Frank Nale's 2020 Trout Season Summary
This year will go down in history as the first year of COVID-19, though it did not directly affect me all that much since I am retired and antisocial to begin with. There was a marked increase in the number of anglers on the water, which negatively impacted my fishing since as a rule I almost never knowingly fish behind another angler. I also believe I ran into more RBF water (Recently Been Fished with spinners) than normal as fishing with spinners seems to be becoming more popular each year. Therefore, I had to jump around to different streams and stream sections more than usual to find gullible trout.
The year was characterized by a late spring, as evidenced by a freak afternoon snowstorm on May 9th and a 27-degree morning on May 13th. Appreciable rainfall pretty much stopped around mid-June and by the beginning of July scorching weather had settled in and lasted for more than the next two solid months. Despite this once the larger streams cooled down in late September conditions were ideal during the entire autumn.
I do virtually all of my trout fishing in the central corridor of Pennsylvania, from Bedford County in the south to Potter County in the north, an area I consider the mecca of wild trout fishing in this state. This was my forty-second year to cast spinners for trout here.
Highlights for the year included an unusual “Opening Day,” recording my most productive day ever, and reaching a personal milestone. On top of this, fishing in the autumn was nothing short of spectacular with many large trout landed.
In addition to catching thousands of gorgeous wild trout on spinners, I enjoyed taking over 3,500 digital photographs of the trout, streams, fauna, and flora that caught my eye while fishing in the mountains and valleys of the Keystone State.
Four of my favorite non-fishing shots are next:
Coltsfoot – blooming on a barren bank along a limestone stream in Blair County in late March. Coltsfoot is one of the first prolific-blooming wildflowers of the spring. At a glance people often mistake coltsfoot for dandelion, but the flower of coltsfoot clearly has a distinguishable center, plus the leaves appear later than the flowers.
Large-flowered Leafcup – blooming in August along the Lower Trail. This is the only known occurrence of this wildflower in Blair County.
Pasture Thistle – with its 3” blossom this wildflower brightened up a field in a reclaimed strip mine on SGL 108 in Cambria County in July.
False Hellebore – for its two to three feet height this wildflower does not have a showy flower like you might expect, but the radiant leaves add color along a mountain trout stream in May. Like maidenhair fern, when I see fresh specimens I feel compelled to take a few photos because I like how the light plays on the large leaves.
DisclaimerIn this summary I will be mentioning numbers of trout caught and other statistics. This is not meant to be bragging but to give you a factual account of my fishing adventures. If this offends you, please read no further. If you choose to continue reading, I can assure you that my numbers are perfectly accurate. I carry a small tablet and pencil with me while fishing. When I get to a stream I write down the date, stream name and section, color of spinner, time, and the air and water temperatures. While fishing, I count only trout that I have hooked, played, and landed. “Long releases” are not counted.
After catching and releasing a trout, without exception, I get out my tablet and record the size, species, and time-caught before making my next cast. This process takes only seconds and eliminates any chance of double-counting. I accurately measure my trout by holding them parallel against the grid of inch-marker thread-wraps that I put on my custom-made spinning rod. When necessary, I round the size of my trout down to the nearest one-half inch. When I finish fishing for the day I calculate the hours that I have fished to the nearest one-fourth hour. I also try to quit on or very near to one-fourth hour increments. I do not count time spent taking photographs or chatting with other anglers as fishing time. All of my fishing is done in streams that are open to free public angling.