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Update from the PFBC Big Spring Meeting

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/10/2014 (4212 reads)
A mayfly hatch is the grand finale in the year long seasonal play that returns annually for trout and anglers.

MayFly StagesThis show begins the previous season with mature female mayflies, called spinners, laying their eggs on the surface of the water(video). The eggs shortly hatch into small larvae and quickly change into nymphs.

The nymph phase of the mayfly is the longest and will last just about one year. Different species of mayflies can be found in different parts of a stream. Some prefer the faster water and rocks, while others are only found at the end of pools in deep mud. During this time a nymph will grow and molt regularly. Molting is when the mayfly breaks out of it's old skin and a larger one is exposed underneath to protect it during the next growth cycle. During the final molting these leftover soft shells are referred to as shucks.

The emergence stage out of the water can be a quick and dangerous time for these transitional nymphs. Trout can find and aggressively feed on these insects that normally may be hiding or burrowing at the bottom of a stream. Once ready to leave the water the hatch begins. The emerger swims to the surface film molts their skins and expose there wings.

Green Drake Spinner aka Coffin FlyThe cloudy, grayish wings they emerge with give them there name: dun. The duns sit on top of the water and prepare its wings for flight. On top of the film of a stream they ready their wings for flight. This can take seconds or minutes depending how fast the mayfly can take flight. During this phase, mayflies often can been seen in great numbers sailing down the stream with trout striking on an easy food source. Once the dun escapes the water, it will head for the trees for several days.

While maturation occurs during this stage a dun may molt several more times until it becomes a spinner (Green Drake spinner aka Coffin Fly pictured left). As spinners they have no mouths to feed, male and female mayflies will seek each other out only to mate. The females will quickly lay her eggs back at the water starting the cycle over again.

The cycle ends when the dead and dying mayflies drop to the stream. The spent wing spinner is the one final opportunity for tout to feed on the last stage of this great yearlong production provided by the mayfly.

To learn and discuss more about mayflies on the site head over to the Hatch and Entomology Forum. Beginners can follow along and learn more in the Beginners Forum.

A great online site to follow and get deep into the latin is Troutnut and his Aquatic Insects of our Trout Streams. A must read!!







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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/03/2014 (1080 reads)


I got in early for the 2014 Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, NJ. and spent some time checking out the exhibit area as all the booths were getting setup. Glad I was a tourist that afternoon as many of the vendors put a lot of work getting ready for the weekend. Hung out with Rick Nyles & Nick Raftas at Sky Blue Outfitters since they got setup early.

Fridays are the day I like running through the exhibit floor before the bigger crowds on Saturday. I made my way over to the professional fly tiers including Dave "Wetfly01" Allbaugh and Mike "firandfeather" Heck. Plenty to see from Sage, RIO, and plenty of vendors with tying materials. Always pleased to see and spend some time with Justin, AJ and Evan at the Allen Fly Fishing booth. They were busy all weekend and with a lot of folks getting into their reels and rods.

Of course a lot more guys from Paflyfish showed up on Saturday and could help but running to everyone. Another fun show and looking forward to the Fly Fishing Show - Lancaster in March.





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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 01/28/2014 (2581 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 the 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's themselves. Many anglers unwittingly become pretty good entomologist in pursuit of fly fishing. These insects are a significant part of any trouts diet throughout the year. For most aquatic insects they live almost 98% of their lives in the water. Trout will feed on these bugs during all times of the insects life cycle. Most notably trout will key in on active or passing nymphs in the water. For a brief period at the end these insect's 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 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. Sucker fish 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 01/21/2014 (1711 reads)
Fly fishing anglers can pursue many types of freshwater fish in the region including bass, carp and sunfish. Undoubtedly, fly fishing for trout is by far the most popular. Millions of brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout are stocked in the Northeast every year. Aside from state and local club stocking efforts, all three species can be found naturally reproducing with varying degrees of success as well.

