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Big Trout Program

Published by David Weaver [Fishidiot] on 06/22/2010 (2528 reads)
Continued from Part 1

Some years prior to this bloody drama, likely in the summer of 1853, railroad workers on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad gathered some smallmouth bass from somewhere in the fish’s native range in the Ohio River basin. According to some accounts, these fish were placed in water buckets near Pittsburgh, taken eastward by train, and eventually released in the upper Potomac near Cumberland, several dozen miles upriver from Harper’s Ferry.

rusty spinnerToday such introduction of non-native species, frowned on as it is, wouldn’t be considered beneficial and the new invaders would likely be targeted for eradication, much as the “snakehead” fish are targeted today in the lower, tidal reaches of the river where they have been illegally introduced in recent years. In the Nineteenth Century, however, a different ethic prevailed and in the case of smallmouth bass the long term results have been positive. Like the striped bass, the range of the smallmouth followed the expansion of the railroads and we fly rodders are better off for it. Although relatively slow growers (an eighteen inch river smallie is typically eight to twelve years old in this part of the country) the newly introduced bass spread rapidly through the Potomac River system, finding the habitat much to their liking.

The State of Maryland actually owns the entire width of the Potomac River but in the Harper’s Ferry area, license reciprocity is in effect and you can use a Maryland license along the Virginia and West Virginia shores. While drift boat fishing is popular in this area and some excellent local guides can show you a great day, I like wade fishing with a fly rod. The habitat around Harper’s Ferry is ideal for the foot bound angler, although finding parking areas can be difficult in the immediate area around town. The National Park Service has a shuttle into Harper’s Ferry for a few dollars, well worth it to see the old town. Another National Park, C&O Canal, borders much of the Maryland shore and a foot path follows the river allowing for good access to hikers and bicyclists. Be careful on the steep bank along the canal, especially if you’re sensitive to poison ivy. The summer months are best for the wading angler due to consistent lower flows although there are a lot of folks tubing and rafting the river below the town when the weather is hot. Most of the “rubber hatch” is off the river in the prime fishing hours of morning and evening and, in any case, the river is big enough that there’s room for everybody during mid-day. Fall is great too with beautiful scenery and cooler temps put the bass on the feed and they’re very aggressive.

Boulder and ledge rock dominates the Potomac and Shenandoah River channels where they cut through the narrow mountain passes creating an enticing diversity of riffles, pools, pocket water, and runs. I wouldn’t consider wading here without felt soles and a wading staff. The smallies are everywhere. During the summer season the wading fly fisherman can effectively target smallmouths virtually anywhere in the river with boulders or rocky cover being prime locations. Larger bass frequently hold in the cushion of water in front of larger boulders. A popper or deer hair surface fly will often get hammered in front of boulders or ledge rock running perpendicular to the current. Gear needn’t be complicated: in addition to the felt soles and wading staff, a chest pack or vest and 7WT fly rod with floating line does the trick. In the cooler months you’ll need chest waders. I like to keep a camera in a zip-loc bag.

rusty spinnerPotomac River bass usually aren’t selective and run-of-the-mill flies should cover the bases. Poppers in yellow and white are dependable and I like dark colored nymphs roughly an inch long with rubber legs for dead drifting under a large strike indicator. Crayfish patterns work well dead drifted too. Clouser Minnows and Woolly Buggers in various colors should round out your fly box.

While there have been reports in recent years of bass in the Potomac showing “intersex” abnormalities, likely from sewage effluent, I have never personally seen a sickly fish in the this river, an observation I can’t make for other rivers in the mid-Atlantic region. The bass are healthy and usually fat off the abundant forage which includes schools of shiners as well as crayfish, madtoms, juvenile catfish, and sunnies. The riffle areas have some very large hellgrammites. During evenings in summer there is also a white fly hatch that can bring up good numbers of fish too.

While a fly fishermen has a shot at trophy sized fish, most Potomac smallies average under a foot in length. The 2005 year class was particularly strong and these bass now comprise a large segment of the population. Recent years have seen very good spawning, especially in 2007, ensuring good bass fishing for the next decade. I consider a fifteen inch fly caught river smallmouth a trophy but bigger fish are there and savvy local bait fishermen take bass over 20 inches and four pounds around Harper’s Ferry every year. My hope is that Maryland will, sometime in the future, extend the catch and release regulations that currently exist upriver, further downstream to Harper’s Ferry to protect these large, very old spawners.

