Thawed Out My Spinning Rod
January 2018 began with frigid cold and frozen-over streams. Even Spring Creek in Centre County iced over severely in many stretches – a very rare sight for the big limestoner. But as the month progressed winter’s grip loosened. The snow melted and the ice receded.
While waiting for my opportunity to thaw out my spinning rod and pounce on a stream, I spent many days in the mountains hiking around just to see what I could see and to get some exercise.
I found an area on a State Game Lands that had many large boulders.
I saw many small buck rubs.
I also found some buck rubs that I believe are called “community” rubs, meaning that all of the bucks in a certain area leave their mark there each year on the same tree.
Interestingly, though I walked many miles and covered a large area of land, all of the large rubs were in close proximity to the spot where I hunt deer.
One day I found what I believe is a dead coyote, though I suppose it is possible that it is a gray fox.
On Monday, January 22, I decided to begin my 40th year of casting spinners, a pursuit that continues to capture my imagination.
The air temperature was 36-degrees at daybreak and the water was 44.5-degrees. The trout were hitting decently for wintertime and my first stop of the day yielded 37 wild brown trout in 5.50 hours.
From there I drove to another limestone stream, one that is not affected as much by cold weather due to its many springs that enter the main stream at about 48 to 52 degrees year-round.
The water was 46-degrees, not bad for a winter outing, and the action was better than earlier in the day. In 3.25 hours I tallied 33 more trout, giving me 70 trout in 8.75 hours for the day. Two 14”ers were my largest fish of the day. They were both caught in the afternoon.
My next opportunity to fish came on Sunday, January 28th. Again the air temperature was 36-degrees and the water 44.5-degrees at daybreak. However, the action was pretty slow for my expectations. In the morning I bounced around on three sections of one stream and in 4.25 hours caught 30 trout.
The highlight came on the third stop. I walked over to the stream and on my very first cast this 18” wild brown couldn’t resist my White Bead Gold spinner.
A handful of casts later this 15”er slammed my spinner.
In the afternoon I hit a different limestoner. I didn’t see any angler tracks but the action was really slow. However, I didn’t feel like trying to find another place to fish so I just hung in there hoping the trout would turn-on at some point. This never happened and in 4.25 hours I duped just 24 trout to give me 54 trout in 8.50 hours for the day.
Though I felt the fishing was slow, for winter angling it really wasn’t all that bad. I used to consider a 20-trout day to be my minimum standard for a good day of fishing in the winter, but in recent years I’ve increased this standard to 30-trout and more recently to 40-trout.
Hopefully February will bring some more decent trout fishing weather. Last year we had one week of unusually warm weather in February. It was warm enough for an extended time that I even fished a remote mountain stream, something I rarely do in the winter because the water is relatively too cold. We’ll have to wait and see what February brings this year but I hope the frost doesn’t start accumulating on my fishing rod again.
- Frank Nale -