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Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Blog
Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 03/01/2021 (10321 reads)
There are thousands of streams across the region where wild trout naturally reproduce as a result of ideal water conditions and the availability of food. With countless years of evolution behind them, trout have successfully learned to eat a wide variety of food sources. Even then for the trout, everything from geology to pollution influences what kind of trout food prevails in each stream. Stocked trout are no exception to this and within days when they are placed into streams instincts quickly kick in for them to key in on naturally occurring trout food.

These different types of trout foods may not only be specific to a stream, but seasonal as well. Trout are limited to what is presented to them much like many animals in the wild. Typically spring and summer offer a great abundance of food choices. Winter may only provide limited food supplies. Trout adapt to the cold water by naturally reducing their metabolisms.

Familiarity with different food sources is one of the fundamentals of successful fly fishing. Let's have an overview of these trout foods.

March Brown Mayfly
March Brown - Maccaffertium vicarium

Aquatic Insects - mayflies (Ephemeroptera), caddisflies (Trichoptera), midges (Diptera), and stoneflies (Plecoptera)
For many, fly fishing is centered around the life cycle of aquatic insects as much as it is the trout themselves. Many anglers unwittingly become pretty good entomologists in pursuit of fly fishing. These insects are a significant part of any trout's diet throughout the year. Most aquatic insects live almost 98% of their lives in the water. Trout will feed on these bugs during all times of the insect's life cycle. Most notably trout will key in on active or passing nymphs in the water. For a brief period at the end of these insects' life, they hatch from the water to mate, lay eggs and die.

For many fly fishing anglers, mayflies are the belle of the ball and can be found hatching in significant numbers from April thru July. They are found during all times of the year, but just more sporadically. Under the correct conditions, a few streams even have small occasional hatches of blue-winged olives (BWO) in the dead of winter.

Midges, stoneflies, and caddisflies are very common in streams and have similar life cycles. Specific behavior with all these insects can vary greatly beyond the living, molting, emerging, mating and dying cycle. Certain types of caddis live under rocks with little wooden stick homes protecting them, while some mayflies burrow deep in the muddy ends of pools rarely being seen until they emerge. There is a lot of diversity and behavior between these insects that should be understood.

Fish - small trout, minnows and sculpins
A wide variety of small fish can be considered part of a trout's diet. There are many types of smaller fish including young trout, darters, minnows and sculpins that are trout favorites. Habitat and water conditions influence which type of small fish patterns are the most successful.

Terrestrials- ants, beetles, grasshoppers and caterpillars
These are all those bugs that don't live in the water but can be found by late spring thru the fall landing in the water as trout food. About any insect that can fall off the banks or out of a tree can find itself in trouble with actively feeding trout. I have seen trout gorge themselves on caterpillars falling out of trees in June but also quietly picking off ants by the edge of a stream in September. Out west grasshoppers are all the action during late July and August.

crayfish
crayfish

Crustaceans (Crustacea)- crayfish, freshwater shrimp and scuds
While crayfish are very common, scuds and shrimp are more often found in nutrient-rich streams with abundant plant life in limestone-fed waters. Scuds and shrimp need this type of habitat to survive. In limestone streams, trout can be seen nosing into the weed beds feeding on these scuds. Crayfish can thrive pretty well in streams with just rocks and a modest bottom structure.

Mammals - mice and other small rodents.
Trout can be pretty aggressive predators. On some streams, larger trout can key in on a mouse swimming across a stream that they can easily prey on. Anglers will typically try this approach in the evening since rodents are generally nocturnal creatures.

Fish eggs
Trout and other fish deposit eggs during their spawning seasons. Trout will commonly follow up behind these spawning fish and take advantage of this opportunity to get an easy meal. Suckerfish spawn in late winter and very early spring. Rainbow trout spawn in the spring, with brook and brown trout spawning in the fall.

Beginners can follow along and learn more in the Beginners Forum.



