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As we move into the winter months we're starting to get pretty busy now. Fly fishing show dates have been all lined up and looks like I'll be attending eight great shows for 2020. Come over to the website show page and check out the shows and there locations. Between Wet Fly Waterguides and Sky Blue Outfitters guide trip days have been filling up quickly for the 2020 season. It seems every year anglers are calling earlier for there preferred dates for guide trips. Check out our guide trips at (www.wetflywaterguides.com) and (www.skyblueoutfitters.com). At this time we still have a few open dates for the early part of the season, May and June. So if your interested in booking a guided trip with us give us a call or shoot us an email and we'll get you on the calendar for a great trip.
At this time of the year like all other fly anglers its time for tying flies and getting your gear prepared for the up coming season. Luckily for me I got an early jump on tying trout flies and leaders and now I'll be spending more time at the vice tying largemouth and pike flies for this summer off the boat. Last year was a great year for fly fishing on the lakes with those big flies and we're looking forward to getting back out there again this summer. It looks like 2021 will be the year that we'll be introducing a few new guide trips during the summer months throwing big flies to bass and pike. Stay tuned for more details on these guide trips.
On January 24,25,26 myself and four of the other guides from Sky Blue Outfitters attended the Fly Fishing Show in Edison, NJ. Definitely the biggest show of all of the shows we attend. This year we had two tying tables and one outfitter table at the show and all three tables were busy for the three days we were there. Its always a good time speaking to all the anglers on the other side of the table and talking flies and fishing. Also had great time catching up with some of the tiers and vendors and meeting a few new ones.
One of the highlights of the show for me was spending some time in the evenings with with Ed Jaworowski who was staying at the same hotel that we were staying at. Ed hung out with us for dinner and a few drinks after the show. For some that might not know Ed, he is one of the best casting instructors in the world and was Lefty Kreh's best friend. Ed shared some awesome stories of him and Lefty fishing all over the world.
The best moment was Sunday morning before the show opened, Ed came over to my tying table and invited me over to the casting pond for a private casting lesson and man what a lesson it was. What he was doing with that fly line and rod was something I'll never forget and I couldn't thank him enough for that lesson. He also brought me over an autographed copy of his casting dvd The Complete Cast and told me to practice. Again it was a great time at the biggest fly fishing show on the east coast.
This is the month were I am busting a$$ getting everything ready to go for the up and coming season. I just heard that Punxsutawney Phil said that an early spring is on its way, I am sure all us anglers are ready for that. There are no shows on my calendar for this month so it'll be back at the fly tying vice banging out more big streamers for the lake and tying a few flies for my bucket list trip to Labrador in July. Yes, Labrador I will be helping hosting this trip with fellow guide from Sky Blue Outfitters Rick Nyles. More to follow on this trip.
There was one event that I did attend on Saturday February 1st. It was at the Neshannock TU Chapters Cabin Fever event. This chapter is located up in Mercer, PA. I was invited to do my presentation on basic equipment and tactics to wet fly fishing. Before my presentation chapter president Jeff Kreis gave a presentation on last years chapter activities. I am always amazed at how much work TU chapters throughout our state do for conservation and clean cold water and this chapter is no different. Some of the stream improvement there doing in there area is amazing.
This event was very well attended by members and the public and I met and talk to quite a few of them after my presentation. A big thanks from me goes out to Treasure Carol Jochman for preparing a great lunch for the event, she even sent me home with a doggy bag of her delicious chicken salad.
As we come into March things are starting to come together. Definitely thinking of getting on the water at this point. The flows have been pretty good for February but just couldn't make it out. Just finished up I don't know how many nights at the fly tying vice turning out some big flies for the lake this summer. It's amazing how long it takes to crank one of those flies out. I can see now why the good streamer tiers get twenty to thirty dollars for there creations, god knows they deserve it. Hopefully none of mine will be snagged up in the trees or anchored at the bottom of the lake. Here's a few that were added to the box for this season.
March is also the month for most of the fly fishing shows, so I'll be on the road a good bit. There will be a show every weekend this month. Starting on Sunday March 1st I'll be heading down to Cranberry, PA for the Penn's Woods West Cabin Fever Show. Always a great show and not a far drive from my home. I will be attending a total of eight shows in 2020. Here are some pic's of the shows. As of March 10th the Maryland Show and Central Pennsylvania Show have been canceled due to the virus.
