It has been more than 20 years since the state, at the behest of landowners, stopped stocking Father’s Day Creek with hatchery trout. As I reported in my book, the creek’s wild trout have thrived ever since.
The brook trout are likely natives and the brown trout are stream-bred. The brown trout have become bigger, healthier and stronger since the days when their ancestors competed with hatchery rainbows for habitat and food. The bait anglers gave up on the place years ago, and the section I’m most familiar with reportedly gets very little fishing pressure.
My early Father’s Day gift this year was a day on the creek with my son, with permission granted by a landowner. I am ever grateful for these privileges. I consider these visits to be half fishing and half status checking. We are always eager to see how the creek looks from year to year and even more eager to check up on its inhabitants, assuming we can catch them.
We arrived at about 11 and found the creek running muddy and fast from rain the day before. The conditions did not look promising.
But, having made the trip, we decided to give it a try.
I tied a weighted black wooly bugger to a 4x tippet and fished it as a streamer. (I later switched to 3X at my son’s suggestion.) Nick used the same fly but fished it in the high-stick Euro Nymphing style.
He had more luck than I did, but we both caught beautiful brown trout, all in the 15-16-inch range, all feisty and healthy looking. This was the first time in annual visits to Father’s Day Creek that we did not hook a brook trout and the first time that all the browns were of substantial size, not a dinky among them.
In the late afternoon, as I lounged in the shade on a bank of moss, I heard my 32-year-old son utter a distress call: “Dad!”
I say “distress,” but what the monosyllabic call really meant was, “Dad, come quick, ya gotta see this.”
I walked upstream about 150 yards, through some hemlocks, and spotted Nick, rod held high overhead, wading downstream in fast water above his hips. He was playing a good-size fish and the fish was swimming downstream with the fast current.
For about 10 yards, Nick looked like Brad Pitt in that iconic scene from “A River Runs Through It,” when a huge Montana rainbow takes him downstream through rapids and even underwater. Nick never went under but he went to considerable trouble to land his trout.
The trout turned out to be a tiger, about 16 inches long, that rare cross between a brown and a brook with a distinct pattern of squiggly lines on its sides. Neither of us had ever seen a stream-bred tiger trout this large. State biologists say they see or hear about only one or two per year.
That makes four types of trout caught in Father’s Day Creek.
During Happy Hour, after we each drank a cold Modelo, Nick caught one more brown trout, slipped and went into the creek up to his neck, ending up as wet as Brad Pitt. We laughed and called it a day, and it turned out to be one of the best we’ve ever had on that beautiful old creek in the woods.