Conewago Creek is located in Biglerville, Pa and has a “catch and release” fly fishing only project area. Went there today without the expectation of seeing fish rising, but was pleasantly surprised. I found a pool upstream from the project sign with fish actively rising(sipping). I started with a BWO and caught a 16″ rainbow after many refusals. I saw some small stoneflies on the water, but the trout refused larger flies so I changed to a #24 ICSI (I can see it) midge. There were still many refusals, but I did catch 5 more and lost a couple. Still cool weather and too much wind, but it was great getting out. Ran into quite a few fisherman who were having some success on nymphs and green weenies. Conewago is a beautiful freestone stream with repeated riffle/pools through the entire “catch and release” section. Give it a try…you won’t be disappointed.
One consistent thing about avid fishermen is that if they are not fishing, they are talking about fishing or planning on the next adventure….or buying stuff for fishing. My wife says it’s not a hobby, it’s an obsession. So, after my brother-in-law (Ron Hill) and I canned the fishing plans due to the weather this past weekend, we immediately got into the “buying stuff” mode. Ron has wanted to buy a small stream rod and based on some previous research, he built his own small stream rod called a “Beaver Meadow” rod from the following site ; http://www.jprossflyrods.com.
Short fly rods are the J.P. Ross specialty. They range from 5.0′ to 7.9′. Ron decided on a 7.0′ medium action rod which has the versatility of fishing small streams but bigger water as well. The website allows you to pick your grip, the reel seat and engraving, cap engraving, guides and other features. Ron and I cannot wait to put this rod to work on Cross fork Creek and others during our Pine Creek adventure in June.
Although, the flies I will discuss are not the only flies to fish with in Pennsylvania, and they are not limited to this state….I will cover some popular ones, and flies recommended you have in your possession. I could not begin to cover all species.
As discussed before, flies are in 3 categories -mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies. Blue Winged Olives, Tricos, and midges and sulphurs are all mayflies. Caddis are tent winged flies and have no tails like mayflies do.
Caddis flies – Because of the many species, caddis can be found fluttering on the water from spring and into fall and throughout the day. Caddis is a great fly to use while fishing riffles and can dredge up fish even when nothing is hatching. Many fly fishernan say if they only carried one fly in their box, it would be a caddis. When a good caddis hatch is on, “Kady bar the door.” The Grannom caddis hatch on the Little Juniata in April is a good example of this.
Blue Winged Olives – “BWOs” are another great fly to have in your arsenal as they can be on the water from spring into the fall, They typically hatch in cool misty weather, but also on overcast days.
Tricos – This small mayfly starts around the beginning of July and lasts until the first frost. Look for tight swarms in the mornings. The female breeds with the male, and dies. Trout are very actively sipping these dead flies while this hatch is on. They tend to get smaller as the season goes on and patterns in the size #26 version are a must as the trout can be very selective.
Midges – Fishing midges are overlooked by a lot of flyfisherman for the fear of going to small as it requires using 7X or 8X tippet. Midge hatches can be found even in winter. Sunny days seem to bring them out. A popular pattern to use is a griffith’s gnat. I like to use a gray hackle fly which I learned to tie from my old fishing buddy, Levi Keefer.
Sulphurs – There are many patterns and sizes of this mayfly which begins the end of May/early June timeframe. In many cases the hatch comes off late evening and after dark. Sulphurs can bring the large trout to the surface.
I will cover additional flies as the season goes on as well as terrestials (ants, beetles, hoppers). Stay tuned!
One of my blog followers ask for pictures of common mayflies. Before I post some of the popular flies mentioned in previous posts, I decided to start with the life cycle of a fly…so as fly fisherman, we can understand what the trout are feeding on in various stages.
Simply put, the stages are: egg, nymph, emerger, dun, spinner, adult mayfly
Spinners: Mature females lay their eggs on the water producing larvae.
Nymphs: The larvae turn into nymphs – when trout are not rising they are likely feeding on nymphs.
Emergers: Nymphs migrate or emerge to the surface, therefore called emergers.
Duns: When the nymph molts (produce wings) the bug is now called a dun. The dun sits on the surface in order to dry its wings and then becomes an adult mayfly.
Adult mayflies then become spinners…the males and females mate…. the females lay their eggs on the surface and the cycle starts all over again.
The types of flies are cyclical, so it is now up to us fly fisherman to focus on the type of fly, size, shape and color. Since, I mentioned on previous posts, that I am a dry fly fisherman, I focus on the duns and adult mayfly/spinner stages. Stay tuned for the more popular ones on the Pennsylvania trout streams.
Tim Brookens and I attended the Fly Fishing Show in Lancaster, PA today. This was a great show which included exhibitors, seminars, and casting demonstrations. The highlight of the day for me was attending Lefty Kreh’s casting demonstration. Lefty is world famous and at 88 years old casts 70 feet with no effort. His technique is no less than perfect. We also attended Lefty’s seminar on taking better pictures and picked up some useful tips.
Mike Heck, local Orvis guide was among the fly tiers and my favorite fly shop – TCO was among the exhibitors (www.tcoflyfishing.com). We also got input from exhibitors on Young Woman’s creek in PA, the South Holston in TN (www.southholstonriverlodge.com) and fishing wild brook streams and spring creeks in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley (firstname.lastname@example.org) (Harrisonburg, VA).
Ofcourse, you cannot go to an event like this without spending some money on “stuff”. Lucky for us the wives came along and spent more than us shopping – not at the Fly Show! Now, we just need the weather to warm up so we can put our “stuff” to work.