Since I’ve returned to fishing following my recovery, my fishing has been very poor in terms of numbers, but I’ve been able to catch some big trout.
On Tuesday, August 29th, I decided to take advantage of cloudy skies and travel to a very popular large limestone stream. The water was low as expected, but the water temperature was at excellent at 61. Unfortunately, I didn’t even have a trout follow for the first 20 minutes, so I switched to a plug. About five minutes later I felt a solid hit and set the hook. The rod bowed and I felt the weight of a heavy fish. It zipped around the deep pool and I suspected that I had a chunky smallmouth on instead of a big brown trout, which turned out to be the case. The hefty fish measured 16 ¼ inches and is the largest smallmouth bass that I’ve ever caught on that stream.
Despite the good water temperature and cloudy skies, the trout just weren’t active. I caught only three browns (two 11 inchers and a 9 ½ incher) in addition to the aforementioned bass in the first hour of fishing. Hour two was only slightly better, producing four browns, with the largest being a nice 14 ¾ incher.
I kept moving upstream, expecting to see a fisherman at any moment. I landed a measly three browns in the next hour and saw a fly fisherman upstream from me, working his way downstream. After I walked back to my car, the guy who was fishing upstream from me pulled over and told me that he’d only had a few hits. He lives near the PA-Delaware border and had never fished this stream before. After we talked awhile he left and I drove to a nearby small tributary expecting to see at least one car there. As I pulled into the lot, there was indeed a car there, so I left, not wanting to fish behind someone on a small stream.
I drove downstream toward the lower end of the stream I had started on and waded in at the mouth. I fished the stream it flows into for about ½ hour. Most the fish in that stream are smallmouth bass, but there are a few trout. I lost a nice trout and had another follow before I returned to the first stream. I caught only on 10 inch brown and a little bass. I hooked and lost a heavy brown trout in the 15-16 inch range before deciding to leave. Another fisherman had arrived, and I had already stayed too long on a stream where the action was lousy.
I drove to a nearby small limestone stream and decided to try it, even though it was low. I hooked and landed an 11 inch rainbow soon after starting but the action in that section was slow. I caught four wild browns between 8 ½ and 10 inches before heading to another section. The action there was much better. I caught 11 wild browns, 2 rainbows and lost several other trout. The biggest in that section was only 10 ¼ inches.
For the day, I caught 29 trout; 26 browns, 3 rainbows, and 2 smallmouth bass. Three browns and one smallmouth hit plugs, the rest of the fish hit spinners. The last 45 minutes helped salvage the day, but I was very disappointed in the action on the primary stream.
First Trip in September
My friend Mark McKenzie texted me and suggested we try a favorite large freestone stream, where we’ve had some great fishing for big trout. The cool weather and cloudy skies set the stage for another great outing. At least that’s what we thought.
We waded in well downstream of where we often start. Since it was a Saturday on a holiday weekend, there figured to be kayakers or canoes on the river. I took the water temperature shortly after getting in. It was 59. Mark caught the first trout, a 12 inch brown. His next trout was a brook trout, a stocker from a nearby tributary. Mark picked up a small bass, then another trout before I landed my first fish, which was a small bass. My first trout was a 10 inch stocked brookie.
As we moved upstream, Mark had a large brown follow from the left bank but not hit. I had a couple of follows but had a long period of inactivity before I caught two browns of 12 and 9 inches. Unfortunately, the sun came out and while it was on the water, we had only a couple of hits.
Mark caught a nice 16 inch brown tight against the bank, plus another bass. On the opposite bank, a 16 ½ inch brown ambushed my spinner, giving me my first big trout of the day.
Unfortunately, in that section, I only caught one more trout, a 10 inch brown with stubby fins.
We waded out and walked upstream. We walked across an old railroad bridge but the left bank was so overgrown we had much difficulty getting in the stream. We did get in and Mark tried to cross, but went over his waders and was forced to turn back. We ended up going upstream and busting brush to get in.
I cast to the far bank and felt a subtle tap. I set the hook and felt a heavy fish. The brown dove repeatedly for the deep undercut, but I managed to bring him to my feet, measure and release him. It was 17 ¼ inches. A few minutes later, I caught a 13 inch stocked brookie.
We walked downstream to the bridge and waded in, fishing the water we had skipped. I caught only one small bass in that water while Mark managed a couple of small browns. We decided to wade out and drive to another spot.
We went to another spot with difficult access. Even with the heavy cloud cover, the action remained slow. Mark caught a small rainbow, then hooked a heavy trout. He said he didn’t think he had it hooked well, but he managed to land it. The beautiful brown measured 19 ¾ inches.
A little while later, another heavy trout hit Mark’s spinner. Expecting another brown, he was surprised when he saw the tell-tale pink flash of a rainbow. It cleared the water once before Mark netted it. At 18 inches, it was Mark’s third hog of the day.
I caught three more browns and a colorful 12 ½ inch rainbow, but didn’t hook or even see any more big trout.
We saw two canoes heading downstream, so we waded out. I was tired from wading in the heavy current and felt I shouldn’t push it. Mark was also tired, so we quit for the day.
We caught a low number of trout, typical for the stream. Mark landed 14 trout (10 browns, 3 rainbows, and 1 brook trout. Three of his trout were 16 inches or more. He also caught three smallmouth bass.
