Slaying in the Northwoods - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-08-2017, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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Slaying in the Northwoods

Slaying in the Northwoods

My alarm rang at 3:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 6th, 2017. I jumped out of bed quickly, wolfed down a large bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats, and soon was in my SUV and on my way for a date at daybreak with a medium-sized stream in the Sproul State Forest. I was nearly giddy with excitement at the thought of being able to fish a stream having a great water level in north-central Pennsylvania in July. This doesn’t happen every year so I wanted to capitalize on it, or at least I hoped to.

Thunderstorms were forecasted for the day, but based on the projected weather map I was pretty sure they wouldn’t arrive until at least the afternoon. Otherwise it was supposed to be cloudy, cool, and humid.

I hoped the weather would be much different than it was on my prior visit to this section of water on Tuesday, May 30th, 2017. That day while driving north I could see flashes of lighting far in the distance to the north during most of my drive, though I didn’t run into wet roads until just a few miles before arriving at my streamside parking spot. But within minutes after starting to fish the hollow grew dark and the sky opened up. I actually had to stop fishing because it was too dark to see my spinner dangling in front of me.

Thunderstorms moved through off and on that day and the stream level gradually rose until I was near my quitting spot and realized that the water was so high I dared not even to try to cross it again. It’s funny how I hadn’t noticed the gradually rising water. Luckily, I was on the road-side of the stream. That day I caught 136 trout in 7.50 hours. Of those trout, 99 were 7” long or better. I had no expectation of catching this many trout today, but I hoped to catch 100 trout to validate my stream choice.

After booting up I walked over to the creek. Dang, she looked good. The air temperature was 65-degrees and the water was 60-degrees.

DSC_1288 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

Within one minute I had my first trout of the day.

DSC_1266 (2) by Frank Nale, on Flickr

The stream holds both wild brown trout and native brook trout.

DSC_1255 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

I expected all of the trout to be small to medium-sized which is normal for a freestone mountain stream. I had no expectation of catching a hawg brown trout like this one that I caught the prior day on a small limestoner.

DSC_1178 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

Or like this one which I also caught on the prior day.

DSC_1210 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

But when I came to the first deep pool, my first cast to the lower end behind a huge boulder yielded a savage strike from a large brown trout. Luckily I had just retied my spinner to fresh monofilament prior to that cast, so when the brute made a couple strong runs my line held, giving me time to loosen my tight drag. On one run the boss cleared the water by a foot or more trying to throw my White Bead Gold spinner. After about a minute battle I subdued the 18.5” brown and brought him over to my boots.

DSC_1241 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

After catching this rare (for me) freestone hawg brown trout the action was decent for the next few hours but never spectacular. By 10:00 a.m. I had 47 trout.

After 10:00 a.m. trout began to come to hand with amazing regularity.

DSC_1249 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

Some pools yielded multiple trout.

DSC_1251 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

About half were wild browns and half were native brookies.

DSC_0951 (2) by Frank Nale, on Flickr

Even skinny water produced trout, much to my amazement.

DSC_1262 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

By noon I had 106 trout written down in the little tablet that I carry. I always record each trout that I catch before making my next cast, thus avoiding any chance of double-counting. For example, it only takes a few seconds to write down “9 BRN 1108,” meaning that I caught a 9” brown trout at 11:08.

As the afternoon wore on I was pleased that no thunderstorms had moved in, though I hoped we’d get rain later to keep the water levels up for the future. The air temperature remained at 70-degrees per my stream thermometer that I clip to my pocket when I want to record the air temperature.

A day lily hung out over the water.

DSC_1040 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

And the trout kept hitting with reckless abandon.

Here’s a rainbow that must have moved in from the stocked stream that the creek I was fishing flows into.

DSC_1048 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

And another wild brown…

DSC_1265 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

And another native brookie…

DSC_1280 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

There seemed to always be a nice place to cast.

DSC_1274 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

After ten hours of casting my tablet showed I had “slayed” 227 trout, which is my best day of the year so far. To be honest, after June passed without a Signature Day (200-trout outing) I never thought I’d have one this year. It sure was nice to finally have a day where the trout were hitting so well. Of the 227 trout, 129 where brown trout (60 sub-legals), 91 were brookies (52 sub-legals), and 7 were rainbow trout. Overall, 115 were of legal size and 112 were sub-legals.

DSC_1219 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

Today was my 33rd consecutive day of fishing where I topped 100 trout. I look for that streak to end soon.

After a successful day of fishing I always enjoy the long walk back to my SUV. Today it took 50 minutes to make the hike.

Bee balm was blooming.

DSC_1259 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

Purple-flowering raspberry was also blooming.

DSC_1292 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

A common shrub, wild hydrangea, which I assume is the shrub which “snowball bush” was developed from, grew along the road.

DSC_1293 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

I hit a little rain on the way home to Blair County and arrived a little after 8:00 p.m., so it was a rather long day of fishing. I’m already planning my next journey to the Northwoods though.