Online Resources
FlyFisherman - What trout eat

Other Suggested Books
Handbook Of Hatches: Introductory Guide to the Foods Trout Eat & the Most Effective Flies to Match Them by Dave Hughes

Trout and Their Food: A Compact Guide for Fly Fishers by Dave Whitlock







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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/21/2021 (217 reads)
While I’m not a bourbon aficionado, I have been a fan of the spirits since I was in college. Typically with my friends, we would enjoy Saturday football games on TV, play cards along with a Jim Beam and ginger ale. A simpler time and less sophisticated taste, but one of my better memories.


Infinity Bourbon Decanter
Bourbon Wiskey Infinity Bottle


The more recent popular interest in bourbon has added many new distilleries, but also provides the opportunity for me to explore a lot of labels that have been around for decades.

I keep a decent collection of about ten to fifteen different bourbons on hand. Plenty of options for mixing, on the rocks, or some just for sipping neat. One of the inspirations for collecting bourbons is my friend Ed and his 62 different brands. We just counted this on Thursday night. I don’t have a bar big enough to cover that kind of hobby, but it's good to have him as a friend in many ways. I not only get to admire his stocked shelves, but I also got to do some tasting of a wide range of distillers. It’s good to have friends.

Untitled
The Nirvana of Ed's Bourbon Bar


Along with Ed’s collection, a few years ago, a trip to Louisville added to my bourbon background. Definitely worth the journey to explore the roots of the bourbon experience. The distillery tours are gaining a lot of attention and reservations are pretty much required anymore to get a tour or even a paid tasting. A designated driver is a must and helps make the experience that much easier to enjoy.

There is a lot to learn about the process of bourbon making. History has its own aura and you can see the passion for bourbon runs deep in the horse country of Kentucky. With stops at Makers Mark, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, and Old Forester you could see they all have their own stories in creating their spirits.

Untitled

Untitled
Makers Mark Distilary


While on one of the tours it was mentioned about making your own blended bourbon. I had heard of the idea once before at another tasting but dismissed it as something complicated and a process only for distillers. This intrigued me and I had to find out more. As it turns out, (with the concept of a distillery blending their own spirits), you can blend the bourbons you already carry at home. So instead of a vessel of one brand, you can mix your own favorites across several labels.

A simple decanter can be used to combine some of your favorite brands into a more personal blend. If you like Knob Creek, but find the proof kind of high, which I do, you can cut it with Basil Hayden. Two excellent bourbons brought together giving you a new taste.

I prefer the randomness and ease of simply taking the last few shots out of any bottle and adding them to the decanter. It is a real blend that always changes over time and I never seem to run out. The Infinity Bottle is easy to manage. I then use the blend for mixing, cocktails, on the rocks, and some just for sipping neat. It's like a box of chocolates, you’ll never know what you’re gonna get. When all else fails, Jim Beam and ginger ale is still a great go-to when I play cards.

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/10/2021 (388 reads)
George Daniel offers up three different patterns for this season's upcoming Magicicada cassinii "cicada" emergence. You will be hearing a lot more about this 17-year event and what it means for fly fishing starting sometime in May. George explains how to tie three variations of cicadas: Sunken, Low Riding, and High Riding




To keep up with George, check out his website https://www.livinonthefly.com/ .



Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/02/2021 (398 reads)
Fairly often on PaFlyfish.com, a thread starts up in the forum about what’s the best camera to use while fly fishing. Many traditional cameras are often suggested and I have gone through my share of high-end to smartphone cameras while on the water. I even tried an action camera several years ago. Everyone has their requirements, but I recently have had a chance to try out the AKASO Brave 7 LE and offer some ideas on how it may be a fit for anglers. AKASO approached me about a review but did not ask for any conditions on what I could say about the product. 

Akaso


Anglers are looking for several things when it comes to using a camera on the stream. Most importantly we need something waterproof, on the small side, convenient, affordable, and fast to capture an image. With all the gear we are lugging around it can be cumbersome to add another item to our vest, bag, or hanging around our neck. All cameras offer challenges to meeting our needs and then providing easy access capturing a picture of that awesome wild brook trout we want to share with others. I know I feel like a juggler managing the net, trout, rod, camera to capture the image at just the right angle. 

