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Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Blog
Published by Dave Weaver [Dave_W] on 03/18/2019 (2379 reads)
While most Pennsylvania fly fishermen target river smallmouths during the summer, bass can be successfully targeted all year and the "pre-spawn" is among the best times, especially if you're after large fish. When water temps hit the mid 40s - this would usually coincide with mid March here in the southcentral part of the state - river smallies become noticeably more active and move up out of their winter hibernacula. These winter locations are usually the deepest part of a river, often the low, deep, slack water in front of dams. As bass become more active, they start to spread out a bit but still tend to eschew current.

By this time of year, they start to feed quite a bit more but, unlike summer when most of the bass lay up in front of boulders and mid river structure and aggressively hit poppers, my experience has been that pre-spawn bass are shoreline denizens. In part, this is simply due to the higher, cloudier, water conditions so often prevalent in March and April. However, this preference for specific shoreline locations makes locating pre-spawn river bass more predictable. When you catch a bass, there's usually more in the same spot. Often these are large females staging to move to eventual spawning sites later in May.

Finding these spots starts in summer. If you've got a bass river nearby, walk the bank during summer and familiarize yourself with the shape of the shoreline when the water is low and clear. Come high water, you'll know where to go. Perhaps the ideal pre-spawn location would be a point of land that projects out into the river, especially if there are large chunk rocks or boulders on it. Oftentimes there are river willows or vegetation that grow on the point in summer, but that often has water flowing thru it this time of year. If downstream from this point, there is an eddy (there almost always is) and the water is at least 3-4 feet deep, it's worth checking out. If the water in the eddy is very calm with little current or swirling action, and if there are boulders or woody debris along the shoreline of the eddy - it's a hotspot! Mouths of feeder creeks are usually good too.

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Bass stage right on the current break along shoreline eddies this time of year. A typical hot spot would look something like this diagram. Image courtesy D. Weaver


These eddies don’t have to be large. I have taken multiple fish in the upper teens over the years from a single eddy that is only about 4 feet deep, maybe twenty feet in length, and the current break is only four or five feet from the shoreline. The key is slack or very slow water swirling back. When water temps are still cold, usually under 40 degrees, bass are likely in the slack water in the deepest part of the eddy, right on the bottom. As temps move up to and over 40 degrees, the bass move out and sit right along the edge of the current break where the faster water is moving as can be seen in the accompanying diagram.

Most of the time, I like a 7 or 8WT fly rod with floating line and a 8-9' tapered leader. Don’t go lighter than 12 lb test for your leader unless you absolutely have to. I typically use 14 or 15 lb. test. Despite smallies' reputation for being jumpers, in reality big smallies, especially in colder water, are bulldogs. They fight down and dirty close to the bottom and cover. You'll need a stout tippet to keep 'em out of the woody debris and shoreline brush.

bassDuring the months from about November until April, I prefer minnow imitating flies, the estimable Clouser Minnow is always dependable. For the (usually) cloudy water this time of year, black or chartreuse/orange is tough to beat. Many gear bass anglers like a black hair jig for early spring bass. I usually keep my flies for this time of year a bit on the smaller size, typically about 3-5 inches in length.

For rigging, place a large strike indicator at the base of the leader, or maybe a foot or so down the leader from the junction with the fly line. A "thingamabobber" would likely work well. I prefer the large, split, peg type bobbers you can get at the kids' fishing section at big box stores. Roll cast this rig out; you're aiming to get the fly to drop right at the outer edge of the eddy's slack water along the current break. This is often the money spot where bass are positioned during the pre-spawn. Roll cast your rig and do a mental five or ten-count to allow your fly to sink. In effect, you're just fishing a jig under a bobber. The key is to keep your retrieve slow. The indicator will suspend your streamer in the zone. Smallies often scrutinize baits/flies very carefully, then suck 'em in and turn away. Strikes are subtle this time of year and I find a big, floating strike indicator really helps detect these subtle strikes. When that indicator budges, do a strip strike and fight the fish hard. Despite the light takes, large bass are much more catchable on flies in the early spring than summer in my opinion. Big bass see a constant barrage of tube lures, plugs, and other stuff raining down on ‘em in summer and they can get shy or nocturnal. An eighteen-inch river bass in Pennsylvania is probably ten to twelve years old and has seen it all. In the early spring, I believe trophy sized smallmouths are just more willing to feed on flies after a long winter.