In recent years, another fish from the smallmouth’s original range has taken up residence in the Potomac around Harper’s Ferry: the muskellunge. While rarely targeted by fly fishermen, muskies are common in deeper pools and near feeder creeks and will take a streamer, especially during the colder months of the year. Although Maryland has stocked tiger muskies, how the pure strain fish got in the Potomac is something of a mystery but they are spawning and the river has become a first class musky river. Channel cats, walleyes, rock bass, and redbreast sunfish round out the fly fishermen’s quarry and can save those rare days when the bass aren’t cooperative.

rusty spinnerWith John Brown captured, many Southerners felt that the old crusader would meet a swift and ignominious hanging. Yet, with time, many Northerners came to see the man as the living embodiment of the struggle against slavery and his impending execution a martyrdom. Ralph Waldo Emerson described him in Christ like terms. Frederick Douglas compared his own anti-slavery activities to Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry as being a mere “candle” compared to the “burning sun.” Brown’s dignity and unapologetic commitment to his cause was unwavering during his captivity and when he was led to the gallows in nearby Charles Town on December 2nd he held his head high with pride, steadfast in his belief that he’d done God’s work. Church bells rang across the North that day – an ominous toll to Southerners that their differences with the rest of the country were irreconcilable.

Hours before his death, Brown issued his now legendary, and ultimately prescient, prediction that “the sins of this guilty land can never be purged but with blood.” A year later, Abraham Lincoln was elected. John Brown’s raid had been another step toward war, maybe the most important one in steeling the resolve of Americans to dispense with compromise and regard their neighbor as irredeemable. Had John Brown been a fisherman, he might have gone to Harper’s Ferry for a different pursuit.

Prominent Southerners attended the execution and when the deed was done the pro-slavery crowd broke up and folks headed home, unable to know the impending catastrophe the country would soon be embroiled in. They rode off in carriages and trains and as they passed the river, rumbling over the bridge in a cloud of dust, down in the river below, in the cushion of water in front of a giant boulder, was a smallmouth bass. All muscle, fin, and scale, the predator carefully scrutinized the surface and water column to his front, watching… and ready.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 06/14/2010 (1633 reads)
The creativity and talent of the members on the Paflyfish site always blows me away. Our own Skybay has created a wonderful visual representation of the Paflyfish 2010 Jamboree.

Many great scenes from the weekend of fishing, Penns Creek, Coburn area and our evenings. Skybay really worked hard as you can see from all the different scenes and time spent editing this together.

You must watch both parts to really capture the weekend and Skybay's talents.

2010 PaFlyFish Jamboree
May 21-23, 2010

Part I
Friday




2010 PaFlyFish Jamboree

Part II
Saturday and Sunday




Skybay thank you for your fantastic videos of the weekend.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 06/09/2010 (3318 reads)
dwight landisOne of my favorite fly-fishing books is back in print after several years. Trout Streams of Pennsylvania: An Angler's Guide, 3rd edition by Dwight Landis is must have book for anyone who spends any time fly-fishing in Pennsylvania. .

Landis provides an amazing amount of detail covering the most important streams across the state. Inspired by the streams and their surrounding landscapes, he wrote this 1st edition of this Pennsylvania fly-fishing guidebook in 1991 at a time when there were very few books of it's type.

His book was one of the inspirations for Paflyfish.com and I personally pack his book with me as I trek out on my fly-fishing jaunts.

The reprinted 3rd edition (no changes) can be found at many local fly shops and online Trout Streams of Pennsylvania: An Angler's Guide, Third Edition.

An interview with Dwight on Paflyfish can be found here.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 06/05/2010 (2692 reads)
The first week of June is one of my favorite weeks for fly-fishing. Warm weather and lots of good bugs make for fun days and better evenings. I especially enjoy of the late spinner falls that occur on some of the larger streams. My trips to Northcentral Pennsylvania have provided the best luck with some of these late evening spinner falls from what seems to be brown drake spinners. Being that these big spinners don't show up until about 9:00 they are not the easiest to identify.

This all started about 20 years ago with my friends Ron and Greg trying to outdo each other on these early June evenings up in Potter County. Naturally as the sun would start to set we would tie on our normal #16 rusty spinners and enjoy a casual evening of landing of few more fish that added to our counts for the day. We then would fall into the Wharton for a cold one and a replay of our great heroics.

rusty spinnerAfter some period of cold beverages and tall stories of big fish we found ourselves discussing our limitless opportunity for fish the next day. The smell of over confidence was only outdone by the stink of our cigars.

