Ice Fishing - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-15-2017, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
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Ice Fishing

The title of my post is not related to the frigid water temps and abundant flows we have had this year. The title is an ode to my fishing rod which now resembles an ice fishing rod. If you read one of my first posts this year, you may remember that the rod I am using this year on small streams is a "redneck" rod build that I did. I am using the top section and bottom section of different rods that I found along the stream at different times. I've replaced guides and manipulated a few other things. It started out being just over 4 feet long. Three days ago, while biking down a very bumpy road to a fishing destination, the rod slipped from my grip and went between the spokes of my front tire. The rod was shortened significantly. When I reached the stream, I took out my leatherman tool and filed the rod tip smooth to the last eye(which I only have 3 of now). I measured the rod and it is now 37" long. I had another rod in the car, but thought I would just try my "trout rod nano". It was working just fine...

7.15.2.17 by eric reger, on Flickr


Thursday
I was on new (to me) water. I have been waiting on this stream for 5 years. There are so many other streams within a few miles of this one that when water levels for that area are perfect, I can't get to all of those streams within the time frame that the water remains fishable.

7.15.2.17 by eric reger, on Flickr

One of the neatest stream features was this perfectly vertical, natural rock wall.
7.15.2.17 by eric reger, on Flickr

I was very happy with my first trip to this stream. It is unstocked, although I caught 33 stocked brown trout of a total of just over 100.

For the 2nd time in a week, I caught all 3 wild species of trout in one stream. The nicest wild fish specimen was this brown.
7.15.2.17 by eric reger, on Flickr


While looking from atop a boulder I just climbed, I saw a dead fish in the stream. From a distance I assumed it would be a stocked brown. But, it was a nice 8" native.
7.15.2.17 by eric reger, on Flickr

I looked it over and didn't notice and visible trauma. I doubt anyone else has fished this stream recently so I assume it was a natural cause of death.

Less than 5 minutes later, I found this dead hawk in the side of a pool.
X by eric reger, on Flickr

I was slightly concerned now that maybe I shouldn't be in the water, but healthy fish were coming regularly to hand so I dismissed that worry,

The finale of the day happened on the way home. So for this stream, I had to park in one place, bike to my starting point, and then run 3 miles back a dirt road to get to my bike. A mile or so into my run with ice cold legs, I could hear dogs barking, running down the only driveway that I would pass. I could see one huge sain't bernard, and then a smaller dog. They got to the road and were quickly heading toward me. As a runner, I have had many encounters with dogs. I've had my clothes ripped but I've never been bit myself. With only seconds until the dogs reached me, I looked for something other than my handgun to deter these things. I found a baseball bat sized stick. I find it most effective to run right at an approaching dog. (95% of them will get scared and retreat) The big dog did exactly that but the little dog didn't. It was much to small for me to need much defense though. I let it approach me and then it continued to follow me as I ran. I passed the driveway and a woman came down from the cabin and called the little dog. It came to her. Right when I was getting out of sight, I heard her yelling at it again and I saw it chasing after me full speed. I cranked up my pace thinking I could leave it in the dust. I made it half a mile and the dog caught up to me. I picked it up and jogged with it back to the appreciative owner who was getting on her quad to search.

7.15.2.17 by eric reger, on Flickr



Friday
Yesterday had me happily fighting very high waters. I chose a tiny headwater stream which I started fishing at 2300ft elevation. All water below that level was blown out.

I have only fished this stream once before. The water was absolutely perfect. I think it may have been the most satisfied I have ever been with stream conditions.
7.15.17 by eric reger, on Flickr

7.15.17 by eric reger, on Flickr

I couldn't stop photographing the stream.
7.15.17 by eric reger, on Flickr


When I rounded a bend and saw this stretch of water, my anticipation factor (term coined by Franktroutangler) was through the roof.
7.15.17 by eric reger, on Flickr
I love walking up through and progressively making casts further up into this little rhododendron alley.

The lower part of this stream which I fish every year holds some of the most colorful natives I've caught. And upper section I fished yesterday did not disappoint.
7.15.17 by eric reger, on Flickr

7.15.17 by eric reger, on Flickr

7.15.17 by eric reger, on Flickr

I ended where the stream split into 3 smaller tribs.

It took 3 hours and 10 minutes to crest 100 on this stream. The only other time I fished that section of water, I caught 47. I attribute this to water conditions and perhaps a small amount of increased skill from 5 years ago.

