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Lately I've had some days where I caught a good number of trout and a few days where I've struggled, which is all a part of fishing. However, I've caught a lot fewer big trout the last month or so than what I'm accustomed to. I have learned that you really can't force it with big trout; you try to time it with good conditions and hopefully it works out. It's tough though. After an extended period, I feel if I don't catch some big trout that I'm going to get the bends.


So with the water conditions up on a favorite waterway, I headed there Wednesday morning. I parked the car, crossed a bridge over the stream and walked down.

The fishing was difficult due to the elevated stream level, but I had a hard hit and I set the hook. The heavy trout was on for only a few seconds before the hook pulled free. Within a few minutes, I lost two more, albeit smaller trout. I went through a long period of inactivity and switched to a Countdown Rapala. A short time later, a trout drilled the plug and a few minutes later, a 13 3/4 inch wild brown lay at my feet.


After releasing him, the inactivity returned. I switched to a large spinner that I rarely use, a homemade imitation of a Panther Martin spinner that my father made. A few minutes later, I felt a solid hit and sharply set the hook. I knew immediately that it was a hog brown. The trout thrashed on the surface before burning line off the reel. I could see that it was at least in the 19-21 inch range. The fight continued for several minutes as I would get the trout in close, only to have it zoom away. As I worked it in close, I got a sickening feeling that it was going to get away, even though I felt I had it solidly hooked. As I brought it in, the big brown veered away again and out came the hook. I hate that ominous feeling, because it's almost always right. As I moved upstream, I could see that another car was parked in front of mine. I hoped that the other fisher(s) had walked downstream as I had instead of upstream. I caught one small trout but had little other activity and I suspected that there was at least one person ahead of me. As I walked upstream I saw that I was indeed correct. I thought about walking upstream around him, but decided to drive to another part of the stream.

I drove to three other spots on the stream and all were occupied. Abandon stream!

I drove to a tributary stream that is stocked but also has wild browns. There is a dam on the stream where I know there are some good sized browns. As I approached, I saw a car parked there. I had to remind myself that it was indeed Wednesday and not Saturday with all the competing anglers.

I drove along the stream and passed two more parked vehicles before coming to the next bridge. No cars were there, so I quickly parked the car and headed downstream a short distance.

I had a couple of rainbows flash at my spinner before I landed one. A stocked brown came to hand next, followed by three small wild browns. Then, a sharp strike and quick hookset was followed by a nice sized brown cartwheeling out of the water and throwing the hook.

I continued upstream, alternately catching trout and losing a few.


I came to a nice pocket and dropped my spinner next to a deep spot. I felt a subtle take and set the hook. A heavy brown dove, then came up and went down again. This time, I succeeded in getting it in. She measured exactly 16 inches, but slipped out of my hand before I could take the picture and wriggled free.

I fished that stretch for 2.25 hours and landed 20 trout (15 wild and stocked browns, 5 stocked rainbows).

I needed to get something to eat and find another stream. I ate the sandwich I had brought and drove to a limestone stream in that general area.

I fished two different sections of that stream, and caught 11 wild browns. Nothing was larger than 11 1/2 inches though.

I was near the mouth of a tiny tributary, so I fished up to where I had parked my car. I landed four wild browns, including a nice 14 1/2 incher.

I got out and went back to my car. It was really hot and humid, so I took a rest before drove upstream and parked my car. I fished a very narrow section that I suspect not many people fish for that reason. A couple of years ago, my suspicion was confirmed when one of the landowners told me,"I only see two people fishing this stretch, you and an Amish kid. I had to tell him to leave because he keeps everything he catches and I noticed you don't."
I flipped a cast under a bridge and felt a solid hit. A fat rainbow cleared the water three times. (Almost all the trout in that stream are browns, but sometimes other species find their way into the stream.) I was looking forward to landing my second hog of the day, when the foreboding feeling came back. Say goodbye to hog #2.

As I continued upstream, five wild browns managed not to escape. One was a very nice 15 incher.


On the day, I caught 41 trout in 7.75 hours.

I planned to fish another stream in that general area the next day, so I checked into a motel to save the trouble of driving home and then back again. I went to a restaurant to have dinner and cheer on my Pens in their playoff game. Happily they won, but it went to overtime and I knew that getting up the next morning was going to be difficult.

The ring tone on my phone rang what seemed like 15 minutes later as I got up and prepared to fish. I grabbed a quick bite and headed for a section that I used to fish frequently but haven't the last several years due to angler pressure.

I walked in and began fishing. I landed 14 trout the first hour up to 12 inches long. I lost four others.


Hour two produced ten more as well as three more escapees. A brown in the 15-16 inch range followed but didn't hit.


Hour three also yielded 10 trout, plus a few more LDRs (long distance releases). The 4th hour produced 12 trout, including my largest trout of the day, a 13 3/4 incher.


A few drops of rain in that hour turned to a heavier rain and I had left my rain jacket in the car. I suspected that the stream was going to turn cloudy if the rain kept up, so I decided to walk back to my car, and got soaked in the process.

As I neared my car, I saw someone in the parking lot who looked very familiar. I said to him, "You look very familiar to me." He remembered me and called me by name. Before I could say his name, he said "Paul Turtzer".

I hadn't seen him since my tennis playing days. I used to play a tennis tournament in St. Marys, PA every year. I was only an intermediate level player and this was a USTA sanctioned event, so it always drew good players. Needless to say, in most years I played there, I lost in the first round. However there were two years where I won my first round and BOTH TIMES I played Paul in the second round. Paul was a teaching pro at Greensburg Racquet Club at the time, so he was in another class as a tennis player. I believe he was the #3 seed each time I played him. He beat me soundly each time. Paul is a really nice guy and is an avid fisherman, so we talked about fishing a lot every year at that tournament.

Due to a shoulder injury, I can no longer play tennis, so I hadn't seen Paul until I ran into him yesterday. We talked about the Pens, their prospects for winning the Stanley Cup, and fishing while we waited for the rain to slow down. Eventually, he and his friends left and I went to get some lunch.


I returned a little later and decided to walk back into where I had left off, even though it was a lengthy walk.

10 trout were released in that hour with the largest being 13 inches. The 13 incher hit a small plug, which I had tied on when I reached a known big trout holding spot.


To my surprise, I caught 9 more trout on that plug in the next hour, though none were big. One was this ambitious little fellow.


I noticed that quite a few strands of grass came floating downstream, likely a delayed reaction of the rain. I only caught three more trout in the remaining time that I fished. By then, I was getting grass on almost every cast, my legs and back ached, and I had a long walk back, so I quit for the day.

I caught 66 wild browns in 6.25 hours. The biggest was 13 3/4 inches. 56 hit spinners, the remainder hit plugs.

I removed my gear and prepared to leave. I saw Paul fly fishing and went over to talk with him for a few minutes. He was waiting for the sulphur hatch and hoped it would arrive early due to the overcast skies. Unfortunately, he hadn't caught any trout that day. I wished him well and headed for home.

TT
 

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