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Published by Joe Dziedzina [Dizzy] on 05/10/2021 (24335 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 04/19/2021 (344 reads)
This year more than ever I have been very anxious to get away to spend some dedicated days fly fishing. My winter cabin fever fueled with some Covid sequestering added to my desire to escape. An invitation from Rick Nyles to join him and some others to Central Pennsylvania in early April was the ticket. 

As we got closer I would nervously eye up the ten-day weather forecast and bring up the USGS gauges to calculate the water levels for the trip. Everything was shaping up to have ideal conditions, which is rarely the case for April.  

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More importantly, Rick was including a few guys I have known for many years but had not yet had a chance to share any time on the water. Dave “Wetfly” Allbaugh and I had just done a presentation together in March, Dave “Oldlefty” Rothrock catch up at the Paflyfish Jams, Shane “sbecker” Becker, William Kosmer and Ray Herbine were all part of the crew at different times during the week.  

I left early on Wednesday making my way up to Keystone Project along the way for early evening fishing. Several previous warm days and sunny weather fueled some early Hendricksons coming off the water that night. Not a lot of risers, but I switched over to rusty brown spinner and enticed several up and made a few things come together. 

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Navigating my way past the onslaught of Amish buggies lite-up on the road, I made my way to the farmhouse Rick had arranged. A really beautiful place in Centre County along a fishing creek. 

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Thursday Rick, Shane and I made our way to Penns Creek. We were pretty optimistic about some topwater fishing. Water levels were at about 450 CFS and the water temperature was at ~60 degrees. We very shortly found some Hendricksons coming off and some risers responding. The morning worked out pretty well, but once the mid-day sun hit things got pretty quiet. We worked the stream pretty hard but eventually called it quits. 

Dinners on fly fishing trips are usually late and quick, since we left the stream a little early we took the time to enjoy some crab cakes that I brought up from Maryland. Not your normal Central Pennsylvania entree, but much appreciated with some bourbon and beers after being on the stream. 

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We attacked Spring Creek on Friday. Dave Rothrock joined in for the assault and was pleased to find very few anglers on much of the stream. Cloudy conditions offered some BWO hatches and sporadic risers. Shane and Dave did well with nymphs, but pretty slow on top.  

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After some lunch and finding some provisions of cinnamon sticky buns in Milesburg, Dave Rothrock and I went upstream. I had a great time as he was pointing some casting tips and using his drop shot nymph rig. I had fun and did well with that for a while. As we moved further upstream a nice BWO hatch occurred with some risers. I felt obligated to switch up to some topwater and landed a few. Never as many as you think you should.

We returned to the farmhouse for more libations and fly fishing stories. Probably one of the more fun things I enjoy is hearing about everyone's experiences from Pennsylvania, Montana, and Canada. I do miss traveling right now and hearing all those fun stories encourages hopefully get out next year. Mousing in Labrador for brook trout is one I have to try. 

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Dave Allbaugh


Saturday we were in full force to hit some more streams. We had seen a few already and got a few texts about grannoms in the area, but driving in over one of the streams the windshield got pummeled with caddisflies. We got to our first stop and saw more caddies than I think any of us can recall that morning. It was like a river of insects flowing upstream. Not a lot of risers, but I did manage to find some along the banks. 

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The caddis continued even when we went over to Spring Creek. Dave, Dave, and I found few more good spots during the day with waves of caddis and responding trout at different times. I plugged away headhunting with my grannom green egg sack imitation that seemed pretty popular all day. 

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We wrapped the trip up with another good evening just hanging in the kitchen eating some homemade onion rings. Kudos to Ray and finding some more drinks to discuss the blizzard of caddis. It was a great trip to get away, but more importantly, get on the water with some friends. Nothing beats getting outdoors, catching some fish, and sharing a few bourbons with friends to close out a day.  

A special thanks to Rick Nyles, Dave Allbaugh, Dave Rothrock, and the guys at Sky Blue Outfitters for their awesome hospitality for the trip. Great fun and fun and fishing. 

