Last Licks 2016

December 3,  Saturday – Caleb Smith State Park

LITU volunteers went to the Park to do some stream improvement work, cleaning the river of debris and roots that inhibit the flow.  It is a good feeling when a bunch of people get together to contribute their time and labor to improve something. The generosity of spirit is contagious. A big thanks to Pete Harris for organizing this day.


Taking a break on lower Beat 7
Taking a break on lower Beat 7


J.C. and Gary on Beat 8
J.C. and Gary on Beat 8

There are a bunch of us so we can cover all of beats 7 and 8, and get it done in less than 2 hours.  That left another 2 hours to fish.  We gathered at the weir on beat 7, talking and such.  I said to Mark Gilman, who had not seen any fish, that they are right over there, pointing to the upstream bushes on the other side.  At the exact moment I pointed, a fish rose.  Amazing.

Joe Pepe supplied sandwiches and drinks. About 8 of us stay to fish. Joe Odierna and I head up to beats 4 – 5.  He has a new rod that he won and wants to try, the only problem is that it is 11 foot long and this is a tiny stream.  I left him at mid 4 and went up to the top.

I start with a weighted Woolly Bugger, there being no rises or bugs to be seen.  I have a brass bead on the ones with no lead wire, a steel colored bead on those with lead and a red flash on those with a lot of lead.  I start with the brass, change to the steel and then to the red flash.  These are deep holes.  It paid off as I have a nice rainbow on as I approach mid 4, where Gary and his buddy, J. C., have just arrived. I had a few bites earlier on the other flies, but no hook up until this one. Good timing!

I leave them to the hole and move down to see what Joe O. is up to.  He is planning on fishing a dry to some rising fish, but his fly is high in a tree, him grumbling below. I go in downstream of him and a Blue Winged Olive (BWO) hatch is increasing as are the risers.

I put on one of the flies I tied the other night: 16 -18 BWO with CDC wings. (Joe had given me the CDC so I tied 6 for him.) I send it downstream on 5x tippet hastily tied to a shortened leader. As the current brings it under the bank-side cover he hits it hard.

Joe is still straightening out his tackle as I move downstream, figuring the fish will be settled down for him by the time he is ready.



Joe Pepe is below me and preparing a nymph rig.  I pass him by and put on the White Rabbit streamer Joe O. gave me a few weeks ago; I am on upper 6, just below where we usually walk in. This part of the river opens up such that overhead casting is possible. Working the rabbit from afar I have two hits but no hook up.

I give it a little rest and cast again allowing it to be carried in close to the bank by the stream.  Bang.

A good guy is on and just as I start to engage in the battle, he is off. Not just him but the fly and leader as well. He pulled out the surgeon’s knot I used to put the 5x on for the dry fly.  I only made a double knot and the 2 diameters were pretty mismatched.  Should have made it a triple. Damn. I liked that fly.


White Rabbit streamer tied by Joe Odierna
White Rabbit streamer tied by Joe Odierna


I put on more tippet and a Grey Ghost to rework the area but they are down for now.  I tie on a BWO and as I send it to the bank I hear a splash downstream.  I look around the bend to see Mike Russell on his knees casting a dry parachute side arm to reach under a bush …and he hit a nice fish. Good maneuver Mike!

I get out of the stream and walk back up to the top of 5.  The 2 Joes have left and I didn’t see Gary or J. C.  I go back to where I had the first rising fish and they are still there, the hatch continuing. One is deep under the boardwalk but there is vegetation blocking me from getting my fly under there. Earlier during our cleanup we had left some branches in spots to make the fishing more challenging.  No complaints.

Another guy comes up midstream in a fast run.  I send it down to him and he hit.  On and off. My fly is now sinking.  I change to a parachute BWO and send it down but he isn’t interested, however, his buddy further downstream is and he is on.

I go back to the top of 6 to try one more time.  Gary walks by heading out.  “Time to go” he says. “Okay, just a few more casts.”  Two fish are rising where the guy took my White Rabbit.  I put the BWO over them both with no results.  I packed it in.

Matt Malenovski is working for Clarence Ware, the Park Manager, and supervised the cleanup. He greets me as I am walking out and asks how I did. I ask if I am the last one to leave. He nods and adds “Take your time.”  Nice fellow.

At home, later – I published the next book : How to Improve Your Fly Fishing & Catching.


Well that is it for the 2016 Fishing Journal.  I hope you enjoyed traveling along with me.  

Tom's Fishing Stories

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