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Published by Dave Weaver [Dave_W] on 07/04/2020 (3317 reads)
Mid summer into mid autumn is prime time for small stream, warm water fly fishing. While this summer (2018) has, so far, been unseasonably wet and cool here in southcentral Pennsylvania, mid-June has traditionally been the time I start to look to local creeks for bass and panfish. The main game are smallmouth bass, rock bass, and red-breast sunfish. Many of these creeks also have largemouth bass, carp, fallfish, green sunfish, bluegills, hatchery trout, crappies, even pickerel and walleyes. However, red-breasts, rockies, and smallies are prevalent in most of the creeks I fish, with red-breasts ruling the roost. Green sunfish are equally widespread and sometimes are present in numbers best described as swarms, but they’re generally too small to target.

Redbreast


Many fly fishers, if they’re not focused entirely on trout fishing, look forward to the summer bass fishing season. Wading or boating the Susquehanna or other bigger waters is indeed a great experience, but many of these anglers overlook the little local creeks close to home. While the rivers are a motivating place to fish in summer, if you don’t live near one, or otherwise are waiting for levels to drop and clear, something that can take several days after small streams have cleared, don’t overlook warm water creeks close to home. Most of these streams I frequent are typically twenty to fifty feet wide and comparable to what I’d consider medium sized trout creeks that one would fish with a 4WT.

Many of these streams are downstream sections of Approved Trout Waters. Agricultural valley streams can be productive too. Some are tributaries of bigger rivers and may play a role in bass spawning in springtime. One thing to note about access: land owners whose properties these creeks traverse, are often less familiar with anglers on their property as landowners who have trout waters on their property. Nevertheless, I have found that, if you ask nicely, you are likely to get permission. In my experience, streams with some gradient and traditional riffle to pool structure fish better than slow-moving waterways, which are often soft bottomed and tough to wade. These streams with current also hold more and bigger fish, especially red-breast sunfish.

This is simple fishing. For gear, I usually wet wade these creeks as they often fish well at mid-day during the summer. I recommend long wading pants rather than shorts as these streams often have dense vegetation along their banks and lack trails due to lack of fishing pressure. Spare your legs and wear pants or waders. I usually use a 7WT fly rod but trout gear is fine and sometimes I’ll use one of my tiny, five-foot brookie rods. Normally I like bigger sticks since I’m roll casting big flies and big strike indicators. Basic poppers and nymphs cover most bases. Plain old Wooly Buggers or Clouser Crayfish are deadly too. No need to go fine on the tippet. I almost never go lighter than 10lb test line and often use 12-14lb test. Stronger tippets will allow you to rip flies out of vegetation.

These streams often hold very dense fish populations, although not typically large ones. One of my favorite local creeks that I’ve fished for decades has produced countless smallies for me, but the biggest I’ve ever caught there was fifteen inches. Creeks are a numbers game with respect to bass. Sometimes a big smallie, or even a largemouth, will show up, but these are rare. While smallies are the main bassin game, there is another favorite creek of mine that, for some reason, has far more largemouths. Rock bass are often present too. Look for rockies around woody cover in the slower, deeper pools. Smallies and red-breasts are more likely to be in the main channel under current where chunk rock is present. In my experience, rock bass are less likely to rise to poppers and are much more susceptible to being caught on nymphs and streamers. Ditto with red-breast sunfish. You’ll get plenty on top, but if you’re mainly after these panfish you will probably get a lot more of them subsurface. Sometimes I’ll fish upstream with a popper and catch bass. On the way back downstream, I’ll fish subsurface with a buggy nymph or small crayfish pattern and slay the sunnies and rockies. Oftentimes, you will find a particular big rock or log that always seems to hold fish and you can pull multiple fish out from around or under it. Such hotspots usually remain productive year after year.