Trout flourish in waters that sustain fertile, cooler conditions year-round. Pollution has had an obvious negative impact on the success of wild trout populations. Many streams with high acidity or low levels of pH in mining regions have had a difficult time sustaining trout populations. Brook trout especially are the most tolerant of these conditions however their presence was greatly diminished during the twentieth century by deforestation and subsequent warmer water temperatures. Pollution spills that wiped out the insect life have been equally as devastating to trout populations. With improved conservation efforts and time, wild trout are making a strong comeback.

Better water conditions provide improved fertility in a stream so that young trout can feed on plankton, small crustaceans and insects. Mature trout will eat insects, fish, salamanders, crustaceans and even small mammals. Fly fishing for trout requires a keen knowledge of habitat, trout food and the fish. There are differences on how to fly fish for wild vs stocked trout.

Let's take a look at some of the general characteristics you’ll find with the three most common trout found in the northeast region for fly fishing.


Brook Trout - Salvelinus fontinalis
Brook Trout photo by 3wt7X

Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)
Brook Trout are the only stream trout native to the region. Generally brook trout are found from northern Georgia along the Appalachian Mountains and then north into Maine. They are also found in the Great Lakes–Saint Lawrence system over to Hudson Bay region. During the 19th century brook trout were first introduced throughout the western US. They are the official state fish for New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

A typical wild brook trout can be 6"-18" inches dependent on habitat, nutrition and age. They are typically the smaller of the three commonly found trout. Brook trout spawn during the fall starting in late September thru November. Of the annual stocking in Pennsylvania by the PFBC less than 20% of the annual stocked trout are brookies. Fly fishing for wild brook trout in small mountainous streams is it’s own pursuit by many.

Habitat: Brook trout generally live in small to moderate-sized streams, lakes, and ponds. They thrive in cool temps (34-72 degrees), clean and well-oxygenated water conditions.

Identification: body coloring is generally dark brown-green, the upper body and top have a wavy or a marbling pattern called vermiculation that extends onto the dorsal fin, the sides and belly shade is lighter, body is marked with light colored or yellow spots with smaller red spots surrounded by a blue halo and white leading edge on pelvic and anal fins.


Brown Trout - Salmo trutta
Brown Trout photo by 3wt7X

Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)
Brown trout are not a native species to the United States and they were introduced from Europe during the 19th century. They have become very successful across the country in many streams and lakes. Wild brown trout are typically larger than the native brook trout and are commonly found 12"-18". Larger brown trout can be found up to 30 inches and some can live well past 15 years. In Pennsylvania, about 1/3 of all streams stocking by the PFBC is with brown trout.

Habitat: Brown trout can be found in a wider range of water conditions. They prefer water temps from 50-60 degrees but can sustain themselves into the lower 70's. They are typically a little less tolerant of low pH conditions as compared to native brook trout.

Identification: body color is surprisingly not brown in color with black and often red spots on the sides, the lower belly section is yellowish, the tail fin typically has no spots.


Rainbow Trout - Oncorhynchus mykiss
Rainbow Trout photo by 3wt7X

Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
Rainbow Trout are native to the Pacific coast of California to Alaska. Pennsylvania and other east coast states introduced rainbows during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The average size range for rainbow trout is 10"-14" inches, with some individuals reach 20+ inches. Opposite of brown and brook trout, wild rainbow trout spawn in the spring time. There are only a few naturally reproducing populations of rainbow trout on the east coast, but the species does very well in hatcheries and is the predominate species used in stream stocking. In Pennsylvania over 50% of the stocked trout are rainbows.

Habitat: Rainbows, much like brown trout, are a little less tolerant of low ph conditions. It is even suggested they can tolerate temps up to 75 degrees.

