Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trout Update #7: Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, 2008 I visited a number of small creeks in the Poconos during the afternoon and fly fished Bushkill Creek in the evening. I had a memorable and magnificent day: I caught a number of trout in six different streams. I also saw an abundance of interesting wildlife, including a mink! I even brought my camera along so I could post images.

First Stop: Marshalls Creek (Image of northern water snake at Marshalls Creek)
Imagine me as a kid, not even ten years old. I'm riding a bike and carrying a fishing pole on the handlebars. I'm headed to Marshalls Creek in Wilderness Acres, a beautiful section of wild brook trout water complete with a stunning fifteen foot waterfall. As a kid, I gained an appreciation for the beauty of wild trout at this river; it is no surprise that they remain my passion. Like I did when I was young, I today used an ultra light rod with two pound test. My lure: a 1/32 size Panther Martin spinner. The result: sixteen wild brook trout in an hour of fishing. I also saw two northern water snakes, one of which I photographed sunning itself on the road.

It is important to note that this animal is not the similar-looking northern copperhead, a poisonous snake. A close up of this image reveals the northern water snake's round pupil, a sign of its non-poisonous nature. Indeed, poisonous Pennsylvania snakes will have a sliver of a pupil, much like a cat's eye. However, the differences between the two are minor and someone not experienced with snakes should consider avoiding them entirely. As a side note, I helped this silly animal off the road before someone ran it over.

Second Stop: Stony Run (Image of Snow Hill Dam)
Stony Run starts at Snow Hill Dam, a small lake that the state stocks with trout during the spring. Snow Hill is a beautiful picnic area nestled within the Delaware State Forest. Imagine me as a teenager, riding my bike with a fishing pole in a backpack (I'm learning to be more efficient at this stage in my life). I'm headed to Snow Hill Dam and I hope to catch a trout only a few miles from where I live. And, more often than not, I did. But on Memorial Day, 2008 I eschewed the lake itself and followed its tailwater. I caught one stocked brook trout that swam over the dam and one wild brook much further downstream.

Stop Three: Poplar Run (Image of Poplar Run)
When I first fished Poplar Run I hated the tiny creek. I barely caught one trout and it appeared rather unhealthy. Last year I returned to the stream and surprisingly found it productive. It doesn't have the quantity, quality, or size of wild trout that Marshalls Creek possesses (few streams do), but it does contain, interestingly, both wild brook and wild brown trout. I was amazed last year to discover wild brown trout within ten miles of where I grew up; I am ashamed that I was oblivious to their presence my whole life...

Today at Poplar I landed seven wild brook trout and two wild brown trout on the 1/32 spinner. I also got eaten alive by a variety of insects. Poplar Run has a lot of still water, an unusual occurrence for a mountain stream. This condition unfortunately breeds massive amounts of mosquitoes. However, I thoroughly enjoyed my hour climbing and falling over moss-covered rocks and catching nine wild trout.

Stop Four: Mill Creek (Image of waterfall at Mill Creek, tiger trout, and frog)
Mill Creek is located near Mountainhome, PA and winds its way through a section of state game lands en route to its confluence with the Brodhead Creek. It is a remarkably cold and clear mountain stream; it is also difficult to navigate. I fell a number of times, including into the river itself twice (leaving my quite refreshed). I didn't catch any trout on my way up the stream, but on my way down I did manage to catch three. I landed two wild brook trout and a wild tiger trout. Tiger trout are hybrids that are a mix of brown and brook trout. A female brown and a male brook trout must cross mate in order for a tiger trout to be formed. Some estimates put their numbers at 1 in 8000 trout. Some of you may remember that I caught a 19 inch tiger trout out of the Upper Delaware last year. This fish, however, was most likely not wild and bred in captivity. My trout today was therefore a true trophy, a one in a few thousand chance. Sadly, my photo of it didn't come out so the photo you see is from a website. I also encountered a number of frogs today and I paused to capture one in a photo.

