Here it is almost the end of May and I am just doing the May blog. Its been absolutely crazy busy and I am loving it. Guide trips have been going pretty good with Wet Fly Waterguides and Sky Blue Outfitters. Of coarse mother nature hasn't been treating us very well this spring. The waters we've been fishing have been up and down since the end of April. Just when you think there going to stay at a normal flow for awhile a storm moves in and blows them out. This has been happening the whole month. Luckily we've only lost three trips to the weather so far.
All of our guide trips we've done up to this point have been great. Rick, Taylor and myself have managed to get our anglers into fish even with the terrible water conditions. The hatches on all of the waters that we've fishing are in full swing. We've been fishing Sulphurs, march browns, light cahills, gray fox, tan caddis's. So moving into June I am thinking we'll have good flows for pretty much of the whole month. We'll be crossing our fingers. Here's some photos for the month.
The month of June has rolled in the same way May started, RAIN and more RAIN. Mother nature will just not give us a break. I guided every day the first week of June and we had to search for decent water to fish and the second week is looking pretty close to the first week. Being the prime time of the season to fish, it has definitely has been a challenging one. On one trip we left Central PA and drove 2 hours north into Potter county to fish a good flow and clear water. When we did get on the water the fishing was pretty good.
There are lots of flies on the water, but noticed not a lot of rising fish. Not that it matters a whole lot to myself and the anglers I am guiding because we're presenting wet flies underneath the surface. We're seeing sulphur's, green drakes, slate drakes, caddis's and light cahill's and that was just on Kettle Creek. In Central PA it has pretty much been the same flies, that's when the waters are not blowed out. As of right now Kettle Creek was starting to drop, but the fishing is good. They definitely could use a little rain in the valley, but not to much just a little. The streams in Central PA Spring, Little J, Penn's and Bald Eagle, well it will be days before you'll be able to set foot on those waters. At this point I am thinking we're going to have great trout fishing in July. Here's some pic's of our days out.
Waters have finally started dropping down to fishable level after the rains we had for the past two weeks. That's for our streams just in Central Pennsylvania. Up in the northern part of the state that's a different story. The waters on Kettle, Pine and the First Fork are starting to drop quickly and warming up. At this point there right on the edge of being to warm to fish for trout. Early mornings and evenings are the time to fish them now. Hatches up north are starting to come to an end, but still seeing a decent number of slate drakes which seems to be the dominate fly on the waters up there. I wish I could report something about the central streams. Its been two weeks since we last fished them and they've been high since then. But now there reaching a good level we'll be back on this week.
Well, mother nature got me again and flooded us out the day before a guide trip. I just can't seem to win with the weather. Looks like we'll try to shoot for next week, I am sure it'll rain again. The waters up north are now getting low and warm and it'll be time to rest those streams. Maybe check out the tributaries and chase some brook trout, but its definitely time to get the boat and bass gear ready for on the lakes.
As the spring trout fishing is coming to an end. Its time to give the trout a little break until the fall. Its now time to chase some bass and pike on some of the lakes that we want to get some experience on for the future. Speaking of the future Wet Fly Waterguides is looking to expand its guide service to running guide trips for bass and pike on some of Western, Central and Northcentral Pennsylvania's lakes.
In 2017 we purchased a fourteen foot poling skiff from Salt Marsh Skiffs in Fort Pierce Florida. Doing some research for a couple of months on the perfect fly fishing boat, the Salt Marsh Skiff seemed to be the perfect boat for what I had in mind for fly fishing. I received the boat here in Pennsylvania in late September 2017 and was able to get her out on the water three times before it got cold and had to put it away for the winter.
