Monday, September 24, 2018

September 24, 2018 – O, Little Crowded Town of Bethlehem – Monocacy Creek

Some pretty leapers came out to play.

I took a drive well after rush hour this morning to the check out a couple Lehigh Valley creeks.  I programmed a spot on the Monocacy into my phone, but then I decided to take a detour as I approached the turn towards a favorite stretch of Saucon Creek.  That little detour was a waste of time, as there were at least four other fishermen at this spot, on a Monday, no less.  I guess it was the rain followed by the cool weather that made everyone get sick today.  It felt like fall after a long summer, so I can’t blame them.  I drove by one last spot, and that too looked occupied, so I restarted the navigation to Monocacy as originally planned, and I am glad that I did.  I have noticed an uptick in pressure on both Saucon and Bushkill, perhaps due to the new(er) fly shop in Easton pushing both, or perhaps the Keystone book strikes again?  At any rate, there are plenty of other creeks in the Lehigh Valley that have cold water and wild fish. 

Just slightly stained, perfect nymphing day.
Monocacy is a smaller creek, sometimes no wider than Valley Creek or similarly sized little limestoners, so it requires me to exercise different skills than, say, the Brodhead or larger freestone creeks.  There is a lot of tree canopy, and not many places to cast if you are not quietly stalking in the water.  I tend to target riffles and pockets with a 9 footer set up to Czech nymph, but I know there are spots where dry fly guys with terrestrials or dry-droppers can do well too.  I have not been here since Labor Day last summer, under similar post-rain with a slight stain conditions, so I was happy to poke (and crouch, though no crawling) around again today.  I caught perhaps a dozen trout in less than 3 hours of fishing and walking, all in the riffles and runs on a pair of small tungsten nymphs.  I may have caught more if I had stuck with the plan and had not detoured to Saucon, I suppose.  I even tangled with a one that had to be 15 inches that I lost after his third or fourth leap on a short line under low hanging limbs and in tight quarters.

An average 10 incher.  Most were between 8 and 12 inches.

I thought fish would want a small caddis in 18 or 20, so I had one tied above a frenchie that was serving as an anchor fly.  I think all but two took the frenchie, a sexy one with a purple hot spot taking the majority, and one took a walts worm.  None of the flies were over size 18, I believe.  I probably worked all of 400 yards to find so many eager, albeit mostly small, fish.  The average was about 8 or 9 inches long, but a few were pushing twelve.  All were leapers and runners.  All were devastatingly handsome.  I love that wild browns in different creeks have not only different colors but also different habits and proclivities too.  In my experience, Monocacy fish like to leap, often right at you!  That is an effective move, you know?  I lost a pig fish for such a small creek today because the fish was just too acrobatic for some barbless flies while my rod was down low avoiding overhanging trees and bushes.

A jigged frenchie with a hot spot, often purple, took the majority of fish, including the one that got away...

This was a beauty, and I was a little pissed at the trees and my own lack of skills for a minute.  It was only my second fish of the day, so had I hooked him later after I had figured out how to manage the low rod angle (strip, strip, strip to keep very tight on a deeply bent rod) I may have had him.  The experience was more exciting than tragic, in retrospect, as I got to hook, fight, admire, and THEN lose the fish!  Funny thing is, before I left, I decided to give this hole one more shot.  A long shot, as resting a big fish for, what, 2 hours is a long shot, indeed.  After hooking another 10 incher that gave me some hope, and an even dozen fish on which to quit, I hooked another big fish, bigger than the first one?  He stayed down and ran around the hole, too deep to see.  He pulled drag a few times.  I fought him really well, this time.  And when I finally turned him towards the bank to get a look at my second-chance piggy?  It was an 18 inch sucker…  On that note, I decided it was time to call it a day, a good day, just not THAT good of a day.  All kidding aside, I had a lot of fun, had the place to myself, and, on light equipment, caught a bunch of feisty wild browns only 45 minutes from home.  A good day, indeed.

For an even dozen, followed by unlucky #13....


  1. I hate to start with the questions again...............but I wonder if was the Frenchie or the fact that it was the position in the water column of the anchor fly?


  2. I was targeting runs and riffles, Ron, so it was probably size and profile and also because of where that fly was in the water column, as you noted. No hatches going on, so fish were taking nymphs not the emergers that the dropper might better imitate.

  3. That offers a lot of insight............and a reason to have the dropper with a different pattern. Thanks!