Five Late May Outings
The trout fishing here in central Pennsylvania has been pretty good lately, though not as good as it usually is for this time of year. Below are the results of my last five outings.
May 21, 2017 (Sunday):
Trout were breaking the surface and large mayflies were helicoptering by as I stood streamside at a long flat pool waiting for it to get light enough to begin casting my White Bead Gold spinner. I was pleased to see all of the activity since this stream had gotten very low and quite toasty during last summer’s drought.
Unfortunately, the action on the end of my line didn’t match the pounding the mayflies were getting. However, since I was right beside a parking lot I figured these trout had probably seen their share of lures in the last month or so.
I was using my heavier spinning rod since large streams typically don’t require the accurate casting that smaller mountain streams demand. I think I can feel trout hit easier with the stouter rod, but spinner placement, particularly under overhanging obstructions, is difficult and sometimes impossible.
It took eleven minutes to land my first wild brown trout of the morning.
I began picking up wild browns at a steady but semi-slow pace once I got away from the parking lot pool. At one point I hooked a large brown of 17” to 18” on the far side of a wide flat pool and played him over to my feet. Unfortunately, the hook came free at that point.
But as I moved upstream the action slowed to a crawl. The hour and a quarter before I quit yielded just four trout. I don’t know if someone got ahead of me or if the heavy hatch was holding the trout’s focus, but it was time to leave after 35 trout in 4.25 hours.
From there I drove to a small mountain stream where two previous visits this year made me think few trout survived the conditions of last summer.
The water level was much better than on my two prior stops here this year and the trout were hitting pretty well.
A fawn along the bank caught my attention. It was about the size of a two liter bottle of soft drink.
I often see trees growing in the woods that appear to have had the soil eroded away from their roots. Of course, it’s actually caused by a tree growing out of or on the stump of a tree – and then the stump rots away. Here you can still see the stump.
I fished 4.75 hours on this mountain stream and caught 88 small wild trout, giving me 123 trout in 9.00 hours for the day.
May 23, 2017 (Tuesday):
This morning at daybreak I was again waded into the 56-degree water of the same stream that I had fished on Sunday, though I was obviously on a different section. Thoughts of having an uninterrupted day of hauling in heavy wild brown trout had brought me here. The air temperature was a cool 47-degrees and the flow was again ideal.
And this time I wasn’t disappointed. Heavy trout came to hand with regularity.
Since this creek has several stocked streams flowing into it, there’s always the chance of catching some stocked trout, like this 15” rainbow.
Here’s a 14” golden rainbow which I spotted before casting.
In 6.75 hours I caught 114 trout, though only fifteen or so were fooled in the final two hours as the action wound down.
I then fished a stocked stream for 1.50 hours and caught 18 trout. My total for the day was 132 trout in 8.25 hours.
May 24, 2017 (Wednesday):
Today I got up at 3:30 a.m. so that I would have plenty of time to drive to a small mountain stream and arrive well before daybreak, hopefully to discourage any latecomers from parking in the final upstream parking lot on the creek.
The flow was a little lower than I had expected, but still good. The water temperature was 52-degrees and the air was 56-degrees. The sky was cloudy. Conditions were near ideal. Now if only the trout would cooperate.
No trout were even seen in the first ten minutes and I began to wonder if maybe last summer’s drought had done a number on the stream.
But gradually a few trout were brought to hand, including this red-spotted wild brown.
At times the action was good, but at other times it dragged on. I know other anglers fish this stream with spinners, so I thought perhaps the trout were suffering from Metal Fatigue. Since I’m retired now and have only a finite number of good destinations within an hour or so of my residence, I’m more inclined now to stick with a stream longer than I used to since I don’t want to use up too many good destinations quickly. Today I stuck with the stream hoping more trout would cooperate farther into the headwaters and salvage the day.
As it turned out, the action did pick up slightly in the final hour or so, but the action was never anything special all day.
