Saturday, May 8, 2010

Fly Fishing the Poconos on Pennsylvania's Opening Day

Despite the annoyances that accompany it, I couldn't resist joining the masses for the official beginning of Pennsylvania's stocked trout season. Like I mentioned in my post about New Jersey's Opening Day, there's something to the festivity, to the aggravation, and to the spectacle that surrounds the annual nascence of trout "season." Most fly fishermen know why I placed quotation marks around "season" - trout, especially wild trout, can be caught by enterprising anglers year round. But there's only one Opening Day, and I was going to be there.

Appropriately enough, I started on one of my home streams, the Brodhead Creek. Stroud Township's Brodhead Greenway Project has made great strides toward opening up most of the Brodhead's public waters, and I began around 8 AM at one of the town's parks. It had rained a lot the night before (the tornado-like winds I faced at Penns Creek whipped over the entire state) and the water was running high. A lot of the fishermen and fisherwomen I saw were struggling to deal with the rising current. I threw on a big bead-head wooly bugger streamer and cast it directly into a raging rapids section. By swinging the fly back and forth through the fast water, I eventually convinced a solid rainbow trout to strike. A solid battle ensued, and I was "on the board" early in the day. I caught one more fish at the Brodhead, and I changed rivers.

I drove into the town of Stroudsburg, and parked along Lower Main Street. I walked back over the levee and fished the McMichaels Creek. The spot was loaded with people, as the adjacent image makes clear, but I found some room and took in 10 trout. It was wonderfully fun, even if it was like taking candy from a baby. It had been a few years since I caught a fish out of the McMichaels, so I was glad to have spent a few minutes there. Had I stayed longer, I have no doubt I would have caught over two dozen fish.

The Bushkill Creek was my next stop. The Resica Falls Boy Scout Reservation is fly fishing only, catch-and-release. This means the river is open all year, but I decided to hit it up on Opening Day anyway. It's truly a beautiful place: towering hemlocks, a random waterfall, fast rapids, long pools, a bald eagle, and late flowering skunk cabbage were some of the highlights. I only caught two fish, both stocked browns, but I also found sessile-leaved bellwort and some other interesting flowers. And, because of the rain, a small tributary turned into a spectacular waterfall.

On my way back to South Jersey, I stopped briefly in Stockertown and fished the "other" Bushkill Creek. I was exhausted, but I managed to pull out one little stocked rainbow that had survived the day's onslaught. That brought the total for the day up to 15, in 4 rivers. I made it back to Blackwood late, but I was quite content. I had survived another Opening Day marathon.

Image #1 - Stocked rainbow from the Brodhead Creek
Image #2 - Flowering skunk cabbage, such a strange plant
Image #3 - Twelve guys fishing one hole...ahh Opening Day madness
Image #4 - Only a trickle in the summertime, this tributary turned into a beautiful waterfall

Overall Total: 34

River Breakdown:

McMichaels Creek – 10 (5 Stocked Brook, 5 Stocked Rainbow)
Paulinskill River
- 7 (7 Stocked Brook)
Penns Creek
- 4 (4 Wild Brown)
Sevenmile Creek
- 4 (3 Wild Rainbow, 1 Steelhead)

Brodhead Creek – 2 (2 Stocked Rainbow)

Bushkill Creek (Pike County) – 2 (2 Stocked Brown)
Raritan River, South Branch
- 2 (2 Stocked Browns)

Bushkill Creek (Northampton County) – 1 (1 Stocked Rainbow)
Marshalls Creek - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
Twentymile Creek
- 1 (1 Steelhead)

Species Breakdown:
Brook Trout - 13
Stocked - 12
Wild – 1

Rainbow Trout – 13

Stocked - 8
Wild - 3
Steelhead - 2

Brown Trout – 8

Stocked – 4
Wild - 4

Stocked Trout - 24
Wild Trout - 8
Lake Erie Trout - 2

Trout 15+ Inches: 3

Fly Breakdown:

Bead-head Black Wooly Bugger, size 10 – 7 (4 Stocked Rainbow, 2 Stocked Brook, 1 Stocked Brown)
Bead-head Pheasant Tail Nymph, size 14 - 5 (3 Wild Rainbow, 2 Steelhead, 1 Stocked Brown)
Bead-head Golden Stonefly Nymph, size 10 - 1 (1 Steelhead)

Bead-head Green Wooly Bugger, size 10 – 1 (1 Stocked Brown)
Bead-head Olive Wooly Bugger, size 14 - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
Black Caddis, size 16 - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
Tan Caddis, size 16 - 1 (1 Stocked Brown)

Angling Breakdown:
Spinning Rod - 17 (10 Stocked Brook, 4 Stocked Rainbow, 3 Wild Brown)
Fly Fishing Rod - 17 (4 Stocked Brown, 4 Stocked Rainbow, 3 Wild Rainbow, 2 Steelhead Rainbow, 2 Stocked Brook, 1 Wild Brook, 1 Wild Brown)

State Breakdown:
Pennsylvania – 25
New Jersey – 9

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice Website. I to live in the flat lands on New Jersey, Camden county to be exact. Do most of my Fly fishing in Pa. Gonna check out Wissahickon Creek next weekend.