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Update from the PFBC Big Spring Meeting

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 11/18/2013 (4022 reads)

By Brian McGeehan at Montana Angler Fly Fishing

As the 2013 season winds down many of us put our fishing ambitions on pause until the thaw arrives in spring. For those folks that enjoy blending their travels with their favorite pasting, fall is also a great time to start planning a destination fishing trip for 2014. When Dave Kile asked me to put together a post for planning a Western fly fishing trip I realized it was a pretty broad task so I decided to limit the advice to my home state of Montana (although a lot of these tips can apply to other states as well). Since planning a trip where you are fishing unguided is very different than going with an outfitter part 1 focused on DIY anglers. I make my living helping anglers plan their Montana fishing trips so hopefully this post won’t come across as too much of a sales pitch, but rather a useful guide for planning a guided fishing adventure to the big sky state. Montana is a huge state and there is also a much larger diversity of types of rivers and streams than encountered in the East so teaming up with an experienced outfitter can definitely streamline your trip. Quality Montana fly fishing lodges and outfitters can offer several advantages to out of state anglers: local river knowledge and timing, float fishing access for the larger rivers, private access on ranches and assistance with lodging.

Montana Fly Fishing
Montana Fly Fishing


Most of the folks that email and call us about a trip to Montana don’t know where to begin. The first thing we try to do when someone approaches us bout a possible trip to Montana is to determine what type of trip they are looking for. I generally start by asking about fishing priorities, budget, trip duration, flexibility in dates, lodging preferences, and experience level. The dream trip for one angler can be a frustrating disaster for another so we invest a lot of time into communicating with future clients to try to come up with the best possible plan that will meet all of their expectations. Here are some tips that can help you narrow down your selections of guides and lodges and ensure that the trip you set up has the best chance of meeting your goals and being a success.

Be as specific as you can about your trip constraints
Before you begin surfing the web or contacting different outfitters and lodges take some time to think about your budget, trip length and how much flexibility you have in the time of year you come. For trip duration we think of trips in terms of number of nights and days – for example 6 nights and 5 days. It is also helpful to know if every day is spent with a guide or if some days will be either self guided or left open for other activities such as sight seeing. Even though most lodge trips are presented as packages – they can almost always be customized to modify the number of fishing days. Time of year is also important – some locations are outstanding in spring and fall but are too warm in mid summer and others are best fished in mid summer. Finally, have a rough number of your target budget excluding airfare. Remember that most trips will have some extras that are not included in the package price. These may include shuttles, guide gratuities, meals, alcohol, etc. When communicating with lodges and outfitters make sure to have them provide an estimate of both the costs paid before the trip (most guides and outfitters require full payment before arrival).

Arrange your fishing priorities
Most outfitters in Montana operate on multiple rivers and streams. Time of year also has a great impact on fishing conditions. One of the most important aspects of a successful trip with a guide is to determine what your goals are when fishing. Examples include lots of action, big fish, dry fly fishing, variety in fishing condition, all float fishing, all wade fishing, etc. There is so much variety in the fishing in that it is very helpful for an outfitter to know what you are hoping to achieve on your days on the water. For example mid June can be a great time to flat out catch lots of fish but in some areas the dry fly fishing is not great (except for the spring creeks) because of the higher flows but the nymphing and streamer fishing can be epic. Late summer and early fall can produce great dry fly fishing but it is more technical since flows are lower than early summer so it might be a terrific time for an experience angler but more challenging for a beginner.

Montana Fly Fishing
Guided Montana Fly Fishing

Select a time of year
This is a difficult topic and could really take up an entire post. Different fisheries perform better at different times of the year and how you prefer to fish also factors into the equation. Here is a down and dirty guide to different time windows:
April to Mid May – This is an incredible time for both beginners and expert anglers. There are lots of early season hatches and potential for explosive dry fly fishing. Catch rates tend to be high nymphing as well. The only caveat is that weather and river flows are very dynamic and sometimes can spoil dry fly fishing and you always need to be prepared for a late season “winter” weather event (usually still fishable if you are prepared for weather).