These knuckleheads may have taught me how to fly-fish, but at 11:30 at night at the Wharton I was sure I could even out fish Lefty Kreh with one hand tied behind my back. We left that evening with a new challenge for the next days fishing derby. If I wanted to make sure Frick and Frack were going to be buying the cold ones the next night I was going to have to get up early and show them how to get it done.

The early morning plans got superseded by a very important resting and planning session until about 10:00 am. Well it was a marathon not a sprint right? The good news was those two seemed like they were planning as well from the sound of sawing wood rattling through the camp. I quickly dashed down to the stream and geared up for the battle of Fort First Fork.

Greg must have heard me leave because I saw him almost pull a surprise flank attack on me from down stream shortly after I got into the water. He wasted no time in landing a nice brown pretty quickly. Greg has a good methodical approach to fly-fishing and always came up with fish. I knew I had to keep an eye on him, but more so on Ron.

Faintly it sounded like Ron was still at camp even though he was about a mile away. Big snorer Ron was, could strip the paint off a camp wall without lifting a scraper. But soon I looked up on the road and Ron was preparing his morning assault with much more ernest then the guy I thought was prepping half of the camps in Potter county for a fresh coat of paint one hour ago.

The battle was on and went well for most of the mid-day. A fish here and there with pretty steady activity. I grew a bit weary after about one o'clock and needed to reload on some supplies. I was deep into fishing with #22 griffith's gnat for a couple of hours and my head was about to explode.

Ron was already at the truck and had a can of cold provisions in his hand. Ron bellowed, "So how's it going Dave?" I knew right away I was in trouble and that he was catching fish by the confidence in his voice. I was relieved to find out that Ron was only a few a head of me. Greg strolled up and shared a similar number. I was still in trouble because it always seemed that Ron could look at a fish and through some sort of Jedi mind trick could have a fish on the end of his line in no time.

I needed to get creative!

We moved backed to base camp for some food and to reload for the night assault. Ron quickly went back to his early morning job of stripping paint. I figured if I was going to pull this off I needed an ally in this fight. I had an idea, but not being much of a competent fly tier I asked Greg to help with some thoughts for the late night assault on the water.

The three of us always marveled at the night spinner falls this time of June and it was reported that the big fish always came out at night. Greg and I contemplated the idea of tying up some really big rusty brown spinners. How big? Well how big were those spinners we say last night and what is the biggest hook you have? Greg proceeded tied up some of our now #8 "B-52" rusty brown spinners. The bigger the better right!

We all came back for a final attack of the day and found a nice sulphur hatch to keep us busy for most of the evening. All the while preparing to launch our surprise as dusk set in. The large spinners were high in the air and with the cool night air they were preparing to make their landing.

Ron was still ahead on the fish count, but not by much as he tied on his regular rusty spinner for the last round of the evening. So Greg and I launched our "B-52's" onto the water. To our amazement the damn things caught fish. We could easily toss them around and quickly slap them over top of any rising fish. Not a lot of talent needed, but the action was fast. Ron was catching fish, but soon gave up because he cold not see his fly or to make sure we had a seat at the Wharton. Probably the latter.

Greg and I carried on for quite some time not by sight, but by sound. It was kind of surprising how successfully you could get setting the hook with just the simple splash of a trout attacking a fly. We ended up staying out quite a bit later as we launched our B-52's across the water that night. I know we ended up picking up over dozen fish each that and found Ron ready with our beers as we slogged in off the stream. Ron knew we had quite a night out there and earned our cold can trophies.

I may have won the battle that day, but Ron quickly clued into our clever little trick and waved his Jedi hand over the water the rest of the week and won the war. Always a lot of fun and look forward to my next time out for some light night big spinner action.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/27/2010 (1736 reads)
The Paflyfish Jamboree 2010 was another terrific gathering of over 75 anglers with flyswaps, guest speakers, live music and the fishing the Green Drakes on Penns Creek. Not only the expected Pennsylvanians, but members from Ohio and Maryland made it up for the weekend. A wonderful time for many to to fish and reconnect with friends.

Kudos to GulfGreyhound who made the longest trip of the weekend traveling up from Florida.

Green DrakePenns Creek provided it's usual wonderment and quandary for any angler. The evening fireworks on the creek seemed to start after 8:00 with several varieties of sulphurs, caddis and the Green Drakes taking center stage. Several different Green Drake hatches occurred during the days and evenings depending where you were at on Penns over the weekend. The size and number of these mayflies is always astonishing as the hatches exploded across the water. The creek and side roads were busy with people from all over the country checking out the late May spectacle.

