Friday, May 22, 2009

Fly Fishing Central Pennsylvania's Elk Creek and Penns Creek in mid-May

After spending a week in the Outer Banks, I returned to central Pennsylvania for my fiancee's graduation. Because of all the weekend festivities, I was only able to fish for a few hours. I nevertheless caught five fish: four at Elk Creek (three on a Panther Martin spinner, one on a copper john nymph) and one at Penns Creek (on a sulphur dun). Both fly-rod landed fish were beauties, and all were wild brown trout.

On my return to New Jersey, I stopped at the Brodhead Creek in the waning daylight. I didn't see any fish rise, nor any sign of trout. Fishing pressure really gets to the Brodhead. In addition, I fished Stony Brook here in Princeton on Wednesday night. The slow moving water was not conducive to fly fishing, and, because I only had an hour, I fished with my late grandfather's favorite style lure - a golden Rapala. I caught two sickly stocked rainbow trout.

I saw a number of wildflowers, including early dames rocket, soapwort, wild geranium, wild columbines, mayapple, pinxter flower, and plenty of tree flowers.


Image #1 - Stony Brook rainbow
Image #2 - Mayapple flower


Overall Total: 31

River Breakdown:

Elk Creek - 5 (5 Wild Brown)
Penns Creek - 5 (5 Wild Brown)
Spring Creek - 5 (4 Wild Rainbow, 1 Wild Brown)
Marshalls Creek - 4 (4 Wild Brook)
Stony Brook - 4 (4 Stocked Rainbow)
Paulinskill River - 4 (2 Stocked Brook, 2 Stocked Rainbow)
Fishing Creek - 3 (3 Wild Brown)
White Deer Creek - 1 (1 Stocked Brook)


Species Breakdown:

Brown Trout - 14
Wild - 14
Stocked - 0

Rainbow Trout - 10
Stocked - 6
Wild - 4

Brook Trout - 7
Wild - 4
Stocked - 3



Wild Trout - 22
Stocked Trout - 9


Trout 15+ Inches: 2


Fly Breakdown:
Olive wooly bugger, size 14 - 4 (4 Wild Brook)
Tan Caddis, size 14 - 4 (4 Wild Brown)
Black Caddis, size 14 - 2 (2 Wild Brown)
Green Weenie, size 14 - 2 (2 Wild Rainbow)
Bead-head Pheasant Tail Nymph, size 14 - 2 (2 Stocked Rainbow)
Bead-head Copper John Nymph, size 16 - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
Bead-head Green Weenie, size 14 - 1 (1 Stocked Brook)
Blue Quill, size 16 - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
Blue Winged Olive, size 18 - 1 (1 Wild Rainbow)
Golden Stonefly, size 8 - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
Scud, size 16 - 1 (1 Wild Rainbow)
Sulphur, size 14 - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
Sulphur, size 16 - 1 (1 Stocked Rainbow)


Angling Breakdown:

Fly Fishing Rod - 22 (10 Wild Brown, 4 Wild Brook, 4 Wild Rainbow, 3 Stocked Rainbow, 1 Stocked Brook)
Spinning Rod - 9 (4 Wild Brown, 2 Stocked Brook, 3 Stocked Rainbow)


State Breakdown:
Pennsylvania - 23
New Jersey - 8
New York - 0

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fly Fishing New Jersey's Paulinskill and Stony Brook in Early May

This past weekend, I drove up to northern New Jersey to fly fish one of my childhood streams. I spent countless hours at the Paulinskill River as a child, throwing Rapalas to willing stocked trout. It was my late grandfather's favorite stream, and it was there that I learned the basics of trout fishing. As much as I don't like the river for technical reasons - it's slow, it's muddy, it's too warm, and it's full of stocked fish - I nevertheless enjoy stopping by once a year. I'm sure any fly fisherman reading this has a similar stream in mind. You know, a place where you learned the ropes, a place where you caught your first trout, a place where the outdoors became home.

After eating lunch with my sister and two best friends in the Poconos, Jackie and I briefly stopped at the Brodhead. We found more flowers than fish, including purple trillium, large toothwort, wood poppy, golden alexanders, chickweed, and Japanese baneberry. We then decided to head to the Paulinskill. In the overgrown horse pasture that's adjacent to the stream, we found a number of wildflowers: lesser celandine, spring beauty, and dog violets. As for the fishing, I caught two stocked rainbow trout on a size 14 bead-head pheasant-tail nymph and two stocked brook trout on a Rapala (nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia).

On our way home, we stopped at Stony Brook in Princeton. Stony Brook is a lot like the Paulinskill: muddy, slow, and full of stocked rainbow trout. In the waning sunlight, I caught one rainbow on a size 16 sulphur dun and another on the Rapala. We also photographed some yellow violets, ragwort, wintercress, thyme-leaved speedwell, and lesser celandine.