Identification: dark-greenish to silver back, red-pink stripe along lateral line, blackish spots on sides, head, dorsal fin and tail

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

Additional Online Resources
http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/fishfacts/
http://www.fish.state.pa.us/pafish/fishhtms/chap15trout.htm
http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7016.html
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 01/16/2014 (1264 reads)
Paflyfish is a popular spot for fly fishing anglers in the region for a lot of good reasons. There are all sorts of great conversations and information shared in the forums on a host of different topics. We are very fortunate to have so many folks not only provide information online in the forums, but help out beginners at clinics and instructional jamborees. Also there are some darn smart anglers on the site coming from all walks of life.

wild brown troutI am hoping to expand on that information this spring with a new and updated series of content on the site that is targeted for beginners getting started with fly fishing. From my own experience, it took me many years to really grasp a strong understanding of the sport, let alone having any confidence that I knew what I was doing on a stream. I still question myself after 30 years, so not much has changed. After my last few years, revisiting the fundamentals of the sport would be a good lesson for me as well. I have found myself in a rut with some old habits and anxious to hone my skills again.

Specifically, I will be adding a weekly blog post to the site that will be aimed at beginners for several months. I will cover many of the fundamentals of the sport including topics on trout, streams, hatches, flies, gear and more. As we move into April and May we will cover specific techniques and strategy based on the time of year. These blog posts will be great for anyone just trying to get their head around the sport. There are plenty of great books and Internet resources for anglers to explore as well. The posts are intended to be an introduction to a topic. I will be making sure to include that information as well so folks dig a little deeper on their own. Part of the fun of the sport is the exploration.

Fly fishing getting startedI plan on updating some of the existing static content on the site as well. It has been a while since the Hatch Charts and Where to Fly Fish sections have been improved. I look forward to enhancing those sections and adding some new ones including a Fly Fishing Terminology Page. Subsequent posts in the Fly Fishing Getting Started section will be organized and likely made into their own menu on the site.

Those beginners that want to follow along can join in the conversation at the Beginners Forum. A great spot to ask any questions and get a lot of good answers. No hassles or trolls guaranteed!

I would then suggest you participate and share your success in the Stream Reports forum. This forum is as much about sharing your fly fishing success as it is sharing stream conditions around the region. We all benefit from knowing water conditions and the timing of hatches. Good chance to get some more help about what you experienced on the stream too.

Finally Beginners might want to stay up with the Events Forum. Plenty of activities and events Paflyfish and from from other organizations posted here for you to get involved with as well.

Tight Lines,

Dave








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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 01/08/2014 (2223 reads)
The Fly Rod Chronicles is a program I have been enjoying on the Outdoor Channel for a number of years. Curtis Fleming and crew travel the country sharing their fly fishing pursuits like no others. In early May of 2013 the show made it's way back home to West Virginia for the Harman's North Fork Invitational 2013. The event offers two-man fly fishing teams a chance to compete for first place on the North Fork of the South Branch River in West Virginia.

Fly Rod Chronicles
The Fly Rod Chronicles at the Harman's North Fork Invitational 2013


Some really top notch anglers get together for this event and Todd Harman was on me for a couple of years about getting a Paflyfish team going for the Invitational. Since Paflyfish has some pretty darn good anglers I figured it wouldn't be too hard to get a competitive team in place. With all the talent I see at a Paflyfish Jamboree I was more concerned about just fielding a team that could wake up for the first session.

As it turned out the short straws went to Shane "Sbecker" Becker and Phil "PhilC" Chadbourn to represent Team Paflyfish at the competition Shane had been to Harman's the year before, which offered him some advantage for the team. Before leaving I asked the guys to just have fun and do their best. I felt like I was sending my kids off to college and almost digressed into warning them about not getting into any trouble.

The North Fork does not support naturally reproducing trout and Todd Harman, Harman's Invitational host, makes sure the stream is always stocked with some awesome looking trout.

