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Night Mousing

Posted on July 2, 2020 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)



Kyle with a recent moused up brown 




Fishing your favorite trout stream at night is a totally different experience. It's dark. There are strange noises around. You get that eerie feeling where the hair on the back of your neck stands up like all the time. The bushes are awfully close. Frustration can run higher than normal when fishing in the daylight. But the trade off is that the biggest fish in the stream will feed under the cover of darkness most of the time. And if finding out what exactly your trout stream has as far as big fish in it is your goal, then fishing at night is the best way. And there is no way more exciting and straight up awesome as tossing a mouse around. Here are some tips to get you started.

Fish the small streams
While big rivers certainly hold big trout that feed at night, they tend to spread out over large distances under the cover of darkness. This means that you may fish an entire stretch of big water and shown your fly to exactly zero big, feeding trout. Small streams concentrate fish near adequate daytime cover. Find a good short stretch with a few deep pools and fish the water around them. Plus smaller streams with better canopy will have better water temps than the big drainages over the summer when night feeding occurs. Finally it is safer. Wading at night is challenging and big water can get you into trouble if you aren't intimately familiar with every stone on the bottom. So if your goal is to find big trout at night, target small water (10-30 feet wide) and you will be surprised to see the size of the trout that come out of it.

Tailor your fly to fish present
Browns eat differently than rainbows. Rainbows chase, nip, and turn on the fly making mouse flies with trailing stinger hooks very effective for hooking up. Browns broadside center mass of a mouse. It is a T-Bone attack. Mouse flies with a standard mid-body hook result in more hookups.

Wait to feel weight
Just like swinging for steelhead on a spey rod, you can't set too soon. There must be weight on the line. Many times a fish will miss on the first attack only to come back a second or two later. If you set on the first attack (and trust me you will hear it) you pull the fly from the fish (best case scenario) or sting him and put him down (worst case). Wait until the line is tight and set firmly upwards.

Use heavy leaders
I use twenty pound maxima. You want to be able to pull that fly out of the bushes when you send a shitty cast sailing into them. Plus you want it to hold up to a violent attack and then be able to muscle in a two foot trout that isn't too pleased about having a hook in its mouth. Twenty pound maxima.

Take no chances
Fishing at night is not the time to be stupid. There's never really a good time to be stupid on a river or creek, but of all the times night is the worst. Know the water you are fishing, your entry route, exit routes and any emergency pull offs if you do get into trouble. Browns like log jams and the water around them. You do not want to end up underneath one at night.

So if you're really looking for trophy trout, check out your local stream at night. Looking at the weather, the next few weeks isn't gonna be the time to do it. But when the heat passes and the creeks cool off again, the trout will be hungry. Get out there and fire some mouse patterns to the bank. This time of year, with the colder water they possess, the little streams throughout the region will give up some surprisingly big trout if you ask them the right way.


Tight Lines,


 - D 

 


Trouting Update

Posted on June 24, 2020 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)


Just a run of the mill trout




Trout fishing in North-Central PA watersheds has been very consistent over the past several weeks, with good numbers of fish ranging from 12-20" and maybe just a bit more. In early June, evening hatches produced excellent action with a mix of March Browns, Sulphers, Light Cahills, and even a few Hendricksons around, along with some drakes and a ton of caddis. The spinner falls seemed to bring up the biggest trout, and at times long stretches of many of the systems we fish were boiling with trout feeding aggressively.

As of now, the water is warming to sustained highs in the upper 60's and even low 70's on many of the trout systems, as we approach the brunt of the warm summer weather. Picking your moments to fish carefully from now to the end of summer becomes the game. Early mornings will have the best water temperatures, though bugs are more active in the evening, the same time when water is the warmest. Look for cooling trends in the weather to fish the summer evening hatches and remember that for stream trout, water of 67-68 degrees or above should not be fished.

Other options this time of year include resident smallmouth bass found in many of the same trout drainages. These guys are a blast and in lower summer flows tossing poppers around rockpiles or log jams can bring out the smallies in a hurry. Wild brook trout streams also provide summer angling opportunities. Most of these are small, mountain creeks with good canopy and steep drainages that rarely see 60 degrees, let alone 70. 


Tight Lines,


 - D   








Are wild trout really that different?

Posted on May 13, 2020 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)



An obviously stream-born fish



I've been asked before on numerous occassions whether or not wild trout are truly different than stocked fish, and my answer has always been resondingly yes. In nature and appearance, wild fish are different and should be held to a different standard. I've seen anglers post pictures of giant trout with worn fins from a creek that, if left to its own devices, would struggle to produce even an upper teens fish. I've heard anglers brag of fifty fish days from single pools that without man's hand should hold in total perhaps ten fish scattered throughout. I've driven past lines of cars parked next to a stream because the hatchery truck was just there a day or two ago. These are the obvious answers to the question. But it might not be the only perspective to use.