I have used many different cameras and failed more than once. Some experiences are better than others. My favorite was taking a picture of a real nice brown on Penns Creek last spring with my iPhone, falling into the water while still holding the fish and dropping the phone. Nice! But I have dropped my phone in a stream before, so I’m getting pretty good at the mistake. 

The AKASO Brave 7 LE offers some nice features to consider in lieu of a traditional camera or iPhone. Functionality includes: 4k video, camera, time-lapse, slow motion, still burst, driving mode, 6 axis stabilization, smartphone remote control, and a variety of video resolutions and frame rates. 

The camera has a built-in microphone, water-resistant IPX7 (without a case to 1 meter), front screen, back touch screen, bottom thread mount, and interfaces for HDMI and USB. 

With the camera, AKASO provides a lot of extras you would have to normally purchase separately: wrist remote controller, deeper water case, two batteries, charger, USB cable, many mounts, and straps. The unit and mounts are compatible with most all GoPro mounting accessories.  

I think the last feature and the best is the price which currently is at $139 on Amazon
 ,
Compared to other higher-end action cameras in this space, it has most if not all the same features. The cons might be some aspects of the audio quality and low light compared to those higher-end brands. But for the features, accessories, and price, it’s a no brainer. 

I have included a few sample media and images below. 



There are a few ways an angler could use an action camera on the stream. If you want to capture videos while catching lots of fish, a head or chest mount might work well. The AKASO Brave 7 LE is a very viable option using the remote wrist controller. You simply start the video or take a snapshot by activating one of the buttons on the controller. This works well but will take some practice to know the direction of the camera while it may be on your head. 

The action camera can be attached to a longer zinger or lanyard to give you easy access in and out of your pocket or storage area. I kept mine around my neck and had easy access to it stuffed inside my jacket. A simple 6” tripod can be used for images shot from the bank. If you like to capture underwater images, an optional selfie stick offers another angle of view.  

Offloading images can be done wirelessly to your smartphone instantly using the AKASO GO App or directly to your computer. 

AKASO
Front Display (non-touch)


Capturing images is not a thing for everyone, but for those that do enjoy the option, I highly recommend the AKASO Brave 7 LE to consider for its affordability and flexibility. Plus I think these would make a great addition to your other activities or with a family on vacations. 

No matter what the device, you will have to put some time into learning how to operate it and some basic videography skills. But don’t be afraid to have some fun.  To learn more you can go to the official web page for the AKASO Brave 7 LE.

I have asked AKASO to help support the 25th Anniversary of Paflyfish and I will be offering a giveaway of one Brave 7 LE from AKASO to a member in the forum. This a free chance to win one of these fun action cameras. To be eligible to win, simply post in the thread AKASO Brave 7 LE Review in the Gear Talk Forum, “I’m In”. If you enter other text you will be disqualified. The thread will be locked and entries will be closed Sunday, February 21, 2021, at or near 10:00 PM. I will then draw a random number, it will be correlated to the post number and the winner will be announced on Monday, February 22, 2021. No multiple entries will be permitted and you must respond to my email with 24 hours if you win. If you do not reply by 8:00 pm February 23, 2021, another number be will drawn and the process repeated. AKASO will be directly sending you the action camera. Moderators will not be able to enter. USA residents only. Paflyfish has the right to change any and all of the rules. 

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 01/26/2021 (441 reads)
While winter fly fishing, I have rarely said I overdressed for a day outside. More often I wished I had been better prepared. I was fishing Muddy Creek a few winters back for the better part of the day trip with Maurice on one of our all day Lewis and Clark expeditions. The mild pleasant morning changed over to a pretty cool cloudy day. I failed to have some proper thick wool socks and it made for some pretty cold feet after a few hours in the stream. Sadly, I knew better and told myself I would let that happen again.

