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Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Blog
Published by Dave Weaver [Dave_W] on 10/24/2016 (352 reads)

Below Ramcat Run (acrylic on canvas)
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Dave Weaver (Dave_W)

Large Pennsylvania streams and rivers in October and November can provide an interesting grab bag of fish that might munch our flies, and big weedless streamers are the way to go. For many Pennsylvania fly fishermen, October and November are months when they return to stream trout fishing, if they ever left. In particular, years such as this one magnify this effect as we have spent what seems like many months waiting for rain and cooler temperatures and are especially eager to get back out for trout. Some fly fishers gave the river bass game a go-round during summer, but soon are back on trout streams as the days get shorter and colder. Few die hard fly fishers stick with bass by late October. Try checking out a mid- sized or larger bass river in late October: a fly fisher is a rare sight.

Spin fishers, by contrast, know that late autumn fishes well on the big rivers. Bass are still active and walleyes, pike, and muskies are on the prowl. In addition, many of the larger streams and mid-sized rivers have transient populations of large, wild brown trout in the “transition zone” – that is to say the lower reaches of what normally passes for trout water (or where it is stocked) that transitions into a warm water fishery. These fish drop back downriver during the autumn, or migrate out into rivers from colder tributaries. To be sure, these trout are hard to find, cagy, often nocturnal even in colder periods, and are a specialized game. Nevertheless, they are part of the mix. Some very large browns fall to spin guys fishing tubes and swimming plugs for bass and walleyes during the colder months here in Pennsylvania every year.

autumn01Chances are, there are some big rivers near you that you might consider fly fishing in the coming weeks. Larger tailrace rivers such as the Delaware, Potomac, Lehigh, Youghiogheny, or Allegheny have trout in their upper reaches, but gradually these rivers transition to warm water species downriver and are associated with smallmouth bass, walleyes, and muskellunge. With colder temps in autumn, large trout will sometimes migrate downriver into these areas associated with warm water fishes.

Larger trout streams or “creeks” such as the Little Juniata, Frankstown Branch, Raystown Branch, Swatara, Mahoning, Clarion, Schuylkill, Tionesta, Shermans, Conodoguinet, Penns, Pine, Shenango, and other similar streams all are popular for both bass and trout. Moreover, about half of these creeks have muskies or tiger muskies. Smaller waterways such as these are prime spots to target bass, trout, and even muskies in late autumn. Even the West Branch Susquehanna is coming to be associated with stocked trout in its upper reaches these days in addition to its much-improved (now superb) warm water fishery downstream.

On waters such as these during the late autumn colder temps and shortening days put big river smallmouth bass in an aggressive mood. Big browns, and muskies are on the prowl as well and they’re not looking for a size 18 dry fly, they want a meal! Chubs, fallfish, shad, suckers, big sculpins, madtoms, and shiners are on the menu and these baitfishes have had a season to grow and are large, typically several inches in length and often much larger. This is the time of year to throw big streamers with at least a six-weight rod. Oftentimes, an eight- weight is better. A floating line works fine although if you’re working deeper rivers with current, a sinking line will get you in the strike zone.

autumn03Any large streamer can work, but I like articulated doubles using soft materials and deer hair. Clip the hair in a large spun head that pushes water. Deer hair can make a fly more buoyant and wind resistant, but such sparse, spun deer heads also produce a fly that has a nice side to side, erratic swimming pattern when stripped and stopped. This side to side swimming pattern is deadly. Generally, for this game I like flies in the four to seven-inch range or larger if you’re hoping to target toothy critters. Twenty-inch brown trout, or smallies in the mid-teens, are fish that can easily inhale and swallow six-inch prey species. I like double hook flies since trout and muskies often seem to seize the fly mid body and often need a trail hook for solid hook-ups. Bass, by contrast, only need a single hook at the front of the fly for good hook up ratio as bass are head hunters. Colors are a matter of preference, but the old wisdom about “dark day, dark fly” holds true in my opinion. Black and chartreuse is tough to beat in stained water.

A major challenge to this season is leaves and weed break-up. In late September, many rivers see a break-up of grass beds and this results in a lot of junk in the water column. By early October, much of the weed break-up is done, but leaves start to foul the water column by mid-month. By late October, leaves can make fishing nearly impossible in some places, especially on windy days. To contend with this, you will want a fly tied weedless so as to pull through the leaves. The flies depicted here are examples of typical streamers I’d reach for on autumn rivers. The key is a decent weed guard design. I prefer mono loops tied in at the hook eye, as can be seen. For larger patterns such as these, fifty pound mono works best. I generally put a weed guard only at the lead hook and not the trail hook. You’ll still catch some leaves, but weed guards will at least allow you to fish fairly effectively where conventional flies would immediately foul. Experiment and find a design that works for you – just keep the fly at least four inches long. Bigger is better.