Mid May to mid June – Tailwaters below dams like the Bighorn, Missouri and Beaverhed are popular then and besides these fisheries most out of state anglers avoid the “run off” season. We have come to really love this window and I would make a strong argument that it might actually be the best window for high catch rates and very few anglers as long as you avoid the tailwaters. The Missoula area and Northern Montana are tough during run off with few options but the area Southwest of Montana from the Bighole to the Yellowstone Valley can be amazing with a mix of lesser known tailwaters, private ranches and spring creeks. The only catch is this is not the best time to dry fly fish – but if you want lots of action and big fish it is outstanding.

Mid June to Mid July – This is another amazing time to fish and arguably the best for the most diversity. The tailwaters are still fishing well, spring creeks are at their best with the PMD hatch and the tailwaters are clearing producing great action. This is another great time to catch aquatic hatches like PMDs, Caddis, Salmonflies, Golden Stones and Yellow Sallies (to name a few). This is also the beginning of the busy season but there are still a lot of “off the beaten path” locations that are either permitted, private or just tough spots to get to that can yield amazing fishing with few other anglers but expect to see other boats on some of the famous blue ribbon rivers you see in the books (although not really crowded by Eastern standards with a handful of exceptions). All in all this is very safe window to plan a trip with good weather and great fishing.

Mid July to Early August – Although trout on the big public rivers have seen some flies, this is still a great time to fish and also a good time to target if you really want to throw dries. Mid June to Early July can still have pretty heavy flows if it is a big snow year and you might need to toss big ugly nymphs (with exceptions like spring creeks) on those years but even on a big water year dry fly fishing is always an option by mid July. This is also a great time to wade fish smaller ranch streams and the backcountry.

August – The big blue ribbon rivers on most years start to get tougher in August – fish have just seen a lot of flies by then. They can still be good and shouldn’t be discounted but it isn’t always peak catch rates then. This is a great time to target back country streams, private ranch waters and any other areas that see less pressure. Hopper fishing is at its peak in the late summer but you just have to work harder to get away from more popular floats. When planning a trip in August definitely make sure to ask the outfitter what the options are and how much pressure are on these rivers then. If they are just planning on fishing big public waters with you every day you might ask about other options.

September – Fishing pressure drops dramatically once kids go back to school in late August. September weather is ideal and hopper fishing is still very good. Several rivers like the Lower Madison, Lower Gallatin, Upper Missouri, Jefferson and a few others that were too warm to fish successfully in the mid summer months (they are lower elevation) wake back up to produce some very good fishing to trout that haven’t seen flies in several months. Other rivers also pick back up as soon as the pressure drops off and fishing can be really good. The flows are now at base line so the fishing is a little more technical and the trout are a touch spookier so having at least some fishing experience is more important than spring and early summer.

October – This is a favorite time for our guides. Pressure is almost non existent on most waters and the fishing really gets good. Dry fly fishing can be outstanding on cloudy days over the fall baetis hatch both on big rivers and spring creeks. Huge brown trout move out of lakes and into the rivers and streams that feed them and this is probably the best time of year to catch trophy fish over 23”. Weather is generally dry and very nice in October but you do have to be prepared for the possibility of an early cold front that can push temps down.

Fly Fishing Madison River
Fly Fishing on the Madison River

Decide what type of lodging you want
Once we decide the best time of year for our guests based on fishing priorities and their available windows for a vacation we spend a lot of time reviewing lodging options with folks. Most days you are only on the water for about 8 hours or so which leaves a lot of time spent at your accommodations so planning where you will stay is a big part of your vacation.
Fishing Lodges – Lodges typically offer an all inclusive or mostly inclusive package that includes meals and rooms with a lot of character in beautiful locations along rivers. Lodges are also the most expensive way to go but many folks enjoy the idea of “fish, eat, relax”. Not all lodges are the same so you need to make sure you find the right match. Some lodges aren’t truly “fishing lodges” even if they market themselves that way so ask if all of the guests are fisherman. If you are planning a mixed trip with other activities like riding horses or touring Yellowstone a general lodge might be just right but if you are fishing every day I think it is nice to go to a lodge where all of the other guests are anglers. Also ask about the fishing variety – do you fish just one river or a variety. Finally ask about the “extras” – often shuttles, taxes, lodge gratuities, staff gratuities and sometimes alcohol can all be extra but most lodge managers can give you an estimate of those.