While it's easy to get distracted by the prime trout fishing this time of year, don't ignore river bass. Scout out a shoreline eddy on your favorite river, watch those water temps, and then present a fly low and slow along the current break. River smallies are definitely active now and this is a great time of year to catch big fish.

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 03/12/2019 (53 reads)
The PAFF Eastern Pa. Fly Tying Jamboree on Feb,16 was a great success!

We had lots of good tyers from all skill levels. Everyone had an excellent time and it was great to see some old friends and make some new ones. I want to thank Jack Fields for taking all our pictures. We were able to give a very nice donation to the nature center due to the generosity of the people and companies who donated the prizes for the fundraiser. We would also like to thank the good folks at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center for having us at their facility. As an added attraction yesterday, Bill Fretz demonstrated how to make furled leaders. Bill makes fine leaders and it was quite interesting to see how it is done. - Michael Lohman "GenCon"

It was great to see everyone again, wish it could be more often. Big thank you to Mike & "T" for organizing the jam, it went off without a hitch... - LV2nymph

The event was a lot of fun as usual. Thanks to all the organizers and to the tiers who took the time to share their skills with us. There's a lot of talented members on this forum and it was a lot of fun to get to know so many and get to pick their brains.
+1 to Brad's stonefly nymph skills. you'd never know you were so new to tying looking at your work and your presentation to the group.
+1 thanks to Jack Fields for taking the great pictures and for the quick posting of them. - Bociank1

A special thanks to Michael Lohman "GenCon" for leading the organization of this event. Nice job!!

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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 03/04/2019 (358 reads)

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This weekend brings the Fly Fishing Show to Lancaster, Pa. This is the best fly fishing show in Pennsylvania you can find and a great opportunity see what the latest and greatest is going on in the industry.

For those of you that have not made the trip before it is a two day event that includes a very large exhibit floor, fly tiers, retail shops, educational programs and more. Many members from Paflyfish make their way to the show every year. If you are looking for trips, rods, reels, flies, waders any gear or tying materials this is the show to hit. There are many outstanding presentations about fly fishing techniques and locations to attend as well.

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Dates: March 9 & 10, 2019
Saturday: 9am – 5:30pm
Sunday: 9am – 4:30pm

Location: Lancaster County Convention Center,
3 East Vine Street
Lancaster, PA 17602

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Additional Highlights include:
Learning Center: Fly Fishers International (FFI) is pleased to offer FREE fly fishing instruction at the Learning Center located on the main show floor. Basic fly-casting, fly-tying, and knots, will be taught throughout the day-every day of the Fly Fishing Show.
The International Fly Fishing Film Festival. One night only, Saturday, March 9 at 6:00pm. $15; $10 in advance.To purchase your advance.
Link to the Fly Fishing Show - Lancaster

Follow along in the forum.

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/27/2019 (178 reads)
Another great video from Tightline Video here in the region. Can you find more video's on tightlinevideo YouTube channel.




Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/12/2019 (282 reads)
By Bill Kosmer at Trout Tails

I spent last weekend (Jan 25-27) at The Fly Fishing Show in Edison, NJ tying flies in the Fly Stones booth. It was a great 3 days. It is always good to see old friends and make new ones. Thank you to everyone who stopped by! Below is just a few snap shots. I wanted to get more photos, but it is amazing how busy it gets and how quickly it goes by. If you have never been to one of the shows, I encourage you to check them out. All the major gear manufactures are there with the latest products, as well as some of the most talented tiers and fishers around. There are many demonstrations and seminars throughout the weekend.


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