I’m convinced that the fish in these creeks are seasonal transients. This varies and I know some creeks where bass winter over. However, in most of the creeks I fish, the bass and sunnies usually migrate out in autumn, sometime around first frost. By this time, it’s time to go elsewhere and I switch to the big rivers or trout fishing. In the springtime, usually by late May or early June, the bass and panfish return to the creeks. Prime time is July to September. Some years with low flow conditions in springtime, such as 2016, I seem to find fewer bass and panfish in these creeks in summer. Better flows seem to pull more fish up into these creeks. I have found small bass and sunfish in the tiniest of creeks, some just a foot or two wide that dry up in warm years. These creeks aren’t worth fishing, but it is testimony to how far up into the watershed these fish can migrate.

Don’t overlook small streams in summer for easy going fly fishing. You can catch dozens of hard fighting fish in an afternoon and often some decent sized bass in the eight to twelve inch range. Many of these creeks rarely see an angler – maybe some kids with inner tubes and fishin poles. If you have a kid or a dog, bring them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a creek filled with scrappy bass and red-breast sunfish - a great way to spend a hot, lazy summer day.

You can see more of Dave Weaver's great artwork at www.rodandbrush.com

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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 06/04/2020 (25817 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 05/19/2020 (11944 reads)
green drake I was looking through my photographs from last year and found a Green Drake snapshot, which is one of my favorites. Green Drakes (Ephemera guttulata) are one of my favorite flies to observe, too.

I say observe as I usually find myself on Penns Creek fishing while a huge Green Drake hatch is coming off and I am doing anything, but catching a lot of trout. The mixed hatches that occur during this time of year are exciting and frustrating as many angler's would agree.

So this year I am going to stop practicing the fine art of talking to myself during the hatch and I might even throw on a sulphur or a should I dare say a emerger on during the madness?

The Green Drakes can starting showing up around May 20th and are complimented by the Coffin Fly spinners which provide equal splendor during this time of year. So sit back and get ready to enjoy the show.







Published by Joe Dziedzina [Dizzy] on 05/03/2020 (23141 reads)
The Sulphurs are here!
With the best hatch of the season fast approaching, I thought it might be helpful for some of the “Newbie’s” to post a few words on the Sulphur Hatch to get them off to a flying start this month… so if anyone has anything to add in the way of tips, tricks, details, etc. PLEASE feel free to chime in!

The months of May and June here in southeastern PA bring forth the greatest event of the fly-fishing season… the SULPHUR HATCH. These yellowish mayflies are actually made up of three (3) different mayfly species; Ephemerella rotunda, E. invaria, and E. dorothea. Most streams in SEPA hold all three (3) species which can be good AND bad. It’s good because it extends the sulphur hatch from 1st/2nd week of May through much of June (most seasons)… and it’s bad because there are subtleties that the fish notice and key on (sometimes) and if the angler does not adjust, he (or she) could be in for a long evening. The good news though, is that the “bad” is well within your control.

First a quick overview of the three (3) players, in order of emergence;
Ephemerella rotunda: Duns have a medium yellow body color with slight “olive cast” to them… the largest of the three by a hair, could be as large as a size 12 hook size, but a size 14 will do (a true “tweener”)… often hatch out of very swift water (just below riffles)… hatching usually begins around Mother’s Day and lasts 2-3 weeks… hatch most often in late afternoons (4-6 pm)

Ephemerella invaria: Duns have a yellowish/orange body color … best imitated with a size 14 hook… often hatch out of slightly slower flows than rotunda’s… hatching usually begins around 3rd week in May peaking around Memorial Day (slowing down in June)… hatch most often in early evenings (6-7 pm)

Ephemerella dorothea: Duns have a pale yellow body color … best imitated with a size 16 hook (sometimes 18)… often hatch out of slower pools… hatching usually begins in last week of May and lasting well into June… hatch most often in evenings (7-8:30 pm), sometimes right at dusk in a quick “blizzard” of activity.