Hotels – Usually you can access the same fisheries from a hotel that you can from a lodge. If you have a tight budget it is hard to beat a hotel package. Hotels also give you some freedom to experience local towns and go out to different restaurants in the evening.

Vacation Rentals – There are lots of nice vacation homes and cabins that can be rented so this can be a great option if you like to prepare your own meals. Some of the nicest rentals go very early so plan to book as soon as you can (early winter at the latest) – especially if you have a big group and need a larger house.

Camping – A few outfitters offer river camping trips and there are also several outfitters that offer backcountry pack trips. The guides on river camping trips are usually the same guides that you would get on day trips – highly professional and experienced. On river camping trips your camp is moved each day while you fish and you roll into camp with everything set up and dinner already cooking. On pack trips make sure to ask about the “fishing experience” of the guides. Many pack outfitters higher younger guides and the pay is much, much less than river guides that are usually career guides. Many back country guides are young guys in their early 20s that are amazing with horses but their idea of guiding is pointing and saying “there are fish in that crick”. If you are an accomplished angler you probably don’t need to much on stream coaching but if you have some novices in your group make sure you carefully select an outfitter that has “real” fishing guides.

Fly Fishing Madison River


Book early
The quality of your guide can make a huge difference in your enjoyment level of your trip. Top guides often book their return clients a year in advance and by early winter are mostly booked for the season. There are always younger and less experienced guides open even a week in advance but to get the crème de la crème you should book as soon as you can nail down dates. Fall is a great time to plan and usually there are still good guides and lodge options even into February but for peak season dates things go very fast.

This is part 2 in the Brain's post Where to Fly Fish in Montana? Part one - A DIY Trip Guide can be found here.

Brian McGeehan is a Pennsylvania native and has been guiding Western rivers in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado for 19 seasons. He is a licensed Montana outfitter and owner of Montana Angler Fly Fishing based in Bozeman, MT.








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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 11/12/2013 (949 reads)
I was anxious to squeeze a little more fly fishing this fall and pleaded with Maurice to give up on his leaf raking plans to join me. Both our teams in the NFL have been doing pretty poorly, so giving up honey-do's and another anticipated butt-kicking was an easy call.

Fall Fly Fishing
Fall Fly Fishing

We met up at one of our secret favorite dirty fly fishing streams in York County and made our way upstream about mid-morning. The stream was stocked last month and even in the flat water along the banks there we a few trout hanging about. A large amount of rain last month also drove a good conversation about where fish go during a flood. We both agreed it all depends of they were wild or if they were recently stock.

The bright sun was a helpful in raising the air temps up to about 57 degrees. The water was very low and gin clear at 44 degrees.

Maurice quickly uncovered a pod of trout between a stretch of rocks about 20 feet long. Finding the trout and quietly moving into position when the water is so low and clear is critical.

After a very serious discussion on red hots, weenies, bead heads, zebra midges and walt's worms we snuck in fairly close. The wind helped reduce the surface visibility and allowed us to get in without spooking the trout. One of the few times a little bit wind is helpful when you are fly fishing.

Rainbow Trout
Something from the PFBC

Maurice then did his usual thing of catching fish and I did mine thing of taking photos of him catching fish.

We made are way upstream taking our time to cautiously spot the trout and quietly approach holes along the way. Most of the trout we saw were sitting back a few feet from the rocks, not moving too much, but easily skittish if we moved in too quickly even from about 25' away. Polarized lenses were a must and even then a trained eye was helpful spotting the trout.

Wild Trout
Something a little wild

With the water being so cold and the trout were hanging on the bottom, it was really necessary to get our flies down deep. We are kept in our strike indicators about 5'- 8' off the flies with a little bit a split shot. Even in what seemed like very low water conditions many of the holes were still very deep.

Fly Fishing
Sneak Attack

We even hooked into a couple of trout at a few spots that I normally would have overlooked. Maurice is always really good about reminding me of the things that are right in front of me.

At this point in the season you never know how many days you have left to fly fish. Been a bit of challenging year for me personally, so getting some time on the water with Maurice was very much appreciated especially when he remembered to bring the beer when we got back to the trucks.








