Good People - Good Water - Good Fish
Deleware was one of the first states in the East I researched about six years ago, so arriving at a river you planned for is always surreal. You also vision it much differently than reality. I expected an area with very few visitors that obtains a slow-moving river with a dirt bottom and a loose amount of trash beached on the banks. I couldn't be more wrong. It is a beautiful state park with many visitors, excellent trails, and a crystal-clear river.
Brooke Trout and I arrived in Deleware around 10 pm after a 14-hour drive from Chicago. We hung her fur and my hat at the I-95 Delaware House Travel Plaza for gas and a night's sleep in the Acura MDX.
Morning arrived, and surprisingly, we had a great night's sleep. The first spot on White Clay Creek was at Paper Mill Rd (39.68908, -75.74869). Curtis Mill Urban Park gives you parking, and fishing access, which I had no idea existed until I arrived. I chose this spot for the waterfall I found when researching YouTube videos and Google Maps.
I met a very excited young woman with her fishing rod who confirmed that the waterfall was a great trout spot. Fortunately, she told me the bridge was under construction, so no one had been fishing it. Walking down the trail, I passed a 40-pound carp swimming down the middle of the channel. Once, I was hiking between the bridge and the waterfall 20 yards in front of the elevated road; I spooked a trout. WOW! You drive 14 hours, and you see a trout at first look; it lifts your spirit.
I continued fishing for about two hours up and down the waterfall as big thunderclouds rolled in. I could pull in a small bass and a chub, but no trout. I have ten other spots marked on my Google Map upstream to the Pennsylvania border, so it was time to pack up a move upstream.
I chose the Hopkins/Tweads Mill Rd spot (39.72422, -75.76709) near the White Clay Creek State Park Nature Center, which I ended up parking. There was a nature hiking tour gathering when I parked my MDX. So I gathered my gear, and my 25-year-old 5wt Sage Rod fitted with a Yellow Stimulator and a Red Copper John nymph dropper.
Filled with day hikers, as a path ran right next to the stream, I entered the shallows of the cold river. The trees overhung the water, so I tried several roll casts left and right on either side. The river was shallow around the area, and there was no action for an hour or two. The thunderstorms were coming closer. I had decided it was time to quit and take care of Brooke as it was medicine time. As I walked out, I decided, "OK, one more bend." In the distance, I saw a log down where the water looked deep blue-green, just the right color for trout. It was a honey hole.
After only two casts, a 12-inch rainbow came out of the depths after my Yellow Stimulator but missed. Wow! I was more than excited. Finally, I landed a rainbow with my Red Copper John after three more casts.
Deleware is Done!
I caught two more rainbows, one on the nymph and one on the dry. I wrapped one in my net for dinner and put it in the water to keep my catch fresh.
I thought I would try to catch one more trout before the storms arrived. So, I floated the flies down the same seam with my GoPro in one hand and my fly rod in the other. With one hand, the rod, I hook a trout! I remember saying, "Whoa, this one is a big one." It was a 16+ inch brown trout.
The rain came hard with hail; it was time to leave.