Fly Fishing Southwestern Pennsylvania: Meadow Run

Southwestern Pennsylvania Meadow Run
Meadow Run is a classic freestone mountain stream, making a steep descent to the Youghiogheny River finally entering below the Ohiopyle falls. The Meadow Run trail is accessible from the lower parking lot located at the intersection of Route 381 and SR 2010 (Ohiopyle Road), the middle parking lot located SR 26063 (Dinner Bell Road) and the upper stream parking lots located in Ohiopyle State Park approximately one half mile upstream on SR 26063 (Dinner Bell Road). Most portions of the trail follow the stream making fishing easily accessible.
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A few take-away points about fishing with flies.

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  • Aquatic insects: Majority of a trout’s diet.
  • Terrestrials: Land born insects that fall from trees, are blown by the wind and land in the water.
  • Trout are opportunistic feeders they’ll eat fish eggs, leaches, mice, and a host of other things.
  • Choosing what the trout are feeding on is a crucial piece to successfully solving the fly fishing puzzle.
  • Using flies tied on a hook from various materials to represent the food source is a major part of the puzzle.
  • The fly patterns used are categorized by the closeness of
    resemblance to the actual food source.
  • Two primary fly pattern categories: Suggestive and Realistic
  • When an abundance of a specific
    food source is available,trout can become very selective.

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Early March on Spring Creek, State College, PA

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Fly Fishing in central Pennsylvania is always a good time. Fishing limestone water in late winter is sweet and logical. Like anywhere, it’s not always as productive as we’d like but it’s the unfortunate soul that measures time on the water by how many fish brought to hand. Of course once the rust is knocked off and codes cracked, rewards are had. Nice job Lou, and thanks for the time shared. The gas station coffee, road trip conversations, and what would be a trip without something surprising found on the stream.

Trout Habitat

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I know where to find the Cheez Doodles in my pantry, and on cool days when the sun is out, I like to eat them on the back porch. I feel much better when the humidity is low. My favorite time to exercise is in the morning.

My favorite time to go to sleep is in the evening, but I make exceptions. Like me, and you, trout have their habitat preferences and habits too. When it comes to fly fishing for trout, the primary factors for good habitat are:

  • Cold water: Trout like cold water. This gets a little tricky, but the best range for reproduction is approximately 42–52 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • pH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Oxygen: Aquatic plants make oxygen. The balance of clean cold water and naturally occurring chemistry promote aquatic plant growth, consequently making great habitat.
  • Clean water: Bacteria absorb waste, and strong stream flows dilute it. This combination is critical to clean water for trout.
  • Food: Trout fry eat insects and microorganisms. Richly oxygenated and pH-balanced cold water provides the proper temperature, bacteria, and microorganisms that trout fry need to survive. Trout-friendly waters give the microorganisms and trout fry an environment to flourish, thus resulting in continued production of offspring and completion of the cycle of life. Finding cold water habitat does not necessarily mean we are going to find trout, but it is a great start.

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Good Fly Fishing Reads

Trout Bum, John Gierach

The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing, Thomas McGuane

Confessions of a Fly Fishing Addict, Nick Lyons

The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway

The Compleat Angler, Izaak Walton

In the Ring of the Rise, Vincent C. Marinaro

My Life Was This Big: And Other True Fishing Tales, Lefty Kreh
Caddisflies, Gary Lafontaine

Joan Wulff’s Fly Fishing, Joan Wulff

Joe Humphreys’s Trout Tactics: Updated & Expanded, Joe Humphreys

Common-Sense Fly Fishing: 7 Simple Lessons to Catch More Trout Eric Stroup

Dynamic Nymphing: Tactics, Techniques, and Flies from Around the World, George Daniel
Tactics for Trout (David Hughes Fishing Library), David Hughes

Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout: New Techniques, Tactics, and Patterns, Bob Linsenman and Kelly Galloup

Curtis Creek Manifesto: A Fully Illustrated Guide to the Stategy, Finesse, Tactics, and Paraphernalia of Fly Fishing, Sheridan Andrson

