Times Publishing Company — by Mike Bleech
My wife, Jeri, and I made an overnight trip to fish Marvin Creek in Smethport recently.
As it happened, that was just the right amount of time to find the trout and enjoy an excellent morning of fly fishing, with an overnight stay at a bed-and-breakfast rated as one of the best in the country.
Friday afternoon was spent hopping from access to access along Marvin Creek. This medium-size trout stream flows alongside Route 6, starting a little east from Mount Jewett. It is very well stocked with brown trout and rainbow trout from Hazelhurst to where it flows under Route 6 at Smethport. There, a small dam forms Hamlin Lake, which also is well stocked.
After flowing out of Hamlin Lake, Marvin Creek soon empties into Potato Creek at the opposite end of Smethport. Potato Creek and some of its tributaries also are stocked with trout.
Only a few minutes passed before we saw a trout rise. Rising intensity picked up and was steady as darkness neared. I knew where I wanted to be in the morning.
Our overnight stay at Mansion District Inn Bed & Breakfast Suites was considerably better than we expected, even knowing that it had been rated by Trip Advisor as the No. 7 bed-and-breakfast in the country, and No. 1 in Pennsylvania.
The building, which was built in 1891, is restored to recreate the lifestyle of Smethport gentry in the late 1800s. Smethport has a grand history dating to the oil boom. Several opulent, old buildings remain.
We were met upon arrival by Jovanna Porter, innkeeper, keeper of the chickens and breakfast artist. Surely her hands must be guided by angels when she prepares breakfasts that will genuinely make you feel like the gentry of the Victorian Era, at least how I imagine the way they might have felt.
Later in the evening we met Ross Porter, butler, historian, geographer and kitchen helper.
Both of the Porters are retired educators.
Inn décor is an eclectic assortment of antiques and oddities from around the world, which reflects the travels of the Porters. This, if you are old enough to remember seeing decaying Victorian homes where no one had lived for many years, is just as they would have been at a time when they were symbols of the wealthy class in the Gilded Age.
Along a short walk between rooms you might pass a life-size terra-cotta Chinese king, an old lion head mount and a Greek bust. Make this walk with Ross Porter and you might learn the history behind some of the pieces. And the conversation will wander through the history of Smethport.
The next morning appeared to be a good one for fishing. With an 8 a.m. breakfast, I figured there would be plenty of time to catch some fish. That did not take into account a breakfast that, even though we anticipated very good, far exceeded expectations. Then a talk by Ross Porter on the fascinating history of Smethport was extended by my many questions.
Sometime after 9:30, I made it to the bank of Marvin Creek. Trout were rising. Like the previous evening, they appeared to be taking nymphs under the surface. A No. 12 brown bead-head nymph already was tied to the tippet.
On what I recall as the third drift, a trout took my nymph. After a spirited battle, I released a 12-inch rainbow trout.
All of the trout I caught that morning were rainbows of similar size.
A couple of drifts later, a heavier fish broke my tippet. There was a good lesson in retying flies each time fishing.
Trout, by this time, were rising in rapid succession. Maybe a smaller nymph might get more hits, I guessed.
I guessed right. I believe that tied my longest consecutive streak of outguessing fish: once in a row.
The No. 16 brown bead-head nymph was just what the trout wanted. For the next couple of hours, I caught about as many trout as I wanted. If I missed a hit, another trout would take the nymph before the drift ended. Sometimes, I missed three hits on a drift. Still, even with all of those misses, I caught trout every few minutes. Some were runners; some were jumpers. I am always impressed, no matter how many times I have seen it, by how high a 12-inch rainbow trout can jump.
I had heard stories about Marvin Creek for many years before finally fishing there. In this case, a creek lived up to its billing. Obviously, I had been in the right place at the right time, but isn’t this the hope every time flies are cast over a creek?
Reprinted with permission from Times Publishing Company, Erie, PA. Copyright 2015