Two Fishermen, One Stream, and Zero Drakes

by Levi Opsatnic


Upon catching the news that the hatch of the Eastern Green Drake– one of the largest mayflies in central PA — reared its head for the first time of the year, Bart, a fellow Appoutdoors employee, and I decided that we would try our luck on Pennsylvania’s famed Penn’s Creek. Penn’s Creek is known for boasting one of the best Green Drake hatches in the United States, drawing anglers from all over the country to wet a line for this event.

We began our trip in the lower stretches of the creek around 3:00 PM since we assumed we would need to stake out our spot in defense of other fishers. This hatch is known to start towards the beginning of the stream and gain momentum as it progresses upward, thus our downstream call.


Shortly after arriving we were greeted with a multitude of bugs, however, no Green Drakes and very few fish could be seen. Trying to contain our disappointment, we had convinced ourselves that we were just too early for the bugs and decided to casually wait around the stream. During this period of a few hours we still saw no signs of the Drakes, nor many actively rising fish. Needless to say, we were pretty bummed out.

At this point, it was beginning to get into the darker hours of the day, the period of time where swarms of insects, hopefully Green Drakes in this case, return to the stream, mate, and die-creating for pools of densely rising fish. That, unfortunately, was not really the case. We did get blessed with a massive swarm of March Brown spinners that allowed for both of us to remove the smell of skunk, so to speak, but we still didn’t see many, if any Drakes. Also, the amount of fish rising to such a hefty swarm of bugs was less than satisfying, to say the least. As the bugs dwindled, our disappointment increased, and it began to get difficult to see our flies. With heavy hearts and light lines we decided that it just wasn’t our day and started the walk back to the car.

Naturally, throughout this walk we discussed the day that most pessimists would chalk up to a complete and utter loss. We both agreed that we were probably just in the right place at the wrong time, and that we could still potentially hit this hatch at a later date.

The unanswered question, though, was where were all of the fish? I mean, I have witnessed hatches and spinner falls of a much smaller size in this same section of the stream that would have made you think every fish in the creek was in this exact pool feeding. The only solutions we came up with was that either the fish of this section had either been gorging themselves on the Greek Drake nymphs in the weeks preceding our trip and didn’t feel a need to bother with the measly March Browns or that the fish, smarter than us, had progressed upstream with the hatch in order to truly capitalize on this feast of large insects. Who’s to say what the exact answer was, but I can attest to the fact that this section of Penn’s was operating a bit differently than normal.

With the events of the day behind us, we hit the road with our tails somewhere between our legs, but with the promise to eventually conquer the Penn’s Creek Green Drake hatch.

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