Trout Stream Insects: An Orvis Streamside Guide, Dick Pobst

Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die, Chris Santella
A Kid’s Guide to Flyfishing: It’s More than Catching Fish, Tyler Befus

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Experiment with Fly Fishing Leader Formulas for Success

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If you enjoy tinkering with leader formulas and materials. You’re not alone. Even if you use a knotless leader as a base the variations made from there are many. You can find many great and famous formulas to use but more importantly understand. What better way to understand than to actually tie and fish with them yourself. The leaders above are not revolutionary but little ideas and tweaks that I am curious about. Of course the Tight Brush formula is something I have been using but not completely perfected. It is designed to be fished with very little fly line beyond the tip. If you don’t prefer tippet rings then simply use an albright knot instead. I would enjoy hearing from you about these formulas and your own creations. Feel free to comment below.

Winter Fly Fishing on the Little Juniata River

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The Little Juniata River is 14 miles of class-A catch and release trout water. It holds many wild trout averaging 2900 fish per/mile. The Sulphur hatches are of epic proportions. You will find a beautiful strain of Brown trout sipping bugs most days through the prime season.
But what about winter? What’s your guess with populations like that? It not only fishes but it actually fishes well. Tactics range from nymphing colorful “junk” flies to dry fly fishing midges. On milder days it’s common to find trout in the slower flows taking midges. Every large pool holds fish, try the seams just before the water drops off to deeper pools. Flows are more of a concern than finding willing trout. Anything below 300 cfs is real good and unless it’s been extremely cold for a lengthy amount of time you should pick up fish.
So if you got a case of the “shack nasties” get out and fish the J. it will treat you right.

A couple photos with my buddy Eric Stroup.

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Winter Fly Fishing One Day at a Time

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The film of salt on my windshield is getting thicker and I’m wondering how I’ve forgotten to check the wiper fluid before taking off this morning. I pull over one more time to throw snow on it and hoping it’s the last time before getting to the creek. I don’t get here too often, probably because the big water has such an appeal to me lately. I remember cutting my teeth here years ago. Learning each pocket and pool, tightening my loops, and understanding the way of trout. I could wax poetic about small mountain runs and their charm, like the special sound small water makes, and the shimmering gem-like brook trout that live there but I’ll refrain before I give myself a bellyache from too much wax.
Fishing mountain streams in the winter is hit or miss. I guess that’s no different than other times of the year, but it seems a bit more pronounced. It’s either on or off no in between and the “on” part usually consists of one or two fish max. I pull in to the parking spot and as expected fresh snow with no tracks, just the way I like it. Yes this trip is exactly what the doctor ordered; pure solitude. They’re calling for snow and it’s setting up to be true. It’s spitting flakes, the cloud cover has darkened and the low ceiling is keeping temperatures milder.
Definitely a nymph rig day. I tie on my tried and true two fly set-up consisting of a Walt’s worm on the point and PT Hot Spot for the dropper. If that doesn’t work I’ll throw candy, like an egg or Green Weenie. I still argue that nothing beats felt soles with spikes for grip but today I’m glad to have the Vibram soles. I have given-up my felt-soled boots to help eliminate the spread of disease. Back in the day I was too cheap to have two pair but the trick was felt in the summer and rubber in the winter. I remember walking around like Herman Munster from the build of snow on my felts and I’m glad those days are over.
The water is perfect, clear at the edges, milky green with a hint of turquoise in the center depths. Visibility, about a foot and a half, with good flow for bottom bouncing nymphs. The snow is coming down heavy now. I’m in to my third pool without even a bump and beginning to feel a snowy skunk in my presence. Huge flakes. Wow, it’s beginning to look like a remote adventure right here in my backyard. I could be in Alaska fishing over Dollies or maybe some other snowy existence like the Skeena or the Dean for Steelhead.
I really don’t care if I catch anything. To be out in this weather has its own charm. Everything is super quiet and muffled; like a weathered wool coat. Ahead upstream, the hill slopes higher toward the mountain. A vein of Rhododendron green winds its way upward washing into the snow filled horizon.
Crap, that’s what you get for daydreaming. Drift it through once more. Bang there she is now that’s what I’m talking about. Real beauty, look at the purple halos, orange and white streaked fins. Go on my friend thanks for the icing on the cake.
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Seven easy tips that will absolutely improve your fly fishing

Prepare to catch more fish.

