I recently fished with a friend on a local stream. He worked the stream very quickly, bouncing from one section to another. A quick cast and drift then on his way to another spot. It occurred to me that covering a lot of water has its place and time. I have written about this before. Contrastingly, working a section slowly and meticulously also has its application.
So what makes sense and when? When is the appropriate time to use these contrasting methods? Let’s step back and look at some basic code cracking factors. By code cracking I’m using the analogy of cracking a safe by guessing the lock’s code combination. This starts with making a hypothesis about the situation at hand. Fine, but how to start? Continue reading Breaking down fly fishing for trout through basic deduction.→
Those who protect our great nation are truly heroes. We owe so much to them that it’s hard to know where to start. This year I volunteered my time and talents to work with military veterans through Project Healing Waters. Once again, I am humbled to work with men and women who have put their lives on the line to provide me with the freedom to pursue hobbies like fly fishing.
We had a great day on Yellow Creek. All the folks caught fish, shared stories, and made new friends. The soldier I worked with told me numerous times that he would go back to military service again, and it was hard to let go.
We worked on casting, as you know my most favorite subject, and managed to catch a one on a dry fly. Sweet!
I’m looking forward to working again with these brave heroes. With God’s blessing I will.
1. Fish all day. Until the mornings get really cold. Cooler temperatures combined with trout bulking up for the winter make productive fishing all day. Take advantage of it because the feeding window becomes smaller and smaller as winter sets in.
2. Long leaders for wary trout. Most often water flows will be at their lowest through the autumn months. This means that you will need to make longer casts with finer tippets. Six and seven X rule the day for dry fly fishing. Nymphing quiet waters will require long tippets too.
3. Soft bobbers. Nymphing is always a good tactic; it just requires some tweaking for fall conditions. Use a curly-q, or one of my favorites New Zealand wool indicators.
As written before, midges are an important part of a trout’s diet. This is even more important in lakes and ponds. Another great nymph for still water is the damsel fly. As adults, they are the flies that kind of resemble a dragonfly, but are smaller and more delicate. An easy way to identify them is by their black wings and fluttering flight. Also, they rest with their wings folded over their body, unlike the dragonfly. Most often anglers focus on using the nymph version because adults do not rest on the water. The damsel nymph crawls toward the shore or weeds to emerge. This is a great opportunity for fish to feed on them and for anglers to imitate them. The nymph has a slender body and swims by darting around. A twitched or slowly hand-retrieved nymph is the perfect bait in many lakes and ponds.
In my previous post Interview with Len Lichvar (Part 1) we discussed The Stoney Creek River. This portion, Part 2, even gets better as we discuss loftier aspects of fishing and in our own special way life as we know it. I hope you enjoy!
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Our discussion occurred in 2013 so a few things might have changed, for example, I do not know if the fingerling program is still active. The opportunity to talk with Len is beyond educational. Len gives us glimpses without the usual PR speak to a richer understanding of watershed issues and common sense approaches to solving them. Continue reading Audio Interview with Len Lichvar (Part 1)→
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Peter is a media specialist with the Chesapeake Conservancy. He has a journalism and writing background that includes work with Trib Total Media, the U.S. House of Representatives, National Geographic Society, and the National Park Service.
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Ephemeroptera (Mayflies)
Species guttulata (Green Drake)
One of the most famous mayfly hatches in Pennsylvania and throughout the eastern United States is the Green Drake. We can speculate that it has to do with its large size. When hatching occurs, every fish small and large will feed on the surface for these big bugs.
In fact even the alpha trout that have converted to a diet of fish and crustaceans will feed on the Green Drake because the bugs are so big. Combine big bugs and low light for a winning combination that brings the entire fishery to symphony of feeding activity.
