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Brown Trout Migration in Poconos

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2011/5/18 9:57
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Hi All,

I really like to run these kinds of questions past the many knowlegable anglers here.

I have a favorite stream in the Poconos in Eastern Pa that I've fished exclusively each year for the past 14 years over Memorial Day weekend only. At no other time of year have I ever fished it, until this past weekend.

The stream holds plenty of wild browns in the 5"-18" range, with 14"-16" browns common. Off topic, 5 years ago I used to catch many more 5-6" browns here, but recently I find only 10"-16" fish. Another topic altogether.

Anyway, this past weekend, I could not find a brown. It is quite easy to find browns on the stream in the spring. In the spring, I actually resort to fishing only the rise, to reduce my impact on the half mile I fish over the three-day holiday weekend. In short, there's a trout behind every big rock. Simple enough. But this weekend, those trout were NOT there. Can I say that with 100% certainty, no. But two things occurred that have me convinced wild brown trout move out of the stretch wholesale sometime after Memorial Day, at least this year.

First, at the end of the day, I started attaching hellegramite nymphs to my caddis larva. Juicy, wriggling nymphs about 1-1/2" long. I nymphed with them for two hours. I find it simply impossible that I would not have found a brown this way, when in the spring simply swinging a Starling and Herl soft hackle through a run ALWAYS produces a brown.

Secondly, I caught a brookie. Now this is not usual, but why would I catch a brookie on a stream where my experience has told me the browns outnumber the brookies 10 to 1.

Did someone come through my half mile stretch and clean it out? I doubt it. The fishing has been perfectly consistent for me, even after numerous floods in the 2000's, over the Memorial Day weekend.

So I'm hoping to hear from some others who fish Pocono streams with a head of wild browns, and has anyone seen the same thing happen?

Posted on: 2013/10/15 10:56

Edited by PaulK on 2013/10/15 11:16:24


Re: Brown Trout Migration in Poconos

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2007/6/19 21:49
From Lancaster County
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What was the water level and clarity like this past weekend on that stream?

Posted on: 2013/10/15 11:11


Re: Brown Trout Migration in Poconos
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2006/9/9 17:32
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Quote:

PaulK wrote:
In the spring, I actually resort to fishing only the rise, to reduce my impact on the half mile I fish over the three-day holiday weekend. In short, there's a trout behind every big rock. Simple enough. But this weekend, those trout were NOT there.
..... in the spring simply swinging a Starling and Herl soft hackle through a run ALWAYS produces a brown.


Interesting!
For starts, I'm not a Poconos guy and have probably never set eyes on the stream in question so take this for what it's worth: My guess would be that the browns are in fact present even though it appears they are not. If you're targeting rising fish in springtime, you're targeting fish that are on the feed and that will readily eat a wet fly (as you know). However, this time of year when hatches are much diminished, wild browns are often not visible at all. Many well known streams are like this. If you hit them on a day when bugs are hatching, the fish seem everywhere. The next day, without a hatch, you'd swear there isn't fish in the stream. They almost seem to vanish!
Beyond this, yes the fish may have moved. The stream may have experienced low, warm water this summer and fish migrated to cold refuge or downstream. There may also have been recent movement to spawning areas. However, I wouldn't think that all the fish would have moved or not yet returned. My guess would be that you've just hit the creek on a "down" day and that browns are still present.

Posted on: 2013/10/15 11:18


Re: Brown Trout Migration in Poconos

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Yes, it was low and clear, and in the pools, this year's leaves were up to 2ft deep. It was probably down 6-8" from it's typical spring/fall flows. I was thinking this combination (especially the leaves) may have moved the browns to faster runs and I fished the tumbling deep holes next to big rocks plenty with live nymphs without success. Finding no browns with live nymphs just stunned me.

Did the extreme low water this year have something to do with it?

Posted on: 2013/10/15 11:19


Re: Brown Trout Migration in Poconos

Joined:
2013/3/28 20:10
From Stroudsburg (Poconos)
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Paul. I fish/live in the Pocono's. I haven't fished the local wild brown streams recently primarily due to the low water levels. I find it more difficult to catch them during low/clear water because extreme "stealthiness" is required. I've been mostly fishing the Lehigh or plunge pools loaded with brookies. I would say low clear water is the main reason you didn't catch any browns. I haven't experienced any brown migration on small Pocono wild brown streams. The last 2 Class A Pocono streams (Pocono and Cranberry Creeks) I've fished, I've only caught 1 brown each. I contribute this to low/clear water. I'm waiting for some rain before I hit up a Class A again. Shoot me a PM. We can compare notes. I'm sure I've fished the stream in question.

Posted on: 2013/10/15 11:38


Re: Brown Trout Migration in Poconos

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Rainfall for the Poconos has been pretty erratic this year, but the rainfall is above normal for the Poconos.
So I doubt that the browns would have moved based solely on rainfall. But there are other factors, it's getting near spawning time and browns will be moving from about Oct. 1 thru Nov. 1 and will spawn sometime during the Oct. 15 to Nov. 30 time frame.