With the virus hitting all across the country and all types of events being cancelled, the fly fishing industry is no exception. Just heard that the Central Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Show on March 21st has been cancelled. So we'll be looking forward to the show next year. We're all not quite sure what's going to happen with our guide trips in the next few months. Wet Fly Waterguides is prepared to move any guide trips into the fall or next year or refund deposits for 2020 guided trips, but at this time we are not cancelling any trips. At present time Central Pennsylvania and North Central Peensylvania has no reported cases that we are a where of. Hopefully health officials will get a major handle on this and we all can get on doing the things we like to do.
On a lighter note. On Saturday March 14th I was able to get out and fish the Little J on my own. Weather was great, temperature around forty eight at mid afternoon. The water was a little on the low side and very clear for this time of the year. Couldn't believe it I seen only one angler all day.
On this trip I decided to step over to the dark side and fish nothing but streamers and leave the wet flies at home. Yes, I said streamers. After having a pretty successful trip last fall on streamers I thought of trying it again this spring, and I wasn't disappointed.
This is a method in fly fishing that I never pursued and I definitely am missing out on this game. The eat is as hard as fishing wet flies if not harder. And the quality of fish to hand is remarkable, not many small fish eating those flies. So looks like I'll be doing a little more homework on the streamer game.
Last week I had the pleasure of doing a podcast on wet fly fishing for Bugs & Beards, which is hosted by Shawn Holsinger and Pat Smith of East Freedom, PA. This is the second podcast I've have had the pleasure of doing over the last couple of years. What a great way to reaching out to anglers all over to discuss different subjects in the fly fishing world. Give them a listen.
Shawn also has a fly tying Youtube channel where he does step by step fly tying and hosts other tiers tying there patterns. Along with all those irons in the fire, Shawn and his dad Ron own Holsinger's Fly Shop in East Freedom, PA. If your in the area pay the shop a visit, they are a very well stocked shop. They can also give you some great information on the area streams and how there fishing. Thanks for having me over guys and looking forward to coming down in the future and shooting some tying videos of my wet flies with you.
FINALLY....... After two years of tying big flies almost every night during the winter months. And getting out on the lakes in the summer and fall, it has finally payed off getting my biggest pike to date in the boat. I knew it was only a matter of time and god knows I have put the time in. Of coarse if you want to be successful at anything you have to pay your dues.
So on March 22nd with temperatures in the mid thirties and partly sunny skies at noon. My son and I traveled to one of the lakes we had been fly fishing on for the last couple of years. To be honest I thought the conditions were down right terrible, but we all know that's when the game can change completely in your favor. The lake was a little off color from rains a couple of day before, but still fishable. We was only on the water about a half an hour when this guy decided to eat my five inch perch pattern. If you don't think that gets your blood pumping, nothing will.
As of today Wet Fly Waterguides will be SUSPENDING all guide trips and presentations for the month of April. The word came down from the PA Fish & Boat Commission. Here's the email I received from them.
"The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has received clarification from the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office regarding the classification of charter boat and fishing guide operations. The Governor’s Office has determined that charter boat and fishing guide operations (whether conducted by boat or on foot) DO NOT meet the definition of a life-sustaining business. Such operations are classified as a recreational industry and continued operation of such businesses is not permitted under the Governor’s Order of March 19, 2020. Operators may be subject to enforcement procedures if found out of compliance with that Order".
We know as of this date social distancing will still be in effect through the month of April. Lets all abide by the order and hope and pray that the virus will be under control soon. You still are aloud to get out and fish, but keep your distance from you fellow anglers.
As far as myself I am getting out on the water as much as possible. My work schedule has changed drastically. Groups of us are working off shifts with three days on then three days off. So my off days are on the water or tying flies. Of coarse the last couple of days here in central PA it has been raining and the Little J is blowed out.