Taking advantage of the great regional waters many folks took side trips to Spring Creek, Little Juniata, Fishing Creek and variety of local wild trout streams. General nymphing was popular during the day and sulphur hatches hit the streams with great predicability in the evening.

Friday night Jonas from the Feathered Hook Fly Shop spoke to the members about local fishing and hatches for the weekend. The next morning PaulG helped get the coffee going for the crew before everyone took off the day.

Dave wolfThe weather turned on Saturday afternoon with rain slowing building into the evening. Everyone returned from the streams on that night to start off the evening with entertainment from Shaky and his band.

Dave Wolf author of a Flyfisher's Guide to Pennsylvania joined the crew for the evening. Dave provided an delightful and entertaining conversation about flyfishing topics. He spent time reviewing tales of Charlie Fox, Charles Wetzel and the back story of his book. I have always been a big fan of Dave and was very pleased to have finally met him.

Fishidiot generously donated another one of his wonderful paintings for the raffle which was won by NickyBoy a new member on the site. Allen Fly Fishing and Tenkara USA provided gear to demo and raffle for the weekend. Winners of the gear included:
Pcray1231- Tenkara USA Fly Rod
Groove790 - AAllen Fly Fishing Vest
Redsun - Allen Fly Fishing Reel
Maurice - Allen Fly Fishing Vest

paflyfish
I want to thank the mods on the site Jack, Maurice, Afish and Fishidiot for putting together another fantastic Paflyfish Jamboree.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/18/2010 (3171 reads)
"Numnutz," I figure that is what my dog, Bogey, is saying whenever she sees me rushing around packing for a trip. Lying there wagging her tail she somehow knows I will forget something.

fly fishing fliesSo as I gear up for the Paflyfish Jamboree this weekend I have decided to take stock in what I really need to bring on my fly-fishing trips.  Normally as I head out on a fishing weekend it looks like I am loaded up and heading out on some a family vacation to Florida. You know the trip were the station wagon is stuff with crap and you all you have to eat is warm chicken and mayo sandwiches as you looked longingly at South of the Border in SC because your parents would never stop.  My wife won't let me stop now as any an adult, but I'm not bitter.

Lately I haven gotten lazy packing for my trips.  I create some lame-ass list that is scribbled on an envelope and I can't even read the damn thing after 30 minutes because it was written in such haste.  My mental state is weakened by a litany of sideline questions from my family. I soon find a new sense of urgency to quickly escape before broken door handles and printer problems set me back even further.  I must leave as it would be wrong of me to impeded what could be wonderful lessons in self-reliance for my family.

Between my weakened mental state and crappy notes I toss anything that resembles my fly-fishing gear into the truck.  Thirty minutes into my trip I remember the first thing I forgot and then in my head I hear Bogey chuckling,"numnutz."  

So I am resolved to make a decent list that I can take with me on all my trips and not have my dog laugh at me or so I think.

Gear
Rods, Reel, boots, waders, hat, wading belt, gravel guards, and vest/chestpack

Gear in my chestpack:
Flies (seasonal), tippet, extra leader, strike indicator, split shot, thermometer, polarizing sun glasses, forceps, nippers, Gink floatant, Gore tex rain jacket, headlamp, knife, granola bar, insect repellent, 2x glasses, fishing license, TP in ziplock bag, sunblock and water-proof camera

Things I keep in the my car:
Maps, GPS, cooler with cold beer and food, extra flies, rod carrier, folding chair, iPod player, fleece jacket, wool socks, extra rod, extra reel, change of cloths, fly-fishing books from Landis and Meck.

Some options: 
cigars (keep even more bugs away), matches, wading staff and net

Fly-fishing Packing List PDF

_
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/10/2010 (1670 reads)
fly fishing fliesI am always blown away by the talent that exists within the members of the Paflyfish community. This years fly swap was no exception. Yet again all those that participated did a masterful job in with their flies. Everyone was kind enough to share their talents with me and always thrilled when my flies arrive. Bruno has lead the fly swap over the last few seasons.

This years swap had a warm water theme and included streamers, bass surface bugs, grubs and many more exciting ties that I look forward to trying out this year.

Members that participated included: fredrockgrizzly, jerseygeorge, skiltonian, osprey, David, Goodfortune, shipnfish2006. MidasMulligan, Fredrick, Flipinfly, salvelinusfontinalis, BelAirSteve, flyfishermanj, FrequentTyer, RCHILDS, Bruno and HuntinFool.