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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 11/06/2013 (3121 reads)

By Brian McGeehan

As a Montana fly fishing outfitter – the majority of my time from November through April is spent helping our guests plan trips for the following season. Montana is a very large target with a huge variety of fisheries so it can be a daunting challenge to folks visiting for the first time. When Dave Kile asked me to put together a guide for planning a trip our way I decided to break it into two parts do to the breadth and diversity of what Montana has to offer and what different people want out of their trip.

One of the aspects of trip planning in the Big Sky state is that we have such a huge variety of different rivers, streams, still waters and spring creeks. Each type of fishery has different peak seasons, different character and different tactics that are best used. This post will focus on anglers that want to do the majority of their fishing unguided. Montana is arguably the best state in the west for planning a DIY trip for several reasons. Thanks to the stream access law, anglers in Montana have access to private land along streams and rivers. This means that as long as an angler gets to the river corridor from a bridge or other public access point you can fish on private property without trespassing. Secondly, we have a lot of public land in Montana and surrounding areas like Yellowstone Park so finding water to access legally is pretty easy. Finally, the huge variety of fisheries means that there are a lot of smaller waters that are ideal for wade fishing.

Madison River, Montana
Madison River, Montana


Where to fish?
Pick up any coffee table fly fishing book that showcases famous waters around the world and Montana rivers will be heavily represented. Anglers from around the world are familiar with the Yellowstone, Madison, Missouri, Bighorn, Beaverhead, Gallatin and many others. Where do you begin if you are planning on fishing on your own? DIY anglers need to be cautious about planning their trips around the most famous rivers which are generally also the largest. While the Yellowstone is one of my all time favorite rivers in the world – it is also a huge fishery that is very difficult to wade in most stretches of the river. Even smaller rivers like the Beaverhead can prove frustrating since it is a meadow style river and at higher flows is next to impossible to wade fish without a boat to hop from run to run (but at lower flows is manageable). Some large rivers like the Madison have sections that are wading friendly and other sections that are very challenging to read without prior river knowledge. Other fisheries are very hard to access without permission from ranchers and offer very little private access. Although this is not an exhaustive list, here are a few locations that an angler fishing without a guide should consider. They all offer good public access and manageable wade fishing.

Bighorn River
The Bighorn is a very large river, but at lower flows (spring and late summer) there can be very good wade fishing. This is also a very easy river to float and if you plan in advance you can rent a drift boat for a reasonable price. The Bighorn has astronomical fish counts and the trout are big – most in the 17-19” class. The downside is that it is also relatively crowded (at least by Montana standards) since most of the fishing is done in the section just below the dam at Fort Smith.

Gallatin River
The Gallatin is a small mountain freestone river with high trout counts. It starts just inside of Yellowstone Park and flows for about 30 miles through the Gallatin Canyon which is mostly public forest service land with easy road access. Fishing from boats is not permitted and the river is very easy to “read”. There are numerous pull offs along the canyon section and the fishing isn’t very technical. Most of the trout are less than 15” but the population is very healthy. The only time that wading is difficult is during the run off period in late May and June.

Rock Creek
Rock Creek is located about 45 minutes from Missoula and is similar in size to the Gallatin. Like the Gallatin there is ample National Forest land with public access. Trout are medium sized but the river is beautiful and finding public water is not a problem.


Rock Creek Montana
Rock Creek


Ruby River
The Ruby River near Sheridan is a small mountain stream that turns in to a medium sized meadow river. The Ruby in the National Forest offers lots of public access for smaller trout. Below the reservoir it enters ranch country and the only access is from bridges and a few state owned parcels but fishing can be good for decent sized trout at the lower access areas.

Upper Bitterroot
The Upper Bitterroot and its tributaries offer good public access and a some National Forest fishing but avoid run off.

Upper Madison River
The legendary Madison River has some locations that are best floated but there are a few areas that attract out of state wade anglers. The first is the section between Hebgen and Quake Lake – this is an especially good fishery in the spring and fall. The next section is the wade only area from Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge with good access at Reynolds Pass and Three Dollar Bridge. Finally there is an access point to another wade only area called the Channels at Valley Garden. The Channels can be tough to get around, however, do to dense willow stands along the banks. The Madison from Lyons Bridge to Ennis and then again from Ennis Lake to Three Forks can be non descript and difficult to read and fish without a boat.