Not having been in any fly fishing competitions myself, I had to get familiar with how the Invitational worked. Basically, sixteen teams competed over two days during three sessions of fly fishing. Each team had two sessions on Friday and one on Saturday. Points were accrued by the total length in centimeters of trout over the three sessions. Each team was allowed to land up to seven fish during a session. The best eight teams then duked it out for one final session with the winner being selected based on those points from that last session. There was some strategy that each team needed to make with picking the section of streams or beat for the session. Higher scoring teams got the early picks on their preferred beats.

Harman's North Fork Invitational
Shane at the Harman's North Fork Invitational


The guys headed off Thursday for the weekend and I waited for snippets of emails for updates on their progress.

[Spoiler Alert]
I got a short email late on Friday of first day from Phil cautiously offering up they had a lot of fishing yet to do, but they were in first place. Phil must have figured I would think this was some sort of hoax and Shane shortly followed with an email validating that they were ahead after the first two sessions. Phil managed to land one of the biggest trout of all the competitors that first day. It was great to read their excitement and was much better news than the bail thing that was still itching in the back of my head.

A mid-day email from the duo on Saturday was a little less encouraging. Day two Team Paflyfish presented some new challenges in the third session as they were only allowed to use two flies. That morning was not as productive and they fell back to third overall. This still put them into the finals and they had the third pick of the stream beat.

I didn't hear anymore from them until much later that night. I got a text photo of a poorly lit image from Shane that had some darkened red, white and blue looking thing. My guess was they didn't do so well and moved onto some Pabst Blue Ribbons. A more detailed email arrived later sharing that the guys ended having a really good day. They offered it would have been better if they could have landed a bunch of big rainbows that they missed getting into their nets, but the final message was, "We got it"! Much to their own surprise, Shane and Phil pulled it off by taking first place at the Invitational.

Fly Fishing Competition
The Surprised Winners


"It was just awesome. We had a great time and I never thought that we would win. I just didn't want to come in last and holy cow we won the thing," said Shane. Phil added, "It was a really good time and enjoyed hanging with Curtis and crew."

Curtis later shared with me, "Phil & Shane are class-act and represented Team Paflyfish in high regards. They were a blast to hang out with and very good fly fishermen."

Catch all the fun of the weekend, including Shane and Phil of Team Paflyfish as they take on some of the best anglers from all over the country at the Harman's Invitational 2013 on the Fly Fishing Chronicles. Shows air on the Outdoor Channel starting Monday, January 13th at 11:00 am, Friday, January 17th at 7:00 am and 12:00 pm. A final program will be aired on Saturday, January 18th at 5:30 pm.

Harman's Luxury Log Cabins is a sponsor of Paflyfish. The North Fork does not support naturally reproducing trout and is stocked by Harman's along 1 3/4 miles of water providing anglers with the opportunity to fish for rainbows, browns, brookies, tiger and golden trout. A great place to relax with friends, family and for in some awesome trout fishing.

Photos provided by PhilC and Shane.








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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 01/02/2014 (882 reads)
In an attempt to get just one more day in fly fishing for 2013, Afishinado, Fishidiot and I made our way over to central Pennsylvania on Monday. A cold wintery day, but to be expected for the end of December.

Letort Spring Creek
Dave Weaver Stalking on Letort Spring Creek


A heavy rain hit the region the day before. Many of the limestone and smaller streams were cleared up and fishable. It was still very cloudy and temperatures held in the upper 30's all day.

We found our way over to the Letort in hopes of a Blue Winged Olive (BWO) hatch mid day or early afternoon. It is pretty common on cloudy, mild winter days to find a sporadic BWO hatch getting the attention of the locals.

Letort Spring Creek


Winter fly fishing can be very difficult. Cold weather and less active trout can make for some real hit or miss fishing. For the Letort and the wild brown trout in the stream the best approach is nymphing with the hope that some risers are out on midges or BWO's. The high streamside vegetation that so strongly dominates everything along the stream in the summer is gone and it is easier casting if you are lucky enough to try some dry flies.

Letort Spring Creek
Afishinado Putting on a Nymphing Clinic


Afishinado managed to get some action with nymphs. I did see a few risers and tried a midge with my usual "no luck".