On Sunday June 24th we launched her for the first trip of 2018 on Yellow Creek State Park in Indiana County. Of coarse with all the rain we have been having throughout the state and waters being high, Yellow Creek lake was no exception of having clean water. So my young angler friend Jake and I made the trip any way to fish and test her out for fly fishing off her front deck. The fishing was pretty tough with the water conditions being so cloudy or should I say muddy. The trip wasn't a total bust. It got me some practice on unloading the boat off the trailer and loading her back on the trailer and setting Jake up into position on the lake to make some good casts. Jake did land his first pike on a fly and it was a first for the boat too.
My son John and I spent the last weekend of June in Potter County on the Bush dam on kettle creek chasing largemouths. We fished Saturday morning and evening and Sunday morning. Weather was, well lets put it this way it didn't rain. Saturday morning was great out on the water, but when that sun burnt the fog off it was smoken hot. The temperature hit a high of 98 degrees by eleven o clock. We managed to hit some fish first thing in the lily pads on clouser floating minnows and gurglers. Saturday evening was the same results with the same flies. Sunday morning was nice again until the fog came off the mountains. We did get a chance to moved around the lake to some new areas that we've been looking at and landed a few bass. The bass that we landed weren't giants but they fought like they were. All an all it was a good trip and we got to learn a little bit on a new lake.
On July 7,8,9, it was back out on the lakes. On Saturday my young protégé fly angler Jake and I headed out to explore Canoe Creek Lake in Blair County. Arrived at the lake around 6:30pm and got the boat in the water in about ten minutes, getting a little better at launching her. Got a real good chance to check all the areas out on the lake. Lots of good grassy areas for some top water action and that's what we mainly fished with. Jake again was the hero and I was the zero.
Sunday my son John and I headed out mid afternoon to Black Moshannon State Park to try out the lake at the park. The lake looked absolutely great, lots and lots of lilly pads. I don't think we ever seen a lake with that much cover. Launch area was good and we got the boat in the water pretty easily. Motored around the lake for a little to get somewhat of an idea where the open areas were then we got started. Fished down one side for a good ways then moved over and fished up the other side and back to the boat launch. We did not move a single fish in all that time. It probably would have fished pretty well if there weren't so many kayakers on the water, there were quite a few. It looks like this lake will have to be fished early in the morning and possibly on a week day. We'll definitely have to make a trip back when there's less people on the water.
On Monday John and I was back out on the lake. This trip we headed down to the Yellow Creek State Park lake. Fished late afternoon till dusk. Water was perfect, just like glass. Lunched at the north shore launch and made our way over to the far side of the lake in the shade. Landed a few largemouths on top water flies and I hit a nice pike on a sub surface fly and of coarse I lost it right at the side of the boat.
On Thursday July 13th. Jake and I was back on Yellow Creek for a late afternoon fish and fished till dusk. Again fished the far side of the lake were there was very little sun. Definitely getting an idea of where the shady areas are at least on the far end of the lake. We haven't ventured up to the top end of the lake where the stream comes in just yet. I did notice where all the lilly pads are seems to get sun pretty much all day. Looks like that area would be the first place you would want to fish first thing in the morning. Again there was hardly any wind and the lake was real calm. We fished the edges and the drop-offs and hooked up on about a dozen largemouths. Clouser floating minnows and gurglers were the flies that produced.
SOME GREAT NEWS. I am proud to announce that Dave Rothrock and Brian Shumaker will be joining the guide staff of Sky Blue Outfitters. Both of these gentlemen are first class anglers and well known Pennsylvania fly fishermen. They will be bringing a wealth of knowledge to Sky Blue Outfitters. Dave Rothrock is a certified casting instructor, fly tyer, author, speaker and one of the best nymph fishermen I know. Brian Shumaker is one of the top fly fishing guides on the Susquehanna River and Juniata River targeting smallmouth bass. Brian brings 25 years of experience fishing those rivers. Rick,Taylor and I are glad to have Dave and Brian on board Sky Blues guiding staff. You will definitely be seeing some new package guide trips and educational programs in the 2019 season. I look forward to working and fishing with both of them in the future. For more information check out Sky Blue Outfitters website (www.skyblueoutfitters.com).