- Frank Nale -
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Last edited by FrankTroutAngler; 07-08-2017 at 05:00 PM.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-08-2017, 06:53 PM
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Thats a football of a rainbow. How was your experience using Flickr?
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-08-2017, 08:41 PM
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Congrats on your highest day of the year! Always nice to be surprised by a hog brown on a mountain freestoner.

That's a brute of a hog brown you caught on the previous day.

That stream looks familiar to me.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-08-2017, 08:46 PM
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Frank, do you or have you recorded how many fish you miss or feel hit in a day compared to what is caught? I know sometimes it's difficult to determine a hit or a quick snag but would be interesting to see raw data on how stream temps/flows would effect this. If there's anyone that's consistently using the same rod reel and spinner it's you. Also, nice fish! Looks like a memorable experience.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-08-2017, 09:19 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troutdoorsman View Post
Thats a football of a rainbow. How was your experience using Flickr?
Flickr was simple once I figured out I had to do a download of the photos I uploaded. Prior to that all I got were a bunch of thumbnails on the screen with not much in the way of menus.

The paragraph that grousedog20 wrote which included copying the BBCcode helped immensely. Without that I'd probably still be scratching my head. Thanks grousedog20!

The only thing I don't like is that it puts a photo number and my name at the bottom of every photo (as you can see in my post here).

Yes, that rainbow was quite muscular. It obviously had been in the stream a while.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-08-2017, 09:24 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Trout Traveler View Post
That's a brute of a hog brown you caught on the previous day.
It's amazing what you can do with a 30mm wide-angle lens. The trout with the wide open mouth was just 16.5" long, but don't tell anyone. The other one that day was an even 16". I also caught one that day that was 15.5", and it was caught in the same pool as the 16.5"er..

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-08-2017, 09:58 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wild Trout 24/7 View Post
Frank, do you or have you recorded how many fish you miss or feel hit in a day compared to what is caught? I know sometimes it's difficult to determine a hit or a quick snag but would be interesting to see raw data on how stream temps/flows would effect this. If there's anyone that's consistently using the same rod reel and spinner it's you. Also, nice fish! Looks like a memorable experience.
I've never officially logged my catch:hit ratio. However, while fishing I have often kept track mentally for ten hits to see how many of them I catch. Sometimes I have done this repeatedly for hours during the same day. A score of 4:6 would be 40% caught; 3:7 would be 30% caught; and 8:2 would be 80% caught. If I had to make an educated guess as to my average, I'd say that I catch around 40% of the trout that I feel or notice hitting my spinner. I also believe there are many trout that I don't realize have hit.

My guess is that water temperature would have little effect on this, but that's just a guess. Perhaps in colder water their flesh would be stiffer and thus harder to penetrate with a treble hook. They also might not be as aggressive in water in the 30's.

I think higher water has a huge effect in that it makes it much harder to detect hits since I wouldn't be able to see the spinner as well and the fact that the lure would be lofting in the water on more occasions which makes feeling hits difficult.

I think probably the biggest factor would be how much metal the trout have seen. If they've seen a lot I suspect they "nip" at the spinner more than usual and thus are less likely to get hooked. I've fished streams where I doubt the trout have ever seen spinners and they absolutely kill the spinner, which increases my hooking percentage. Sometimes they actually hold on fairly long. A week or so ago on a stream where I doubt the trout have ever seen a spinner I actually played an 8.5" native brookie for about two seconds before flipping him up onto some sandy/woody debris along the stream where he shook the hook. He then plopped back into the water. I cast to him again and caught him. Dumb trout but easy to hook.

Another factor is the number of really small trout, like in the 3" to 5" class. They are very difficult to hook and no doubt would cause a lower hooking percentage if a large number of them are present. There are tricks to catching them, however, which shall remain my secret, but I'll give you a hint in the next paragraph.

Always remember that on every single cast there is a correct direction to hold your spinning rod to maximize hooking percentage. The rod tip should always be near the surface of the water to minimize vertical line drag (the bow in the line), and it should always be held in the direction to minimize horizontal line drag. You can tell if you are holding your rod in the correct direction by how well you can feel the throb of the spinner. Of course, since I admit my hooking percentage is only about 40%, one could question my advise I suppose. Just remember, though, that I think I feel a lot of strikes that other anglers don't notice, thus the low percentage.

I'd be interested to hear the thoughts of other spinner anglers on this topic.
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Last edited by FrankTroutAngler; 07-08-2017 at 10:01 PM.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-08-2017, 11:45 PM
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That is impressive! I would love to follow you for the day and watch your techniques.

There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.

Last edited by Dogface; 07-09-2017 at 08:45 AM.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-09-2017, 08:46 AM
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BTW your photography is as impressive as your fish catching ability!
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There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-09-2017, 01:02 PM
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Congrats on your first 200+er of the year Frank. You may not have been confident but I figured it was only a matter of time. Bet we'll hear stories about another 1-2 of those trips this year yet.
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