Image #1 - Catching the first fish at the Paulinskill
Image #2 - Purple Trillium
Image #3 - Second rainbow trout at the Paulinskill
Image #4 - Wintercress

Overall Total: 24

River Breakdown:

Spring Creek - 5 (4 Wild Rainbow, 1 Wild Brown)
Marshalls Creek - 4 (4 Wild Brook)
Paulinskill River - 4 (2 Stocked Brook, 2 Stocked Rainbow)
Penns Creek - 4 (4 Wild Brown)
Fishing Creek - 3 (3 Wild Brown)
Stony Brook - 2 (2 Stocked Rainbow)
Elk Creek - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
White Deer Creek - 1 (1 Stocked Brook)


Species Breakdown:

Brown Trout - 9
Wild - 9
Stocked - 0

Rainbow Trout - 8
Wild - 4
Stocked - 4

Brook Trout - 7
Wild - 4
Stocked - 3



Wild Trout - 17
Stocked Trout - 7


Trout 15+ Inches: 2


Fly Breakdown:
Olive wooly bugger, size 14 - 4 (4 Wild Brook)
Tan Caddis, size 14 - 4 (4 Wild Brown)
Black Caddis, size 14 - 2 (2 Wild Brown)
Green Weenie, size 14 - 2 (2 Wild Rainbow)
Bead-head Pheasant Tail Nymph, size 14 2 (2 Stocked Rainbow)
Bead-head Green Weenie, size 14 - 1 (1 Stocked Brook)
Blue Quill, size 16 - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
Blue Winged Olive, size 18 - 1 (1 Wild Rainbow)
Golden Stonefly, size 8 - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
Scud, size 16 - 1 (1 Wild Rainbow)
Sulphur, size 16 - 1 (1 Stocked Rainbow)


Angling Breakdown:

Fly Fishing Rod - 20 (8 Wild Brown, 4 Wild Brook, 4 Wild Rainbow, 3 Stocked Rainbow, 1 Stocked Brook)
Spinning Rod - 4 (2 Stocked Brook, 1 Wild Brown, 1 Stocked Rainbow)


State Breakdown:
Pennsylvania - 18
New Jersey - 6
New York - 0

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fly Fishing the Grannom Caddis Hatch at Penns Creek

Two weekends ago I fished a number of central Pennsylvania trout streams; indeed, I was lucky enough to fish Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I will thus recount these three days in three separate posts.

After two fruitless attempts to catch trout at Penns Creek in the past few weeks, I decided to try a third time. On the night of April 25th, I headed back out to the big limestone spring-fed stream. As the sun sank back behind the ridges of the gorge, the wild brown trout began rising to grannom caddis flies, black quills, and a few stray blue-winged olives. I missed my first two fish, before landing two in a row. Both of these wild browns were over 15 inches long. Despite the impending darkness, I continued to fish. I ultimately caught two more wild browns. All four fish took a size 14 tan caddis (my two grannom caddis patterns were lost to the wild browns of Fishing Creek the day before).

The grannom caddis hatch is frustrating: while thousands of these speckled insects may line the riparian vegetation and erratically dart above the water, the trout often pay them little attention. I've found that waiting until dusk helps, as the trout sup on the dying adult caddis. During the daytime, I've been successful fishing caddis nymphs in fast runs. Dry flies occassionally produce during the day, but they aren't as successful as underwater options.

Penns Creek is an engimatic, lovely river. While its terrain is often harsh, its fish often fickle, and its water often discolored, the stream will reward a patient angler with a fly fishing experience on par with any offered by an eastern wild trout river. It is big; it is fast; it is tough; and it is my favorite river.

I took the following video of the hatch at about 2 PM. Enjoy! video

Image #1 - My first brown
Image #2 - My second brown
Image #3 - Grannom Caddis
Video #1 - A view of the hatch

Overall Total: 18

River Breakdown:

Spring Creek - 5 (4 Wild Rainbow, 1 Wild Brown)
Marshalls Creek - 4 (4 Wild Brook)
Penns Creek - 4 (4 Wild Brown)
Fishing Creek - 3 (3 Wild Brown)
Elk Creek - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
White Deer Creek - 1 (1 Stocked Brook)


Species Breakdown:

Brown Trout - 9
Wild - 9
Stocked - 0

Brook Trout - 5
Wild - 4
Stocked - 1

Rainbow Trout - 4
Wild - 4
Stocked - 0


Wild Trout - 17
Stocked Trout - 1


Trout 15+ Inches: 2


Fly Breakdown:
Olive wooly bugger, size 14 - 4 (4 Wild Brook)
Tan Caddis, size 14 - 4 (4 Wild Brown)
Black Caddis, size 14 - 2 (2 Wild Brown)
Green Weenie, size 14 - 2 (2 Wild Rainbow)
Bead-head Green Weenie, size 14 - 1 (1 Stocked Brook)
Blue Quill, size 16 - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
Blue Winged Olive, size 18 - 1 (1 Wild Rainbow)
Golden Stonefly, size 8 - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
Scud, size 16 - 1 (1 Wild Rainbow)


Angling Breakdown:

Fly Fishing Rod - 17 (8 Wild Brown, 4 Wild Brook, 4 Wild Rainbow, 1 Stocked Brook)
Spinning Rod - 1 (1 Wild Brown)


State Breakdown:
Pennsylvania - 18
New Jersey - 0
New York - 0