On Saturday, July 2, I had the pleasure of fishing the Catoctin Mountain Watershed with fellow club member Pete Ring. Our outing was the product of a couple of months of planning and a postponement, but it finally started at 8 AM at his home near Thurmont, Maryland.
As we were discussing our options — there are a number of great waters in close proximity — he suggested that we attempt to complete the 3-Fish Challenge. While I had not anticipated doing so, I quickly agreed and we headed toward Owens Creek, which I had never fished, as it offered the best opportunity to catch a rainbow.
We parked on Highway 550, made the fortuitous decision to wet wade, walked in on a railroad track, and then found our
way down to the creek. We started with dropper rigs that featured size twelve stimulators and nymphs. Pete caught the
first fish, which was a small fallfish. He then proceeded to catch a rainbow. As we often do, we took turns on different
“fishy” waters as we worked up the creek. While we worked our way up, we learned once again the value of not taking waters for granted. Specifically, while I was heading toward a promising pool, I unwisely chose not to fish flat water along the bed of the cement wall that ran along the edge of the river and spooked a large trout. This is a prime example of a mistake or unforced error that anglers consistently make. I can readily attest that exercising the discipline to first fish waters near the bank and on the way to more attractive water will produce more fish.
When we got to the promising pool, I hooked, but did not land, a nice fish on zebra nymph dropper, that I had tied myself. It was a good strike, and I lost the fish when the line broke, leaving a little curly tippet. I am embarrassed to say that the tippet failed because of an obviously less than ideal knot … operator error. While I was tying another nymph on to serve as a dropper, Pete caught another rainbow. We moved on and I am pleased to report that I was then able to land a rainbow and that Pete caught one more, as well.
With the pressure to catch a rainbow off, we headed to Little Hunting Creek in pursuit of brown trout. There, I caught a brook trout. It was memorable because I had to use a side cast and overcome a crowded riverbank growth to place my fly in a tough little riffle that was under low hanging branches. As an aside, it sure made me happy that I had pulled the trigger a
month or so ago when I purchased a Redington Butterstick, seven-foot, three-weight that I found at half price. It is a fiberglass, slow-action rod that provides an enhanced ability to place flies more accurately.
Pete then caught a brown trout after perfectly placing his fly in a pool that ran along the far bank. There was a rock obstructing the view, so we did not see the fish take his stimulator. It was really satisfying (and fun) to see an excellent cast
into a tough spot yield a good fish.
We headed to Fishing Creek to try to complete our trifectas. Below the reservoir, Fishing Creek has wild
brown and brook trout, and we were fortunate to be able to fish a stretch of water on private property that
Pete has permission to fish. Fairly soon after we began fishing, I made a nice cast and caught a brown
trout that quickly took a stimulator to complete my trifecta. Pete then finished off the day with a brookie
and we decided to call it a day, about five minutes after our planned stop time of 2 PM. While we always enjoy fishing the Catoctin Mountain watershed together, the 3-Fish Challenge definitely
added to our enjoyment.
By Mike Holland
Pete Ring adds: I am thankful that PVFF put out the 3-Fish Challenge. It brought about a fun goal for us to strive for while fishing together. Aside from the good company of Mike, it added to the level of enjoyment in the day. We all like a challenge from time to time.