Category Archives: Travel

Green Drake Fly FIshing in Pennsylvania

Green Drake Leo Vensel www.paflyguide.com

Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
  Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
    Class Insecta (Insects)
      Order Ephemeroptera (Mayflies)
        Family Ephemeridae
          Genus Ephemera
            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.

Yeah that’s why we like it. Continue reading Green Drake Fly FIshing in Pennsylvania

Off the beaten path for Opening Day of Trout Season in Southwestern Pennsylvania

crowded trout fishing

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.

I have written about stocked trout and fishing for them a few times. Including good early season flies. Through the years I have gone the spectrum from sleeping in my car waiting for the opening day bonanza to sneaking out to small native runs and finding my own bit of nirvana.
Continue reading Off the beaten path for Opening Day of Trout Season in Southwestern Pennsylvania

Fly Fishing Northcentral Pennsylvania: Slate Run

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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

Where to Fly Fish for Trout on Labor Day weekend in Pennsylvania

In search of cold water fisheries.

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 the Little Juniata River

Hatch Chart

Common Name (Hook Size) FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT
Blue Quill (16-18)  
Black Caddis (16)  
Blue-Winged Olive (14-22)        
Quill Gordon (12 – 14)      
Grannom (12)    
Green Caddis (14)    
Sulphur (14 -16)    
Cahill (14)    
Tan Caddis (14- 16)    
Green Drake (8-10)    
Brown Drake (8-10)    
Slate Drake (12-14)      
Trico (22 – 24)      
White Mayfly (14 – 16)      
Terrestrials            
Midge (24-18)                  

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.

More information >

Caddis flies, top shelf insects for fly fishing

Caddis FlyFlickr: Derek Parker

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

Fly Fishing for Trophy Trout on the White River Arkansas

Big White River Brown Trout Caught by Leo Vensel

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.

Continue reading Fly Fishing for Trophy Trout on the White River Arkansas

In search of Unicorns: Fly fishing the White River Arkansas

fly fishing for large rarely seen white river brown trout. this image depicts their unicorn stigma.

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

Fly Fishing The Little Juniata River, Spruce Creek, Pennsylvania


Recently our crew at PAFLYGUIDE.COM visited the Little Juniata River, in Spruce Creek Pennsylvania.
Chasing hatches is always a gamble. This year we didn’t hit the Grannom. In fact the peak emergence on the Little Juniata occurred in extreme high water so the fishing never really turned on full blast. In this video we started with high hopes but fell back to our tried and true tactics – down and dirty nymphing. I managed to catch a beautiful “J” brown with big shoulders using a small PT nymph. Continue reading Fly Fishing The Little Juniata River, Spruce Creek, Pennsylvania

Fly Fishing Meadow Run, Ohiopyle Pennsylvania

We recently fished Meadow Run located in Ohiopyle Pennsylvania. A classic mountain stream, Meadow Run offering the angler an opportunity to catch trout in the beautiful Laurel Highlands. Afterwards check out the charming town of Ohiopyle – it’s got something for anglers and non-anglers alike. More information about Meadow Run

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An interview with Greg Hoover, Professor of Entomology at Penn State University


If you spend any time researching insects used for fly fishing you’ll soon discover Entomologist Greg Hoover. I have used his co-authored book Great Rivers – Great Hatches for many years. Greg recently made a presentation at International Angler located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I had the privilege to talk with him about fly fishing, and entomology. I hope you find our conversation as informative and enjoyable as I did.

Thanks and remember: Go. Explore.

International Angler, Full Service Fly Fishing, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

We recently visited International Angler located in Pittsburgh to talk with Greg Hoover and we will be posting our full-length interview very soon.

The guys at International Angler are the real deal. As a complete full-service shop they have something for the beginning and expert angler alike. IA also offers a large variety of angling travel opportunities year-round. Stop by and say hello I’m sure you will not be disappointed.

Thanks and remember: Go. Explore.

The Gear: Winter Fly Fishing Yellow Creek Bedford, Pennsylvania

This month is our crew at PAFLYGUIDE.COM visits Yellow Creek in Bedford Pennsylvania.
It’s winter so I went to my go-to nymphing tactics. In this video, I show you the two nymph rigs used and how to set them up.  

Thanks and remember: Go. Explore.

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Winter Fly Fishing Yellow Creek, Bedford Pennsylvania

This month our crew at PAFLYGUIDE.COM visits Yellow Creek in Bedford Pennsylvania.
Bedford Pennsylvania is a charming town filled with nice shops and something for everyone. For us it’s definitely fly fishing. Just outside of town is a sweet little gem named Yellow Creek.

I show that you can catch fish in the dead of winter but it takes a little work. Hopefully this video will warm your hearts and spur you to go have some winter fun.

Thanks and remember: Go. Explore.

Congratulations Olga Herbert and the Trout Trail Team!

Olga Herbert is the mastermind behind the Laurel Highlands Trout Trail. I am honored to support her efforts in growing our regions fly fishing and tourism opportunities. The Laurel Highlands is recognized by Trout Unlimited as of one the “10 Special Places in the East.” Join me in exploring our regions wonderful resources.

Early March on Spring Creek, State College, PA

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Fly Fishing in central Pennsylvania is always a good time. Fishing limestone water in late winter is sweet and logical. Like anywhere, it’s not always as productive as we’d like but it’s the unfortunate soul that measures time on the water by how many fish brought to hand. Of course once the rust is knocked off and codes cracked, rewards are had. Nice job Lou, and thanks for the time shared. The gas station coffee, road trip conversations, and what would be a trip without something surprising found on the stream.

Coho Salmon in Michigan’s Upper Pennisula

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photo
We recently had the privilege to fish for Coho Salmon with Brad Petzkey owner of Rivers North Guide Service. What a blast! We started our day with a pre-dawn boat ride through the slow moving lowland stream. At first light, crisp air gave way to beaming sunlight through the morning trees. I could barely make out the sandy bottom as we began casting our way downstream. Continue reading Coho Salmon in Michigan’s Upper Pennisula

Slate Run, Pennsylvania

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Located in north central Pennsylvania, just a bit south of Wellsboro is the village of Slate Run. It is there nestled between the mountains that one of Pennsylvania’s crown jewels reside. Slate Run is made by two major tributaries, the Francis and Cushman branches. These tributaries and mainstem run fast, clean, and cold; perfect trout water. Regarding hatches and wild trout, one could spend an entire season on Slate to just begin unlocking its complexities. During our short stay we saw good numbers of Blue Quills, Caddis, Hendricksons, and Midges. It is a very healthy fishery indeed. I had a short window to fish Slate between meeting with Tom Finkbiner and photographing the region; unfortunately we did not bring any trout to hand. My wife did have a monster on which eventually broke her off.
Make sure to visit Tom and Deb Finkbiner and the whole expert staff at the Slate Run tackle shop. Tom is instrumental for implementing a Catch and Release section on Pine creek; stocked with world-class German Brown trout. Talk about a treat! It’s not everywhere that you can fish over large, super healthy Browns that will school you on proper technique. And if you are fortunate you may see one of the resident Bald Eagles soaring overhead.