Saturday, with its early sun and high temperature, projected as a great day to toss nymphs at the trout in the Delayed Harvest-Articial Lures Only section of Oil Creek at Petroleum Center, Venango County.
Turns out I wasn’t the only one with that idea. The best (or at least the most easily accessible) holding areas in the catch-and-release section were populated with winter-weary anglers trying their best to lure trout to the surface with dry flies. The guys from Lake Erie Ultimate Angler say they had some success up top on Friday, but Saturday’s afternoon winds made the exercise pointless. Hard to say how the fellow barely visible at a downstream elbow was faring, but virtually all others slowly surrendered and trudged to their vehicles.
The wind prohibitive, the holes filled, I never broke out the rod. But a drive around Oil Creek State Park always is revealing, and Saturday didn’t disappont.
First there was this guy:
This Ruffed Grouse, Pennsylvania’s official state bird, was in full display for one reason:
This Ruffed Grouse hen perched a few feet above him on a tree branch. Neither bird was more than 5 feet off a back-road entrance into the state park. My wife (who took the photos) and I couldn’t hear any drumming, but with ruff and crest up, he clearly was in the mood.
The park staff lists Ruffed Grouse as commonly sighted year-round park residents. But as much time as we spend in the park, we saw just one bird in 2009, so this close-up was a thrill.
We entered the park off Route 8 at Cherry Tree on Oil Creek Township Road 617 because the the bridge on Petroleum Center Road has been out for repairs since last fall. Entrance to the park at Plumer off Route 227 also was limited by construction. Good excuse to find new touring roads in and around the park.
At the park’s east border, on White City Road, hundreds of ATVs roared in and out of side roads and trails. I’m still not sure what the gathering was all about, but the riders were having a muddy good time. Most seemed to hew to the east side of the road, outside the park.