Backcountry Streams and Lakes
For those that like to backpack – there can be terrific alpine lake fishing in remote wilderness areas. The most expansive area for hiking and fishing is the Beartooth Plateau near Red Lodge that offers thousands of mountain lakes and a few good streams. Other smaller ranges also offer good fishing for the adventurous angler. Most alpine lakes are stocked periodically by air but all streams and rivers in Montana are wild trout by law.


Montana Backcountry
Montana Backcountry Stream



Yellowstone National Park
Although only a small portion of Yellowstone Park is in Montana, the Big Sky state is the main entrance to the park at locations like West Yellowstone, Gardiner and Cook City. Yellowstone is wade fishing only by regulation and offers lots of great streams and rivers. Generally spring and fall fishing is best in the West and South side of the Park and summer fishing is best in the Northeast section (with numerous exceptions). Although there is ample road access – anglers that are willing to hike will be rewarded with lightly pressured trout.

Livingston Spring Creeks
The legendary spring creeks near Livingston include DePuy, Nelson and Armstrong. These are on private ranches and require advanced reservations. Rod fees are $100 in peak season and $75 in shoulder seasons. These technical waters are easy to wade and have thick hatches. They are similar to Pennsylvania limestone streams in many ways. Plan on booking rods a year in advance (or more) for dates in mid June to July for the PMD hatch. DePuy has the most rods per day and is the last to fill up. You need to reserve a year in advance or more for Armstrong or Nelson for mid summer dates.

When to Come
This is one of the most commonly asked questions that we receive from anglers planning trips to Montana. If you are planning on fishing on your own it is probably a good idea to avoid run off when the snowpack is bringing levels up. This is a great time to book a guided trip but fishing on your own is much tougher in late May and mid June if you don’t have a boat and don’t have intimate knowledge of the rivers or access to private water. DIY anglers can have great luck in the spring before run off in late April to Mid May. Another nice window is just after runoff in late June and early July. Mid August is tougher on the public waters because the fish have seen a lot of flies but is a great time to target the back country if you like to hike. Late September and October is also great for fishing on your own since the waters are lower and you can fish some of the public waters in Yellowstone and outside the park for fall run browns.

Brian McGeehan is a Pennsylvania native and has been guiding Western rivers in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado for 19 seasons. He is a licensed Montana outfitter and owner of Montana Angler Fly Fishing based in Bozeman, MT. Brian will follow up with some more advice in a follow up post “Part 2: Planning a Guided Fishing Trip to Montana”. Here is a quick map to some of the streams.






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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 10/30/2013 (1804 reads)
One of the first useful websites I found for anglers on the Internet was the USGS Water Data site. The website provides real-time streamflow conditions for over 9,000 streams and rivers across the country. Detailed information about stream discharge levels and water gage level heights are provided. The USGS has just started a beta (early release) version on the web for mobile users to get easier access to the data.

USGS Mobile Water Data

The desktop version has always been an incredibly useful trip planning tool for me before I headed out on fly fishing trips. Nothing worse than driving flippin four hours to that great mountain stream for the weekend only to find out that it blown out along with ten surrounding counties that looked like a hurricane just rolled thought the region. I use this almost every time I go fly fishing and have changed my plans by hundreds of miles based on the reliable data from this web site. Sometime those plans involve me just driving to a closer bar, but it works.

The new mobile site is pretty straight-forward to work with and can be found here: m.waterdata.usgs.gov. No need to install any app, just point your browser to the url and you are good to go. Right away it feels like it was designed to be navigated with you just the use of your index finger.

That is good because the other designed point for the site is for it to work with newer smart phones. A data connection and browser on your iPhone or Android based phone is really all you need. Works with my iPads and other tablets as well. The USGS does mention that it may not older devices or older browsers.

I found the mobile site is very responsive and with very detailed terrain map as the base. The graphs show a seven day view at the gauging station, which can show if the water is going up, down or staying the same. Knowledge of the stream discharge levels does help indicate if the stream is high or low.

