On Friday morning, June 9th, 2017, I got up at 3:00 a.m. so that Iíd have time to drive to a stream in the Sproul State Forest and get there at dawn. A full moon lit up the front porch when I peered outside to see if my newspaper had been delivered yet. I wanted to see if the Penguins had won game #5 of the Stanley Cup Finals the night before since there was no way I was staying up late on a fishing night. I have my priorities. It was a little too early for the newspaper to be there, but I checked on my Smartphone and saw that they had won 6-0.
I pulled out at 3:35 a.m. and headed north to a place I hadnít fished in many years. In fact, I had little memory of the stream and had only ever fished just the lower end of the section I chose. This was my fourth trip northward from Blair County this year. Previous visits had me believing that the small streams took a major hit from last yearís drought while the larger streams seemed to still hold a good population of wild trout.
I arrived at 5:30 a.m., and after answering an urgent call to nature, began fishing at 5:55 a.m. The stream was about twice the size of how I remembered it, which was a good thing.
The air temperature was a crisp 47-degrees and the water checked in at 50-degrees. No complaints there.
Like many of my outings this year, the action began slowly and it took fourteen minutes before I was able to corral my first trout of the day.
There were often wide shallow sections of stream, a common theme to the larger creeks in the northcentral region of Pennsylvania. Today they were mostly trout-free, but Iíve had some days in the past were there seems to be a little wild trout in nearly every depression in such stretches.
The fishing was certainly a lot different than fishing on a limestone stream, such as the one below, where there seems to be trout nearly everywhere.
This pool, though nice, yielded no trout.
But by moving quickly upstream, especially through the long stretches of riffles that probably didnít have one holding spot during last yearís drought, I was able to catch enough trout to keep myself entertained, though there were times when Iíd go fifteen to twenty-five minutes without landing a single trout.
There were also some nearly magical times where Iíd catch a pile of trout in a matter of minutes. Usually this happened when I was at or near a good pool, likely a place where the trout had refuge last summer and autumn.
The creek braided often, which I hate because I like to cover all of the water, so this means often walking back downstream through the woods to pick up the other channel, which kind of breaks up my rhythm.
But those braided sections often had the best habitatÖ
Öand the most trout.
After three hours of fishing the first column of my little notepad was filled with 35 trout, a mixture of native brookies and wild browns.
A barred owl was out hunting during the day, something they do when they have some owlets to feed.
Though the area is infected with hemlock woolly adelgids, as evidenced by the little hemlock needles floating in the stream and along the banks, it was nice to see some healthy growth on some of the hemlock trees.
Although the trout action was slow at times, I hung in there because I had no other options planned and I kind of just liked being there regardless.
Often cool air wafted up from the robust flow to cool things down a bit since the air temperature gradually rose into the eighties.
I guess the highlight of the day was catching this 14.5Ē wild brown.
It was a very attractive fish.
I ended up covering 5.10 miles, including hikes back to pick up braided channels, per my GPS unit. I caught 104 trout in 8.00 hours including two small brookies in a feeder run where I fished for a half hour. It took 64 minutes to walk 3.76 miles back to my SUV in the heat and bright sunshine.
Some fleabane grew beside where I had parked my vehicle.
Fleabane, which comes in a few varieties, is a rather common wildflower. Canada anemone, on the other hand, is not common, at least not where I travel. Iíve only ever found one patch of it, and that was along the Little Juniata River.
Overall it was another good day despite the slow times and I was glad to see a decent population of wild trout had survived last yearís drought. Iím sure there will be more north-bound trips for me this year as long as water flows remain adequate. Letís keep that rain coming!
- Frank Nale -