Monday, June 11, 2012

Seneca Rocks and Cicadas

This past weekend was my church's annual Men's Camping Trip. It was a good time with a good group of guys. Our basecamp was group site D at Seneca Shadows, and we took advantage of the proximity to some good trout water. We started off the trip Thursday morning by stopping at Chad's camp in Bowden, where both he and I were able to pick off a few stockers that were sporadically taking the mixed bag of mid-morning hatches. After that we headed onto Seneca Shadows and set up camp. After dinner, we headed down the North Fork, where my highlight was a whopper 18" class fallfish. I could see one trout rising, but after switching flies numerous times, never could figure out what he wanted.

The next day, we headed to the Smoke Hole section of the South Branch. Chad and I hit the C/R, while some of the others went on downstream to catch fish on worms, etc. Chad immediately had a take on a march brown, so I put one of those on, and headed for the opposite bank. Quickly I brought my first fish to hand, a hard-fighting, brightly colored, clean-finned 13" rainbow. This was one of the prettiest, most wild looking rainbows I had ever caught, even though I suppose it was stocked as a fingerling. Moving upstream, I placed my fly in a middle of large deep pool that had some good current. Another rainbow rocketed from the deep, took the fly, then proceeded to jump. This fish jumped every bit of 2+ feet out of the water, then started bulldogging into the deep current seam, I didn't give enough line, and he quickly broke off. I fished on using a march brown and caught a few more nice, wild-looking rainbows including this guy:

It started raining a bit here and there, and I switched to a wooly bugger for a while, and caught several fish on that, including a nice brookie, and a tagged rainbow. The tagged fish wiggled loose of me before I could get the tag from it though. Through the stretch of river I was now fishing, I was noticing a few cicadas hitting the water, and the fish gulping them down if they floated over likely holding spots. The closest fly I had was a foam beetle, and it worked well enough to fool one rainbow:

Before I could move on, my Roger met us streamside, and he came with a handful of cicada flies I had convinced him to tie up. Quickly, both of us had hard-fighting rainbows break us off.  We upped our tippet size and moved downstream, down 2 cicada flies. Just about every likely holding spot had trout in it willing to gulp down a big 3/4" cicada fly. It was one of those times when everything goes right, it made it even more fun that the fish were taking such large dry flies! Here are a few more that fell victim to the cicada flies from the Smoke Hole:

Saturday morning was cool and crisp as a cold front came through the evening before. We climbed to the top of Seneca Rocks early that morning and the clear weather, fluffy clouds, and cool temps made it a perfect time to do so.

After the hike, a big breakfast, and camp tear down, Roger and I went off in search of small stream trout. We arrived at the access area to find 2 other trucks already there. We decided to give it a go for a while, but after fishing several hundred yards through likely holding spots, and not even seeing a fish, we decided that either the fish were lethargic from the cold front, we were fishing behind someone, or both.  We hopped back in the truck and back to Seneca Rocks, debating on our next fishing spot. Upon arriving at the rocks, we decided to just fish the NF C&R.  We rigged up with cicadas as their buzz on the hill above the river indicated that these fish may be interested in them as well. We shared the river and fished for 2 hours and caught 8 nice sized, wild-looking, hard-fighting rainbows, with both of us landing 4. Even the fallfish here were on the lookout for a big easy meal. After finishing here, we headed our separate ways back home, feeling satisfied and accomplished after fishing our first cicada hatch.  Here are some pics from the North Fork C&R:


  1. Those "wild-looking" rainbows are from Reeds Creek Hatchery. They escape the raceways and end up in the settling pond. They eat only what they forage on (not fed by staff) and don't scrub their fins on concrete. They seine them out a couple times a year and stock them in NF C&R and Smoke Hole C&R, and sometimes other places if they end up with a lot of extra fish. They are lots of things, but a typical stockie, they are NOT! Fantastic sport fish.

    1. Thanks for reading Dave. I had learned that they likely came from Reeds Creek, but was unsure how they ended up looking and acting so wild. It makes sense, from your explanation. Very fun fish indeed!