7.15.17 by eric reger, on Flickr

The clouds hung low on the mountains as I was arriving home yesterday.
7.15.2.17 by eric reger, on Flickr


Saturday
We got dumped on again last night with nearly 2 more inches of rain. So again today, I retreated into the high mountains. This was the first visit in 15 months to a steam which has previously held wild browns, brooks, and stocked fish. I had a friend with me today, who is learning to spinner fish. I make sure to bring an extra dozen spinners with me when he comes.

My anticipated starting point today was still much to high and muddy, so I headed further up the valley. Again, I found water that couldn't be improved upon.
M by eric reger, on Flickr

I usually don't take stream pictures until there is more ambient light present. My camera got fogged up so I wasn't able to do that today. I did get some pictures earlier on of fish. For the 3rd time this year, I caught all 3 wild species of trout. I have never caught all 3 wilds before from any stream in this watershed.

7.15.17 by eric reger, on Flickr

7.15.17 by eric reger, on Flickr

And the grand prize was this wild brown. 7.15.17 by eric reger, on Flickr

While I was bringing this big brown in (which was nearly half the length of my rod), I thought it had a wound or puncture on its back. It was just some very vivid coloring on the adipose fin.
7.15.17 by eric reger, on Flickr

I've caught two other wild browns over 16" from this stream in the past, so I was kind of waiting for it.


Three days in a row over 100 trout for me is a record since i rarely fish more than 4 hours. Maybe if I had a ad day or two mixed in I would have resolved to get a new small stream rod. But now it just emboldened me. I can cast just as accurately as ever, and there were no issues fighting powerful trout.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-15-2017, 04:21 PM
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That big wild brown is about as pretty as they get. Wow!

I don't how in the world you fish with such a crappy rod.

I thought that little dog was going to rip you to shreds when he caught you.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-15-2017, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
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That brown really took my breath away. I caught a 13" wild rainbow on the cast before that brown but fumbled it into the water while trying to take a picture. So I was temporarily bummed but the next big bruiser made it right with the world.

I used a St Croix trout series rod for half of one season, and then it broke. I had it replaced, and then I used it for a quarter of the next season and it broke again. It was far to flimsy for my liking. Apart from that brief experience with a "quality" rod, I've just used Ugly Stik rods any anything else I've found laying around. From constantly changing rods, I believe I can quickly adapt to any rod and cast with a high degree of accuracy. As long as the rod has a bit of backbone for hook setting, I feel comfortable using anything from 3' to 6' in length. I do 100% believe in having a quality reel and I wouldn't use anything other than a shimano.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-16-2017, 08:17 PM
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Great colors on the brown and nice pics
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-17-2017, 11:34 AM
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First off, you're expertise in SWPA trout fishing is amazing. Growing up there before the internet and wild trout stream lists I just found a few great stream and went back to the well over and over and over. I wish I would have done more exploring. I rarely recognize a stream that you post. I guess is all fairness the Laurel Highlands was a very different place back then with major acid rain issues ect. I bet a lot of the streams that you hammer them in now possibly didn't have any trout at all 25 years back. Regardless, you prove weekly that SWPA is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to trout fishing adventures in Pennsylvania. Keep it up!


Second, and this is stated with a buttload of respect for what you do day in a day out, but I have to agree with Frank on the equipment. You're clearly an excellent spinner fisherman. Too good of a spinfisher to be settling for equipment below your skill level. It is an excellent storyline to get it done with equipment pieced together with this piece and that part but for a guy of your skill set and drive I can't even imagine what you would accomplish with a custom rod and high end reel. As I've gotten older I've realized that if I am going to spend my money on anything that it's going to be on the things that makes me happiest in life, assuming I can afford it. I'm fairly 'cheap' too but not when it comes to fishing and hunting equipment. Not as I get older at least. The day to day grind at work and the pressures of parenthood and normal living.....it's worth it to spend the money on equipment that allows you to maximize your enjoyment and more importantly effectiveness of the things that you love the most. Of course, all that said, what makes each of us happy in our outdoors pursuits is not same for each other and by no means am I knocking your approach here. I quite admire it actually. I just think for a guy at your level that you would benefit greatly from excellent equipment. Actually I know you would lol. One of these days ya gotta build yourself a rod or have me build one for you. It's easy, relatively inexpensive considering what you get, you get a blank warranty so that when you stick it in your spokes it costs you nothing to replace but time, and it will make you better then you already are.

