Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fly Fishing Northeast Pennsylvania's Brodhead Creek and Bushkill Creek

Yesterday I headed to the Poconos with my best friend Will. The plan was to catch trout in two of my favorite rivers: the Brodhead and the Bushkill. I consider the Brodhead one of my home streams; indeed, Will and I have fished the river since we were kids. In addition, the Bushkill was where I learned to fly fish, rendering it a different type of home water.

The day was full of rain, and we dodged the bands of thunderstorms from the moment we left central New Jersey. Both the Brodhead and the Bushkill were full to the brim, with each boasting nearly 90% flow. Nevertheless, we started in Analomink at the very northern limit of the river's public trout waters. Because of the high water, I turned to a reliable standard: a size 10 bead-head black stonefly nymph. After letting the fly drift naturally through the racing water, I suspended it at the end of my slack. This method of nymph-suspending abeyance allows trout a few extra seconds to strike the fly in fast water. Sure enough, a 15 inch stocked brown trout hit the stonefly. Because of the fast water, the rising flow, and the size of the fish, the fight took nearly 15 minutes. There were several moments when I thought the trout would race into the thalweg (the fastest part of the stream at any given point) and be carried down into a violent rapids section. If that had happened, I would have lost any chance to land it (although I probably would have SWAM after that trout and tried to catch it with my bare-hands). Eventually, I worked the fish to the river's bank, where it became tangled around a log. I freed the line from the fallen tree, but the trout retook its position in the center of the creek. Finally, the fish tired out and I pulled it to shore. I owe many thanks to Will's play-by-play analysis and his insights about the best way to land the fish. In image #2 you can see how much tension was on the fly rod. Catching a big fish during a flood is quite the experience. Before we left we took a picture of a decapitated deer head. Kind of gross, but kind of interesting as well.

After our time in Analomink, we drove to Stroudsburg's Glen Park. The Brodhead picks up quite a bit of water at this point in its journey to the Delaware. About a mile into the "gorge" lies a favorite spot: an old, broken-apart concrete dam. Although the river was raging at this point, I caught a wild brown trout in the water right above the dam. I was surprised to catch a wild fish that far downstream; most of the wild trout in the public waters of the Brodhead are confined to the northern sections of the stream. In any case, evidence of wild trout reproduction in the Brodhead is always a welcome occurrence. The river could be truly wonderful if the state didn't stock it and put-and-take fishermen didn't destroy its natural ecosystem.

We ended our day by fishing the roaring waters of the Bushkill Creek. The river was close to overflowing its banks, but I managed to catch one stocked rainbow on the stonefly and two stocked browns on the Panther Martin spinner. The total for the day was 5: 3 stocked browns, 1 stocked rainbow, and 1 wild brown. Not bad for a day full of thunder, lightning, and flooding.

Image #1: The big brown
Image #2: Fighting the big fish
Image #3: Deer head

Overall Total: 75

River Breakdown:

Teetertown Brook - 12 (12 Wild Brook)
Raritan River, South Branch - 9 (6 Stocked Rainbow, 3 Stocked Brown)
Marshalls Creek - 8 (8 Wild Brook)
Elk Creek - 5 (5 Wild Brown)
Elk River - 5 (3 Stocked Rainbow, 1 Stocked Brook, 1 Wild Brown)
Penns Creek - 5 (5 Wild Brown)
Spring Creek - 5 (4 Wild Rainbow, 1 Wild Brown)
Stony Brook - 4 (4 Stocked Rainbow)
Paulinskill River - 4 (2 Stocked Brook, 2 Stocked Rainbow)
Bushkill Creek - 3 (2 Stocked Rainbow, 1 Stocked Brown)
Fishing Creek - 3 (3 Wild Brown)
Lost Cove Creek - 3 (2 Wild Rainbow, 1 Wild Brook)
Brodhead Creek - 2 (1 Stocked Brown, 1 Wild Brown)
Roaring Run - 2 (2 Wild Brook)
Little Glade Creek - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
Mill Creek - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
Mud Run - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
Poplar Run - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
White Deer Creek - 1 (1 Stocked Brook)

Species Breakdown:

Brook Trout - 31
Wild - 27
Stocked - 4

Brown Trout - 22
Wild - 16
Stocked - 6

Rainbow Trout - 22
Stocked - 16
Wild - 6

Wild Trout - 49
Stocked Trout - 26

Trout 15+ Inches: 4

Fly Breakdown:
Olive Wooly Bugger, size 14 - 17 (17 Wild Brook)
Bead-head Pheasant Tail Nymph, size 14 - 10 (8 Stocked Rainbow, 2 Stocked Brown)
Tan Caddis, size 14 - 5 (5 Wild Brown)
Sulphur dun, size 16 - 4 (2 Wild Rainbow, 1 Wild Brook, 1 Stocked Rainbow)
Bead-head Copper John Nymph, size 16 - 3 (3 Wild Brook)
Black Caddis, size 14 - 3 (2 Wild Brown, 1 Stocked Brown)
Bead-head Black Stonefly Nymph, size 10 - 2 (1 Stocked Brown, 1 Stocked Rainbow)
Brown Stonefly nymph, size 10 - 2 (1 Stocked Brook, 1 Stocked Rainbow)
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)
Sulphur dun, size 14 - 1 (1 Wild Brown)

Angling Breakdown:

Fly Fishing Rod - 54 (21 Wild Brook, 11 Stocked Rainbow, 10 Wild Brown, 6 Wild Rainbow, 4 Stocked Brown, 2 Stocked Brook)
Spinning Rod - 21 (7 Wild Brown, 5 Wild Brook, 5 Stocked Rainbow, 2 Stocked Brook, 2 Stocked Brown)

State Breakdown:
Pennsylvania - 35
New Jersey - 29
North Carolina - 9
Virginia - 2

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Today I caught numerous wild browns on Brodhead, and some of them were very large... I even caught a native brook trout nowhere near any tributaries... there is hope yet...