Water, water, everywhere... - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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Water, water, everywhere...

This summer has been more than any trout fisherman could as for as far as weather/precip goes. The only negative has been that I haven't been able to fish the river much...

7.27. by eric reger, on Flickr

It has looked like this for much of the summer.


That small negative is easily overlooked since I have had the freedom to choose almost any mountain freestone stream that I wish for almost the entire summer so far. I have been trying to take advantage of these blessings by exploring new little streams that normally wouldn't fish well after early june (unless I were storm chasing). I will summarize the last 4 days fishing trips in this report.


Fly fishing...
I spin fish about 19 of every 20 fishing trips that I make, which gives me a few days each year of fly fishing. The only conditions that I fly fish in now are elevated, turbid waters. I really like stripping woolly buggers and streamers through slack water on the side of a riffle or pool. I guess I like this method because it reminds me of spinner fishing. On monday, the perfect conditions for such a trip existed.
7.27 by eric reger, on Flickr

This wasn't a long trip as I snuck out for an hour and a half before church, but it was fairly productive with 11 stocked trout rising to my WB. No big fish were caught, which was a subconscious goal of mine.
7.27 by eric reger, on Flickr




After another dumping of 3+ inches of rain, I have spent the last 3 days on first order streams, high up in the mountain valleys.


On Tuesday, I visited a stream that has experience two years of my absence. My last trip there yielded my 3rd wild tiger trout. I did not bring a camera or a phone that day, so all I have are memories, which is good enough. I thought for a second about building a little stone corral on the side of the stream, hiking the 2 miles out, driving 35 minutes home, getting a camera, and reversing the process to get a photo, but of course I didn't do that.

As soon as I stepped foot into tuesdays stream, I knew something was up (or down). I wet wade almost exclusively, but this water got my attention.
7.27 by eric reger, on Flickr

The air temp was 54 and as you can see, the WT was quite low. This stream ALWAYS runs much cooler than others in the area, and I knew this already. But, my last 3 visits here the WT was in the upper 50s. I expected slow fishing, and thats exactly what I got. This stream was literally my only option though. Every other tiny rivulet was still blown out. After that low WT was taken, I had too much invested to turn around. I brought my brother with me that day and we had mountain biked nearly 2 miles through mud and boulders to reach our location. The scenery helped ease the slow fishing.
7.27. by eric reger, on Flickr

No big fish were caught here today, but a few browns came out to play.
7.27. by eric reger, on Flickr


The stopping point for the day was this waterfall where I caught a 16" wild brown 3 years ago.
7.27 by eric reger, on Flickr


I let my brother fish it, and on his first cast he caught a little native. I decided to try and video his next few casts in hope of getting a hook up on camera. Of course no more strikes occurred. You can see how the high volume of water made spinner fishing difficult. We had most luck in slow water areas.
7.25 by eric reger, on Flickr




Wednesday

Streams near me were still too high, so I did something uncharacteristic of me, I traveled 45 minutes to fish. This was essentially a new stream for me. I say essentially because 15 years ago I fished a small section of this steam with nightcrawlers. I don't have any notes from that trip, but my surprisingly vivid recollection of that trip includes 20-30 native brook trout and a few wild rainbows.


I targeted a different and much further downstream stretch of water on this day. The water was on the low end of fishable, but still much better than the raging torrents at home.

7.27. by eric reger, on Flickr

My first cast brought a few tiny rainbows out of hiding. Half a dozen little bows were landed before I connected with a bigger fish, which was holding tight against a wall in a narrow channel.
7.27 by eric reger, on Flickr


I've been trying to get my friend Angelo(also a teacher) hooked out trout fishing so I have somebody to fish with all summer. When I fish with somebody, we basically leap frog each other so we alternate getting first casts into prime spots. He outdid my 11" wild rainbow with a 13" rainbow caught from the same spot against the wall.
7.27 by eric reger, on Flickr


Moving further up, the water got skinnier and the brookies became more prevalent.
7.27. by eric reger, on Flickr

7.27 by eric reger, on Flickr

After 3 hours of fishing with 83 trout released between us, and the daunting 45 minute (joking) ride home, I had been in the " Ok, this is the last hole" mode for a while. One wild brown had been caught, 5 native brookies, and the rest were wild rainbows. Luckily, I made it through 5or 6 "last hole" scenarios and kept moving upstream. I spotted a beauty of an undercut bank, complete with a 90 degree turn in the stream channel underneath some rhododendron. I told Angelo as I ran ahead of him "watch this, this is going to be awesome" and I cast up under the bank while still walking. One crank, maybe two and my 6lb test line was being tested, along with the recent repairs to an old rod. The line didn't break, the top guide didn't fall off, the middle of my rod where it previously snapped even held up. Now I just needed to elevate the fish out of the 3ft deep water that persisted right up to the bank, thus eliminating the "drag it up into shallow water" method of landing big fish. I couldn't encourage the fish to go downstream to shallower water as there was too much rhododendron. Angelo went into the water to try the last resort scoop. Out of excitement, I unnecessarily dictated to him every move that he should make. I hate to play a big wild trout to exhaustion just to land it more easily. I would rather go for a quick catch and release and lose the fish at the bank than watch the fish play out for minutes. Against my "orders", he grabbed the line and slid a hand under the giant's belly and that was it.