As with many great activities, fly fishing offers us the chance to get outdoors, test our skill, and share time with family and friends. A day on the water chasing your prey can turn from enjoyable to gloomy if not well planned. A sudden thunder storm drenches your party and blows out the stream; you didn’t know the water temps have been well into the seventies for weeks; you didn’t realize you needed 6X tippet; your buddies told you to go west on route 554 but it is nowhere to be found; and the list goes on. Below are a few overlooked fly fishing tips to help make your outing more enjoyable and productive.

1. Know the weather forecast.

Weather plays a huge role with many aspects of a fishing trip. Starting with your level of enjoyment and comfort; wear the proper clothing for the day’s weather conditions. More importantly, understanding how weather impacts the fish can make all the difference between a successful outing and not so good. Trout prefer overcast conditions. Sunny skies require more stealthy approaches.

2. Determine the water conditions.

Water temperature, clarity, river or stream height/ flow, and oxygen level are critical factors to success. When is the temperature most conducive to feeding? A common rule is cold/cooler months fish during the warmest part of the day and hot/warmer months fish during the coolest part of the day. If the water is cloudy use bigger darker flies; clear water brighter smaller. Low clear water requires longer casts as does long leaders and fine tippet; drab camouflage clothes help.

3. Map out your route.

Lessen complications and hassles by mapping your drive. Find out public access points. Learn where the closest fly fishing shops, towns, food, lodging, and gas stations are located.

4. Prepare your gear.

Check and repair your gear for damages. Have leaders ready. Ensure you have ample tippet, spilt shot, leaders, floatant, and flies. Bring a spare reel and rod if possible. Duct tape and a multi-tool are life savers.

5. Know what food sources your prey will be feeding on.

Typically with trout fishing it will consist of bugs. Bugs will vary from stream to stream, area of the stream, and by season. Although the food source will change, this holds true for other species as well.

6. Make a tentative fishing strategy.

Although you should remain extremely flexible because fishing is dynamic by nature, making a strategy will help in many ways. It helps you zone in on success. Narrow down your approach, by thinking through where the best fishing may be located and what they will be feeding on. This will also help with fishing confidence, because you have made an educated strategy beforehand and provide greater efficiency by actually fishing rather than on-location guessing. Also, make a back-up plan research other waters and species near-by.

7. Practice fly casting at home.

One of the most overlooked underrated aspects of fly fishing is the ability to cast well. Casting should be effortless and subconscious. Through practice, you can develop muscle memory and confidence. Practicing difficult casts will empower you to cover more water especially difficult lies or spooky fish; resulting in improved catch rates. Can you slip a fly under a lawn chair in your yard? Hit a pie plate at 40 feet? Through a slack-line aerial mend cast? How about double-haul?

Free Resources:
• National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association: http://www.noaa.gov/wx.html
• United States Geological Service: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/sw
• National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/index.htm
• Google Maps: https://www.google.com/maps/preview
• Wikipedia Planning: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planning
• Wikipedia Entomology: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entomology
• Wikipedia Hydrology: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surface-water_hydrology

Fly Fishing Checklist

o Fishing License
o Waders/Boots
o Vest/Chest Pack/Etc.
o Fly Boxes/Flies
o Rods
o Reels
o Sunglasses
o Hat
o Split Shot
o Floatant
o Strike Indicators
o Tippet
o Nippers
o Hemostats
o Leaders
o Net
o Food
o Water
o Toilet Paper
o Map
o Local Hatch Guide
o Camera
o Extra Dry Clothes
o Sun Screen
o Repair Tool (Leatherman, Swiss Army, etc.)

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