After 8.25 hours my GPS unit showed I had covered 4.94 miles and had caught 101 trout.
May 25, 2017 (Thursday):
I had to watch the weather closely leading up to this morning as rain was scheduled to arrive in the early morning hours. My hope was that it would hold off as long as possible, though we could use some rain again, since I knew the creek would get high and muddy from urban runoff a few hours after it rained.
It took about twenty minutes to walk into the stream and it was already raining in the predawn light, as it had during the drive here.
I didn’t take too many photos since rain and digital cameras don’t mix well. Suffice it is to say that I fished in the pouring rain up until about 9:30 a.m. when it pretty much ended. The trout were out en masse until the stream got too muddy to enjoy at slightly after 11:00 a.m. In that time I tallied 92 wild brown trout in 5.25 hours.
Maidenhair fern, one of my favorite subjects to take pictures of, was growing along the trail during the hike back to my SUV.
While driving home I realized that it must have rained more around home as the streams were roaring high. I wanted to catch eight more trout to hit the century mark for the day, so I went to a little mountain stream that has no roads near it. Any runoff there would be clear and natural.
It too was quite high, and since it has a high gradient, there were very few spots where I could even cast my spinner. It took 1.25 hours to dupe eight wild browns and native brookies. My total for the day was 100 trout in 6.50 hours.
May 26, 2017 (Friday):
My alarm sounded at 3:00 a.m. today and by 3:30 I was on my way to a little stream in the 260,000 acre Susquehannock State Forest in north-central Pennsylvania. Like my unsuccessful visit on April 29th to another small mountain stream in the general area, I knew going there was a big gamble due to last summer and autumn’s drought, but thoughts of having a quiet day in the mountains catching beautiful native brookies and wild browns one after the other overrode my caution.
The stream and conditions looked great.
The first half hour yielded just three trout, and then I fished pool after pool after pool and didn’t even see another trout until I caught my fourth trout in a large pool at the end of the hour. At that point, after fishing .99 miles, I decided to tuck my tail between my legs and hike out.
During the walk down the hollow I decided to chuck my second preplanned destination since it too was a very small rivulet. Instead, I decided to go to a larger stream. Of course, with the morning now nearly half over, I knew there was a good chance I might run into other anglers.
An angler was just exiting his SUV at my first choice, so I drove farther upstream and luckily no one was at my next stop.
The water temperature was nearly 54-degrees and the air just a degree or two higher. A misty rain and occasionally a more intense rain fell at times, though most of time it was just cloudy. The sun peaked through the clouds now and then.
I began picking up trout on my White Bead Gold spinner immediately, much to my delight. This 16” wild brown was my fifth trout on this stream at the eleven minute mark and helped take the sting off my blunder of going to the small stream at daybreak.
Most of the trout were native brookies.
This fern grew along the water. It might be ostrich fern but I wasn’t sure.
The action was very good most of the time and I couldn’t help but smile from my good fortune. Then two mergansers flew downstream past me and for roughly the next mile of water the action was slow to non-existent. When it started to get better I flushed a great blue heron and we all know that puts the trout down.
Gradually the trout reappeared and though it was getting late I had a hard time deciding when to quit. I kept telling myself I’d give it another fifteen minutes, and an hour later would still be telling myself the same thing. In 6.50 hours I caught 121 trout and covered 4.20 miles of water per my GPS unit.
It took 58 minutes to hike the 3.3 miles down the trail to my SUV. My total for the day was 125 trout in 7.50 hours. For the day I walked 9.74 miles.
My total for the five days of fishing was 581 trout in 39.50 hours. This averages out to 116.20 trout per day and 14.71 trout per hour.
I plan to get in a few more outings in May. I’m glad we got the rain since it hadn’t rained much here in south-central PA since the beginning of May. May is shaping up to be a pretty decent month though I do now believe the drought of last summer did a number on at least some of the small streams in the north-central portion of the state.