Hope in future updates they provide some access to selective date ranges of the stream gauges like in the desktop version. Right now they are only fixed on the last seven days.

Nice new update from the USGS! The full USGS Water Data for your desktop computer can be found here.






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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 10/23/2013 (962 reads)
This is the second half of the Big Spring Update and PFBC Meeting - here is the beginning Part 1

Stream Improvements in Section 2

I was really taken back by how good the project looked on Section 2 a few weeks ago. Much of this got rolling in the fall of 2012 when the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) outlined the agency’s habitat management plan for Big Spring Creek with Section 2. The project was finished late summer of 2013 as planned and supported by funds from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

Big Spring Creek


The plan was to improve 2000 feet of habitat conditions in Big Spring Creek that would favor wild brook trout. To accomplish this the project focussed on narrowing the stream bed in addition to reducing: the rate at which the creek’s waters warm as they flow downstream, the amount of water surface area exposed to solar radiation and late-afternoon dissolved oxygen. Effort was taken to include specific gravel in the steam bed that would favor the wild brook trout during the spawn.

Upon visiting Section 2 of the creek it appeared much of the last of work had recently been completed in September. Clear evidence of the stream narrowing could be seen along the creek and the stream was noticeably deeper. Some areas it appeared as if over 20 feet of stream bed was reclaimed. Grass seed and tree saplings were planted along all the new habitat areas of the stream banks.

Big Spring Watershed Association


The efforts on the project looked great. It had only been a few weeks, but already the ground netting was keeping in the soil and grass was growing. This is the same effort put in to Section 1 back in 2010 with solid results along the stream.

While I was there I meet up with several members of the Big Spring Watershed Association (BSWA) who had come out to inspect the progress of the project as well. The members of the Big Spring Watershed Association are biologists, naturalist, local citizens and anglers who all are very anxious of the success of Big Spring Creek. The small group there were all in agreement with success of Section 2 up to that point.


Big Spring Creek Public Workgroup Meeting

The last PFBC Big Spring meeting must have been a real doozy because the PFBC was really prepared to deal with this meeting in a very civil and constructive manner. I give them a lot of credit for coming back out to take on the topic and have a good plan to keep the meeting well organized. Probably the only thing crazier than a public meeting on fly fishing is having a Internet forum on the topic. But, who would be stupid enough to do that?

Dave Miko


Dave Miko, Chief of Fisheries Management, lead the workshop for the PFBC. The front end of the workshop was an update by the PFBC that reviewed the progress of Section 1 and Section 2 of the projects.

Chief Miko did a nice job explaining the forum for the workshop, expectations and goals before the 40+ participants broke into four separate groups to battle it out discuss things. Attendance was a mix of anglers, citizens, members of TU and BSWA. Once into the groups, members from the PFBC led walked thru a series of questions about the progress to date, issues and future goals.

Big Spring Creek


A lot of solid information was shared and everyone had an equal opportunity to express their opinions, concerns and suggestions going forward. I noticed the one group was a little more well behaved with the armed WCO sitting nearby...kidding. Certainly a lot of strong and divergent opinions were shared on how the stream should be managed. Some people wanted to completely remove all the rainbow trout and others to just leave things as they are...some a little heated, but nothing that wasn't in line.

No real outcomes was finalized as the workshop was intended to gather feedback from the public and share it with the commissioners. With so many different views the public is going to all have to live with some compromises, which seems a little difficult for a lot of people everywhere lately.

Again, hats off to Dave Miko and team for coming up with a constructive format to handle the topic!






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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 10/07/2013 (881 reads)
Part 1

I met up with Dave Weaver last Monday to check on the progress of the PFBC Phase 2 stream enhancements for Big Spring Creek in Newville, PA and to attend the PFBC meeting that evening. It was a pleasant afternoon and I enjoyed a little stream time as well around the middle fly fishing section where the project was recently completed. These projects on Big Spring have been a significant effort for many for the last several years. A lot of progress has been made in stream enhancements for wild trout within this watershed, but not without some controversy along the way.