Another thing that will make you better is to drop the rod changing thing. Adapting to a lot of rods is a good thing and you're probably very good at it. But again talking about what level you're at as a trout angler (high), you'll eventually be better served to have one and only one rod and become exceptional with that rod rather then very good with a bunch of rods. I personally never change rods anymore no matter where I am trout fishing. The Lehigh River or a small brookie stream. I use the same 5'1" rod. When I breaks I build an identical rod to replace it. Identical in every way shape and form. Zero learning curve. Consistency and mastering your equipment is the only sure-fire way to take the next step.

So there's my old man speech lol. Please don't take that the wrong way cause I don't mean it negatively. You're obviously trout fishing at an extremely high level like few others. I just know you're a talented dude and want you to maximize that. It's friendly advise from a peer and nothing more. Even over time.....consider it.
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Last edited by Trout 2003; 07-17-2017 at 11:41 AM.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-17-2017, 12:42 PM Thread Starter
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I do appreciate the advice! I 100% get your sentiment. Actually, before I even finished writing this original post, I ordered a new reel after reflecting on what I was writing. (shimano sustain 1000- I remembered Craig did a review between that and the Ci4 + and I went with his thorough recommendation.) While fishing with my friend the other day, he asked why I lost so many fish that hit. We all know that its hard to break a 50% hook up ratio while spin fishing, but I'm likely far below that. I never thought anything of it. I just accepted it as part of the game until my friend verbalized it the other day. I get a new $40 reel each year and that has been enough to catch a few thousand trout each year. If I can keep this new reel for a few years, I'll be in the same boat financially. I never had any idea what you guys were talking about "feeling the spinner throb" haha. Hopefully I will find out. I also did a repair on my broken St Croix so I am likely done with my ice fishing rod.


As far as my research goes, a few of the streams I fish have been repopulated in the last 15 years after AMD and other pollution sources were successfully mitigated. Some streams have had dam removals done which dramatically increased the populations. Its likely a totally different ball game here then when you were doing your damage on this side of the state. As I said in my last two posts, there is one watershed in particular that has been increasing in wild trout biomass exponentially. I have even noticed a HUGE difference in the last 5 years I have seriously fished. All of the small tribs are blowing up and the main stream is producing big wild trout of all species. 20 years ago there was never even a mention of wild trout there. Good times to come!
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-17-2017, 10:07 PM
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Nice, that reel will last you a long time. My Ci4's are going on 5- years now and starting to come to the end of the line but I think I'll get another season after this if I choose too. I love them but at some point you gotta know when to say when. I think you'll notice a huge difference but it will take an few outings to adjust to the smoothness. The Sustain is butter smooth which I had trouble getting used to but after an outing or 3 it'll be awesome and it will last you forever. The biggest improvement you see is line management. The more expensive reels virtually make birds nests a thing of the past. I might get one bad birds nest a season. Other than that it's just some little kinks here and there. That what I think the biggest advantage is of the Stradic and up. Line Management. Enjoy!
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-17-2017, 10:32 PM
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Enjoyed the post. Great photos to capture the color on the trout.!
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-18-2017, 09:10 AM
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I enjoyed your post. It's great to see trout populations expanding in streams, especially those that previously had very few.

The pictures in your post are fantastic. I particularly like the big brown with the vivid red spots on the adipose fin.

Unlike many of the others in this forum, I use multiple rods depending on the size of the stream and the conditions. I use a 6' ML rod most of the time. I use that rod on small to medium size streams and even use it on some large streams when the water is low. I use a 6 1/2' ML rod on larger streams where I think there is a good chance of catching big trout. I use a 7' ML rod on the same streams sometimes if the water is high. The longer rod is helpful in fighting big trout. I can see the biggest benefit of using the same rod everywhere is not having to adjust to different fishing rods. There have been times when I've been using one of my fishing rods a lot and changing to a different one has been difficult. But for me, I'm glad I have the option to change and having that option has worked for me on many occasions.

It's nice that you're able to catch all three wild species on a number of streams in your area. Wild rainbows are extremely rare in most of PA. There's only a few places I fish that have them.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-24-2017, 03:53 PM
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Terrific post, great pictures, thank you for sharing!!! :-)

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