There were some small BWO's sailing down the stream, but not a lot of active fish rising to them. What was more interesting was our observation of what look liked a #16 sulphur mayfly that was hatching during that same time. We were pretty taken aback to see a few little orangish mayflies floating past us in the middle of winter.

BWO on Letort


A fun day out and glad we could fit in one more final day in for 2013.








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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 12/27/2013 (714 reads)
Hank's in Missoula Montana sharing some fishing stories and browsing gear at a couple local fly shops. Hope you dig it! Snap It!







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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 12/25/2013 (417 reads)
christmas flyfishingAnother fun year on the site and streams. Very thankful to all those who have helped others during the year in learning more about the sport. Looking forward to doing more of the same this year as well. We hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and wish you a Happy New Year.

Sincerely,

Paflyfish
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 12/17/2013 (909 reads)
Pennsylvania has gotten hit with some bad news a few times this year about invasive species having a potential negative impaction on some waterways. Earlier in the year we heard about Didymo turning up in Pine Creek and more recently there was news about New Zealand mudsnails in Spring Creek. Fly fishing is a fun casual sport, but more often than not extra precautions will need to be follow with our gear.

Invasive species generally are plants or animals that are non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem and whose introduction causes harm to the native species. New Zealand mud snails have been detrimental in reducing some western streams productivity. Populations can reach 28,000 snails per square foot. This rapid and expansive growth can compete with native species.

New Zealand mudsnails“Based on studies conducted in western U.S. streams, if the population grows quickly, they could become the dominant organisms in the benthic – or bottom dwelling – community, upon which many others species depend for food,” said Bob Morgan, the PFBC’s ecologist who studies aquatic invasive species. “Because this is the first known occurrence of the New Zealand mudsnail on the Atlantic slope of the eastern U.S, the effects of the snail on higher organisms, such as fish, are not certain at this time.”

Fly fishing anglers will need to take extra precautions in cleaning their gear before leaving Spring Creek and entering another waterway. This is a serious issue without proper measures the situation could get worse in the region.

From the PFBC below and Clean Your Gear:
"New Zealand mudsnails require some specialized disinfection measures. Gear should be visually inspected and any clinging matter should be removed and disposed of in the trash. To kill mudsnails, three methods are effective. Gear can be frozen for a minimum of six hours, or it can be soaked in hot water - 120°F to 140°F - for five minutes. This last method is not recommended for Gortex.

Also, a 2005 study by the California Department of Fish and Game showed that mudsnails can be killed by soaking gear for five minutes in a one-to-one solution of Formula 409® Cleaner Degreaser Disinfectant and water. After soaking gear for five minutes, thoroughly rinse it with plain water. Simply spraying gear with the disinfectant or the mixture does not work. Also, general cleaners have not been shown to be effective against the mudsnail." [see note below]1

These steps in keeping your gear clean are not going to work very well if you are planning to go from Spring Creek and then say Penns Creek in the same day. It has been suggested in the forum that if you spend a lot of time in the Central Pennsylvania area fly fishing and jump from stream to stream frequently, an extra pair of old boots for just Spring Creek may be the way to go for now.

Whatever your plans may be to fish in the region, keep yourself education on these invasive species and take the necessary steps to protect the streams you and many others like to fly fish.

1 Side Note:
There seems to be some conflicting information about the success of using Formula 409® Cleaner Degreaser Disinfectant and water to kill New Zealand mudsnails. Here is the 2005 PDF study by the California Department of Fish and Game and the several sources are reporting that 409 doesn't work. So go figure there is conflict.

So to help I have found another site that offers a few more suggestions on how to deal with eliminating the snails on your gear here. Options look like freezing, completely drying, Copper Sulfate Pentahydrate (which has it's own debate) or my suggestion...buy a set of inexpensive extra gear for Spring Creek.

Sorry about what I thought was serious problem had a simple solution. Wrong again!










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