Background
Big Spring is a wonderful stretch of limestone fed water located in Cumberland County. There has always been a lot of attention given to the stream due to its productivity as a Class A brook trout stream, beautiful environment and rich history. The PFBC owns a good stretch on both sides of the stream, which gives them unique opportunity to manage Big Spring unlike other waters across the state.

Big Spring CreekThe stream is also tied up in a lot of controversy on how to manage the trout and waterway between anglers, landowners, scientists, guides, the Big Spring Watershed Association, Trout Unlimited, PFBC and others. Much of the issue stems from the fact that Big Spring is a highly productive limestone brook trout stream, something that there isn’t a lot of left in the state. The main bone of contention, currently, surrounds the population of non-native rainbow trout that are thriving in these waters and – in the view of some - threaten the success of the native brook trout fishery. Everyone wants brook trout to have the best opportunity to be successful in these waters. There are a lot of strong opinions on how to do this. Views range from doing nothing, to removing all the rainbow trout.

Since 2006 PFBC has worked with other organizations to take on the Big Spring Creek habitat enhancements with the goal of improving wild trout habitat, particularly for brook trout. In 2010, with funds from both the state and federal Government, Phase 1 was completed covering 2050 feet. Phase 2, which was funded with a grant from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, has now been completed, covering 2,000 feet of improvements. Part of these improvements include riparian plantings in the newly filled areas utilizing native plants. If you visit Big Spring, please watch your step as some of these plants are still small.

In large part, these efforts involve correcting some of the negative effects from the mills and dams that had a dominate role from the mid 1700's through the early 1900's on Big Spring. In both phases, construction work included narrowing the stream channel while slowing the water speed and increasing the depth and cover, through the use of log vane deflectors, enhanced riparian shelves, and improved wetlands.

Phase 2 Project and Meeting Part 2 here






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Published by David Weaver [Fishidiot] on 09/23/2013 (5790 reads)
By Dave Weaver

President of the United States and General of the Armies Dwight Eisenhower was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed a wide range of shooting and fishing pursuits. His retirement home here in Gettysburg is managed now by the National Park Service as a museum and historic site. NPS archivists and historians currently hold many of Ike and Mamie’s personal possessions in a separate storage area where they’re being conserved and catalogued. I was able recently to get access to this storage site to photograph Ike’s fly rod and some of his other fishing gear. Also on display at the farm’s reception center is a fly/spin combo rod.

Ike undoubtedly owned a good many rods and reels and some have perhaps been lost to history, held in private collections, or may be stored at Abilene. While he enjoyed all manner of fresh water fishing, Ike was particularly fond of fly fishing for trout. Local rumor has that streams around Camp David were stocked with trout whenever Ike was visiting and local anglers, upon hearing that Ike had been at camp, would flock to fish the downstream areas of these creeks and catch the remaining fish.

I’m not sure if he spent much time salt water fishing however there are three different sand spikes and a chum pot in the NPS collection. The fly rod is a Pflueger R3780 in eight foot length and made of fiberglass. The White House tag can be seen on the rod bag. The small bottle is dry fly treatment and labeled Silicote Dry Fly Dressing, copyright 1946. I’d like to believe that this fly rod and some of the other gear might have some neat stories to tell. Ike loved fishing and, with the great responsibilities he carried on his shoulders, one certainly can’t begrudge him his days on the stream.

For Eisenhower, like many of us who love fly fishing, the sport probably served as way to make a point about something else. In the next photo, Ike has just been nominated and is getting acquainted with his new VP Richard Nixon in Fraser, Colorado. The renowned historian Stephen Ambrose wryly wrote of this photo, In casting, as in politics, Eisenhower was terribly earnest in his attempts to educate Nixon, with frustrating results in both cases.

(Photo and quote courtesy Eisenhower Soldier, General of the Army, President- Elect 1890-1952 by Stephen Ambrose, p 170


Resized ImagePerhaps the most famous wartime photo of Eisenhower is just before D-day when he’s chatting with paratroopers from the 101st Airborne getting ready to jump into Normandy. For years I’ve wondered what sort of pep talk was he was giving them? Well it turns out that the tall lieutenant on the right in the photo was from Michigan and later told the story that, when he told the general where he was from, the discussion turned to – no surprise – fly fishing. The cameraman just happened to shoot the photo as Ike was demonstrating the intricacies of fly casting to his rapt audience of Soldiers. Perhaps we can hope – and I’d like to believe – that this brief focus on fly fishing, at least for a few moments, served as a brief escape for these troops from the onerous duties awaiting them over the next days.