Ice-Fishing

Temperature, sun and wind can make huge variables when gearing for some winter fly fishing. Standing in 45 degree water can set you back pretty quickly too. You've heard it before, but I'll offer it again: layers, layers, and more layers. The most important way to keep yourself prepared is with the proper layers.

Headwear
I like wearing a ball cap for fishing because the visor helps me with my visibility while I’m looking onto the water. But I’ll always have a wool cap to switch on if I find myself cold. One of the best and fastest ways to regulated your body temperature is what you are wearing on your head. I recently found a decent billed cap with earflaps that can be pulled down. Certainly, the Elmer Fudd look has its own calling, but I’m not a slave to fashion while on the stream.

Feet
Alright Captain Obvious we know cotton socks don't work, so the best bet is a two-layer approach with your feet. I first put on a thin polyester wicking sock. Overtop of the polyester sock I use a classic ragg merino wool sock. Bigger can be better, but make sure you can still get into your boots comfortably. If your socks are too thick and your feet are too tight your feet will be constricted in your boots and make your feet cold. What you are trying to accomplish is wicking away the perspiration from your feet with the polyester sock to the wool sock.

Merino sheep.png

@Charles Esson Creative Commons
Merino sheep date back to the 12th century from Africa and were crossbred with European sheep soon thereafter. The wool they produce is generally regarded as softer, very absorbent, and has great natural order control. Most importantly, even while wet, can provide warmth and insulation better than synthetic materials. It is the preferred wool and layering for many outdoor enthusiasts.

Legs and lower body
Again layers are the way to go. Keeping your legs and lower body warm while in the water is non-negotiable. A few years ago I ended up getting a pair of Simms Guide Mid Pants. These pants are made of fleece and provide greater insulation than cotton long johns. I would imagine you can get a decent pair of tapered fleece pants online that will do the trick. I like the tapered pants as they bunch up less at your ankles when you get into your boots. A few ways to approach this but I'd avoid the cotton sweat pants.

Upper body
I generally have a three-layer approach to the upper body. I use a synthetic polyester base layer for wicking. I like the Under Armour mock long sleeves in a variety of styles but also have found some similar synthetic products at Walmart for a lot less. This offers a good base from the arms to the neck. The middle layers are your main insulators and are going to keep you warm. Fleece or merino wool always works well for me. I found a great fleece shirt at Walmart for $10 a couple of years ago and is my go-to whenever I head outside. I also have a warmer wool sweater for colder days. Just like your feet, you are trying to wick away any moisture and still keep insulated. The number of layers and type is really up to you and the temperatures you expect to encounter.

Finally for your upper body is a good outer shell. The key is something that will keep the wind from getting to you. With the layers you have already put on, a big winter coat is not the best step here.

A winter windstopper shell that is water repentant is the answer. This is the place I would invest my money. I have an older Simms windstopper jacket that works great and think I spent $200 over ten years ago. This one goes with me from October through May. Specific fly fishing wading jackets are usually cut short in length and thus avoid hanging into the water when you are wading. What you want is a sturdy windproof shell like the Orvis Tech Shell or Simms Freestone Wading Jacket. That thin nylon packable rain pullover probably won’t be enough. Once you are dressed and have your waders on you want warmth, but also upper body mobility too.

Streamers and Wooley Buggers

The other stuff
Fingerless gloves or mittens are a must. Plenty of good options made of wool, fleece and polyester for anglers. Leave the ski gloves for the slopes. Those HotHands Hand Warmers might be a backup option in your car or bag. Generally, if you are properly dressed and keep moving you’ll be in good shape.

You really should try all this gear on before you go to the stream. Adding a few more layers may cause some difficulties getting onto your fly fishing boots and waders. The holidays don't help either. No sense having all the right gear if you can't fit into your waders. I enjoy my fly fishing backpack this time of year with layers I am taking off or adding on. Finally, even if you don't think you'll need it, bring an extra layer to leave in the car.
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