You have finally honed in your casting skills. Double haul, no problem. You can mend line in your sleep. Dialing in the proper amount of weight when nymph fishing – got it. Your are extremely literate in reading water. You see the micro currents and adjust without a hitch. You can identify most insect emergences simply by watching trout rise forms. Yet you still experience low number catch days. Why are you not catching more trout? Continue reading Shuffle your feet and move your seat.→
Our fly fishing schools have something for everyone. Whether you are just starting to learn how to fly fish or interested in advancing your knowledge and skills. Join us this spring and learn basic and advanced fly fishing skills. Beginner courses are designed to take an absolute beginner and have them successfully fly fishing by the end of the day. The advanced courses take you to the next level and beyond. Classes are intentionally planned for early spring in order to provide you with the skills to fish successfully through this year’s prime season.
It goes without question that early season trout fishing in Pennsylvania means crowded streams. All of the open stocked waters are filled with happy hatchery trout and it’s a great to see families, and friends out for a fish.
• Base leader never affected by tippet changes
• Tippet rings stronger than knots
• Enables transition from widely varying diameters
• Will float if greased
Traditionally, fishing leaders end with a final section called tippet. This final portion is where the fly is tied to the end. Tippet serves many purposes beyond just a final piece of leader material that fits through the hook eye. For example, it makes for a smooth transfer of energy transmitted from the fly line, leader butt, and finally to the fly. Also, it serves as a means for creating slack to offer drag free presentations. These two primary examples demonstrate the critical role that tippet serves. Continue reading Tippet ring, oh tippet ring how I love thee→
Nymphing rules to live by:
– On bottom
– Detect strike
– Right speed
– Best fly
To catch trout successfully using a nymph you must adhere to the above rules. Much of this is solved by using the correct leader combined with the appropriate tactic. My first lesson came from reading Joe Humprey’s “Trout Tactics” where he explains that a “flat leader” is the ultimate leader for nymph fishing.
Does this mean using a four pound test length of leader is all we need for nymphing? Yes, actually that is correct. In fact this or some variation is what I use for high-sticking, and Czech nymphing. This approach works fine when you have enough weight to reach your casting distance and get down to the strike zone effectively. Getting down is often solved by adding weight to the leader in the form of split shot or using a heavier fly. Where this fails is when heavier weight cannot be utilized. Maybe you are following FIPs Mouche competitive rules, or cannot add an a heavier weighted fly, or believe split shot is not an effective nymphing tactic. Maybe the flat leader is not turned-over easily. Continue reading The important role of a fly fishing leader for nymph fishing→
Swinging flies is a blast and when I find the right situation it’s game on. Typical Spey fly patterns are way too big for Pennsylvania trout. So I have been working out some trout sized patterns with the same lifelike qualities as their big brother steelhead and salmon patterns. As you can see in this photo, my latest creation the M1 mini spey is pulling out some hunkered down winter trout. Continue reading Winter Micro Spey for Trout→
The Pheasant Tail nymph is a staple in most every fly box. Inventor Frank Sawyer, river keeper of the River Wiltshire Avon used this fly to fool the most challenging trout. The Pheasant Tail nymph, routinely called ‘PT’ nymph has evolved to include beadhead, tinsel, rubber legs and other added materials. But Sawyer’s ingenuity is what gives the pattern such effectiveness. Continue reading Pheasant Tail Nymph Modified→
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If you ever tried casting large wind resistant flies using a typical trout fly line taper you probably found it difficult. Some of the reason has to do with how the fly line itself is shaped. Fly line shape is called its taper. It is how the diameter of the fly line changes from end to end.
Point – The portion of fly line in front of the front taper approximately six inches often including a welded loop made at the factory.
There’s nothing more frustrating than guides that get constantly clogged with ice; keep them clear with Stanley’s Ice Off Paste from Loon. The non-toxic paste can be applied to your guides and line to prevent icing, so you can actually make some casts when winter midges start to hatch.
