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this creek has no fish...

Joined:
2011/7/7 20:06
From South Central,PA
Posts: 418
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My last two outings have been fish free! argggh! Maybe it's the time of year. I've been doing a lot of thinking on this matter...I remember reading in the LL Bean fly fishing book, "Never fish vacant water". This sounds great in theory, but you have to try to find out, right? My question is this, at what point, and what clues, tell you "this water has no fish, or isn't worth fishing?" I'm sure the easy answer is experience, but I'm looking for some tried and true characteristics.
Also, what makes a creek excellent fishing in the fall, but seemingly vacant in the winter? There are some places that I've never caught a thing, but more often my locations seem to go from great to nothing (catching nothing, fish might be there) from season to season.

Posted on: 2013/1/12 8:54


Re: this creek has no fish...
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Unless I'm on a stream I know holds fish throughout, I usually prospect the water as follows:

If I think they might hit dries, I find a likely area and go through several options for maybe half an hour. If no luck, I will move on. By the third likely area that refuses to give up fish, I will switch to wet/underwater flies and go through my options there for another few areas.

Try different holds during this process, exploring the tailout, the pool, the head of the pool and the riffles and runs. Any fish caught will spark a mental note of the characteristics of the lie, such as noted. A pattern usually develops, then I can concentrate on those areas. I consider a flash or strike or follow or peek to be confirmation that fish are present, and I note how they may be feeding.

Posted on: 2013/1/12 9:09
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Re: this creek has no fish...

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2011/7/7 20:06
From South Central,PA
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Thanks...sounds like good advice.


It's particularly unsettling when, like this week, I spend about 4 hours on a stream that I have caught stocked fish and wild brookies, and didn't get a single strike except for one chub that was caught. Other than that I didn't see a single trout. Water was very clear. I saw a small school of chubs at another location. I would have been happy to even spook a fish while wading. That didn't happen either. The water seemed vacant. Would you give up or go back for more?

Posted on: 2013/1/12 9:56


Re: this creek has no fish...
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2006/9/9 17:32
From Gettysburg
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Quote:

bigslackwater wrote:
The water seemed vacant. Would you give up or go back for more?


I'd probably give up on that stream until springtime.

The answers to your situation can be complex but - broadly speaking - many streams in PA, and this is esp true for streams that mostly contain stocked trout - simply don't hold fish over the winter. The stocked fish are caught by anglers, die off due to environmental conditions or predators, or simply migrate downstream and disappear. Streams that have majority wild trout populations are more dependable during the late fall and winter months.
Streams that are excellent in the fall but vacant in the winter could be simply related to temperature. A stream that is 50 degrees in October can fish very differently than the same spot in January when water temps are 35 degrees. Also, in many streams, esp "freestoners" (ie. streams that are fed mostly by run-off rather than springs) trout often lay up in deeper, slower areas in winter and are generally much less active. If you were catching fish in a riffle or run or in faster water in October.....those fish simply aren't in that spot come December. All things considered, if your stream depends mostly on stocked trout, I'd wait until is is stocked in the spring. You live in an area of the state with many wild trout streams nearby that are "limestone" (ie. fed by springs) and these generally fish better in winter.

Posted on: 2013/1/12 10:13


Re: this creek has no fish...

Joined:
2011/7/6 13:48
From Philadelphia PA
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Just look at it as "PRACTICE" when your not catching anything.... Your are also getting yourself familiar with the sourroundings and making mental notes even if you're not thinking about it. I have found at lake noximoxin where one side of the lake does not produce but the other is very productive.
This time of the year is a difficult time for catching any fish. So don't limit yourself to one creek or river area.

Posted on: 2013/1/12 10:32
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"I am respected when I walk into any fly shop. Salespeople wait on me hand and waders. I once tried underwater casting just to see if I could. I am the most admired Fly Fisherman in the world. And when I fly-fish, I use the Orvis Access. Stay Fishing MF


Re: this creek has no fish...

Joined:
2006/9/13 10:18
From LV
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In freestone stream during the winter, I've found that the trout that are hungry enough to eat, are usually feeding in the faster water at the heads and tails of pools or the riffles between pools. Some of the very small freestone streams may see a mass migration of fish out of the small tribs into the larger streams.
For limestone streams you will find the feeding fish in the runs, where the sun is on the water. Very seldom do I catch fish in deep pools during the winter. Yes they are there, but when they are they are resting not feeding.

Posted on: 2013/1/12 11:53
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Re: this creek has no fish...

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2012/12/22 20:54
From Archbald
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I found a new stream by my house a few days ago and I highly doubt this place gets much foot traffic if any at all. After hitting the water with everything in my arsenol, I came up short. I told my buddy how to get there, and an hour after getting there he text'd me a pictures of the fish he was catching. Point I'm trying to make, is there may be fish there, you just haven't given them the flies they want yet.

Posted on: 2013/1/12 12:05


Re: this creek has no fish...

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2011/7/7 20:06
From South Central,PA
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Flyguy, that's what I like to hear... I hope that the problem is me and not the absence of fish. At least then there still is hope. I just have to become a better angler! A creek with no fish is downright depressing!

My next outing however is going to be to a limestoner. I cant have too many "skunked" outings in a row! My ego is getting fragile

Posted on: 2013/1/12 12:32


Re: this creek has no fish...

