We’re at that time of the year when trout fishing is very challenging in PA. Streams are low and many are too warm. On Saturday the 17th, I went to a very well known stream. I knew that it was a virtual certainty that it had been fished recently with spinners, but I felt my options were very limited. The night before, while driving to the area, I hit a skunk with my car. I hoped that it wasn’t an omen.
The next morning, I arrived while it was still dark. I grabbed my flashlight and walked up the trail. I waded into the creek just before 6 AM. I had my first hit about five minutes into the proceedings. I missed on the hookset. I took another 10 minutes before I caught my first trout, a 10 inch wild brown. Shortly afterward, I caught a 5” line stretching bruiser. My next trout was 9 inches, followed by an 8 ½ incher, the first trout of the day to clear the water. A few minutes later, I cast tight to the bank and a heavy brown followed on two straight casts but didn’t hit. I lost a small trout before landing an 11 ½ inch brown. A 12 incher followed on the next cast, my first BTBer of the day. The hour closed with an 11 incher.
The second hour, like the first, started slowly. Ten minutes into the hour a 10 incher came to hand. A few minutes later, browns of 9 ½ and 8 ½ inches became my second pair of back to back trout. A trout hit, leaped, and was off. I had a lull of roughly 15 minutes before landing a 9 incher, followed by a double jumping 8 1/2 incher. My last trout of the second hour was a savage 5 ½ inch brown.
The third hour was a complete bust; a zero trout hour, highly unusual for me on that stream. I wondered if someone was ahead of me. About five minutes into the next hour, a fly fisherman came wading downstream. We talked for a few minutes, wished each other well, and went our separate ways.
I switched to a plug and lost one trout, but it didn’t produce any further action. I switched back to a spinner, then tried a # 3 Countdown Rapala, which produced browns of 8 and 9 inches. I had already decided that I’d had enough of that section, so I climbed the bank and walked back to my car. At that point, I had caught 15 wild browns, 13 in the first two hours, but only 2 in the last hour and a half.
It had warmed considerably, so I pulled off my waders, switched to my wet wading pants, and drove downstream. At 64 degrees, the water was 3 degrees warmer than when I’d started. I had several follows and a hit to start. I was encouraged, but the full sun was on the water and the trout were very wary. I caught an 11 ½ incher, then a feisty 6 incher, before another lull in the action. I figured that I would try something I rarely use; a Niti spoon. They sometimes work well, but I only use them in shallow water because they’re so light. I never use split shot with any kind of lure. Several trout charged without hitting. I had three swim all the way around the spoon, which I’ve seen before. Nitis are the only lure that I’ve seen trout react to in that manner. Finally, a trout piled into it, and it vaulted out of the water twice before I grabbed, measured, took a quick picture, and released it. It was 14 inches, my largest trout of the day to that point. I caught a 6 incher on the spoon before deciding to head to another stream.
I drove to another stream and waded in. The 57 degree water felt refreshing. I had several trout follow before one pounced. My first trout there was a nice 12 inch wild brown. I lost two trout, then endured a lull, which made me consider wading out. I was close to a deep spot which I always suspected held big trout, though I’d never caught one there.
To my surprise, I caught a colorful 9 inch rainbow before I reached the deep spot. My first cast into the swirling flow resulted in a very fat 8 ½ inch, quadruple jumping rainbow. On the very next cast, a very heavy trout blasted my spinner. I saw a big silver flash, and knew I had another rainbow. It cleared the water twice before I brought it to my feet. I think it’s fair to describe the rainbow as corpulent. I’m not sure where the rainbows came from as the stream is not stocked. I can only guess they came from the stream it feeds.
A short distance upstream, another fat rainbow drilled my spinner, breaking my line. I continued upstream and landed wild browns of 9 ½ and 10 inches before two kids came down the creek in float tubes. Because of all the logs in the stream, I’ve sure they waded more than floated. Nevertheless, that put an end to the fishing.
For the day, I caught 25 trout in 6.25 hours of fishing. 22 were wild browns; 3 were rainbows. The biggest trout was the 17 inch rainbow. My biggest brown was 14 inches. Six of the trout that I landed cleared the water. My phone registered 6.4 miles walked.
I stayed in the area and arrived early the next morning at a large limestoner. I took the water temperature immediately, which was 65 degrees. The action was slow the first two hours, resulting in 4 browns in each hour, ranging from 7 to 9 ½ inches. The action picked up the next hour. My total for the day doubled as I landed 8 more trout. All except one were under 10 inches, but the one was a very nice 15 ½ inch brown. It slipped out of my hand before I could get a picture. I had another trout that was about the same size, hit, clear the water, and throw my double hooked spinner in my direction.
A very deep, unwadeable pool lay ahead. I was sure there were anglers upstream, so I walked back to my car and drove up along the stream. Sure enough, I saw three cars parked along the road, so I continued until I saw no other cars. I walked downstream and headed for a section where I had caught big trout in the past.
I dropped my thermometer in the water to make sure the temperature was still suitable. It was 64, so I resumed fishing. A spot very productive in the past produced only a 9 inch brown. I fished through some beautiful water, with only a follow to show for it. I considered switching to a plug, since the trout had likely seen quite a bit of metal recently. I decided to stay with the spinner. I flipped a cast tight to an undercut bank, but nothing was forthcoming. I made another cast about 30 feet above that to a pocket next to the bank. I had made 1 or 2 cranks of the reel when I felt a solid hit. I set the hook and the heavy fish veered toward the bank. I steered the brown away from it and the overhanging bush. The brown measured 16 ½ inches.