I have broken fishing rods by trying to get the stuck sections apart. Breakage is usually due to bending and over stressing the sections. The easiest remedy is to have a buddy help you pull it apart. This is accomplished by each person placing one hand on opposing sections and their other hand on the sections closest to them. Next, have only one participant pull while the other holds steady. This approach helps even the pressure and reduce stress on the rod sections. Continue reading How to get stuck fishing rods sections apart.→
There are so many great little streams along the Pine creek canyon in northcentral Pennsylvania. Nestled near the village of Cedar Run, beginning just north of White Horse hollow along Cedar Mountain road and ending south of Oxbow hollow beneath the overpass of Route 414 is the beautifully rugged trout stream named Cedar Run. The twin of Slate Run, Cedar run has all the characteristics of a north central Pennsylvania freestone stream. It runs cold throughout the year, holds a variety of aquatic insects, and plenty of wild trout. More information about Cedar Run
Tucked away in the Pine Creek Valley is a gem of a trout stream named Slate Run. It is located near the southwestern side of Tioga county and flows downstream through the northwestern side of Lycoming county. Slate Run is a classic Pennsylvania freestone stream. Benefitting from spring seeps, deep undercuts, and heavy tree canopy Slate Run remains relatively cold year-round.
Its headwaters originate from the Francis and Cushman branches. Both branches hold healthy populations of wild Brown trout. The headwaters ranges from approximately 3 to 8 feet wide and is small but has a good pool to riffle ratio.
Slate Run changes in character through the mid-section and downstream of Manor Falls. The pools are deeper and you will find more cliffs as it cuts through the steep mountains. This combined with large fallen timber make for great cover and challenging fishing. More information about Slate Run
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When fly casting, the rod must bend and unbend. This sounds simple and actually is if you incorporate the fundamentals properly. With spin or bait casting it is the weight if the lure that greatly assists bending (loading) the rod. With fly fishing it is the weight of the fly line that does the job. In order to utilize the complete weight of the fly line, the caster must eliminate all slack in the line before and during the casting motion. Continue reading Fly casting effectively through eliminating slack and maintaining tension→
Although Labor Day marks the end of summer for many activities when it comes to trout fishing we are usually waiting for cooler weather to start up our pursuit. Like most fly fisherman I let trout survive the hot summer months and concentrate my efforts on other species, but there are waters that remain healthy with temperatures that are safe and very productive.
Many streams in Pennsylvania are Freestone. Which mean they are generated from water flowing over the surface of the land and depend on rainfall as their primary source of water. Therefore fluctuating in water volume, temperature and oxygen level. Yes trout do live in these waters year-round. Although, during the hot summer months they are doing everything they can to survive. In these types of conditions if trout are caught it often means death. The stress is just too much for the fish to overcome. Continue reading Where to Fly Fish for Trout on Labor Day weekend in Pennsylvania→
Fly fishing for trout in the summer can be challenging. This is why so many of us switch to more logical pursuits such as bass, carp and other warm water species. If I chase trout during the summer it usually takes place through a narrow bite window; early morning, late evening, or middle of the night. Of course as mentioned so many times before there are tons of exceptions; combine that with your schedule, and you may find yourself fishing in the hot mid-day sun. Which brings me to the emphasis of this post. Continue reading Plop goes the beetle→
Learning to become a proficient fly fisher is not easy. Some anglers luck out on their first outing and bag a bunch of fish but for most it’s a tough slog day after skunky day. I kind of feel sorry for the lucky ones that do have early successes because they may perceive that every outing will be filled with non-stop rod bending action. Boy will they be disappointed when reality rears it’s ugly head.
As with many great endeavors, you have to really love the entire process in order to progress. The fair weather fisherman is just like a fair weather friend; you only see them on good days and bail when the going gets tough. The complication is there are so many exceptions that it’s hard to decipher the good days. It is the angler that truly loves all aspects of the sport that witness great days and more frequently. They love the sport so much that it doesn’t matter if they catch fish nearly as much as just being out there trying. It is the old adage “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?… Practice.” Continue reading Advice to novice fly fishers→
The Little Juniata River flows south from Tyrone to Petersburg. Upriver from Tyrone, the river can seem marginal at best. The only exception to this is where the main stem of the river picks up productive tributaries, such as Tipton and Bells Gap. Downriver from Tyrone, the river narrows and becomes surrounded by large limestone cliffs. Past this point, the river becomes a limestone river, with at least ten limestone springs being added to the river as it flows. These increase the insect population and make for a large trout population. Limestone helps to keep the flow of the river moderate, and provides moderate temperatures.