Fishing wise, I find that streams that offer wild trout fish better throughout the year, season in season out. There's a reason to it. Stocked trout, particulary stocked catchable adults, are a put and take fishery. The hatchery truck puts them in. Anglers, including feathered ones and other predators, take them. And the stream is once again largely barren. When the state stocks even high numbers of catchable fish in a stream that isn't protected by catch and release regulations or gear restrictions, it doesn't take long for the stocked fish to vanish.

While it is true that long term holdover trout can take up residence in a stream, even a system that experiences heavy pressure, and offer some fishing opportunities once the bulk of the fish are removed, there are fewer of these fish than the wild trout densities in even moderately productive wild streams. All you need to do to confirm this is fish a stretch of stocked trout water in late June or early July, water that looks on the surface very productive to trout. Rocky bottomed, in-river structure, feeding lanes, perhaps even bugs coming off in the evenings. The only thing that's missing is the trout.

Wild stream trout, however, need to maintain resident populations sufficient enough to populate a watershed, meaning that in systems where wild trout are, wild trout are present somewhere in the system every day throughout the year. They offer fishing opportunities long after the the local stocked systems peter out from catch and kill. This is what truly makes these systems special, and worth protecting- the wild fish in these systems are worth more swimming in the river than frying in a pan. Though it is true that without the stocking efforts, opportunities for fishing trout in our general region would be more limited, places where trout are thriving without stocking efforts adds to overall angling opportunity. This is what truly makes wild trout different than a stocked fish- they live in the watersheds that are healthy enough to provide productive, though perhaps challenging, angling year round, not simply in the days or weeks after the hatchery truck drove by.   


Goodbye Steelhead Hello Trout

Posted on May 4, 2020 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)


Solid low-20's on meat


Got everything opened up at the PA cabin over the weekend and hit the river hard. It was worth it. The trout were acting trouty. Throwing the big stuff we moved probably fifty good sized fish. Lots of follows. Lots of swipes. Some real nice eats. Saw three bears on the river (didn't get a picture as it was a quick sighting unfortunately). I even caught two nice ones- one wading the first evening I was up there and a second that broke my rod on the hookset. Jeff and Matt all stuck really nice fish, including a couple really good rainbows. We'll be running trout trips in May and June. God I love trout fishing.




Good one on a double Ry-Snack 




Rainbow close to 20 





Matt with a pretty brown





And a solid rainbow





We floated through a snowstorm of caddis and picked up some hitchhikers





Jeff stuck the biggest fish on a double deceiver





This was a rod-breaker





The red on this adipose fin




Tying the Ry-Snack

Posted on April 6, 2020 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)


We just love big, wild brown trout. Like this one.




Which is why we tie and fish things like this- the Ry-Snack.


There's simply no other way to say it. Big, wild brown trout are different. While it's fun to catch a bunch of those 8-14" fish, to truly see what your local wild trout stream or river holds, you need to be approaching the game with a different strategy. Enter the Ry-Snack. Named after fellow guide and pattern originator Matt Rysak, this pattern has moved more trout between 18 and 25+ inches than all other patterns I fish... combined. It is a super variable fly that can be tied as either a single or a double. It can be toned down to more subtle and smaller as conditions require. But any we fish it, it is a fish getter. So here's how to tie it.


Step 1: Tie your stinger hook with a yellow marabou feather and a brown marabou feather stacked. (If you're tying on a single hook, ignore this step and do it in step 3).




Step 2: Set up your streamer hook. Tie eyes on the top of the hook so it ride point up. I also heavily weigh the top side with about 8" of .020 or .030 wire layed back and forth on the top.




Step 3:  Tie the stinger hook to the streamer hook. I like to tie the hook points opposite. When I tie the stringer on to the streamer hook, I use 20 lb dacron braid, but any semi-stiff, heavy braid will work.




Step 4: Tie rubber legs, a yellow hackle feather, and brown chenille just above the bend.




Step 5: Wrap the chenille up to the eyes. Palmer the hackle feather through it. Tie in a second set of rubber legs.




Step 6: Tie a tuft of yellow marabou right behind the eyes.




Step 7: Tie a clump of brown Australian possom fur under the eyes and mold into a head.




Step 8: Tie a clump of black laser dubbing over top the eyes to finish the head. Then fish the hell out of it.






Looking for big, wild browns is always a challenge, but it is a fun one. The reason this pattern catches so many fish for me and the people I fish, is that it is the first pattern I tie on in the morning and I am almost always fishing at least one of my guys with this out of the boat at all times. Brown and yellow is a proven trout killer. So if you're looking to head out to your local wild trout fishery and see just what lurks in the depths out there, pound the banks, the logjams, hit the structure. One day, maybe today, you will see a legit monster. Whether that is an 18-20" fish out of a deep logjam pool where the brookies have noticably disappeared from over the last two or three years, a 22-24" fish out of the river nearby where the locals float tube down in the summer, or the 26-27" + fish out of the waters of the Allegheny or other true trophy trout waters, this pattern might introduce you to your best wild stream trout.


