hook but whatever it was it probably had a tiny bit of lead on the hook shank because it made a dull thud as he dropped it on the wooden picnic table. I didn’t ask what it was and he didn’t offer any information so as he stood up to fish ‘The Run’ we wished each other luck for the day.
I watched as he moved slowly downstream. The fly would slowly sink as he guided it down a slick or riffle before picking up and recasting. He caught a nice brown trout on his third cast then disappeared around the corner. By the time he was gone I had figured out what the fly imitated. With the fluff forming a little blob on the water and the slow sink rate, it was a perfect replica of a slow-sinking piece of bread.
I was in Pennsylvania to fly fish with Tom Baltz and Jin for a couple of days and we were meeting at ‘The Run’ before heading off to fish wherever Tom suggested, since he was the expert in everything related to fishing in this section of the state. I dabbled a bit at ‘The Run’ while waiting for them to show up but as soon as they did we took off to fish the Yellow Breeches.
It was the Memorial Day weekend and we knew the water would be crowded. Fishing spots that were usually empty were filled with cars but Tom knew of a few spots and we eventually made it to the water and began to fish. The Breeches was a bit high and off-color and the water temperature was in the low 60’s so we put our nymph game on. It was also hot. The air temperature hovered around the mid-90’s but with the heat index factored in it felt close to 100. You could see a few dimples on the water but it was subsurface fishing for most of the day. I tried a dry fly here and there but it was a hassle to take off the nymph rig and tie on a dry fly leader and tippet only to switch back to nymphing again.
Another hassle, more of an inconvenience, was using a Thingamabobber as an indicator on the nymph rig. There is no problem in the way the indicator functions but it puts a mean kink into your line where it’s locked into place. It can be stretched out, but the leader will never be really straight again. And if you try to place it on the thinner section of the leader it tends to slip during casting because there isn’t enough bite on the line to lock it in place. For light trout fishing I tend to use the Lightning Strike football-shaped indicator, a tear-drop indicator that threads over the leader and is pegged in place with a toothpick or a small dab of BioStrike putty. I had lots of Lightning Strike and tear-drop indicators--at home. The BioStrike was for light nymphing use so the only the Thingamambobber would work in this situation and I just had to deal with the kinks in the line. Tom was using an indicator building kit that enabled him to tailor the size of the strike indicator to match the fishing situation. Pretty neat and it worked well.
It was tough, hot fishing and we also had to deal with lots of folks floating down the Breeches in all sorts of watercraft. We finally left the water when a late afternoon thunderstorm blew into the area because you do not want to get caught standing in water, holding a long graphite stick, when lightning flashes above you.
EQUIPMENT: We used 2 to 4 weight rods. Leader length and tippet strength depends on the size and type of fly you're throwing at the time and the fishing technique (dries or nymphs).
DIRECTIONS: From Virginia, head up US 15 into Pennsylvania, past Gettysburg and other tourist attractions. Make a left turn onto US 74 outside of Harrisburg. The intersection is in a small town, with a Getty gas station across the intersection where you will make your turn and a Wendy's restaurant on the left. Follow US 74 until you come to US 174, an intersection with a local graveyard on your left. Turn left here and follow Boiling Springs Road, past Allenberry Inn and Resort, and make a left on Bucher Hill Road. Follow the road for a short distance until you see the parking lot of ‘The Run’ on your left. If you need equipment or flies the Yellow Breeches Outfitters is in the town of Boiling Springs. You can also fish the Yellow Breeches at Allenberry Resort and Inn. There is a parking lot for fly fishers but keep in mind that the road leading to the parking lot is ONE WAY. You have to circle around the inn to reach the exit when you leave.