My last trip out was on March 26th. Weather was in the sixties by mid afternoon with party sunny skies. Water on the Little J was running around 850cfs and that's just a little higher then I like it. The clarity was pretty good, but the wading was tough at least for me. Seen a few tan caddis's and black stone flies. Knowing the conditions before I left the house, I knew it was going to be a chucking streamers day. Spent the day fishing those areas that I fish early in the spring and they all produced some fish. I think I 'am liking this streamer game. I can tell you one thing, you'll know it at the end of the day that you have been chucking and stripping meat flies all day. I'll be back out once the waters drop down to a good flow.
As we move into the first full week of April a couple of things have changed here in Pennsylvania as far as fishing goes. On April 7th the Fish & Boat Commission announced that the Youth Mentor Day will be cancelled and that the fishing season across the state is officially open at 8:00am. I am not sure how many anglers knew that this announcement was coming but it totally caught a lot of anglers off guard and personally I think it was a great call by the Fish & Boat Commission. Please be safe out there and practice social distancing on the water and enjoy your time out there.
Last week on Saturday April 4th I was able to get out and fish the Little J in a location that I don't fish that often. The weather was a party sunny and the temperature was in the mid sixties. Water was still up a little more then I like it, flow was running around 640cfs but had good clarity. Seen a few tan caddis's and black stoneflies and only seen two fish raise all day.
Again on this trip the wet flies stayed at home. I am sure they would have produced, but these articulating streamers have me amazed of the follows and takes I am getting. Early last week I received a new fly line from Airflo. It's the streamer line Kelly Galloup recommends using for streamer fishing. The line is a full sinking 300 grain line for an 8wt rod. It definitely gets the fly down into the zone quickly and keeps it there. My last few trips I have been using an intermediate sinking line and it has worked so so, but with this new line there definitely is a big difference on the plus side. It definitely looks like I'll be fishing streamers a little more often when the water is on a high flows.
Conditions on the Little J at this time are very high and off color. A storm came threw last night (4/8) and blew the J out. Its running at 1690cfs. Spring Creek also came up quickly, but is coming down nicely. Penn's Creek should fish well. The streams in North Central PA are in good shape and will fish very well.
After rains blew the Little J out on April 8th it was time to move north. On Thursday April 9th I made a trip to Penn's Creek. Stream conditions and weather weren't the best, but on the other side of that there wasn't anyone on the water. Seen lots of quill gordons, blue quills and a few grannoms. Seen just a few fish working them. The flow was at 300cfs and off color and a little tough to cross at most of the sections that I like to get to. Again it was big streamer time and a few meat eaters didn't disappoint.
First trip of the season to Potter Co to fish the big three (Kettle, Big Pine, First Fork). Some crazy weather going on up there, hard rain, sunny, mid temperatures to dropping temperatures, typical weather for April in the big woods. All three streams running a little high and off color and water temps in the high forties. Good hatches with hendrickson's, black stoneflies and small dark caddis's. Small streamers and picket pins were the flies of choice fished on a sinking fly line. The fishing was real good for this time of the year considering the stream conditions and weather. As for the season opening up early this year there was hardly any fishermen on all three streams. Looking forward to getting back up there.
With high water and cool temperatures still looming on the Little J, it's still a big streamer game. Getting on the water around eight am and leaving around seven pm is putting some serious time in throwing a three hundred grain sinking line. After doing this for two or three days in a row there definitely is some shoulder fatigue, but the aches and pains have been worth it. Have been exploring some new sections on the J that I have not visited in a few years. These areas have very little fishing pressure from what I've been seeing and are holding some decent size fish. The sections have really changed a lot from my years past trips there. New deep channels and log jambs are present now where there weren't any before. It's made it perfect habitat for some above average browns to take up residence. In the last two or three days I landed and moved some decent size fish, but I am still looking for the ONE. I know he's there its just being at the right place at the right time.
For the last couple of days I've been out of touch fishing Kettle Cr in Potter Co. When I say out of touch I mean no cell phone no radio and no TV. Out of touch a term that pretty much doesn't exist in this day an age. It seems these days everyone wants to be connected to what's going on at all times. For me not so, when I get to the big woods I just want peace and quite and forget about everything else and concentrate on nothing but the fishing. I figure when I get home I'll get caught up on the good news and bad news.