I caught browns of 9 ½ and 9 inches before two kayaks came paddling through. I reached a large pool and fished it briefly before I saw a pickup truck pass that had several occupants with float tubes in the back. I waded out and drove to a stream I hadn’t fished at all this year.
Unfortunately, I saw fresh no trespassing signs along the stream, so I drove up further and encountered another newly posted stretch. I’ve fished that stretch for years, and thought about asking for permission to fish, but the stream was very low, so I decided I would wait and ask another time.
I drove to another stream, saw two bikes parked in a section I wanted to fish. I didn’t see any anglers, but I was sure there were people fishing there, so I decided to head for home after only four hours of fishing. I caught 20 wild browns on the day, all on spinners. Only two exceeded 10 inches, but they were fine fish at 15 ½ and 16 ½ inches. I walked 2.1 miles on the day.
S L O W Action
With so few trout fishing options, I returned to a favorite large stream despite the sunny forecast. I hoped to catch some large trout and walked into a section that I had fished a month ago. I started further up than I usually do because I wanted to fish a couple of stretches before the expected parade of kayaks arrived. I fished through a split in the creek where I often at least see a big trout, but nothing followed. About 20 minutes into the hour, I caught an 8 inch brown. I took the water temperature, which was 60. I cast along the left bank and a nice brown followed without hitting. I think it was around 14 or 15 inches. I moved up to a deep stretch and tied on a #7 Countdown Brown Trout Rapala. I had a hit at a bend in the stream and to my surprise, it was a 12 inch brook trout. While I often catch brook trout in that stream, in that spot I seem to catch mostly browns and the occasional rainbow. The hour ended without any further action.
There was still a fog over the stream, and I hoped to catch a big trout or four before it lifted. I had a long dry spell that was broken by an 8 inch brown. I switched from a spinner to a large Niti spoon which I had wanted to try and the section I was moving through was a good place to try it. It wasn’t deep and didn’t have heavy flow. I figured if I got anything it would be a good sized fish. I had a fish follow but not hit, but that was remedied on the next cast. A bold 10 inch brook trout hit, and I brought it to my feet in short order and released it.
The full sun was on the water as I moved upstream. I tried a plug and had a mid-sized trout follow once without hitting. I switched back to a spinner and only had one follow to show for it as I endured a troutless hour. To that point I hadn’t even seen a big trout.
I flipped a cast under a bush along the bank and a large brown charged out, saw me, and reversed course. I came to a split and fished the right side. Most people fish the left side, and that’s the side the boaters go through. I could have fished both sides, as no boats had come through yet, but I only tried the right. That side produced a beautiful 11 ½ inch rainbow that unfortunately slipped off the hook as I was pulling out my camera. As I emerged from the split, I saw another fisherman upstream from me. He was a good way upstream, but I wondered if he had already fished much of the water where I had such slow action. It’s also possible that he had walked in right where he was fishing.
I fished along the bank for another ½ hour and had another big trout follow and disappear without hitting. I waded out and returned to my car.
I drove several miles downstream and waded in above a bridge. On the opposite bank, a family was getting ready to launch their kayaks. I saw the father wade in without shoes. I don’t know how many times I have seen that, but people who do that risk painful injury to their feet. You have no idea what’s on the stream bottom, especially in a body of water that size.
My spinner dropped into a deep swirling hole and I felt an immediate hit. My first smallmouth of the day measured 12 inches. A few casts later, a rainbow piled into my spinner. It cleared the water once and got off a few feet in front of me. It was my second lost trout of the day. I took the water temperature, which was 65.
I made a long cast to a riffle and felt a solid hit. I had a heavy fish on, and I hoped it was a trout. I saw a yellow flash and knew I finally had connected with a big trout. The question was whether I’d land it. It headed for heavy water, but I was able to bring her to me. The brown was 17 ¼ inches. I took a couple of pictures, then eased the hefty brown off the hook and she zoomed away.
The very slow action resumed. It took about a half hour before I caught a 10 inch brown, followed by a nice 14 ½ incher. I made a cast along the left bank, where there was a line of bushes. I had caught big trout there in the past. A large trout charged out, but saw me and continued downstream past me. It was a hog rainbow.
I continued along the left bank. Another big trout came out and retreated to its lair. I saw kayaks headed downstream and wanted to fish a nice run before they floated through and spoiled it. My cast dropped right against the bank and as I began reeling, a fat brown rushed out and drilled my spinner. It dove under the cut bank, but using steady pressure, the hog brown gradually gave ground. I netted the fish, snapped a picture, and measured her. The trout was 18 ¾ inches. I knew it wasn’t a 20 incher when I hooked it, but thought it was longer than she turned out to be. That often happens with trout as heavy as that one.
The kayaks passed and I knew I only had a short time left to fish before I had to walk back to my car and head home. I caught one more trout, a nice 13 ½ inch brown, before I climbed the steep bank and walked back to my car.
I caught only 10 trout and 1 bass in a little over 7 hours of fishing. That is very slow action, even for that stream. I expected slow fishing due to the very sunny skies. At least I was able to catch two big trout and see several others. I caught 7 browns, 2 brooks, and 1 rainbow. I caught 8 trout and the bass on spinners, 1 on a plug, and 1 on a spoon. I walked four miles on the day.