Two weekends ago I flew east for a reunion event at Lehigh University; see as there was going to be a fair amount of dead time I threw in my Orvis Hydros 4wt and some gear so I could visit a few of the streams I fished while in college. On Friday I headed over the “mountain” to Saucon Creek, the little stream I fished the most while in school. During college I had a lot of pleasant days catching a few fish there. I think the largest fish I had ever landed in Saucon Creek had been 14 inches; on that Friday I landed 7 browns in the 14-16 inch range with another 12 smaller. It was undoubtedly the best day of fishing I ever had in Pennsylvania.
I had started fishing every nymph in my box. After a largely unsuccessful morning (two little fish on an #16 beadhead pheasant tail) I became slightly frustrated and changed up the system. I had seen almost no insects coming off the water nor any terrestrials jumping around on land; undeterred I tied on a #6 parachute hopper with an olive body and quickly landed two nice browns I went back downstream a couple hundred yards and fished my way back up, with two or three casts to each seam in the current and land another 9 fish. Seeing as I only had a short amount of time left and the fish were behaving oddly I proceeded to tie on a #12 green drake and skate/swing it across the water in a completely unnatural drift; I took another 6 browns before calling it a night.
The next day I headed over to the fly fishing only section of the Little Lehigh where I was quickly reintroduced to the some East Coast fly fishing antics, namely copious amounts of cigar smoke and other anglers crowding the stretch you are fishing as soon as you hook a fish. After an hour of this I hoofed it downstream to the completely empty area below the covered bridge. I went beyond what looked like a inexpensively made whitewater course and fished my way back upstream. I took a number of browns nymphs and tricos fishing by a fallen tree before spotting a big fish holding behind a rock. By big I mean approaching 30 inches, far larger than a trout ought to get in the Little Lehigh. I cast to him for about 45 minutes before giving up; I only felt slightly better (or worse, not entirely sure) when I climbed out of the water and realized it was sucker. Alas. I kept moving upstream and picked off a few more browns before I saw another monster fish. I assumed it was another sucker and almost walked past it on the bank when it rose to take a bug off the surface. It was a massive 25+ inch rainbow. I dropped back downstream and slowly moved into crouching casting position where I spent the next two hours watching the beast eat a ton of nymphs and the occasional emerger with the exception of every fly I threw to it. As dogs ran up the shoreline and failed to spook the fish my posture grew straighter and more comfortable until dark topped over and I conceded defeat. Well played Mr. Rainbow.
The trip was a nice reminder of Pennsylvania fly fishing from years past. Perhaps not nice enough to get me to move back East but still enjoyable to see trout in significantly different water than those I now fish in Colorado.