This past weekend I did my first guide trip for bass with fellow angler and good friend Kevin Mechling. Kevin has been on numerous trips with me over the years, mainly fishing wet flies for trout. But this spring Kevin's trout trip got rained out on the day that we were to fish. We tried a couple of times to get the trip in, but mother nature was just not on our side. So we talked about planning a trip for mid July. As most know the waters in northern PA start to drop and warm by early July and trout fishing is pretty much a hit or miss. I asked Kevin if he would be interested in doing a smallmouth trip for two days, and he agreed.
Kevin and I fished on the Bush dam Friday afternoon out of the boat and of coarse the wind kicked up as soon as we hit the water. In a few hours only one bass was landed. Saturday headed to Pine Creek to do some wading . Fished a few different locations and landed a few decent bass. Sunday morning wade fished the lower end of Kettle Creek. Landed few smallmouths and rock bass. The hot flies were Murdich Minnows and Lefty's Deceiver's. All and all not to bad of a trip. Again Kevin was a blast to fish with. Hope to guide him again in the future.
We've been hitting Yellow Creek and Glendale Lake for the past couple of days. Fishing the edges, structure and lilly pads. Starting to figure out that the sun plays a major part in where to fish. Learning where the shady areas are on those lakes in the morning and evenings. It seems that full sun in the afternoon pretty much ends your day until late afternoon. Its definitely a new game and learning experience and we've been having a blast. The nice thing is we've been boating fish every trip on all of the lakes we've been fishing. The top water action has been pretty good and the sub surface has been ok. It's been absolutely hilarious the looks and comments that I get when other anglers see the boat at the launch and on the lake. Then of coarse when they see us fly fishing, well that's not the norm on the lake. I just tell them we're here to fish for bone fish and tarpon and they get a good laugh and so do I.
Over the winter Taylor Helbig (Sky Blue Outfitter Guide) and I talked about doing a float trip on Pine Creek in Lycoming County for smallmouth bass. The plain was to launch Taylor's Flycraft raft down on the lower end of Pine and fish to the mouth where Pine empties into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.
We were really looking forward to this trip this year. But, as mother nature would unleash her wrath of more storms across the state on our date, the float was doomed. The Pine Creek Valley received heavy rains the day before and made Pine unfloatable and fishable.
So as most trips go everyone always has a back up plain, so plain B was put into effect. The plain now was to take advantage of the good flow and water temperature on Kettle Creek. The waters in the Kettle Creek Valley at this time of the year were the best I ever seen since we've had the camp. Thank you mother nature for the rain, yea right.
The trip was absolutely awesome. Water temperatures on Kettle were between 56 and 61 degrees. Pretty good for trout but not real great for smallmouths and that's what we were there to fish for. So needless to say we caught more trout then bass, but we did manage to land a few smallmouths. Since Taylor doesn't get to fish for wild trout to often, I decided to take him to one of my favorite wild trout streams in the big woods and we landed quite a few browns and brookies.
I can definitely say this was a very memorable trip that we'll be talking about for many years. For being the first weekend in August, all's I can say is mother nature gave us somewhat of a break. Looked at the long range forecast for the following week and you guessed it, more rain coming. I don't think we can get this lucky again, but we'll see. The hot flies on this trip were Lefty's deceivers and small woolybuggers on Kettle. On the wild trout stream we used dries and small nymphs.
The weather here in Central Pennsylvania has just been absolutely crazy this summer, its just been rain and more rain and more rain. So with our streams and rivers being blowed out most of the time this summer we've been heading to North Central PA. Kettle Cr, Pine Cr, Driftwood Branch of the Sinnemohoning Cr and there tributaries have been the places we've been targeting.
