Thursday, March 19, 2009

Trout Update #1: Fly Fishing Marshalls Creek in March

I spent about thirty minutes at Marshalls Creek today, ultimately catching my first few trout of 2009. I fished the pool beneath my favorite waterfall with my 6'6" fly rod - a rod replete with 1 wt-WF fly line. Despite its short casting range, the "flea rod" responds quickly to small fish. In the cold March water, four native brook trout snatched up a size 14 bead-head wooly bugger streamer. It was a beautiful day and I was relieved to land a few trout: I've been very busy, and subsequently went over 70 days of 2009 without catching any.

Before I begin my trout breakdown, I'd like to say a few words about native trout. By definition, a wild trout is a fish that has spent its entire life in a stream or lake; however, the species itself may not be "native" to the specific body of water in which it resides. A native is thus a trout born in a river that historically supports that species. For example, Penns Creek is full of wild brown trout that are not native to the river (brown trout hail from Europe). Marshalls Creek, on the other hand, has an abundant population of brook trout - a char native to eastern North America. The fish that I caught today were therefore wild native brook trout (upper Marshalls Creek (above the town) hasn't seen a stocked fish in a long time; the only evidence of stocking I've encountered is an occasional memory from a Pocono lifer, and one non-native rainbow trout I caught there when I was 15). It is likely that these fish have reproduced unimpeded for a number of years. Marshalls Creek's numerous waterfalls prevent other types of fish from threatening or intermixing with its native brook trout, fostering a group of isolated native fish. I believe that this isolation explains why Marshalls Creek brook trout are visibly distinctive: note their overall dark bodies, vibrant orange bellies, brilliant white-tinged fins, and numerous bright red and purple spots. Only DNA testing, coupled with historical evidence, could ascertain the degree of nativeness these fish possess. Still, I would offer an educated guess that they are aboriginal to the stream.

Image #1: My first brook trout, about 4 inches.
Image #2: My second brook trout, about 5 inches.
Image #3: My fourth brook trout, about 6 inches. Note its damaged tail-fin. Wild trout encounter injury in a myriad of ways: floods, predators (bigger fish, herons, raccoons), human interaction, etc.
Image #4: The flea rod and the waterfall.

Overall Total: 4

River Breakdown:

Marshalls Creek - 4 (Wild Brook)

Species Breakdown:

Brook Trout - 4
Wild - 4
Stocked - 0

Brown Trout - 0
Stocked - 0
Wild - 0

Rainbow Trout - 0
Stocked - 0
Wild - 0

Tiger Trout - 0
Wild - 0
Stocked - 0

Wild Trout - 4
Stocked Trout - 0

Trout 15+ Inches: 0

Fly Breakdown:
Olive wooly bugger, size 14 - 4 (4 Wild Brook)

Angling Breakdown:

Fly Fishing Rod - 4 (4 Wild Brook)
Spinning Rod - 0

State Breakdown:
Pennsylvania - 4
New Jersey - 0
New York - 0


Sarah said...

Oh, I miss you! I googled your name (I was thinking about Bucknell), and I found your old, and apparently still functioning, fish blog. I'm going to call it a fish blog and not a fly fishing blog. Anyway. I'm homesick and I miss you.

Sarah (Reese)

Styxx374 said...

Thanks Matt, but I found some. There is a bait shop just outside of Sunbury on my way to my parents. It has a vending machine. (Right next to the Coke machine!) So I now have worms waiting for my birds....

Anonymous said...


I am visiting the brodhead watershed for a weekend of flyfishing on 5-13-11. I am most interested in fishing for natives or wilds. Marshall's creek is intriguing. Could you advise on access and particular areas to target and or other local steams besides the brodhead?

Many thanks!
rob at posthandyman dot com

Anonymous said...

I'm confused (and from Colorado). Can Marshalls Creek be fished in March?