It has been a slow start to the season, but things are looking to be speeding along now. My first trout of the year came a few weeks ago on a wild brook trout water. These waters should be turning on big time at this point. Most of my early season brook trout waters are spring fed and provide good dry fly fishing when other rivers and ponds are still ice cold. Speaking of spring water, I just returned from a week long trip to State College PA and the Catskills region of New York. I fished with Bob Mallard and was helping him collect photos for his two books 50 Best Places: Fly Fishing the Northeast and 25 Best Towns: Fly Fishing For Trout. These books will feature State College PA and Hancock NY as well as North Conway NH.
In PA we fished the Little Juniata, Penns Creek, Spring Creek, and Big fishing Creek. We caught fish on all waters. Most fish were taken on sucker spawn egg patterns, stonefly and caddisfly nymphs. We did see some sporadic hatches with a few rises, but nothing consistent enough to switch to dry flies. Fish were mostly browns with a few quality rainbows in the mix. Size ranged from eight to eighteen inches, with our biggest fish taken on egg patterns in Penns creek.
After two days of fishing under summer heat, we drove towards Hancock NY in an all out snowstorm. We woke to three inches of snow on the cabin deck and a temperature of twenty degrees. The West Branch of the Delaware was swollen and chocolate brown. We took the day off of fishing and even considered heading home early. But we decided to make the most of things. We hit the water late the next morning and threw big and bright streamers to the banks. With under a mile left of our seven mile float we hadn't seen a fish. Then I heard a booming splash, Bob was tight. He landed a sixteen inch brown and got some clutch photos. A few minutes later Bob went tight again within sight of the takeout. This fish was a bit bigger and provided an accurate representation for this river. Our last day was spent floating the entirety of the East branch of the Delaware. Here we threw large eight inch eel patterns to sharp cut banks and sloughs. We began seeing fish right at the put in. Bob missed three and then I hooked a beast that looked like a small pig when he jumped and threw my hook. With four fish seen in the first half hour of the float, we fished with optimism. Then suddenly the fishing slowed, and we noticed the water turning an opaque grayish brown. We concluded that the dam upstream had increased flows, causing water temp and clarity to drop. A few miles later I had an unexpected boil on my fly. There were a few more follows to the fly but none were willing to eat. While our timing on the East and West branch could have been better, what we saw and learned was well worth the trip.
On my ride home the other day I stopped at a few of my favorite LL salmon spots around the lakes region. I tied on the same sucker spawn egg pattern I'd been using in PA and landed two of four salmon that I hooked. It was nice to see some jumping chrome to start the season. This week I'll be back on the hunt for more salmon and wild brook trout.
Today I'll be readying my new Outcast PAC 1300 raft for a productive season. If you have never seen one of these boats, they are perhaps the most versatile way to fly fish big rivers. We'll be using this boat for drift trips on the Androscoggin river. Fishing should be turning on soon, and the biggest fish of the year come early in the Season. If you'd like to book a trip, contact us soon, dates are filling fast!
Most pictures from PA and NY will be reserved for the books, But here are some that I managed to take.