It's been awhile since I've made a post. Flyfishing the last few years has meant chasing big smallmouth on the Conestoga. The only flyfishing for trout that I do in Lancaster is in the fast moving gorge of Black Rock on the FFO stretch of the West Branch of the Octorara. While it's fun, the fish are stocked, don't hold over well from year to year because of the warm temps, and often are sluggish on the fight.
This weekend I headed back to my hometown of Chambersburg for Easter and made sure my fly gear came with me. On Saturday, I hit up my familiar stretch that I have fished since my earliest memories in the Delayed Harvest stretch running through the edge of town. The stockies were plentiful and I nymphed my way to 7 trout but I had an itch to scratch.
I've tried the Heritage FFO only a handful of times, which is shocking because that stretch is the one that is known throughout the country. Only on one trip did I manage to land one small 6-7 inch wild rainbow during a sulphur hatch, but aside from that, I typically get busted by the spooky trout after much time spent trying to sneak into a good casting position.
The Heritage waters all but demand 9 foot leaders, 6X tippet, and loads of patience. The water is gin clear, and the watercress leaves few chutes that are able to be fished subsurface. As I got into the water, I saw some nice trout dart through the flat water watercress chutes. I had my eyes on the white water below though..
My game plan on Sunday afternoon was to avoid flat water, and seek out broken water and pull streamers from as far back as I could shoot line. I figured this would be about my best bet to cheat the tricky limestoner and give me a fighting chance to catch a respectable trout. I tried a new stretch which looked promising and got a flash or two that wouldn't commit. Then I got a good sideways cast to skip under low lying branches in a deeper run. After a quick snap of the rod to get the streamer moving I got pounded by a nice rainbow that went airborne. After a nice fight I had my first falling spring rainbow in hand that I could be proud of.
A bit farther down I had another scrappy one hit on a swinging tight line. A smaller rainbow but gorgeous markings and prominent par marks still on it.
My plan was going pretty well but I ran out of deep and fast chutes and I started making the half mile walk back to the car. I figured I should try upstream a hundred yards or so and stumbled upon this plunge pool.
This sure looked promising, so I slung my long shanked, lead wrapped, size 6 minnow streamer made out of white, black, and olive craft fur to the top of the hole and let the single split shot drive it deep on a slack line, with a couple twitches. On my 3rd cast or so into this hole, the line tightened up a bit on my strip and I quick set the hook. Immediately a golden belly brown with better size comes 3 feet out of the water, and follows it up with 2 more full air jumps, all within the first seconds of setting the hook. I was stunned and even more shocked to realize that I still had him on after the 3rd jump. I got him into the deep water, put the screws to him and finally got him onto a bed of watercress. He was between 14 and 15 inches and I couldn't have been more pleased.
I'll nymph when I have to, and I sure love to have a trout sip a #24 midge but I think I'll be chasing the white water from now on down there to give me a much needed edge on these limestone wild trout!