I caught only 11 trout (8 browns, 2 brooks, and a rainbow). I caught two big trout. Like Mark, I landed three smallmouth bass. All trout except one hit spinners. Mark caught one trout on a plug and one of my bass hit a plug. It was a fun day and nice to be on the water, but we expected to do better. The unpredictability of fishing!
On September 9th, I again went fishing on a weekend, which I try to avoid if I can, but I thought I’d try a large limestone stream I hadn’t fished yet this year. Unfortunately, the fishing was awful. I caught only five trout there, two rainbows and three browns. The largest was a 13 ¼ inch brown.
I debated going to some other area streams, but instead went to a nearby limestone stream. The extreme low water made it very difficult fishing. I fished it for two hours and only caught six wild browns between 3 and 10 inches. On the bright side, I saw quite a few young of the year trout. I thought about going to another stream but figured the fishing wouldn’t be any better so I went home.
I considered fishing on Wednesday the 13th but had other things I had to do first. Mark McKenzie and I decided that the forecast for Thursday and the water level on a favorite stream were too good to pass up and agreed to meet there on Thursday morning.
It was raining steadily when we parked Mark’s car upstream at our assumed stopping point. We drove downstream close to where we accessed the stream.
As is often the case there, the fishing started slowly. I usually start using a spinner, but opted to try a plug I hadn’t used in a long time, a floater-diver jointed Rapala. I had a big brown follow my plug back to me but it didn’t hit. A few minutes later, a big brown piled into Mark’s spinner. The heavy brown fought ferociously, but Mark netted him after a few minutes. He was a colorful 20 incher, but unfortunately, he slipped from Mark’s grasp while I was getting ready to take the picture.
About half an hour later, a brown intercepted my plug. I set the hook, the heavy trout zipped downstream but I led him to the net after a couple of minutes. My first trout of the day measured 18 inches.
We had a long period of inactivity until Mark caught a 15 ¾ inch brown and two browns in the 10-12 inch range. I had two trout hit, clear the water and throw the lure before a large rainbow ambushed my spinner at the tail of a deep pool. The rainbow measured 17 ¾ inches.
A while later, Mark lost a heavy brown that was definitely a hog. I had a large brown follow my spinner back to me, then dart away. Mark caught three more small browns before I landed two browns, one 12 inches and the other 13 inches.
I was wading through a succession of large rocks, stepped into a hole and lost my balance, causing me to pitch forward into the stream. I got up without incident, but had to deal with being soaked the rest of the day. After my dunking, I switched to a plug and dropped a cast tight to the head of a stretch of pocket water. A heavy trout pounced immediately. The brown came to the net after a few minutes. At 17 ½ inches, it was my third hog of the day. (The picture quality isn't good due to the rain).
We went through another long period of inactivity. We were really surprised, given the conditions. A rowboat came down the stream with one fisherman in it. We wondered how he would be able to fish that way. We saw a fly rod in his boat as he drifted by. Perhaps he anchored the boat where intended to fish.
At any rate, we expected the slow action to completely tank, which it often does on that stream after a boat passes. This time, we caught four trout shortly after the boat passed. Mark caught three, including an 18 inch brown. Again, it slipped out of his hand before I could get a picture. I landed a 9 inch brown then a brown shot out from under and large rock and drilled Mark’s spinner. The 18 ½ incher shown below was the result.
We continued upstream and surprisingly each came up empty fishing in separate channels in a split. I had one trout in the 15-16 inch range hit and get off. At the top of the split, two different trout followed without hitting. One was over 16 inches for sure.
A short distance upstream a heavy brown rolled out from the deep channel along the bank and smashed my spinner. He came to the net quickly, but took off three separate times before Mark succeeded in netting him. The tape showed 17 ¼ inches.
Mark caught the next three trout, browns of 12, 9, and 13 inches. A few minutes later, I felt a subtle tap and set the hook. The fat brown vaulted two feet clear of the water twice then burned line off my reel. He soon tired and Mark slipped the net under him. I had left my net in the car by mistake. At 20 inches, he was my largest trout of the day.
We fished through a beautiful riffle and another nice-looking stretch with no results. Mark asked me if I ever caught any fallfish there. About two minutes later, I caught a small fallfish, which was a weird bit of timing. As we continued upstream, we each had several large browns follow without hitting. We reached another split. Mark continued in the main channel while I chose a very small channel where I had surprisingly caught a large brown in June. This time I landed only a 9 inch brown. While I was in the other channel, Mark caught an 18 inch brown.
I fished up the right side of the stream, where there was heavy cover. A brawny brown came barreling after my spinner. I saw him and crouched low to try to avoid being seen. I saw the brown open his mouth but it didn’t grab the spinner. The trout saw me and took off. About 50 yards upstream, my spinner stopped and I set the hook. Another heavy trout came to the net after a spirited fight. This one was 18 inches.
Further upstream, Mark fished the left bank, which looked hog worthy. A small rainbow followed but didn’t hit. Mark caught a 10 inch brown and I caught an 8 ½ inch brown before we reached a convenient walk out point.
When I told Trout2003 yesterday of my intention to fish the stream and how good the conditions were, I received a text predicting 11 hogs combined. Mark and I ended up catching 26 trout combined. Mark caught 15 trout, all browns, and all on spinners. I caught only 11, 10 browns and 1 rainbow. All but two were on spinners, the others hit plugs. Mark caught four big trout and I landed six, so we let Zak down. We only caught ten hogs.
I sure wish we would get some significant rain soon. So many streams are low.