I'm familiar with many of the well known Pocono Streams as well as ones you never hear about. My guess is that the browns moved because of the erg to spawn, they sometimes don't move very far. It depends on where they find the gravel needed to spawn and what the other habitat features are where they find the gravel. Many years’ trout spawn at the same place for years. But some event can make them change their locations.
Something else can cause trout to move, a brief period of warm water temperatures, is mostly, but for that region, I'm pretty sure flows during the warm weather wasn't an issue though I wouldn't rule it out.
I'd go back to the same location again and see how many fish you catch. Many times anglers will show up to fish a section, and someone else is ahead of them fishing, thus disturbing the water, so fish are spookier. I'd bet that if you do go back you'll catch fish. But make sure it's not a bright sunny, bluebird day.

Posted on: 2013/10/15 11:59
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Re: Brown Trout Migration in Poconos

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A number of things could be happening. You may be right, they may have migrated. All others may be right as well, water clarity, they're there just tough to catch. Maybe.
That is what you gotta love about fishing. You now have a riddle to solve. I guess you have to go fishing if you are ever going to solve the riddle. Streams make the fisherman and the trout. Poconos doesn't mean that the trout won't migrate. Brown trout evolve quickly and differently in streams only miles apart. Go find'em. It's not out of the question that they have migrated. The advantage of low and clear is you can see them. Suggestion, put on some miles exploring and hunting them. You may locate the monster. Do some exploring. Have fun along the way.
I forgot you mentioned that you are fishing only a 3 mile section. Is there any way that you can get permission other areas?
Oh, and what Chaz said.

Posted on: 2013/10/15 12:01
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Re: Brown Trout Migration in Poconos

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I've had similar experiences this time of year in other areas of the state. I think Chaz is right, related to spawning activity.

Posted on: 2013/10/15 12:56


Re: Brown Trout Migration in Poconos

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Possibilities:

1. They were there, but you were not catching them. Falling water temps can and do just shut brown trout off. Also, low water levels leads to spooky fish.

Catching the brookie isn't that surprising. The above affect brookies too. And browns will hit in cold water sometimes. But the feeding "cycles" that browns go through seem more concrete. More all or nothing than brookies. i.e. a turned off brookie means "maybe" I'll eat if something looks yummy enough, but I'm not actively searching. A turned off brown says "NEVER".

2. The fish aren't there. I know nothing of the stream. Maybe they leave to breed. Maybe summertime water temps drive them upstream, and they return in spring.

If I had to guess, your case is a combination of the above. There were very likely some browns around. Maybe not as many as you're used to, but some. And you had a harder time catching them than usual. Even with helgrammites. I grew up a bait fisherman and still have lots of family and friends who do it. It CAN be deadly. But there are days where you wouldn't think a fish exists in that stream, even in places like Spring and Penns Creek, where you KNOW there are plenty.

Posted on: 2013/10/15 13:58


Re: Brown Trout Migration in Poconos

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The ole' live-nymph-on-a-fly technique (which is age-old, I'm sure) reminded me of a day when my father couldn't move a pod of big browns in Wagon Tracks Pool on the Beaverkill. He threw everything at them, then threw a big stonefly nymph attached to his fly and the browns came running and he caught one of the biggest trout of his life.

Anyway, thanks a ton for the feedback. It will certainly help me in learning more about wild brown trout behavior in the Pocono area.

Posted on: 2013/10/15 15:16


Re: Brown Trout Migration in Poconos

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From Mont Co, Pa
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I noticed you didn't mention water temps. Did you check it? That's the first thing I do when I get to a stream. I keep notes on this stuff so I can compare results from one season to the next.
I fish several Pocono wild brown trout streams, and I have found that water temp is the most important variable. I've fished very good streams too early in the season and caught nothing because the water was too cold for the browns. Then, I'd wait a couple weeks when the stream warmed up and had 30-40 fish days. I don't think it's a spawning issue. Those brown trout are in there!

Posted on: 2013/10/15 16:59
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Re: Brown Trout Migration in Poconos

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Quote:

Stenonema wrote:
I forgot you mentioned that you are fishing only a 3 mile section.

Actually, I think he mentioned only fishing a half mile of stream, which isn't much.

Posted on: 2013/10/15 17:09
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Re: Brown Trout Migration in Poconos

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Yes, the temp was 56, which is right there for this time of year and actually just a hair colder than I find it in the spring, usually 58.

I only fish a half mile of the stream,--there's no reason to go further, as it is replete with wild browns.

Just to give you another idea of this light-switch experience I've had. This spring I released six browns at 16" each from the SAME pool over two days,---a 50' long pool. It was like a dream, like the scene from Caddyshack where the Priest can't make a bad shot. One fish I believe I caught twice.

Anyway, that same stretch--with much lower water and a base of 1ft of leaves in it about two feet under the surface---felt simply devoid of trout on Sunday. It was eerily quiet, yet I will confess there was no insect life on the surface. But to not see an errant rise on a beautiful fall day in this creek was stunning.

Thanks again for great feedback.

Posted on: 2013/10/16 8:16


Re: Brown Trout Migration in Poconos

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For browns in those streams 58 is always better then 56. Go back until you find the solution.

Posted on: 2013/10/16 12:54
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Re: Brown Trout Migration in Poconos

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I live 4 hours away, so I won't be going back til next Memorial Day weekend.

Another observation my father made was that we saw NO minnows in the creek either. Would they be in the tribs spawning? Would the trout follow them? Go figure, I know I should have pursued fish biology.

Posted on: 2013/10/16 13:46



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