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 04/12/2021 (171 reads)
I was honored to participate with Rob Snowhite and his Fly Fishing Consultant Podcast for his milestone recording. I have known Rob for many years connecting at the Fly Fishing Shows. It was great getting some time to get caught up on a more extended conversation. Hope you enjoy and make sure you subscribe to Rob's podcast to get connected to a whole host of outstanding industry experts.

From Rob: The 300th episode brings us to Dave Kile and his long-running site PAFlyFish.com Dave discusses how his website went from the primitive days of the 90's internet to the modern internet and social media and how the community around fishing in Pennsylvania is strong a quarter-century later. We learn about the different geographic ranges of Pennsylvania, the famous and not-so-famous streams, some history, and more in this fun-filled episode.

Produced by Jason Reif
Brought to you by Solo Stove


Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 03/31/2021 (262 reads)
Joe Fox of Dette Trout Flies in Roscoe, NY demonstrates how he ties a classic Catskill style Red Quill dry fly.


Visit the Tightline website: https://www.tightlinevideo.com

Published by Swattie [Swattie87] on 03/17/2021 (3516 reads)

By Matt Yancheff ("Swattie87"- Images Courtesy Author)

I often see a common question come up early in the learning curve for anglers looking to get into small stream, wild trout angling: How do I find good streams to fish? It can be an intimidating first hurdle to overcome, but once over it, the way is open to a very rewarding angling experience. It requires some homework, often good for a cold evening in the dead of winter with your beverage of choice. You’ll swing and miss sometimes, but the home runs you hit will be well worth the strikeouts.

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Below is the method that I’ve developed and relied on, and that has led me to many good small stream days in the woods of Pennsylvania:

1. Locate via some simple Googling, the following three lists published, and regularly updated by the PFBC: 1) Natural Reproduction List. 2) Class A Wild Trout List. 3) Wilderness Trout Streams List. They contain different information, and there is some overlap between them, but it is all useful. They all indicate the county the stream is in, so you can use that to begin to narrow things down.

2. (Optional, but not necessary. Good for a beginner with this method, but the more successful you get, you’ll find you’ll rely on these less.) Purchase a couple of PA stream guide books. Dwight Landis’ is very good, and is my personal favorite, but there’s several other good options out there as well. Again, some simple Googling will head you in the right direction if you wish to purchase these. They all run about $20-$30.

3. Review the above-mentioned lists and books and locate some streams in a given area that you think interest you. Cross reference those stream’s locations with a good mapping software. Google Maps works very well for this, and of course, is free. Are the streams on publicly owned land? If not, who owns the land? What are the potential access points? Of course, it goes without saying, always be respectful of private and posted land. Toggle between topographic and satellite views. Is the stream in a remote forested area, or is it running through folks’ back yards? How big does the stream look? How steep/rough does the terrain look? State and National Forest maps are available online for more information. Kudos as well to the Pa. Game Commission as they have recently updated and published detailed maps online of every single State Game Lands tract in PA. They’re very useful for helping confirm access and parking locations for streams on SGL.

4. After your research in Steps 1-3, pick three or four potential streams in an area and head out for a day to check them out. This way you have a couple back up plans if you get to a stream and find unforeseen access problems, or another angler already there. Or if a stream just turns out to be a dud, which happens sometimes.

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5. Once you’ve fished a few of these streams and located a couple good ones, start to think about what they have in common. Take note of what you saw on the maps, and what the stream turned out to actually look like when you got there. Was it what you expected? How big was it? What was its gradient? Did it have lots plunge pools, or was it more riffles and runs? What kind of water fished best? Then look for those similar characteristics in other areas using the lists, books, and maps. You’ll find you’ll quickly become pretty good at it. Before long, you’ll start working backwards – looking at the maps first for good potential spots based on what you’ve learned, then cross referencing with the lists and books….This is when you know you’ve figured it out.

As long as you’re willing to make a bit of a drive sometimes, do a bit of homework first, and be willing to strike out once in a while, this will work, if you try it. We are very fortunate to live in a state with the amount of small, forested wild trout water Pennsylvania has. Get out there and enjoy it!
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