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11-27-04 - The last picture I got out of my Nikon before it finally gave up...Ed Clary fishin' Raccoon Creek.

11-27-04 - A rough weekend in PA!

Waters Fished: Raccoon Creek, Crooked Creek, Walnut Creek, Trout Run, 16 Mile Creek
Fish Caught: 1/1...seriously.
Outing Date: 11-27-04
Weather: Rainy in the AM
Air Temp: mid 40's
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: up from rains but dropping
Water Color: Raccoon - 2' vis, stained, Crooked - Muddy, 6" vis. max., Walnut - creamy, 3' vis, Trout Run - stained.
Pattern Fished: white / cream eggs were the ticket!
Pattern Color: as per above
Fishing Quality: tough

Harumph - this would be the last day with the Nikon for a while. We headed out early to find Ed Clary on a dirt road by Raccoon Creek. After seeing some strange signs regarding what was accessible (and what was strictly forbidden), Randy, Chris, Ed and myself made our way down to Raccoon Creek.

I spent probably 25 minutes futzing with my camera and finally, with much effort, managed to get it to fire off a single shot - Ed fishing a tight bend. While screwing around, I noticed that Raccoon, in many respects, reminded me a lot of the Indiana tributaries...much of Raccoon was slow, deeper pockets, winding and bending through forest. Furthermore, there wasn't the shale/gravel composition of most of the PA streams; Raccoon was silty and sandy much like the tributaries in Indiana. The only real difference between Raccoon and the Indiana Tribs? Raccoon is probably half the size of the smaller IN tribs! Well, maybe a second difference was that Raccoon's water was somewhat clear and tannin stained!

Randy and Chris returned from upstream, and having only seen one or two steelies we all decided we should move to our next stop in the ongoing "tour of PA tribs". Crooked Creek, another stream Bart and I had looked at in 2003, would actually get fished this time around. As we pulled into an access point, we noticed Tom Gribble's truck parked there.

Getting down into Crooked Creek was a bet treacherous; tons of mud and leaves made up the path; the banks were high and almost required you to jump in! We all meandered upstream on well worn (but still slippery) bank paths. While most of my buddies disappeared upstream, I stopped high on a bend and again fiddled with my camera for a good 30 minutes, trying to get off even one shot of this pretty stream. Before I finally gave up, three guys fishing the bend managed to hook up with at least as many steelies. Definitely better than Raccoon so far.

I finally found a spot on this crowded little creek and did my best to hook up, swinging the Dragon's Tooth but also employing the largest hot orange glo bug I could find in my box. About this time Tom managed to find me while coming downstream and stopped to chat. While I fished (and time watched) the guy downstream from me managed to hook up with steel; he fought it for several minutes before finally losing the fish. Randy and Chris arrived, not having much better luck upstream (only a foul or two) so again, I figured it would be time to move! Next stop - the "famed" "Project Waters" of Walnut Creek.

Ed had been itching to hit Elk Creek, but we convinced him that he should at least take a look at Walnut. I'll tell ya now he didn't stay long. Can't say I blamed him one bit. The Walnut, by far, is the worst, most crowded stream I have ever seen. It was like the Root River's "first bend below the weir", except that it continued on for at least a MILE. At several spots, guys literally fishing "shoulder-to-shoulder" and I mean TOUCHING SHOULDERS.

Despite the crowds, we moved up to a particularly popular hole and did our best "Root River" sneak in, gradually working our way to the fish as people got hauled downstream by steelies. Randy, Chris and I decided we'd each get a fish and then we were out of there. 3 steelies later, it was time to go. The hot color, surprisingly, was WHITE. I happened to ask where Ed was...apparently he left a LONG time ago :)

So my bro pretty much had to leave to head back to NJ, but we decided that perhaps he needed to see Trout Run before departing. A shot jaunt back there, and he was finally initiated to PA steelies! While we were milling about, we ran into Bart and Margaret. Despite a line of anglers, the four of us decided we should at least give the lake a go. Bart, Margaret and I would fish spawn while Randy stuck with the fly rod.

To sum up the fishin' at Trout Run, the action was sporadic and it definitely seemed that you needed to be standing right in front of the mouth if you wanted a hookup. Finally agitated beyond belief, we gave up fishing here as well.

Bart and M. were off to Elk Creek; Randy was itching to take another whack at 16 Mile. Me, I was again content to pretty much sit in the car and try to relax - nothing other than total frustration had me considering my camera was now totally and utterly defunct. The worst part, there was now no way I could meet my unofficial goal of fishing and PHOTOGRAPHING every publicly accessible tributary in the state. DAMN!

After dark, Randy returned having landed a couple steelies. We did some scouting on 20 Mile and 12 Mile with the spotlight and decided that either would be good places for our last day in PA. Personally, I took the opportunity to make a vow; rather than let my camera's demise get the best of me, I would give it my all tomorrow and concentrate on catchin' fish! Oh and hopefully Rich would arrive WITH his camera!


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