7.27 by eric reger, on Flickr

At 21", it tied my biggest wild brown that I caught last year. (pictured below)
Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 12.04.11 PM by eric reger, on Flickr

And it tied another 21" wild brown from 3 years ago. (pictured below)
bigbrown1 by eric reger, on Flickr


Upon reflecting on my 3 biggest wild browns, and thinkging of some others that were in the upper teens, I've noticed a pattern. I've caught a lot of my big wild browns in streams that don't necessarily have a lot of other wild browns in them. Now, there are some other streams in those watersheds that are 99% wild browns. I think this may reveal a tendency of big wild browns to travel and take up temporary residence in places other than where they were born and likely return to spawn. The stream where this most recent big wild brown probably came from is larger and can get into the low 70s during the dog days of summer. This big boy may have moved to a smaller, icy tributary where it can chow down on abundant little rainbows along with whatever else washes into its lair all summer long. I'm curious to hear if other experienced trouters have similar findings with respect to big wild trout movement.




Thursday

My new reel came in on Wednesday and I just had to get some casts in this morning. I headed to another brand new stream which is only 15 minutes away. As I've said before, there are so many tiny little mountain streams around, that some fall through the cracks each year without me fishing them. My first two casts sailed across the pool, past my target, and onto the opposite bank. The line came off the spool with much less resistance than I am used to. The retrieve was smoother than smooth. It actually felt very strange to not feel and hear gears grinding as I reeled. With my accuracy dialed back in at the next spot, I pulled in the first fish with my shimano sustain 1000fg.
At 10.5", it is a fish that I will remember.
7.27 by eric reger, on Flickr

This new stream certainly had exceptional habitat
7.27. by eric reger, on Flickr

This 9.5" native had quite a gut. It felt like it had recently eaten a crayfish.
7.27 by eric reger, on Flickr

I was certainly feeling more connected with the spinner at the end of my line thanks to my new reel, and perhaps I landed a few more small fish because of it.
7.27 by eric reger, on Flickr



A 9" native occupied the upstream side of a log which creates a waterfall below. I often anticipate the spots like that more than the waterfall pool itself.
7.27 by eric reger, on Flickr


The walk out was fairly scenic as the dirt road descended the through what looked like an old strip mine, allowing for exceptional views of surrounding mountains.
7.27.. by eric reger, on Flickr
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Last edited by troutdoorsman; 07-27-2017 at 06:24 PM.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 03:27 PM
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Great outing and pictures, thanks for sharing!!!! :-)

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 09:03 PM
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great story and pics. Sounds like a great time was had.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-28-2017, 11:34 AM
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I really like the photo of the rhododendron-lined pool (Tuesday) where you caught the 16" wild brown last year. That photo screams "Pennsylvania!"

When you fish with someone and you "leapfrog," does each angler actually get out of the water and circle ahead of the other person to the next pool or do you just walk together and alternate first casts at each nice spot? When I fish with someone we just alternate first casts. If one person is catching fewer trout they get more "first casts" to try to keep things even.

That 21"er is beautiful and a true trophy for such a small stream.

I'm not a big "migrationist" believer when it comes to big trout, particularly on small streams. I believe the biggest, deepest pools have a big trout and they pretty much stay there, mainly because they expose themselves to danger unless the water is up. However, I'm sure they move some to get to know the area. I recall catching an 18" wild brown from a tiny pool on a tiny mountain stream where there is only one deep hole in a good mile of water. I caught the trout about a half mile above this good pool. The water was high. I believe the 18"er was moving around during the high water to find some easy food.

There's a study going on right now on the Little Juniata River on big trout movement. A similar but inconclusive study was done a couple years ago there too and some of the big trout literally moved several miles, mostly during the summer I believe. High water temperatures there are likely part of the cause, though the river didn't have exceptionally high WT's or low water a couple years ago during the first study. The reason for the movement is unknown as far as I know. They may just move because they like to travel. Personally, I don't see a big advantage for big trout to move on a large stream (unless it was to find cooler water) since they would likely just find another big trout (and resultant lack of prey) in the next pool they move to anyway. I think that they're likely moving in high water to take advantage of the available food in places that were inaccessible during low water. I imagine a normally shallow riffle or pool would be teeming with crayfish and become a smorgasbord during high water.

One stream that I fish has a section where the stream is split into two channels. The left channel has one deep pool but carries only about 20% of the flow. Most of the water goes down the right channel. The right channel has no deep pools and is mostly riffles. The stream above and below the split also has few if any refuge areas for quite a distance during low water. The stream is Class A and has trout even in the riffles when the water is flowing decently. Anyway, several years ago I fished this stream in the summer during really low water. The entire stream flow would have easily fit through a 4" pipe. I caught very few trout. When I came to that nice pool in the left channel there must have been a hundred trout. The bottom of the pool was black with trout. How would most of those trout have even known about this pool if they hadn't done some traveling? Clearly, even the small trout moved around a good bit to get to know the lay of the land, even to the point of leaving the bigger channel and exploring the trickle in the left channel. Their survival depended on it.