October and November are great months for fly fishermen in Pennsylvania. Target the transition zone on larger creeks and rivers and you will have a genuine shot at multi-species if you throw big streamers. To be sure, smallmouth bass will be your most likely catch, but large brown trout and muskellunge are out there too. Just the other day, I was wading a favorite pool on a mid-sized creek and could see a brown trout, a three-foot-long muskie, and several smallies in the mid-teens. . . all within casting range. Catching all three species in a day would be uncommon in my experience, but the possibility exists if you’re at the right time and place. So, tie up some big weedless streamers and get out on a big creek or river this fall. The trout guys will be nowhere in sight and many of the summer bass fishing regulars are sitting in a tree stand. You’ll probably see few anglers. Double haul that big streamer out, strip it back through the leaves, and hold on when you see that big swirl or feel that pull. You may even have to fight the fish to surface before you’ll even know what chomped your fly. A motivating experience during a great time of year!
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 10/06/2016 (3232 reads)
Fly of the Month: Olive Woolly Bugger
by Tightline Productions

Tightline Productions has done a real nice video giving a step by step for Olive Woolly Bugger. This is one of my favorite flies to use almost year round. In the spring when there is no hatch or in the summer going for bass, I just love tossing this woolly bugger for some action. Enjoy.

Olive Woolly Bugger from Tightline Productions on Vimeo.

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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 09/21/2016 (2169 reads)
Fall fly fishing in Pennsylvania offers anglers an awesome opportunity to enjoy cool, colorful days on some spectacular streams. Anglers will appreciate the solitude of fall fishing while others are busy with different fall activities. There are plenty of streams across the state with trout and hatches to keep you busy on familiar waters and even going after some streams you’ve been thinking about.

Fall Fly Fishing

Just like in the spring, you’re looking for trout and good water. There are plenty of streams that have naturally reproducing trout as well as stocked waters by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC). However, the PFBC only provides very limited stocking on select streams during the fall, which starts at the end of September through the beginning of October.

As the weather begins to change, so does the entomology or insect life in the stream. Activity will differ from region to region, stream size, summer water temperatures, and geology. The fall provides a more limited selection of insects, and often, anglers enjoy bringing a more modest selection of flies and imitations. Some of the more popular collections include Slate Drakes, BWOs, Caddis, terrestrials and egg patterns. Typical nymphs and streamers are always part of the mix.

Where to Fly Fish?

Stocked streams and Special Regulation Projects
About 40 streams are stocked after the start of fall by the PFBC. The amount of trout is not close to the spring stockings, but offer increased angling opportunity to some of the more popular Special Regulation streams across the state like Tuplehocken Creek, Ridley Creek, Oil Creek, Neshannock Creek, Little Lehigh, Little Pine Creek, Bush Kill, Kettle Creek and Laurel Hill Creek, to name a few. The full list of fall stocked lakes and streams can be found here in a PDF. Some private clubs and Co-operative Nurseries also provide some stockings beside the PFBC, but these details are not publicly released.

Rainbow Trout
Something from the PFBC

Class A Trout Streams
Class A Wild Trout Streams are designated by the PFBC as: “Streams that support a population of wild (natural reproduction) trout of sufficient size and abundance to support a long-term and rewarding sport fishery. The Commission does not stock these stream sections.”

Wild Trout
Something a little wild

There are hundreds of these streams across the state. Some of the more popular streams are Penns Creek, Little Juniata and Spring Creek. There are hundreds of streams across the state in this category, and a full PDF listing can be found here. Not all Class A stream sections are on public land so always ask permission from land owners when approaching Class As or other wild trout streams.

The wild trout in these streams behave and act differently than their pellet raised brothers. You’ll find these trout having lived a season or two and are well adjusted to their environment. They have survived the heat of the summer, floods, predators and have seen hundreds of anglers casting all kinds fly’s past them. Anglers who know the waters, conditions, and entomology of the fall will be rewarded for their knowledge with some fun but challenging trout.

Wilderness Trout Streams
“Wilderness Trout Streams are a sub-group of wild trout streams; some Wilderness Trout Streams also have a Class A designation based on meeting a minimum biomass threshold. Under 58 Pa. Code §57.4, it is the Commission’s policy to manage wilderness trout streams where stream remoteness and populations of wild trout combine to offer sport-fishing opportunities for anglers in a wilderness setting.” – PFBC. Often these remote wild trout stream areas share use with Hunters so always carry some blaze orange with you to help you to be recognized by hunters.