So when I got home on Wednesday and checked all my emails and I seen where the governor opened the state for us guides to start guiding again as of May 1st. The month of May is definitely the busiest month for all of us guides. So lots of emails went out to the anglers that have trips booked. Hopefully my anglers will feel comfortable getting out and getting there guide trips in. I am sure they'll look forward to getting out on the water after all that stay home time.
A little stream report from the Kettle Creek Valley. Sunday April 26th steady rain all day with about a five minute pause then more rain. As I suspected the fish went on the feed pretty much all day. Temperature in the mid forties. Flies on the water were hendrickson's, quill gordon's and a few march brown's. Fished a few different patterns and all took fish. On Monday fishing was pretty much the same. Water was on the rise but the clarity was still good. With the water coming up some areas were a little tough getting a good drift. Tuesday water starting to drop a little and fishing a little slow but still brought some fish to hand. All in all not a bad trip for the end of April and some miserable weather.
As I turn another page on the calendar to the month of May the weather and water flows and the coronavirus still suck. Looks like the first two weeks will be cold and high water flows. Was in Potter county for a few days at the beginning of the month. It was like mother nature didn't want me there at all. Rain all day on day one, decent on day two and cold and blowing snow on day three. I can't say the fishing was bad because it wasn't. Hatches were sporadic with hendrickson's, quill gordons, tan caddis's and a few march brown's. Fish taking hodge podge of wetflies and small streamers. Looks like from the USGS site for Kettle Cr the water is coming down nicely. Hopefully the water will warm up a little and the fish will turn on. I'll be back up there soon. My son and nephew are still in Potter Co and they have twelve days in on the water and John is up to 36 bear sightings this spring so far.
Spent a couple of days on the J and of coarse with my luck cold temperatures, wind, rain and a little snow. Early in the week the flow was pushing around 475cfs and good clarity, but with the drastic drop in the temperatures in the last couple of days have seemed to give the fish a little lock jaw. First day I was there it was a big streamer day hooked up on four nice fish and lost them all. But the following day I seemed to drive the hook home on a few. It's still a learning game.
On Wednesday May 20th I met up with head guide Rick Nyles of Sky Blue Outfitters and I spent the day showing Rick around the Little J. The J was fishing really well. We each landed quite a few browns throughout the day. Lots of tan caddis's and craneflies and a few sulphur's. Rick landed this Tuna.
Fished again on Friday and Saturday on sections of the J that I have been throwing streamers earlier in the month. Water is down a little now where I can swing some wetflies. There seems to be more nice fish in these sections then what I thought. With no flies on the water these sections fished pretty well.
The last few days the fishing has really turned on. Good sulphurs, gray fox's, caddis's and a few march browns. Been concentrating mostly on the J and one trip to Penn's creek. Fish on the J eating mostly sulphurs and starting to turn to the gray fox's. Over on Penn's there concentrating mostly on gray fox's. Not a lot of rising fish in any of the sections I've been on and the hatches are not that heavy, just enough of flies to keep them interested. Water flows are perfect on both streams, but would like to see Penn's just a little bit lower. The wading on Penn's especially in the riffles is pretty rough. I think I need some new knees after that trip. Hoping for a little rain at this point to keep the flows up into June. Getting a few guide trips in and everyone is landing fish. Hopefully will get back up to Potter Co in the next few days.
With the month of May coming to an end, fishing in Central and North Central PA has been pretty decent. The cold temperatures and high flows have finally gotten much better. The Little J, Penn's and Kettle have fished well in the past two weeks. Not many flies during the day but the last two hours before dark have been the best fishing of the day. Seeing caddis's, gray fox's, light cahill's and a few green drakes. Was able to get to Penn's for a day and of coarse fished in an all day rain under a little high flow and landed two nice browns on gray fox wets. We managed to get the boat out on Glendale and Yellow Creek over Memorial day weekend and had two good days landing a number of small & largemouths, pike and crappies. We did get to test out some new lake flies which proved to be some good ones. Today my son John is on the lake and boated one musky one pike and a few largemouths, not a bad day. Wish I could have been there. We still have another good month of good trout fishing before we get real serious on the lakes. Really looking forward to the lake fishing this year.