Monday, April 11, 2011

Trout in Unexpected Places: Fly Fishing Northern Delaware

Northern Delaware is a diverse and pretty region. Indeed, it boasts some of the finest museums in the country, beautiful parkland, stately colonial homes, and the DuPont industrial complex. It is known for many other reasons, too, and people have been enjoying its wild scenes since the native Algonquians hunted along the Delaware Bay and the Dutch, Swedish, and English colonists settled the area in the early 17th century. And, somewhat surprisingly, it contains miles of trout-stocked waterways.

The cool waters and clay-bound shorelines of the White Clay Creek, Wilson Run, Pike Creek, Mill Creek, Christiana Creek, and Beaver Run receive annual stocking regimens, and the season takes off in the month of April. Because these streams become quite warm in the summertime, the state only provides trout in the early spring, and it actively encourages participants to keep their catch. In addition, the state is not shy about stocking big fish, and many large rainbow, brown, and golden rainbow trout patrol the deep pockets of the aforementioned rivers.

Over the last few weeks, I've been driving south down Pennsylvania's New London Road (PA Route 896), turning left onto Chambers Rock Road, and parking along the banks of the pretty White Clay. The Pennsylvania-Delaware borderline is not far upstream from this spot, and it cuts somewhat perpendicularly across the creek. This geographical quirk is known as the Twelve-Mile Circle, a demarcation that takes New Castle as its center and extends outward 12 miles in all directions. Because of the difficulty of surveying this type of border, Delaware has had disputes with a number of states throughout history, including Pennsylvania (over an area known as the Wedge, where the Twelve-Mile Circle and Mason-Dixon Line overlap), New Jersey (a small part of the New Jerseyean peninsula is technically Delawarian land, and the two states have argued in court over this issue as recently as the late 2000s), and Maryland (where the Arc Line and North Line of the Mason-Dixon Line are not congruent). Because of these strange delimitations, the state border on the White Clay Creek is not confined to the shoreline, nor is it drawn down the middle of the stream. Instead it arcs, ever so slightly, across the river. Enterprising anglers can thus cast their fly lines over a state border (if you are a history/geography obsessed person like myself, you'll appreciate the novelty of this undertaking).

During my fly fishing expeditions, I've found that muddler minnow streamers and stonefly nymphs produce in many of these Delaware streams. For fishermen that prefer lures and spinning tackle, I'd suggest Rapalas fished deep down in the current. Always remember to fish underneath any clay cliffs and sycamore root systems you might see.

Although Delaware is not necessarily synonymous with excellent trout fly fishing (shad and saltwater options are other stories for other days), it nevertheless offers some pleasurable and eye-catching trout opportunities. If you live in Newark, Wilmington, or any other spot near New Castle County, I strongly encourage you to give the nearby rivers a try.

Image #1: The White Clay Creek near the Delaware-Pennsylvania border.
Image #2: The White Clay Creek south of Chambers Rock Rd.
Image #3: A field of lesser celandine in bloom at the White Clay Creek in Delaware.

2 comments:

THE RIVER DAMSEL said...

Nice read...put up the "follower" gadget and I will follow along...

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