What To Do?
On Friday evening, July 17th, 2015, deciding where to fish on Saturday morning was a gamble. The local freestoners were high again from a hard rainstorm earlier in the week, but I had noticed on the weather radar that the rain had seemingly bypassed a valley stream that I had been itching to go to. But would it be low enough from other rainstorms?
My plan was to save this freestone stream for Sunday after the water level had more time to drop and hit the stream I had been itching to fish first thing Saturday morning.
On Saturday morning, July 18th, I awoke before my 3:45 a.m. alarm to a pounding thunderstorm. What was I going to do now?
I turned on my computer to check the radar, and much to my delight the wave of thunderstorms crossing Pennsylvania was north of my planned destination.
I arrived streamside at 5:00 a.m. after driving through hard rain to dry roads, just as the radar had shown. While walking downstream in the dark for a half hour I thought about catching lots of these.
But right before reaching the stream I began to feel the first raindrops. This wasn't supposed to happen, I thought. Equally disturbing, as I sat along the creek waiting for the sky to brighten, I noticed the flow was quite high and very cloudy. How could that be, I thought?
I began casting just as the rain picked up. Surprisingly, I began to pick up wild browns readily. But since this stream suffers from rapid urban run-off, I noticed that as the rain turned intense that the water was rising rapidly and getting much cloudier.
After 1.50 hours and 25 wild browns caught in a drenching rain, I had to kind of laugh at the situation as I implemented Plan B and headed back to my SUV.
An hour and a half later I arrived at my destination and was pleased to find a perfect water level.
The stream has some pretty low waterfalls.
A few of our state fish, the native brook trout, were caught.
But the stream holds mostly wild browns. I usually catch at least one nice-sized brownie here each visit, and today was no exception as this well-fed 14.5"er couldn't resist my White Bead Gold spinner. After 6.25 hours I tallied 118 wild trout. I believe this was my first time to top 100 on this water. For the day I had 143 trout in 7.75 hours.
Due to Saturday's heavy rain, I knew my much anticipated trip to the mountain stream in my first photo was out, so on Sunday morning I got up at 2:45 a.m. and headed to north-central Pennsylvania for a day of hopefully catching lots of native brook trout.
There's something special about being in the wilds of Pennsylvania, booting up with a whispering brook in the distance, knowing that miles of undisturbed pristine water lie ahead.
I began casting my spinner at 6:20 a.m. and tagged a tiny wild brown immediately. But that was the exception as the action was slow, not unusual for when fishing near a parking lot, even in a remote area.
A pair of 9" native brookies were caught back-to-back, and I began thinking maybe this would be the day for large native brookies since the water level was ideal.
At the end of the first hour I had just 14 trout, and when I added just 14 more in the second hour I began to wonder if I had chosen the best stream for the day. I hadn't fished this creek last year due to dry conditions, and I thought maybe this lead to the trout population being cropped. One hawg brown in the only deep hole in a quarter mile of stream can chow-down quite a few little brookies in one summer.
But I was confident the action would improve as I knew the habitat would, and by the end of four hours I had caught over 80 trout, including this spiffy 10.5" native brookie.
Forget-me-nots lined the water in places, adding color to the surroundings.
And blue vervain brightened one of several meadows I fished through as the sun beat down relentlessly. But with the 54-degree water that rose to only 57-degrees late in the outing, the air in the shade hovering over the water felt refreshingly cool.
I moseyed up the hollow unconcerned about someone jumping in front of me and disturbing the trout. That's one of the benefits of fishing far removed from civilization.
Occasionally the stream would braid into multiple channels, and not knowing which one flowed under normal conditions lead to some unproductive time.
Sometimes, though, those side channels were worth exploring.
For its size the stream has some gorgeous pools.
And it wasn't unexpected when another large native brook trout attacked my White Bead Gold spinner.
After 8.75 hours I had fished approximately three miles and had reached my normal quitting spot.
On the day, 10 little wild browns were landed out of 186 total trout.
But the story of the day was catching large native brookies (though this is not one of them). I caught twelve 9"ers, two 9.5"ers, one 10"er, and one 10.5"er.
I was very pleased as I hiked for 1.25 hours back to my SUV in humid, 82-degree air. I couldn't help but think how lucky I was to have such nice water levels to fish in late July. Hum...I think I'll be back!
- Frank Nale -