Winter has now got its grip on Western Pennsylvania and at this point cabin fever will be setting in for us all at some point. I am sure everyone of us anglers will be pretty much following the same pattern of keeping busy over the next few months, tying flies, cleaning gear, planning trips. It's surprisingly for myself how busy things get when your going into one season to the next. It all gets started in October with tying flies, getting gear ready and planning for the fly fishing shows, O' yea and still doing some fishing.
As we move into the up coming months we'll be pretty busy. We just got back from the Fly Fishing Show in Edison, NJ. As most know this is the granddaddy of all fly fishing shows. It was an awesome time at the show for us. Got to check out some new gear, buy some tying supplies and talk to a few tying buddies and of coarse hang out with the guides from Sky Blue Outfitters. This show is the first of the season for me and four or five more shows will follow before the show season ends.
So its back to the fly tying vice to bang out a few more articulating flies for bass and pike. I'll occasionally be glancing out the window to see how much snow is falling to the ground and thinking of getting back on the water. It will be here before you know it.
Couldn't resist on taking this guy home from the show to hang on the front of our camp. It'll be chasing a few wet flies.
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The guides from Sky Blue Outfitters
As we move into the month February staying busy has not been a problem. The fly fishing show season is in full swing and our next show coming up will be the Central PA Fishing Show in Bellwood, PA Saturday February 23rd. Then to the Cabin Fever Show hosted by the Penn's Woods TU Chapter held in Cranberry, PA on Sunday March 3rd. Luckily for me both of these shows are not a far drive for me. Looking forward to attending both of these shows.
I also have been busy tying flies. I did get an early start this year with starting to tie my trout flies back in November and finished up at the end of December. Now its been at the vice every night tying articulating bass and pike flies for this summer on the lakes. I recently had the opportunity of meeting and speaking to a few anglers that specializes in these monster patterns, guys like Pat Cohen, Jake Villwock and Gunner Brammer. These guys explained to me fly design and how the flies should fish. I can now somewhat understand why these flies are so productive. Here are a few patterns that I have been working on that I think should fish pretty well in the lakes.
Looks like March is coming in like a lion and lets hope it goes out like a lamb. We just finished up three fly fishing shows and all three were pretty good. The shows pretty much cleaned me out of leaders so I'll be tying up a few of those and a few more trout flies. I also want to finish up a few more articulating bass and pike flies and I'll be ready to hit the lakes in late June. Again I got some good information at the shows from some of the guys that fish those big articulating streamers. A big thanks goes out to all of those anglers that shared there information with me.
The water on the Little J and the waters up in Potter County are flowing a little on the high side at this time with the little bit of rain and the snow melt. It should be about three or four days and they'll be in great shape. The plain is to get out a few days and get rid of some cabin fever and hopefully land a few fish.
Finally made it on the water on March 25th. The weather looked great when I left the house, but rain was coming by mid afternoon. The air temperature was around the 41 degrees. Didn't take the water temp but it definitely was on the cold side which is to be expected at this time of the year. Arrived at the Little J around 10:00am and found the river to be up a little then I like but the clarity was perfect.
Fished a number of locations and the fish were willing to hammer some wet flies. One thing that I did notice especially this early in the season is the fish didn't want to take the flies on a dead drift. This is the method I fish the flies at the beginning of the season and it produces good results, but not on this day. Usually when the water is this cold the fish wont come up and chase the flies they just want the flies drifted into them. So the game was to jig the flies on the swing and before I knew it some fish were coming to hand.
As the day wore on mother nature was telling me it was just about time to go home. In about an hour the temperature dropped almost 10 degrees and a steady cold rain mixed with a little snow started to hit the water. I would have fished through that shitty weather but with that drop in the temperature those fish just shut down and I couldn't buy a grab from a fish. All in all it was a good day and I never seen another angler on the river.
Finally a couple of decent days to get on the Little J. Weathers been anywhere in between the mid forties to the high fifties. Water still running a little high (474cfs), and the clarity is perfect. Water temperature still on the cool side. Flies on the water are BWO, black stoneflies and a few tan caddis's. Fished a number of different sections from Tyrone to the mouth. You really have to cover the water slowly and get your flies into those slow seams. Of coarse we're fishing during the weekdays and there's hardly any anglers on the water. Fish are eating small olive wets size sixteen's and size twelve dark wets to imitate the black stonefly.