See what's out there! 






 

Trout and Smallmouth

Posted on July 2, 2019 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (1)




Kyle with a nice 23" wild Pennsylvania brown trout!



Well the fishing remains very good! Central PA wild trout are still fishing very well with all the water. Fishing streamers to undercut banks and overhanging vegetation is producing great fish up over twenty inches, and we're moving much bigger ones. Lake run smallmouth have slowed down over the last week or two. Prior to that the fishing was very good when the rivers were dropping and clearing. Looking ahead, if we keep having intermittent thunderstorms to keep the flows up we probably have another 3 weeks or so of good streamer fishing. I expect the smallies to be finishing up here fairly quickly.



Tight Lines,


 - D






Nice smallie





Jeff with a pretty brown





Matt with a nice upper teens fish






Pennsylvanian Trout

Posted on May 21, 2019 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)




Jeff with a nice wild streamer eating brown



Spent the last few days hitting the wild browns in Pennsylvania and man it was too much fun! A good day streamer fishing is moving ten quality fish and hooking maybe three or four. On our float we moved somewhere around thirty up to around 25", hooked nine or ten and landed six- unreal! Jeff's fish above took a double white streamer literally as it hit the water looking exactly like a take on a mouse pattern- DID YOU SEE THAT!!!! Too much fun!

With steelhead in the rearview mirror, were hoping to get another few trout trips with the streamers before the water drops low for summer. When that happens big trout tend to stay deep, though terrestrials can tempt some up. 



Tight Lines,


 - D





Matt with the prettiest fish of the trip ( I don't know why this pic will only load upside down)






Jeff with another 



 




Happy New Year and Recent Pics

Posted on January 3, 2019 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (0)



Asa with a toad!


Well here's to a new year! Looking back over 2018, the fishing was all over the place. Ohio fished really well all spring, with consistent fishing as early as February and lasting until early May. As for fall, trying to find a single day to get out on the Catt was nearly impossible. There was a stretch for about a month an a half between October 1 and November 15 where it rained 38 days in that period. So naturally the Catt was offline for pretty much the entire fall season.The Erie creeks fished inconsistently during October and November, with some seeing decent but sporadic pushes of fish while others saw less dependable numbers. The really high point was the heavy numbers of lake run browns we found starting in November and lasting all the way to the present.

Over the past couple weeks we have still been finding high numbers of large brown trout, some of which were fresh run fish. I expect the fishing for lake run browns to remain very good so long as we don't see ice up. Looking ahead to the weather, I don't see ice being a real problem for the immediate future, as most days have highs above freezing. But we will likely see a cold spell at least at some point throughout the winter that will cause slush and ice.

As of now we are gearing up for the Ohio spring season. Ohio fishing has been picking up since we are seeing great temps and good water conditions. If you are looking to get out during the winter, the next couple weeks should offer very good fishing with the flows being right for a drift trip.

Also if you haven't already check out the new Eastern Fly Fishing Magazine for our article on the Chagrin River that we put together with Rick McNary!


Tight Lines,


 - D 





New Eastern Fly






Full Page!





Chagrin Article





28" Brown on the swing!






Craig with a nice brown






Eliot with his first brown trout!







Average brown swung up!











Silver and Gold

Posted on December 3, 2018 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)




Great brown on the swing!



The fishing is still great! There are lots of browns still in the rivers and creeks and steelhead are in the mix too! Look for browns to slowly work their way back out over the next couple weeks, though many will remain in the systems over winter. As most of the spawning has finished, watch for a transition from egg patterns to nymphs or streamers. Baitfish patterns will be very effective.



Tight Lines,


 - D




Awesome steelhead





Plenty of these guys still around





Chunker





Those colors though





Stout little trout












Swinging for Browns

Posted on November 29, 2018 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)





Catching a brown such as this on the swing is a reward many anglers desire



Catching a brown trout over 30 inches. That is many fly anglers' answer to the question of "if they had one wish to be granted during their fly fishing career, what would it be?" Catching a brown trout over 30 inches. And to a select few of the anglers that answered that question that way, it may even be qualifed to "catching a brown trout over 30 inches on the swing." Swinging for browns approaching or easily exceeding the double-digit pound mark is truly an experience that leaves us weak in the knees. It is at times incredibly frustrating, outright overwhelming, and just every once in a while so god damn good that it both haunts your memories and completely and totally ensares you into lifelong obsession.

