Saturday offered one of the finest days of the entire year in northwestern Pennsylvania, too fine to be cooped up when there was important stuff like trout fishing to be done.
Oil Creek boiled with trout top-feeding in the sun-warmed water. It was the kind of day you’ll read about in the high-end magazines, or see on the lodge or outfitter infomercials that pass for TV shows. Even when the sun settled behind a ridge, the feeding continued past dark.
So it was no surprise that Oil Creek beckoned again Sunday. The forecast wasn’t radically different, but for one change: No sun. The fish were feeding up top, but more selectively. A cold breeze washed the valley by 4 p.m., and anglers’ breath hung in the air.
I can hope it wasn’t the last outing of a remarkably rich Oil Creek fishing season, but every weekend that moves us closer to Christmas suggests time is running out on anything but desperation fishing in freezing water and low temps. Which sounds a lot better than it feels.
A few moments from the weekend on the water:
- The Adams reaffirmed itself as the go-to fly in my box. Even a scruffy, threadbare, hackle-clipped hanger-on caught two rainbows.
- The American bald eagle that glided 30 feet over the Petroleum Center waterline was the largest I’ve ever seen in the wild. Same with the American mink that ran the shoreline half an hour later.
- I’ve caught longer trout, but none heavier than the sipping rainbow that fell for a black midge spinner Sunday. As low and clear as the water was, 7x tippet was necessary to throw tiny midges and BWOs. The big rainbow muscled that 7x around as best it could, taking it into a deep current seam before finally coming to hand.
- The biggest trout hold in the shallowest lies. Sometimes.
- No fishing hole is worth fighting over, but the thought flashed through my mind. As my wife and I tied on at the back of the car — the last act in our fishing prep — a truck roared in, its fully dressed and strung occupants unloaded and we all virtually race-walked to the spot on the creek we’d scouted 25 minutes earlier. The four of us stood nearly shoulder-to-shoulder for an hour or more, bothering each other on principle. The fact there only were four of us on a long stretch of stream won’t impress combat-hardened steelhead anglers, but even that closeness defeats at least my notion of getting out.