Couple of other things happening. On April 5th I will be heading down to Seven Spring Mt Resort Sporting Clays Lodge for the Fly Tiers Reunion, starts at 6pm to ?? This is a small fly tying show put on by Chuck Furimsky of the Fly Fishing Show and is by invention only for the tiers. I always feel very honored to be asked to tie at this show. I have sat beside and rubbed elbows with some of the biggest names in the industry and it always humbles me. This show you can definitely get up close and personal to your favorite tiers and ask lots of questions. I will also be heading down to Maryland on April 6th to do a wet fly presentation for a group of anglers. The event is organized by Ron and Nancy David at there church. I have guided Ron and Nancy a few times over the years and there good people and pretty good anglers too.
Did a week long guide trip with good friends and fellow guides Eric Stroup and Bob Henry. We had about twelve to fourteen anglers fishing the Harpster property on Spruce Creek. Weather was pretty decent all week, except for the wind. It seemed every morning around 10:00 am the wind came into the valley and never quit all day and it was like that all week. Water was in great shape and the water temperature was at fifty four degrees. Fish were feeding on a few BWO's and a few Grannom's. Everyone in the group landed some nice fish. Jim and Dave landed these two dandy's on wet flies.
On April 13th as most know was the opener of trout season across the state and we were heading to the big woods to fish Kettle Creek. I wasn't surprised to see that most of the camps in the area had a few cars parked in front of them. The tail tail sign of opening day was above the town of Cross Fork. I haven't seen this many cars parked along the road and fishermen in that stretch for quite a few years. We managed our best to avoid the crowds and surprisingly we had some good water to ourselves. Kettle had a good flow but the water temperature was on the cool side. You couldn't have asked for a better day as far as the weather. Temperatures were in the mid sixties and mostly sunny. As for hatches there were small caddis's, black stonefly's and some hendrickson's.
I did manage to get a nice bow in the net to make the 20 inch club at camp.
As the second weekend of trout season approached mother nature was going to step in and give us lots of rain and I mean lots of rain. Seeing two nice weekends in a row was to good to be true. This storm came out of the southwest and just pounded us here in Central and Northcentral Pennsylvania. The Little J was at 555 cfs still a little high but fishable, but when it was all over and done with she peaked out at 1700 cfs. Totally unfishable for at least a week. Kettle Creek took a real big hit from the storm. Before the storm it was running high to begin with and not to fishable and when she peaked after the storm she was at 3120 cfs. The DCNR shut the road down around the dam. Of coarse my son and nephew was in the valley for the weekend to fish, but not on Kettle. They did manage to fine some high and clear streams to fish and did well. This is what it looked like on Kettle.
Can't believe its the end of May already. The beginning of the month was starting to look like last season as the rains hit about every other day. Our waters were very high and stayed high for three or four days and just as they were starting to drop more bad weather moved in again. As far as guide trips at the beginning of the month there were a lot of canceled trips. So sorry to the anglers that were coming to fish with me. A few of the other trips had to be moved from Central PA to North Central PA to get into some good water flows. Spring Cr has been somewhat fishable most of the time, but the Little J has not most of the time. Kettle Cr has been of fire for the past two weeks with some very good hatches and the fishing has been real good. The First Fork and Big Pine are starting to see good flows and hatches as of last week. Hoping mother nature will cut us a break for the end of the month.
The stream flows for the for the end of May can't be more perfect. Central PA waters are taking on a little rain but not enough to make conditions ugly. North Central PA is taking on more rain over in the First Fork and Pine Creek Valley's and running the streams a little off color, but flows are good. Kettle isn't seeing hardly any rain and the flow is perfect. My son and nephew are there for the long weekend and there hitting some good fishing all over Potter County. Surprisingly there not seeing any good fly activity, but March brown's, Stonefly's and Caddis's all wets are the flies of choice. Of coarse I wasn't able to make it up for the weekend, stayed at home nursing a sore knee.
The weather this season is definitely shaping up to be a repeat of last season as far as all the rain were getting. From the end of May to mid June has pretty much been a bust as the guiding goes with high water throughout the state. Had to cancel a few guide trips and had to move some around into the later months. But the trips that I was able to get on the water were absolutely great. With the main part of the season coming to a close, I would like to thank all the anglers that came on guide trips with me. It was my pleasure guiding you all. I am now booking guide trips for the fall part of the season. So if your interested in booking a fall guided trip shoot me an email or give me a call and I'll get you on the calendar for some great fly fishing in the fall.
