Valley Forge National Park, Pennsylvania, July 20, 2014
I spent the weekend in Philadelphia before heading back to Virginia and since Sunday morning was wide open, I fished with Jin at a little stream in Valley Forge National Park.

The place was packed with joggers and dog walkers--and a few anglers though not as many as I expected on an absolutely beautiful and pleasant morning. The water was running a bit low, but it was still very cold so the trout were still happy. We quickly geared up and headed for the stream.

The day did not start well for me. I dug around in my fly pack and discovered I brought all of my nymph and streamer boxes, but no dry flies. Jin, however, was prepared and said we would play "Guide and Client" today.

He handed me a size 18 beetle, which did not float well and was almost impossible for us to follow after I made the cast. As long as I stared hard at it after it hit the water I could follow its drift about 40 percent of the time. It was a brown/black beetle fly drifting pretty fast over a brown/black bottom.

I just faked it if Jin asked, "Can you see that? Really? You can see it?"

I would tell him, "Sure, I can see it. You must be getting old. Get some glasses, old man. It's floating right there, as plain as the reel on your rod." After a half dozen casts we mutually agreed to switch to a caddis pattern that had a bright orange parachute post and following the fly was much easier after that change.
But the fish weren't showing much love for the caddis. Jin would point to a certain spot on the stream and say, "Put a couple of casts in there and make sure the fly doesn't drag. Mend, mend, mend, mend! Upstream, upstream mend...wrong the other upstream."

After flogging the water for awhile I moved on while Jin decided to tie on a nymph and try the water I just vacated. On his first cast he caught a trout in the same spot I sailed a dry fly through for maybe a 100 casts.

We continued to play "Guide and Client" as we moved upstream. He would point out a spot and I would throw the dry fly at it, trying not to put it in the trees or bushes. Some of the casts were tough to make but this was his home water and he knew where the fish were living.

Then I played "Bad Client." I missed one, then two, then three, then four takes. My guide was greatly disturbed, but remained calm and courteous towards his inept client.

"You're beginning to suck," he said. "Like at the Gunpowder back in 2008." Yep. That was a particularly ugly day. I promised to do better.

We continued to fish up the stream--I would lead with the dry fly and Jin would come in behind me with a caddis pupa nymph dangling a foot below a bobber and slay them.

I fished a dry around a fallen tree and drew nothing, not even a disinterested look. Jin said there was probably a fish on the other side of the tree but there was no way I could drop a dry fly over that massive trunk. He pitched his nymph rig over the tree and pulled out a fish. Dang. The "guide" was putting a serious beat-down on his hapless, and so far fishless, "client."
We finally agreed that the dry fly should come off and a caddis pupa should be placed on the line. I went back to a particularly good section of the stream, one where you absolutely KNOW there is a fish sitting on the bottom slurping up goodies drifting past in the water column, and on my third pass I hooked a fish. Then the "Bad Client" returned. The fish became unbuttoned from the fly.

Jin looked at me. I looked at him. It was time to leave and grab some lunch.

EQUIPMENT: We used a medium action 3 and 4 weight rods, weight forward lines and a variety of dry flies and nymphs, most in size 16 to 18. There were no hatches occurring on the stream, but you can't go wrong if you use caddis patterns.

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.