By Andy Link

Alright, alright. I know, I know. It’s been a (very) long time since I last posted anything to the site. Too long, in fact. There are a lot of good reasons for this, but I’ll have to save that for another day or post. Right now I’ve got to fill you in on what’s been going down the last few days!

On Thursday of last week, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission conducted their fall stocking on Clark Creek in Dauphin County, PA. I’ve never witnessed a stocking before, so I decided to volunteer and see what it was all about. After all, I spent so much time fishing Clark this year, I figured it was the least I could do to give back. Man, am I glad I did. At first, I was a little apprehensive, if not downright nervous. After all, I was going alone for the first time and didn’t know anyone there. (Garrick was working.) That apprehension quickly vanished because the next thing I knew, I was throwing my waders on and climbing in the back of some guy’s pickup truck to head down to the creek with the fish commission truck hot on our heels.

The newest edition to the Black Gnats – Gavin Craig.
The newest edition to the Black Gnats – Gavin Craig.

It’s at this point that I met Gavin – a Tower City native who shares the Black Gnats affinity for all things fishing. Gavin, who is also an avid outdoorsman and marine, had been helping with stockings like this since childhood. His down-to-earth and friendly demeanor eased my apprehension greatly. After grabbing a few buckets of fish, we carefully dumped them into the float (think crab pot) and started our way downstream, dropping fish into pockets and holes as we went. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to notice the size of these fish as everyone else who volunteered that day noted that “there are some great fish in the stocking this year!” Gavin and I estimated the average size was around the 15″ to 16″ range, with quite a few hitting 18″ and even 20″! I was barely out of the water and I wanted to turn right around and start casting for them. I had to remind myself that “good things come to those who wait.”

Clark Creek
A pair of browns chase each other, breaking the surface.

After the remaining volunteers finished chatting, Gavin and I spent the next few hours hanging out, trading fish stories, fly tying techniques and hearing the equivalent of “Cliff’s Notes” to each others background. We made plans to meet up on Monday of this week and hit the holes we had so eagerly stuffed with fish.

Fast forward to Monday afternoon and I’m pulling into the parking lot along Clark’s Valley Road, about halfway through the fly fishing only section. We throw our waders on, grab our fly rods and head down to the stream. The plan is to start downstream and work our way up, fishing until dark or until we’re sick of catching fish, which ever comes first.

I decided to tie on a streamer that I had just tied for the first time over the weekend – a “CB Stocker.” I watched the video on Tightline Productions Vimeo channel (my “go-to” channel, I know) and was encouraged as Tim told the history of the fly. When Chalie Bates created this fly “… specifically for catching stocked trout” I thought, “Oh yeah, that sounds about right.” I didn’t have red schlapen saddle feathers for the beard, so I used some green instead. It didn’t matter to the fish, however. A couple of minutes later and I’m pulling my first lunker to the net …

Andy's first brook trout of the night, caught on a CB Stocker he tied a few days before.
Andy’s first brook trout of the night, caught on a CB Stocker he tied a few days before.

Instant gratification! It’s something fly fishermen rarely have the benefit of enjoying, especially at my level of (in)experience. I was all smiles. A few minutes later and Gavin’s got his first of the night. I grab a quick (and blurry) shot with my iPhone from downstream …

Gavin quickly evens the score.
Gavin quickly evens the score.

Gavin and I switch spots and a couple casts later I’m pulling a feisty little native brown to the net. (You’ll have to watch the video to see this one.) For the next couple hours we make our way upstream, having the occasional luck plucking a fish out of holes here and there. It’s dark by the time we return to our cars. Minutes later, I’m not even home yet and a text from Gavin comes in that reads …

“… I’m 99.9% sure I’m going to be fishing on Clark’s tomorrow after I drop off my kids at school …”

We make plans to slay fish … AGAIN! The next morning, as I’m walking out the door, I get an unexpected call from Garrick … “Hey man … so, if I wanna fish Clark’s right now, where do I want to be?” My jaw hits the floor in disbelief. “Hang on, I’m on my way.” Before you know it I’m introducing Garrick to Gavin and all three of us are hitting the creek on a sunny, beautiful Tuesday morning in mid-October. It feels like we’re playing hookie and I love it. At this point, I could make this post even longer and go into to detail about how our day went … or you could just watch the video at the top of the post for the highlights. In short, the morning felt like a blur of fish and hooksets. Needless to say, it was some of the best fishing I’d had in weeks, if not months.

Thanks for reading and tight lines!


Do you have a similar story or pics to share? Any plans to hit some local water? Have you helped with a stocking or local conservation effort? Let’s hear it in the comments.