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2012/10/24 19:22
From Landenberg, PA
Posts: 1529
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Quote:

Chaz wrote:
In freestone stream during the winter, I've found that the trout that are hungry enough to eat, are usually feeding in the faster water at the heads and tails of pools or the riffles between pools. .


+1

i think it's an oxygen level thing in very cold water.

i also found them to be in very shallow water - sometimes 6" or less on sunny winter days.

in the winter on small streams i try and stay out of the water wherever possible.

the hard / frozen ground will transmit vibrations from footsteps much further than soft soil.

the OP may have been spooking trout before he could even see the stream bed.

i'd suggest waiting 20 minutes and watching for movement first. if you see nothing, there really are no fish there. lol

Posted on: 2013/1/12 18:02


Re: this creek has no fish...

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2010/1/2 15:17
From PA and NH
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Don't ever judge a stream by the winter fishing, fish are cold blooded and slllloooowwww down so much as to be unpredictable.

Posted on: 2013/1/12 18:42


Re: this creek has no fish...

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2007/6/19 21:49
From Lancaster County
Posts: 1524
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Quote:

blueheron wrote:
Don't ever judge a stream by the winter fishing, fish are cold blooded and slllloooowwww down so much as to be unpredictable.


+1

Having a slow outing on a stream in the winter time doesn't necessarily point to no fish. The way that I look at it is if I catch any fish in January or February, they are a bonus. Depending on the time of the year that you fish a stream, it will give you a completely different look. There is one stream that I fish that has given up 30+ fish days in the spring and fall, and where I'm lucky to see one or two fish sometimes in summer and winter. The fish population is not fluctuating that much over one season; water temperature definitely comes into play and sometimes I think even angling pressure, if I happen to fish behind someone.

Today, for instance, I took the skunk, although I fished three streams that I didn't necessarily expect to have trout in them (but now I have a higher confidence level in my suspicions than I did before trying them). With my statement that I started out with, I haven't completely written them off, because it is winter time, but all three are shallow and only have a handful of pools that could hold trout year round. The one stream is ice cold in the summertime, so I thought it was worth exploring anyway and I did spook a single trout about a mile upstream from the mouth of the stream. The second stream has a really cool waterfall hole on it that I've always wanted to stop and check out, so I did. The waterfall is definitely still cool, but I'm highly doubtful the stream has trout in it as I turned absolutely nothing up. The third stream is near my house and has a nice looking hole that I always see from the road. I'm pretty sure it could hold trout, if there was a source for the trout, but there really isn't one nearby. And it will just have to stay as a stream with a nice hole near my house, unless I can figure out how to plant some fish there

Posted on: 2013/1/12 21:42


Re: this creek has no fish...

Joined:
2011/7/6 13:48
From Philadelphia PA
Posts: 1548
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I caught a nice 15" rainbow on a phesant haired nymph Friday. He/she first hit my bead head prince but did not return to it. The trout was between some rocks and piled up logs. Water was a little stained, and it took me many casts. And yes during winter time it is a bonus just to catch a fish. The nice thing about it is that when you do get a strike this time of the year it is almost certain a trout.

Posted on: 2013/1/13 8:10
_________________
"I am respected when I walk into any fly shop. Salespeople wait on me hand and waders. I once tried underwater casting just to see if I could. I am the most admired Fly Fisherman in the world. And when I fly-fish, I use the Orvis Access. Stay Fishing MF


Re: this creek has no fish...

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2006/11/2 8:50
Posts: 6176
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It is very possible that—this creek has no trout.

You haven't said where you are fishing. But many streams that are stocked in the spring have very few trout left by July. So, this time of year, many months later, many streams have zero trout, or very close to zero.

Check to see if the stream is on the PFBC's reproduction list. If the stream is on there, it has a wild trout population, so there will be some trout there year around.

But if it's not on the list, and the last time it was stocked was last spring, the number of trout in there is probably between very few and zero.

Some streams are stocked in the fall, which would improve the odds that there are some stockies left. Fall stocking info is on the PFBC website too.

If you say the name of the stream, and the stretch you fished, probably someone on here will have a good idea of whether it's worth fishing this time of year.

Posted on: 2013/1/13 9:55


Re: this creek has no fish...
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2006/9/9 9:29
From Monessen, PA
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Quote:

troutbert wrote:
It is very possible that—this creek has no trout.


If I had a dime, nickel, penny....

Posted on: 2013/1/13 11:52
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Peace, Tony


Re: this creek has no fish...

Joined:
2011/7/6 13:48
From Philadelphia PA
Posts: 1548
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Jackm: You'd still be broke!! You need to get with the days of inflation - it should be: "If I had a dollar, ten dollar or hundred......"

Some Internet research during the winter time is a plus. I hardly ever try a new river or creek without checking the internet to see if it's listed as trout water or has been fall stocked. I know that websites do not list all trout water in PA. But it does provide some good guidance. Also, check with local campground owners or flyshops. In Pikes county for instance a campground owner provided me with a list of around 20 or so trout creeks in the area. Half of them I never saw listed anywhere. He also gave me a couple of nymphs that he uses. I caught 7 trout that cold rainy day. I am forever indebted to him.


Posted on: 2013/1/14 11:39
_________________
"I am respected when I walk into any fly shop. Salespeople wait on me hand and waders. I once tried underwater casting just to see if I could. I am the most admired Fly Fisherman in the world. And when I fly-fish, I use the Orvis Access. Stay Fishing MF






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