The author would like to thank Mike Florer of the NPS for assistance with access to these artifacts. For more information on the Eisenhower National Historic Site or to plan a visit, please hit:
http://www.nps.gov/eise/index.htm





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Published by David Weaver [Fishidiot] on 08/28/2013 (2955 reads)
This summer the Cumberland Valley Chapter Trout Unlimited (CVTU) volunteers have completed another section in a multi-phase habitat improvement project in The Run in Boiling Springs. The first log wing deflector that was completed last summer. More recently the parking lot was finished early this summer.

The next pics depict the log vane deflector under construction and completed over the summer as well. This was about 25 yards downstream from the AT footbridge and turned a fairly flat, featureless pool with a depth of about a foot, into a much deeper section with a nice plunge pool and better flow/oxygenation. Within minutes after we completed this, I saw a couple nice trout move up under the logs.


boiling springs fly fishing


Thanks are due to the Bureau of Forestry for donating the logs and Pennsy Supply for the shot rock. Also: PFBC, Shane Gilbert, and (as always) Gleim Environmental for their time and help. It's much appreciated.

In August the ongoing project by CVTU to improve habitat in The Run continued. Two additional vane deflectors were installed just downstream with the help of the students from the Rivers Conservation and Youth Camp. In the past, many of you have supported CVTU or the youth camp with donations or flies.

If you have not fished The Run in Boiling Springs lately, drop by. It's holding fish in large numbers this summer (this has not been consistent in recent years) and fishing well, even in the hottest weather. The improvement projects have worked well and fish can be seen holding both above and below them. Just a couple nights ago I was fly fishing, I managed an very nice brown trout on my third or fourth cast in The Run.

It's been a good year for The Run as well as the Breeches itself. I think the improvements have turned out well. Drop by and check 'em out.

Special thanks for CVTU for their efforts on this conservation effort for anglers.






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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 08/21/2013 (5166 reads)
fall fly fishing


Fall fly fishing in the the region offers plenty of great opportunities. The cooler weather offers anglers some solitude of fly fishing while many are caught up with other fall activities. A little bit of preparation can be a rewarding opportunity for those who can make the time.

Reproduction plays an important part of the trout lifecycle during the fall months for both brook and brown trout. Brook trout, native to the US, usually begin to spawn during late September through October. Brown trout typically start spawning in October through late November. I have seen this go later too.

During the spawn coloring on the trout will intensify especially in the males. Females will often create gravel beds for the fertilized eggs called redds. It very important to be careful of these sections on streams when you see redds and not to kick them up when walking. Probably best even to leave trout overtop redds alone and give them a chance to protect the eggs.

fall fly fishingOften the water in the fall is low and gin clear. Spotting trout on a redd is pretty easy to see as in the photo to the left. The trout will sit over top of a small group of rocks that they have knocked around and they often will have a little more cleaned up look as if someone kicked up the spot. Take a little time before marching into the stream to check on the conditions. Good advice for any day.

As the trout begin to change so does the entomology or insect life in the stream. Activity will be different from region to region, stream size, earlier 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, BWO, Caddis, midges and terrestrials. Typical nymphs and streamers are very successful smart choice as well.

I like Dave Weavers suggestions for even looking for rainbows behind the redds feeding on eggs. Some small simple egg patterns can produce some pretty good results for these rainbows. The most common color for natural trout eggs are cream, pale orange and pink.

The full and fast spring streams can take a new characteristic once September arrives. Low clear water can create a challenge for some anglers, but stealth and patience can provide many rewards.

With summer holder over trout and newly stocked trout in many streams there should be ample opportunity for solitude and fish in autumn. Check out the PaFlyFish forums and stream reports to learn more about what is happening in your area.






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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 08/15/2013 (1208 reads)
Our friends over at from Tightline Productions offer up a video instructions on tying up a Black Foam Beetle for summer fly fishing opportunities.


Foam Beetle from Tightline Productions on Vimeo.








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