Guys I really appreciate your efforts. A special thanks to Bruno for organizing this years fly swap again.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/06/2010 (3491 reads)
Adam Mizrahi caught my attention with a very intriguing fly-fishing video he put together on one of his recent trips to the Casselman River. The Casselman is beautiful trout stream that runs from Western Maryland into Pennsylvania that I have enjoyed some really nice spring caddis hatches. The five minute video really captures the fun and mood of the day Adam and his crew made their run out to Western Maryland.

Digging a little deeper I found that Adam has a YouTube site with a small collection of fly-fishing videos from some other trips he has taken. His creative edits and soundtracks add a light surreal tone to his video. Some of the other regional streams he has waded include the Gunpowder, Morgan Run and the Conewago.



When I caught up with Adam I was expecting to hear about some big production company and equipment that he has access to create his videos. I was blown away when he explained this was all done with just a couple of entry level $200 video cameras and the software program iMovie that came with his Macintosh. Really pretty remarkable stuff for a guy that when not taking time to fly-fish and shoot video on a Flip Mino runs a home remodeling business. Self taught, Adam really captures, edits and presents the essence of his days out on the stream.

In addition to these videos, he hopes to get something together so he can enter into the Annual Drake Flyfishing Video Awards.

You can catch up with Adam and see more of his videos on his YouTube site.

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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/02/2010 (3185 reads)
Lewis and Clark explored the lands acquired in the Louisiana Purchase starting in 1804. William Clark hand mapped their journey and his base map provided much of the information for the western expansion that took place during the nineteenth century.

Having concentrated my studies in digital cartography during college, Google Maps is one of my first bookmarks on my menu bar and enjoy how easy it is creating my own maps. Google Maps is an wonderful base map for me to plan vacations, photography spots and ventures in fly-fishing. It is very easy to create custom map points that allow you to add notes, links, pictures and more.

I have my own private fly-fishing map with all my fishing spots, camps, restaurants and points of interest related to fly fishing. I keep records of all the streams I like with notes on where to park, GPS locations and sections I like to frequent. This is a big time saver and keeps my fishing locations journaled in one location. I keep a wish list of streams I have yet to visit and change those map points once I finally hit those streams.
google maps

I also use this map to plan all my trips. I can figure out distances, times, food stops and best directions based on a few streams I might try and hit. Google driving directions can be pulled up then emailed or printed before I leave.

It is amazing to me what can be done with these maps and how simple it is to mange the information once you get started .

To get going log into Google and then over at Google Maps you will find a link to My Maps in the upper left hand corner below Google Maps Search. Once selected you can browse other maps or get started by creating your own. As you name you map, three new buttons appear in your new map and then you can begin by adding new map points with the middle blue icon.

Google provides several different map points that you can change or add your own. Once you select a new map point it can be moved around and positioned anywhere on your map. There are several types of text you can add in the description. Very simple and straight forward to play around with as you get started. Save and done buttons help make sure you keep the locations you are creating.

The maps are always there as you log back into Google Maps. They can be modified, printed, emailed and embedded into websites. Maps can be shared with others and even worked on together. The only real downside is you need to be connected to the Internet to get access. Newer smart phones and making it easier to get around this issue.

Your next fly-fishing trip does not have to be a Lewis and Clark expedition, but with Google Maps it will make that trip to the Yellowstone River that much easier.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 04/18/2010 (3538 reads)
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) has been stocking fingerling rainbow and brown trout throughout the Lehigh River for a few years now. In the spring of 2009 the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission initiated a study to determine the contribution of hatchery fingerling trout stocking to angler catch in at the Francis E Walter outflow to confluence Sandy Run and the confluence Sandy Run to relic dam above Palmerton of the Lehigh River. They are now entering a phase where they will try to assess the viability of the program. Over the past year we have seen some amazing growth rate for fingerling trout, rainbows in particular, and we are hopeful that the PFBC will find that the trout that they have been stocking will have a positive influence on the fishery.

trout finYour help is needed, in addition to survey boxes located at many popular fishing spots along the river we have created an online reporting system located here.

If you catch any trout while fishing the Lehigh River, please take the time to report your catch and also pay attention for fin clips while fishing as these will help to assess if/when the fish may have been stocked by the PFBC or other organizations such as the LRSA.

Snail mail cards are located at the aforementioned boxes located at some of the more popular fishing locations and angler log books can be downloaded from the PFBC PDF here.

Thanks to Tim Skoraszewski and Paul Kanaskie at Rivers Outdoor Adventures and all the members of the Lehigh Coldwater Fishery Alliance and Lehigh River Stocking Association for their conservation efforts on the Lehigh River.
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