This year we've been spending a lot of time chasing lake run browns. The steelhead run has been less consistent as it has in years past. But fishing for lake runs has been very good. Though many consider lake runs caught on the swung fly as by-catches for anglers targeting steelhead- and indeed many are- lake run browns can be specifically targeted with spey rods and the swung fly by knowing a few habits of the fish and making small adjustments to technique. We are not talking about complete overhall of the system here. We are talking about tweeks. 

First thing to know is a bit about the brown cycle. For steelhead in general, and fall steelhead especially, spawning can be months away. The fish adjust to their river habitats. Many have not fully sexually matured to the point that spawning is an urgent matter, and in the tiime between arriving to natal rivers and actually spawning, steelhead maintain curiosity towards their surroundings, including things such as flies swimming around in the currents. For this reason, steelhead are the usual targets of anglers wielding two-handers looking to swing.

Browns on the other hand are fall spawners. Many fish are sexually mature enough to spawn the very day they enter the river, should they arrive at suitable habitat. For this reason, the predator instict in even fresh run browns is often diminished. As a result, most of my success for fresh arrivals has been with smaller, drabber flies such as olive, brown, or black woolly buggers or brown hairwings such as brown trout fry.






A fresh 27" hen taken on a brown trout fry hairwing  


To browns actively spawning, males especially can remain responsive to those same small flies, though the ethics of fishing to spawning fish must be determined by each individual angler. Locating spawning fish in the riffles, and fishing below in gravel drop-offs or in the first main pool downstream is usually the better option anyways. Both pre-spawn and newly finished post-spawn fish will usually hang out around the spawners in the first available holding water, and are better targets in terms of receptiveness and in the fight of the fish.

In these deeper pools and runs where pre or post-spawn browns congregate below spawning fish, concentrate specifically hard in the slowest water available. Browns generally hold in slower water than steelhead. When swinging for steelhead, even in colder temperatures, many fish are found "falling into the bucket"- meaning as you transition from the head of the run into what would be considered the gut. Brown trout are usually found "falling out of the bucket"- meaning as you transition from the slowest part of the gut of a run into the tailout. On small creeks, this might only be a matter of a few feet difference, but on larger rivers this can be a difference of fifty feet or more. Though it is obviously a good idea to swing the entire run, as trout are first and foremost unpredictable, pay specific attention to the point where the current slows dramatically in the gut before dispersing over the tailout.





Jeff fighting a good lake run brown taken on the swing from the slow gut of a run



As more fish finish the spawning process, and the numbers of spawned out browns grows, baitfish and attractor streamers become the most effective flies to swing. Spawned out browns are eating machines. Lying in the slower pools and runs, they await to ambush anything small enough to fish in their large mouths. When I'm swinging to high numbers of spawned out fish, again in the slower water, I like to fish a floating line, leader down to 8 or 10 pound fluoro and a weighted fly. The cast isn't usually as pretty as fishing a weighted fly on that lighter tippet doesn't turn over great, but the swing is nice. In the slow water, any sink tip will usually ground out. Fishing without a tip and using a weighted fly usually does not. And at times, even in very cold water, browns can just go on a tear and be willing to eat anywhere from just below the surface to substrate of the pool. Most times, however, browns will be caught fishing a streamer weighted heavily enough to keep it near the bottom.

Pump the rod. I'll say it again. Pump the rod the entire time during the swing. Use the kind of pump that most steelhead anglers do on the hangdown and pump it throughout the swing. This will cause a jigging action, and the fly to drop back towards the bottom before it starts to swing again. Browns absolutely love to eat a streamer on the drop. And the take will be noticeably different. It will happen after one pump and as you pump again. There will just be weight there. That is a brown eat. It is not a turn on the fly the way a steelhead normally does. It is a brown that followed the jigging streamer, caught up to it, and, as the streamer drops toward the river bottom from a pump, inhaled it without turning. That is the way that most browns eat during the swing. They swim up and inhale it without turning back. If you were not pumping the rod, the fish might still take it. But that is a fish that can easily be missed in the slow water because the swing is slow, therefore the bite transfer to the rod is slow. By the time you notice something has happened, that fish could have spit you already. So I will say it one more time. Pump the rod the entire time from the start of the swing until the hangdown. If you feel any resistance, set low and to the downstream bank.






Smaller lake run taken on a bait fish streamer pumped through the slow water



So if you guys and gals have your eyes set on a trophy lake run brown trout on the swing, using these tips can be the difference between a successful day and spending an afternoon flogging the water. Browns are a beautiful species to target with spey rods and the swung streamer. Many remain in the rivers and creeks all winter long, and swinging or stripping streamers in the slower "estuary" sections in the cattails can help fire up even the coldest winter day. Browns put up determined battles when hooked, full of headshaking fury and sometimes acrobatics that will cause you to question whether the fish mistakenly thinks it's a steelhead. In short, lake runs are a ton of fun. And they readily eat a swung fly.


Tight Lines,


 - D