With July approaching we'll be giving the trout a little break for the summer months and launching the boat on a few lakes to chase some bass and pike. Looks like my fly arsenal for on the boat is complete now and we're ready to put those big flies to the test. My plan for the summer months of 2020 is to offer fly anglers something a little different that we don't see on our lakes here in Pennsylvania, throwing big flies for bass and pike. More details will follow this fall on lake guide trips for 2020.
On July 12th I'll be flying out to Missoula, Montana to host a fly fishing trip with Sky Blue Outfitters guides Rick and Taylor. We will have two groups of anglers for two weeks in the Rock Creek area of Montana. I have fished in this area in the past and it has some fabulous fly fishing. I am so looking forward to fishing there again. I'll let you all know how the trips turned out.
Well, we all made it back safe and sound from our Montana trip. The weather in big sky country couldn't have been more perfect for us. Ever day temperatures ranged around seventy to the low eighties with a little hit or miss rain. Our cabin was right along Rock Creek about eight miles up Rock Creek road. The cabin we stayed in was great absolutely perfect for four anglers. Our week long was layed out to fish Rock Creek four days and float the big rivers four days.
Fished Rock Creek the first day I arrived. Drove up to around mile marker twenty one on Rock Creek road to an area that I had fished in years past. Water was crystal clear and just running a little high compared to the last time I was here. Wading on this stream is the worst of any stream that I have fished in PA. A wading staff is an absolute must and felts and studs on your wading boots is definitely a must. Flies present on the water were tan caddis's and pale morning duns with a few bwo's mixed in. Wet flies worked very well on the cut bows and browns that I landed.
Sunday July 14th was our first float day of four floats. Being a wade fisherman all of my life I was thinking this is going to be a real different experience, and it was. Our guides met us at the truck stop parking lot every morning a 8:00am. It was there call where we were going to fish that day. These guys were definitely hard core guides and knew the rivers like the back of there hand. The guides were great at getting us to where the fish were. Our guide Chase really made a lasting impression on me on our float on the Bitterroot River. He got us into this section where there was some big rising fish. He rowed us threw that section nine times on those fish and each time we landed some nice big rainbows. I was totally impressed with him rowing that boat back up the river that many times.
Our rigs were a hopper dropper rig. A well floating big fly with three feet of tippet material tied off the bend then a tungsten bead head nymph to the end of the tippet. I never fished this method before, so casting this rig took me some time to catch on to letting the rod load the flies for a good cast. Casting to the bank drop offs is where the fish were sitting.
All in all it was an awesome seven days in Montana, definitely a memorable trip.
The lake bass season has kicked off and of coarse the weather is playing a major factor in the catch rate. It seems we can't catch a break with all these storms rolling into western PA and messing the water up for days. All of the lakes that I've been on are above there average level for this time of the year and the clarity also has not been the greatest either. Are the weather patterns changing for us here in Pennsylvania? It sure does seem like it. Looking back on last year and comparing it to this year it looks pretty similar as far as rain days and amounts of rain we're getting. I am sure all of us anglers are hoping and praying that this won't be the new weather patterns here in our state.
At this time I've logged about twenty five trips on to a few of western Pennsylvania's lakes and about ten days wading some of the northern streams. The fishing has definitely been slow. Been throwing big subsurface and top water flies and concentrating on the cover along the banks and the vegetation in the shallows on the lakes. On the big streams up north I've been concentrating on the deep pools. Both of these areas have produced pretty good results in the past, but with the water being the way that it has been the fish don't want to move on the flies very well. So we'll just keep on doing what we're doing and take what the lakes and deep pools give us. It hasn't been a complete bust, just have to work at it a little harder.
We've been spending quite a bit of time in Potter County during the month of August chasing bass and a few trout. The weather has been great with temps in the high seventies during the day and low fifties in the mornings. The big three streams we've been concentrating all of our fishing on are Big Pine, Kettle Creek and the Driftwood Branch. The fishing has been pretty good on all three streams and where ever you find the shade and deep runs that's where the bass are.