If you want to fish the river from Barree to Spruce Creek, the only access is on foot. On this section of the river, which is four miles long, there are 15-foot deep pools, heavy hatches and productive riffles and lots of wild trout. From Barree to Petersburg, the river is wider and contains fewer trout. Be careful wading in the lower end on this section, because pools can be deep.
Casting a virtually weightless fly to the target requires skill. But it is not beyond anyone’s ability. If you can throw a ball then you can throw a fly. Just as throwing a ball, the farther your target the more every part of the action must be perfect. This is why some anglers have trouble at distances. One must understand and utilize fundamental casting principles for it to work. Continue reading Accelerate through the casting stroke.→
For most fly fishing trouters, mayfly fishing is the foundation of our game but from a strictly numbers point of view the caddis fly is much more abundant on most trout waters. They are hardy warriors that can withstand pollution better the most mayflies. If you asked me years ago I would have said Caddis flies were useless. Because I was repeatedly getting beat up on the famed Pine Creek, in north central Pennsylvnia. There I was watching thousands of egg laying caddis in the air while throwing my arm off with an Elk Hair pattern without even a nibble. Then while dazing off, my elk hair skittered below me on the surface. Blasto!! Fish on! Continue reading Caddis flies, top shelf insects for fly fishing→
We’re sure most of you get pretty busy during the spring fly fishing season. Just like us we all have the best intentions to get out and fish with of our friends that we meet along the way but who has time for all of them before it’s over? Or maybe you’ve been meaning to meet a couple like-minded anglers because you are sure you’re not the only one that chases the dog around the house to get that special color dubbing. Continue reading Are you interested in joining us for a fly fishing gathering?→
What’s the most effective method of fly fishing for trout? Nymph fishing. So I have done a lot of it and will continue to do so. If you are strictly after numbers of fish caught then nymph fishing trumps all. Of course this is a generalization and one should always choose the best tactic for the conditions at hand. But most often nymph fishing is more productive, even during a hatch with rising trout. Continue reading Wet fly fishing: What’s old is new again.→
Been toying around trying to improve the gold Stren style sight indicator that I have been using for years. Basically what the improvement consists of is using a blood knot coated with day-glo nail polish for visibility. This has kind of evolved. First I improved it by leaving small tags from the knot rather than clipping them neatly. This helped but in certain light they were still hard to see. Also it would pick-up debris even as much as I tried to keep it out the water. Next I added a small drop of day-glo colored nail polish which really helped. Finally I have added a coat of UV goo, like Loon or Clear Cure Goo. Continue reading Handy sighter indicator for fly fishing for trout→
For many the spring season starts with going to their favorite water to try and catch a few recently stocked fish. I have written about this in the past a few times. I have many great memories of opening days with my friends and I believe it’s a nice way to learn the game.
Often beginning fly anglers have difficulty putting together a fly box for opening day trout season but unless you are specifically looking to fish over hatches you only need a handful of productive patterns to get you through the day. These are some of the best flies for fishing in Pennsylvania.
Pheasant Tail Nymph (size 16 – 12)
Originated by Frank Sawyer the Pheasant Tail nymph has evolved since he first developed the pattern without using tying thread. Now many patterns incorporate a beadhead and hot spot. This pattern is typically fished near the bottom but floating version work extremely well during a hatch. Buy your Pheasant Tail Nymphs here >>
Prince Nymph (size 16 – 10)
The materials used for the Prince Nymph make it one of the all-time best flies to represent many aquatic insects. Peacock herl represents everything from a cased caddis to bubbles being released during emergence. The tail and body shape suggest a stonefly. The contrasting color used for the biot wing case helps attract fish in a naturally shaped manner. Buy your Prince Nymphs here >>
I get a bit geeky when it comes to formulating fly fishing leaders, unfortunately only to hack them up when adding new droppers. This usually happens after a few fly changes on the dropper and left with a stub. instead of cutting your main leader, try this nifty way to add a new dropper.