Stop Five: Rattlesnake Creek (Image of wild brook trout)
Rattlesnake Creek is a small, small wild trout stream near Mill Creek. I wasn't able to catch any trout on the way up the creek, but I did catch four wild brook trout on my way back down. Notice the bright spots and bright fins on this wild brook trout. This six/seven incher was nearly the biggest wild trout I caught all day (an eight inch brown at Poplar was the largest). After fishing Rattlesnake, I made my way to the Bushkill Creek around 4:30 PM.

Stop Six: Bushkill Creek (Image of golden rainbow trout)
I learned how to fly fish on the Bushkill. Indeed, my ex-girlfriend's father took me to the Resica Falls Boy Scout Reservation, a fly fishing only, catch and release special regulation area, a number of times to show me how to operate a fly rod. Consequently, I now know the river extremely well. My first time there I caught nothing; tonight I caught seventeen. I used mostly nymphs in a wide area known as the Piano Pool. It worked quite well. I even landed my second lifetime golden rainbow trout. Goldens are being put into PA and NJ streams as a reward for anglers. They are placed in rivers at roughly a rate of nearly one or two for every day of stocking (at least in PA). Golden rainbow trout are from an isolated area of the Rockies and have been bred in hatcheries by a number of states. My trout wasn't nearly as large as this internet photo, but it was the exact same vibrant gold.

I caught fifty-one trout today: thirty-three were wild, one was a tiger, and another bright orange. Indeed, it was a golden day.

Overall Total: 104

River Breakdown:

Bushkill Creek - 17 (15 Stocked Brown, 1 Stocked Rainbow, 1 Stocked Golden Rainbow)
Pequest River - 17 (9 Stocked Brown, 6 Stocked Brook, 2 Stocked Rainbow)
Marshalls Creek - 16 (16 Wild Brook)
Raritan River, South Branch - 16 (7 Stocked Brook, 7 Stocked Brown, 1 Wild Brook, 1 Wild Brown)
Poplar Run - 9 (7 Wild Brook, 2 Wild Brown)
Stony Brook - 7 (7 Stocked Rainbow)
Brodhead Creek - 4 (3 Stocked Brown, 1 Stocked Rainbow)
Paulinskill River - 4 (4 Stocked Brown)
Rattlesnake Creek - 4 (4 Wild Brook)
Faulkner Brook - 3 (3 Wild Brook)
Mill Creek - 3 (2 Wild Brook, 1 Wild Tiger)
Stony Run - 2 (1 Stocked Brook, 1 Wild Brook)
Lawrence Brook - 1 (1 Stocked Brook)
Musconetcong River - 1 (1 Stocked Brown)

Species Breakdown:

Brook Trout - 49
Wild - 34
Stocked - 15

Brown Trout - 42
Stocked - 39
Wild - 3

Rainbow Trout - 12
Stocked - 11
Wild - 0
Golden Rainbow - 1

Tiger Trout - 1
Wild - 1
Stocked - 0

Stocked Trout - 66
Wild Trout - 38

Trout 15+ Inches: 1

Angling Breakdown:

Spinning Rod - 58 (33 Wild Brook, 14 Stocked Brown, 6 Stocked Brook, 2 Stocked Rainbow, 2 Wild Brown, 1 Wild Tiger)

Fly Fishing Rod - 46 (25 Stocked Brown, 9 Stocked Brook, 9 Stocked Rainbow, 1 Stocked Golden Rainbow, 1 Wild Brook, 1 Wild Brown)

State Breakdown:
Pennsylvania - 58
New Jersey - 46


tarpon said...

Awsome blog, just found it.

Quick preview shows you don't like White Deer Creek??? The special regs is lousy with fish! Albeit a 12" is considered large there.

Looking forward to rreading more. I'm from Westfield NJ and fish the South Branch quite a bit.
Tight lines

Chris said...

Sweet - glad I found this. I'll definitely be checking back. Check out www.pennsylvaniatrout.com for some cool photos and whatnot.


Anonymous said...

I cannot wait to get back to school to fish... I still have sooo much exploring to do... Mill creek is one of my all time favorite streams...