Holtwood Brook Trout Stream

These streams offer anglers a unique experience of often remote and out of the way streams with wild trout. Hopefully, anglers who make their way to these streams are rewarded with native brook trout in some great settings. These are often small feeder streams and those no-name streams you roll past getting to bigger, more popular stocked waters. These streams should be treated with great respect due to their fragile and unique environments. However, these streams are not all in the remote mountains of the state, but can often be found just around the corner of your home if you search a little.

Anglers with a sense of adventure, stealth and respect can have a lot of fun with little gems scattered throughout the state. Generally, we ask that you not even post a stream report for these special streams to keep the traffic and adventure optimal.

For more detailed designations on all the wild trout waters from the PFBC, anglers will enjoy the PDF publication - Pennsylvania’s Wild Trout Streams.

Watch Out for the Redds
Reproduction plays an important part of the trout lifecycle during the fall months for both brook and brown trout. Brook trout, native to the Eastern US, usually spawn during late September through October. Brown trout typically spawn in October through late November. However, each stream is very different when this actually occurs.

During the spawn, the coloring on the trout will intensify, especially in the males. Females will create gravel beds called "reds" for the dropped eggs to be fertilized. It is very important avoid fishing these sections on streams when you see redds and be careful not to kick them up when wading. It is probably best even to leave trout overtop redds alone and give them a chance to protect the eggs.

Enjoy your fall fly fishing and add your stream report to the forum to share with others when you return.

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 09/18/2016 (1067 reads)
Some would consider this years presidential election a race to the basement. Me being one of them. For Hank Patterson fans they'll be happy to know that the basement has new tool at the workbench. Yes, Hank is officially running for president.

"Of all the bad choices our country has to offer... Hank Patterson is the best. More beer. More fishing. More freedumb. Snap It!" -Hank

[Warning not work friendly. I'd give it a PG-13 rating for swear words if that offends you.]

For those that really love Hank they can even get a T-shirt to show their support. Hank hope you're reading this as I would really like a shirt or very least to be the Ambassador to New Zealand for this endorsement if you win. It seems like this is how the candidates operate and would expect you to be the same. Please send me a email for the T-Shirt.



Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 08/31/2016 (1495 reads)
Everyone always enjoys the images that are shared on Paflyfish. This past winter we announced our Spring 2016 Fly Fishing Photo Contest. Contestants were asked to submit images from the region while out this past spring fly fishing. We received dozens of entries and pleased to finally announce our winners. (Sorry for the delay) Many wonderful pictures were entered from all over the state.

We’re happy to recognize the winners of Spring 2016 Fly Fishing Photo Contest.

[I am sorry about the first announcement and I have to update the winners based on the disqualification of a photo. A quick reminder this was free contest with no entry fees and intended to be a fun way of sharing our fly fishing adventure this past spring. The best effort was put in here with the time and resources available to run this contest. Paflyfish is a community of volunteers helping each other out. I always appreciate everyone who understands this and offers constructive support to the site, mods, members and me. Thank you and congratulations to the winners.]

1st Place – Brookie Release by Jay348

2nd Place - Fun at The Run by JG63

3rd Place – Muskie by slay12345

Prizes for the winners include: A two-night stay this fall at Harman Luxury Log Cabins, Allen Fly Fishing is offering one of their just recently announced Atlas Fly Reels and shirt from their Exterus line of apparel, or Orvis Plymouth Meeting Store is providing a fly fishing pack.

We will ask that each of the winners PM with their addresses so I can notify the sponsors. Jay348 will get the first pick of the prizes, then JG63 and followed by Slay12345. There is only one prize pick for each winner. We want to thank all the participants who entered the contest and to our moderators/judges for their voting.

Contest Sponsors

Allen Fly Fishing – Allen Fly Fishing began in 2007 as the dream of one man to take his manufacturing experience and contacts and apply them to products for people to enjoy: fly fishing reels and fly tying hooks. Today Allen Fly Fishing provides a range of rod, reels, lines, hooks, fly tying gear. They have expanded their Exterus line of products that includes: outerwear, shirts and other apparel.

Harman Luxury Log Cabins – Situated along the North Fork River in Cabins, West Virginia. Harman’s 1 ¾ miles of private access trophy trout stream provides anglers with the opportunity to fish for rainbow, brown trout, brook, tiger and golden trout.  The stream is managed for trophy trout. Over 20 cabins provide guests a choice of accommodations for anglers, families and groups.

Orvis Plymouth Meeting Store - Founded by Charles F. Orvis in Manchester, Vermont, in 1856, Orvis is America’s oldest mail-order outfitter and longest continually-operating fly-fishing business. The Plymouth Meeting Store offers a full range of fly fishing gear, tying products, apparel, seminars and much more.

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