Last spring I joined up with a group of guys I hadn’t previously met to fish for a weekend in the Carlisle/Chambersburg area. We had mutual acquaintances and a common desire to be outdoors as much as possible – especially standing in a stream trying to coerce trout into ingesting our flies – so I was confident we’d get along just fine.
Following some email correspondence I ended up with an invite for their week-long PA trip in June. Though I couldn’t do the entire week I was able to join them for a weekend of camping at Iron Furnace State Park, which served as our base as we fished some of the area’s most well-known waters. I was indoctrinated into the ways of the Drifters. It’s a name derived from how they fish out west each year – they drift from location to location chasing trout.
I met Todd, Nick and Pete for the first time on that trip. A couple of weeks prior they had spent a weekend at a camp Pete’s family owns on the Allegheny River, about 20 miles south of F-Troop, so I knew most of the places they had fished. I received an invite to attend this year.
I joined Todd, Pete and Phil early Friday evening on Sugar Creek. It was pouring down rain and the guys, who had been fishing for a couple of hours, were duly soaked. Pete hooked into a nice brown at the exact moment I came limping through the brush, still gimpy from my knee injury. While we stood talking on the bank of the creek, a bald eagle soared into view and perched high on a limb about 50 yards away. It was a great kickoff to the weekend. After another 45 minutes of incessant rain and wind, and no fish, we headed to camp. Nick was waiting for us.
Saturday we rolled out early to hit a couple of wild trout streams. Todd, Nick and I traveled up Rainbow Falls* while Pete and Phil hit a different stream nearby. Despite what seemed to be great conditions, only Nick hooked up with a small brookie.
At lunchtime we cruised up Route 62 to the delayed harvest section of East Hickory Creek. An 11-inch stocked brook trout hammered my hare’s ear dropper on the first cast. But that was the only fish any of us caught in three hours on stream. Pete, Nick and I moved on to Queen Creek in an attempt to scare up some wild trout but none were willing. We called it a day and headed back to camp.
Phil wanted to practice with his new spey rod so he spent some time on the river and actually had a few chases. One smallmouth even hit his fly, but a knot gave out before he could land his first fish with the spey.
Sunday morning we headed toward home, with a stop at the Little Sandy Creek DHALO area first. Nick had a nice brown succumb to a black wooly bugger in deep pool. A little later, Pete fooled a rising trout with an elk hair caddis. Then the water temperature hit 50 degrees and trout began to rise with regularity along an open stretch of water. Todd landed several in quick succession, Pete hooked up a few more times, and so did Phil. Nick scored a pretty little brown on his Tenkara rod. I couldn’t match what the fish were rising to and went fishless.
Overall, it was a great weekend with the Drifters. Landing the stocked brook trout and trying Tenkara for the first time were the highlights for me, as was knocking off five creeks in my 40 for 40 quest.
Fished: Sugar Creek, Rainbow Falls*, East Hickory Creek, Queen Creek, Little Sandy Creek
Quest Total: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 of 40