On August 17,18,19, 20 good friend Bob Henry and nephew David spent four days chasing smallmouths and trout in the big woods of Northern Pennsylvania. The weather in the area was mostly cloudy all four days and of coarse with a few off an on showers. With the cloud cover and moderate temperatures it made for some good fishing. The flows on all the streams we fished were perfect. Bob ended up landing the trophy of the trip, a big largemouth from the Driftwood Branch taken on an articulating streamer that my young angler friend Jake tied. Believe it or not we only fished with two different flies for four days. There just wasn't any need to change flies when the fish were just crushing these two patterns.
For the last two weeks we've been chasing smallmouths and wild trout in North Central PA. The flows on the big three (Kettle Cr, Pine Cr, Driftwood Branch) have been great. The smallmouth fishing has been real good. I am not going to say these fish are easy to catch, you definitely have to work for them a little and cover some water. We've been moving around to quite a few locations on all three streams locating there holding areas. It's definitely been a challenge, but the hookups have been worth it. For the next couple of weeks we'll still be targeting smallmouths on the streams and largemouths on the lakes. But when the cool temperatures start in late September we'll be back throwing wet flies for trout.
With good flows on the wild trout streams and cool water temps up north the dry fly action on the tributaries for wild trout has been pretty decent. My son and his buddy spent a few days at the end of August in the big woods stalking wild trout on a few the streams. Sounded like they had a good trip, wish I could have joined them. It seems chasing bass with big flies is growing on me and its the game for me right now.
Here it is October and it's still raining keeping the streams and rivers at unfishable conditions, can you believe this weather. The cool temperatures are here and it's time to chase some fall browns and that's what we did this past weekend. The guides from Sky Blue Outfitters were on Spring Creek for two and half days fishing with five anglers. It's to bad the rain trashed the other streams in the area, but that's the way its been going the whole season. But we all made the best of it and all of our anglers landed fish and had a great time.
Two weeks prior I was still throwing some big flies for bass and toothy critters on the lakes here in Western PA and having some great success. Fly fishing on the lakes and casting big flies has definitely been a learning experience this summer. I definitely have logged quite a few hours on the lakes and at the fly tying vice. I also got quite a bit of experience launching and loading the boat on the trailer. The flies have been awesome to tie. It's been a far cry from tying wet flies on ten's, twelve's and fourteen's. A big thanks goes out to some great fly tyer's on Youtube for giving me some great ideas on bass and pike fly patterns. Also thank you to good friends Brian Shumaker and Todd Spacht for sharing there expertize with me on equipment and set up. Its time now to winterize the boat and put the gear away for the season. I'll definitely be looking forward to next summer.
As the 2018 season comes to a close alI can say is What A Season. This was definitely one of the most frustrating trout seasons I have experienced in a long time, that would be for the weather we had throughout the season. And believe it or not rain is coming for the beginning of November. But, all of the guide trips and outings I did on my own between the rain storms went pretty well. Also the time I spent out on the lakes bass and pike fishing were some great trips too. I would like to thank all of the anglers that came and did guide trips with me this season and all the anglers I guided at Sky Blue Outfitters.
Now its time to get the gear cleaned up and get stowed away for the winter and wait for next spring to arrive. It'll now be time to get ready for the show season and the first show will be the International Fly Tying Symposium in Parsippany, NJ November 17,18. I will be attending the show as one of the many fly tiers from around the world. Joining me at the show will be fellow guides and tiers Rick Nyles, Brian Shoemaker and Dave Rothrock. Should be another great show and looking forward to see some old friends.
As the first few weeks in November have come and gone it still has been pretty busy. On November 7 through the 10th my son and I spent some quality father and son time together in the big woods in Potter County. For the past few years we take four or five days during small game season in early November and dedicate those days to chasing gray squirrels and turkeys. Some might know that this is another one of my passions in the outdoors, but the wet fly fishing is still at the top of the list. This hunting time in November has been in my family for a number of years and its been definitely a family tradition that John and I will carry on for a number of years. This year was no exception in the big woods.
I think I'll definitely have a enough of fly tying material to tie lots of picket pins which is one of our favorite wet flies.