Believe it or not, there are other “yellow” mayflies hatching during these same times as well, but those listed above make up the Sulphur Hatch as most anglers know it. As you can see there are differences between the three and it will save your sanity to have the proper sizes/colors to cover the gamut. At the very least I would carry size 14 dry fly’s in sulphur yellow to cover the rotunda/invaria and size 16 pale yellow imitations to cover the dorothea (some anglers use a Light Cahill for this). To compound the mayhem, in addition to the over-lapping hatch activity, trout will often key on a certain “stage” of emergence from drifting nymphs, to struggling emergers, to floating duns… and just when you think you have THAT all figured out, there could be spent spinners on the water as well!

If you show up to the stream in the mid afternoon and no fish are rising and no insects are on the water (or in the air)… you could be in for some fast action by tying on a Pheasant-tail nymph (size 14-16) and fishing the riffles and runs. Prior to emergence these nymphs will fill the water column as they struggle to reach the surface. Trout will be gorging on them and you will often see flashes in the stream as fish slash from side-to-side engulfing drifting nymphs by the mouthful.

Once a good supply of duns are on the surface the trout will come up for them and the real fun begins with dry flies… fish staging in faster water will be easier targets as they have precious little time to inspect your offering. Trout holding in slower pools will be a bit tougher, but may be larger and you should still dupe them easily with a stealthy “down & across” approach. If the fish refuse your floating dry, try tying an emerger pattern or weightless nymph about 6” off the back of the dry. This will take fish that are targeting these hapless naturals. Some of you may have heard people say that the trout are easier to catch at the beginning of the sulphur hatch but get smarter as the weeks wear on? These are the guys that don’t adjust to the dorothea activity and are missing out big time. The difference in a size 16 or 14 hook may not sound like much, but place the fly’s next to each other and you will see why the trout key on one or the other. Just pay attention to what is on the water and you’ll be OK.

The last piece of the puzzle is the spinnerfall. Again, this can be as frustrating or as rewarding as you want to make it. Personally I take my largest “dry fly caught” trout every season during the spinnerfall. It’s an easy meal and one that large trout rarely pass up. As you survey the stream take notice of the presence of any swarms of “dancing” mayflies over the riffles. These will be egg-laden females preparing to drop their cargo into the drink before dying and dropping in themselves. The males in all likelihood have already fallen, spent from mating activity. During sulphur season this activity most often takes place during the early evening if not right at dark (maybe early morning if air temp’s are too high for mating flights). These mating swarms start out high above the stream surface and if you happen to notice flocks of insect-eating birds (swallows, swifts, nighthawks… maybe bats) high above, you can be pretty sure that a spinnerfall is about an hour away. Sounds complicated but it is surprisingly simple… for this activity I carry just one fly—The Rusty Spinner—in sizes 14-18. Look for subtle risers, often times near the tail ends of pools, just “dimpling’ the surface and float your imitation right down into the waiting jaws of a heavy brown. If rising fish continue to ignore your floating dun, tie on a Rusty Spinner and 9 out of 10 times you will be surprised at the response.

Always keep in mind that ANY and ALL of the above described activities could be going on… sometimes simultaneously! Just be observant, let the trout tell you what they want, and you will enjoy your cigar and cold beverage a LOT more back at the parking area… this I promise.

*NOTE* The referenced taxon above is a bit outdated as the society of entomologists (or whoever they are) have decided that E. invaria and E. rotunda are now the same species (E. invaria)… also they have added a second dorothea to E. dorothea (E. dorothea dorothea). This info is strictly for the angler’s that are over-obsessed with details (like ME for example)… the trout still eat them the same as they always have.

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 04/21/2020 (662 reads)
After days of rain and all the big water is flooded out, the smaller backwoods streams are a great place to explore. They can be fun to venture to try out on a nice day as well. George Daniel takes some time to share some of his tactics for small streams. Check out as he shares ideas on gear, techniques, and how to approach all s smaller stream as to offer.



Many of you are already familiar with George Daniel. If not you should, as he is one of the most knowledgable and genuine anglers to follow in fly fishing today. A Pennsylvania native, George is an author, speaker, guide, US National Fly Fishing Champion and most recently the director/lead instructor for the Pennsylvania State University Fly Fishing Program.

You can find George here: Website, YouTube Channel, Instagram
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