We're throwing articulating flies about four to five inches long and few top water flies. Selection of flies are pretty simple and you definitely want to keep it simple. Eight weight fly rods with intermediate sinking lines are preferred choice of equipment. Leaders are short around six feet which turns these flies over perfectly. These streams are broad and long casts are the norm and changing up the speed of the retrieve can make a big difference in hooking up or not.
We've also been getting some time in on the lakes too since the boat came out of the shop. The boat needed its annual service check up and we also had some problems with the fuel pump, that just taught me to run non-ethanol gas in her from here on out. Temperatures in the mornings have been cool and the afternoons have been great. The top water bite has been a little slow, but the subsurface has been on fire. Going to try to get a few more lake trips in before the second half of the trout season starts up for the fall.
Now with fall coming its time to break back out the trout gear, but not so fast. The bass and pike bite on the lake is getting hot and heavy. Mostly hitting the lake in the late afternoon till sunset and with a couple of morning trips. The top water action is producing some nice largemouths and one pike close to thirty inches and a few misses on some smaller pike. The subsurface bite is so so, working real good one day and the next day not so good. Fish seem to be holding right off the grass into the deep water and off the rip rap on the shore line. Weather, well you couldn't ask for anything better. Just a slight breeze when I first get there and then the lake goes calm and looks like a sheet of glass. Just the way I like it for the top water action.
Speaking to a lot gear anglers at the dock for the last month or so and listening to there experiences on the lake, I think I am doing pretty well, at least they think so too. Getting lots of questions about fly fishing on the lake and what flies I am throwing and of coarse there's lots of comments about the boat I am fly fishing out of. It seems I am the only fly angler on the lakes that I've been fishing, at least that's what I've been told. Fly fishing on the lakes in my eyes is an untapped territory for fly anglers. We'll be doing a lot more in the years to come.
Been fly fishing on the lakes for the last two an half years now has definitely been a learning experience. Understanding where these fish call home in the warmer months on the lake has taken some time to figure out and what they like to eat during those times. I definitely have put the time into figuring things out and still learning. Fish are coming into the boat on every trip surprisingly, so I guess I am doing something right.
The equipment I've been using is Sage and TFO 8wt rods with Sage and 3-Tand mid arbor reels. The reels are loaded with Scientific Angler intermediate sinking and floating fly lines. Leaders are pretty basic, three sections with a total length of six to seven feet long and a tippet size of twelve pound fluorocarbon. The flies I am throwing are four to five inches long with different top water patterns and different articulating patterns, both in an assortment of colors. The boat is the ultimate fly fishing craft. It is a Salt Marsh 14 foot poling skiff, equipped with a 20 Suzuki outboard motor and a minn-kota 55 thrust I-pilot trolling motor. Standing on the front deck makes it ideal for fly casting.
Hopefully next summer (July, August, September) we'll be offering guided largemouth and pike trips on the lakes. But, in the meantime I am hoping the September nice weather will hold out for a few more trips to the lake.
With the cool temperatures and the changing of the leaves its time for the fall trout season. On September 21st we got our first fall guide trip of the season in on the Little J. Water temps were in the low sixties and the flow still a little on the low side which is pretty normal for this time of the season. Bugs on the water were tan caddis's and craneflies. Seen no fish working most of the day, not that matters because we're fishing wets. About dozen browns came to hand and one nice rainbow. Not a bad day considering the conditions.
Next trip on the water came on October 4th to Spring Cr. I was a little bit amazed how good the flow was on Spring after not having rain for a couple weeks. I hadn't been back there since mid June. Weather was in the mid sixties with a slight breeze blowing most of the day. Seen just a few tan caddis's throughout the day. Caddis wets were the flies of the day. We fished a few different sections on the lower end of Spring and all of those sections gave up a few fish. One of those areas gave up a nice rainbow, but was lost during the fight. With in the next few weeks things will really get cranked up and hopefully we can get a couple nice fall browns in the net.
Fall trout fishing in the big woods of Potter County was the plan for the weekend of October 12th and 13th. My son John and I made the trip for a couple of days. The weather was in the low forties in the mornings and low sixties in the afternoons. Very little rain has fallen in the area for weeks now and all streams in the region are on the low side. Water temperatures are nice and cool and its got the fish feeding. The hatches are pretty much caddis's with three or four different species coming off. Again the picket pin has ruled the waters up north. It's pretty wild when you can fish three different pickets at the same time and land some fish on all three flies and even land a few doubles too. Great trip as always. Now all we need is a little rain.