I think there is still a lot to be learned about big trout and even small trout movement in Pennsylvania. I believe we are in the infancy of this learning process.

The 10.5" native brookie was a nice way to break in a new reel.

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Last edited by FrankTroutAngler; 07-28-2017 at 11:44 AM.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-28-2017, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thats interesting Frank. I've never seen wild trout stack up like that. That might also be because I'm always fishing the river when small streams are low. I've seen stocked trout do that many times to find thermal refuge.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-28-2017, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by troutdoorsman View Post
Thats interesting Frank. I've never seen wild trout stack up like that. That might also be because I'm always fishing the river when small streams are low. I've seen stocked trout do that many times to find thermal refuge.
I've seen trout stacked up at the mouth of a cold water tributary when the main stream is warm although it's been a number of years since I've seen that. When I've seen it, I immediately left the main stream.

I'm not a big believer in large trout migration either. A lot of times when someone catches a big trout in a small stream, I've heard that person or someone else say that they figured it came up from a larger stream. It's possible of course and I wouldn't discount the possibility if the big trout was caught near the mouth. Big browns are expert ambush predators and I believe that any stream that has brown trout and has sufficient cover and cold water has the potential to have a big trout.

I am convinced that brown trout do migrate in the fall to spawn. Big browns move out of some lakes and big rivers to spawn. There's a tiny freestone stream where I've seen a lot of big browns in late fall that I'm sure migrated from the main stream, a very well known limestoner.

Excellent pictures and write up. You catch really beautiful wild rainbows and the 21" brown is a trophy for such a small stream. I consider a trout like that to be more of a prize than a big trout caught on a large stream.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-28-2017, 09:13 PM
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WOW! That big brown is one bad dude!!! That's an awesome fish and great pic. Really shows how big it is and from a little trickle like that....impressive. When you told you buddy that this was gonna be good I doubt you had that in mind haha. Beats any big trout I've caught this year. Some are bigger but all of mine have come from places that I sort of expect them to come from. And you catch one that is 21" in that situation. That's unreal.


Glad you like the new reel. You aint seen nuttin' yet though. Wait till you break it in after a bunch of trips. You'll have an amazing 'sweet spot' for the next 3 summers before it starts to get on the backside of things for the next two seasons. With how you fish you should get 4-5 years from it I would bet although year 5 will be tough with issues. Amazingly, my 2....yes 2! Ci4's (both 5 years old) both TIHS the bed today in one outing. Both of them had substantial malfunctions and are both trash basically. I nursed one through the rest of the trip and it was miserable. Reel shopping is underway. I'm not looking forward to it though cause I hate new reels. I hate the change in feel. My first outing is always miserable.


Anyhow...water had been crazy in the SW. Enjoy it while it last cause it's gotta end at some point unfortunately. Maybe not though!
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-28-2017, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
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I also always did believe that big wild trout stuck to one area. This big fish obviously did move a bit though. It was 2 miles up a little trib with almost all rainbows, and then around a mile up a large stream from where a prolific wild brown stream dumps in. I have caught wild browns from the large stream, but not very many. I suspect they were mostly travelers from the prolific little wild brown stream. I just can't believe he was a permanent resident when only 2 out of about 90 fish were wild browns. Very similar situations with the other 21" wild browns pictured.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-28-2017, 09:59 PM
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I also always did believe that big wild trout stuck to one area. This big fish obviously did move a bit though. It was 2 miles up a little trib with almost all rainbows, and then around a mile up a large stream from where a prolific wild brown stream dumps in. I have caught wild browns from the large stream, but not very many. I suspect they were mostly travelers from the prolific little wild brown stream. I just can't believe he was a permanent resident when only 2 out of about 90 fish were wild browns. Very similar situations with the other 21" wild browns pictured.
It's impossible to know how long that trout has been in there. He may very well have moved from the tributary since the stream you caught him in doesn't have many browns. What I was referring to in my previous post is that many anglers assume that big trout caught on a small stream must have come from a larger stream.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-29-2017, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
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Frank-

When I fish with somebody on a very small stream like this, sometimes we do walk out around each other. The holes are too small to be fished by two people at once. Plus it irks me a bit when, if it is the other person's first cast, they bomb one to the top of the hole just to get a guaranteed strike instead of working up from the back to maximize the number off fish caught. This would lessen my chances on a 2nd cast. When we leap frog each other I end up moving much quicker than whoever I'm fishing with so I get more first casts in, works for me.


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The hardest thing to get used to on the new reel is not flipping the bail over by hand. I had to consciously try on every cast to not do it. Its hard after a few million casts of flipping the bail over manually. I do notice that I now have an extra split second to prepare for early strikes which will pay off in the future. I've also just recently noticed a huge,monumental, life changing blunder in my flip cast technique that I might start correcting now that I have a new reel and a clean slate. It doesn't affect my accuracy, just not the most efficient.
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