Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kettle Creek

The wilderness stream of Pennsylvania is how I often think of Kettle Creek in Potter county. Fortunately, I always seem to have a few chances to fish it every year due to the fact that my in-laws live in northern PA, and any chance I get, I'll escape to its waters when the opportunity presents itself during our visiting trips to "Nan and Papa's house" with our two boys.  I love Kettle because it produces wonderful experiences and terrific trout fishing through May, June, and even July.  Much of the water in our mid-Atlantic state warms up through June, and it can be difficult to find trout though the summer, but the upper reaches of Kettle Creek harbor some of the most brilliantly crimson-colored rainbows I've ever landed along with feisty, undercut bank-hiding browns and an occasional native brook trout. I seem to remember individual trout and evenings on this stream better than any other. 

Years ago, on Memorial Day weekend, I saw the biggest trout I've seen in my life grab an early-morning caddis fly. I had just landed a few cubby trout, and then the torpedo of a fish zipped from the depths and swam right by me.  It was an incredible fish given the size of the stream. Unfortunately, its majesty was not on the end of my line, and I was left to guess of what it was....certainly a monster brookie or perhaps King Brown itself.

A few times my brother and I made it up for some camping at Ole Bull in mid June after the school year ended, and we always got into trout, always.

Did I mention I caught my first ever flyrod trout on Kettle Creek? Again, it was a Memorial Day weekend long ago, and it truly was the first fish I've ever hooked and landed on a flyrod, a beautiful 9-inch native brook trout fooled with a caddis.

Perhaps my best memory to date is when I bolted to Kettle after a family gathering with only one hour of light left in mid-May. Upon reaching my desired spot high upstream, I found myself in a cloud of sulphers carrying tiny orange eggs. The hatch itself was an amazing sight I'll never forget. I quickly switched to a sulpher dun and within seconds landed a beautiful 12-inch native. It was the only fish I caught in the half hour I was on the stream before night collapsed around me, and even through I spent more time in the car driving to the stream than I did on the water, it was all worth it, and this exactly why I love Kettle Creek. It rewards every effort in some natural fashion, whether it be in trout or scenery or solitude. 

Weeks ago, Bek and I took the boys up to Ole Bull for their first-ever camping trip, and there was a fishing derby for children. The boys hauled in some nice brook trout, and I was even able to sneak out in the evening after they crashed in the tent and land a few natives in the midst of a madcap slate drake hatch.

Quinn at Ole Bull SP

And, finally another chapter to my wilderness gem, least I forget. The final weekend of June saw us arriving in Clinton county for a family reunion. After much swimming and picnic fun, the boys were wiped, and I had a chance to hit Kettle for an evening. Thunderstorms rolled through the mountains, and I spent 30 minutes reading in the car before hiking down to one of my favorite stream bends just below the state park. Not much was happening in the way of hatches, so I used a silver spinner to catch two foot-long browns, a native brook, and an outstanding 15-inch rainbow that fought incredibly well. All were returned to the cool waters of the stream, and I hope they are there again if I make it up by summer's end like a pirate recovering buried treasure.