Be it a blood knot, surgeons knot, or whatever, leaving the existing knot is key to the process. Tie the new dropper above the existing knot by using a Uni-knot then slide it down against the existing knot.
My anxiety heightened when I felt the mass of this beast – approximately 10 pounds, and exactly 28 ½ inches long.
Yes there are unicorns!
Just returned from my hunt for trophy brown trout on the White River in Arkansas. The White River normally flows around 5,000 – 15,000 CFS during the winter months. But this year was different. Arkansas received a lot of rain and as a result the flows were much higher. Much higher – 30,000 CFS. The water was at flood stages. It pushed well over the banks and changed the fishing dramatically. This does not mean fishing is not good, in fact I have written about this before. Tight bank casts are typically required in many places on the White but due to high flows it was exponentially multiplied. I have casting skills but this situation tested me to the brink. The combination of 300 grain weighted fly line, 8 inch flies, and tight casts made for very challenging, but fun, casting situations. Throw in some 20 MPH wind and you have situation for real mayhem. “Your casts are sloppy, come on Leo you can do better than that”, buzzed in my head time after time. “Get it to the bank” was another repeated mumble. My understanding of the White, and my casting skills improved as the days ticked off. I only wish I could have spent more time down there; but isn’t that always the truth.
Maybe a little extreme but chasing the largest Brown Trout known in North America, if not the world, is something I must do. I have caught many trout, a few large Trout, but nothing like what lurks in the shadows of the White river. It is considered a hub for trophy chasers and streamer junkies alike. These beasts do not blink at a mayfly imitations heck not even four inch streamers. No these are the alpha predators, the One, the Master of their liar. Unicorns you ask? Well you don’t get many shots at these beasts even in the best conditions, some go years without witnessing one – but they do exist. This is one of the very reasons they have survived and grown so large. Continue reading In search of Unicorns: Fly fishing the White River Arkansas→
1. Sleep in. During winter there is no reason for hitting your favorite stream at the crack of dawn; unless a cold front is moving in. Typically the warmest part of the day is mid-day to early afternoon.
2. Say no to cotton. Outdoorsy types have a little saying “Cotton Kills”. This is due to it’s poor insulating properties. Contrastingly, wool maintains over ninety percent of its (your) heat when wet. I love the stuff and nothing trumps wool but it is heavy. Try synthetics such as fleece, polypropylene, or some other high-tech lightweight insulating material. Feathers are lightweight but keep in mind that feather down jackets are great for warmth but not very good when wet so leave them home unless there are no chances of getting wet (Hypothermia). Look for great deals at Patagonia, Campsaver, and REI.
3. Fish one handed. Try to fish without too much line handling because it causes ice build-up on your guides and freezes your hands. This is fairly easy if you are nymph fishing. Do this by fishing with a manageable length of line and leader; very much like Tenkara fishing. You’re still going to need gloves. I go fingerless when I can but for brutal days I love my Simms ProDry gloves.
If you haven’t heard of April Vokey let me give you a little background. She has dedicated her life to fly fishing. Her company, Fly Gal Ventures, is a thriving fly fishing guide business which she started in 2007 upon turning twenty-four years old. She pursues gamefish on the fly internationally and is becoming recognized as an authority on the sport.
Fly Gal Ventures
Fly Fisherman magazine
Fly Rod & Reel magazine
Fly Fusion magazine
Outdoor Channel’s Buccaneers and Bones series
60 Minutes Sports
The Steve Harvey show
Discovery Channel’s Refined
Discovery’s/OLN’s Close Up Kings
WFN’s Fly Nation TV
ShoreLines with April Vokey (written and hosted by Vokey)