Water Conditions: So far this spring water conditions have been in great shape. Recently, our rivers and creeks dropped to reach levels lower than normal for this time of year, but remain in good fishing shape.We are not desperate for rain, but some extra water to keep things rolling through spring would be nice. Monitoring stream flow on your local watershed prior to making the trip is always a good idea. See the Stream Flows page on the blog for a list of streams with USGS data.
Recommended Flies: March Brown Size 10-12, Gray Fox Size 12-14, Tan Caddis Size 12-16, Crane Fly Size 14-18, Sulphur Size 12-14, Frenchie Size 12-16, Pink Beaded Walt’s Worm Size 12-16, UV Braider PT Size 14-18, RTV Nymph Size 12-16, Soft Hackles Size 12-18, Zebra Midge Size 18-22
April is an awesome time of the year to be a fly fisherman in Pennsylvania. Spring is without a doubt the “match the hatch” time of year. After a winter of fish primarily eating underneath, it’s great to see fish feeding on the surface with regularity.
Water conditions have been in great shape so far this spring, and a variety of bugs are hatching. As a result, our river systems continue to fish well.
The weather this year continues to be an irregular pattern. A very early warm snap, followed by a cold snap into early April, and now temperatures are near 80 degrees as we near the end of April. The Grannom hatch this year fell victim to irregular weather, at least on the water that I fish in our local area. It seemed as though Grannoms did not hatch in as strong of numbers as typical for our area. While the fishing was quite good at times, periods of emergence did not seem as long which limited fishing hours in the morning. Fishing the egg-laying flights during the evening also seemed less productive than normal due to the smaller number of bugs.
Not long after Grannoms disappeared Tan Caddis starting showing up on the scene. Over the last week March Browns, Gray Foxes, and Crane Flies have been hatching in numbers. Recently Sulphurs are starting to pop off, and should soon appear in full force.
One of the best parts about the river systems in our area is they are bug factories. A lot of evenings anglers have to play the game to see which bugs the fish are eating the most out of what’s being offered. In my opinion, that’s a good problem to have. Some of the best dry fly fishing days of the year are this time of the year. Go fish.
Hook: Hanak Superb Jig Hook Size 16 Bead: Anodized Pink Slotted Tungsten 3/32 Thread: Red 6/0 Uni Ribbing: UTC Small Red Wire Body: Red Vernille (Burning the ends with a lighter can add to the attractiveness of the profile.)
Exposing this material to head cement or excessive heat will cause your worm to melt or deteriorate.
Using thin thread, or tight thread wraps will cut this material while you are tying it in. Try larger sizes of thread and start with loose thread wraps to avoid frustration.
Purists Beware. If you are too “pure” of a fly fisherman these patterns will be certain to ruin your soul.
Whether or not you consider it a fly, there are few flies better suited to fly fishing high water than the San Juan Worm. I have no problem carrying worm patterns to effectively fish high water, or low water for that matter. To me, fishing a San Juan style fly to match the real worms that trout have no problem eating just makes sense. But then again, that’s me. If you refuse to fish San Juan Worms then so be it.
If you dislike a San Juan Worm, you will most certainly hate a Squirmy Worm. And come to think of it you will probably dislike the Sparkle Worm also. Both of them are other variations of the San Juan Worm that I also like to carry.
In pretty much every style of worm that I tie, I am prepared to fish in Red, Pink, and Tan colors. Although, other colors get thrown into the mix from time to time, such as Purple, or Burnt Orange.
Over the years, I’ve played around with using or not using beads on my worm patterns. In lower, clear water I tend to stay away from beadhead style patterns. In higher, dirtier water I tend to almost always use beadhead style patterns. I’ve really become a fan of using an Anodized Pink bead on many of the patterns. An Anodized Pink bead can be a great addition to red, pink, purple, and even tan worm patterns. Not only does it provide weight, but an Anodized Pink bead could be a trigger point, or hot spot. Some of this I think could be because the clitellum of an earthworm is sort of a differentiated “pinkish” segment.
Another interesting material that I have been playing around with is the “Glow in the Dark” Squirmy Worm. I doubt the material glows in muddy water the way it would in the dark of night, but maybe there is some effect. I have had success with them in dark, dirty water so I carry a few.
If you’re not to much of a “purist”, spin up a few San Juan Worms and the other variations to try. These flies could catch fish any day, but when you find yourself faced with high, muddy water you’ll be glad you have them. Tight wraps!
As I stated in a previous article discussing knots on the sighter section of a tight line nymphing leader…
There are many materials and methods for building a sighter into a tight line nymphing leader. A sighter, or section of hi-vis line in a leader, serves as a reference point for anglers to detect strikes. In addition to detecting strikes, it aids anglers with the ability to visualize where their flies are underwater, and how they are drifting. Since strike detection and drift awareness are two of the most important concepts in fly fishing, it makes sense to me that the sighter in a tight line nymphing leader is equally important.
Sighter diameter is yet another element of a tight line nymphing leader to consider. There are many different types of material that could be used to construct a sighter giving anglers many different options regarding diameter, or line size. For example, Rio 2-Tone Indicator Tippet is available is sizes ranging from 1x-4x. So what diameter, or size, should you choose? Well, that depends.
I think that the biggest deciding factor while choosing sighter diameter is dependent on the size of tippet you fish most often. If you frequently fished 3 or 4x tippet sizes then you would probably want a larger sighter diameter such as 1 or 2x. On the other hand if you frequently fish 5 or 6x tippet sizes you may want a smaller sighter diameter such as 3 or 4x. For example, I almost always fish Rio 2-Tone Indicator 3x Tippet as my sigher material. Most days on the water I fish with 5x tippet, but I truly want the option to be able to fish 4, 5, or 6x at any given moment. By using a 3x diameter sighter I am able to easily make minor adjustments to accommodate my preferred range of tippet sizes.
Another factor to consider when choosing sighter diameter is water conditions. On larger rivers with heavy riffles, the extra thickness from a larger diameter sighter will be a little easier to see. On smaller streams or in low, clear water a smaller diameter sighter will spook less fish. I know it might sound crazy that a sighter could spook a fish, but on some of the more technical trout streams I’ve watched it happen. I fish a variety of larger rivers and smaller streams, by choosing a 3x diameter sighter I feel as though I am well prepared to fish about anywhere.
Consider tippet size and water conditions while choosing a diameter for the sighter in a tight line nymphing leader. Basing your decision upon these two factors will help you construct a sighter that is based upon your own specific needs.
I was recently invited to fly fish Yellow Breeches Creek located in Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania. Even being a Pennsylvania angler that fishes hundreds of days each year, I had never casted a line on any of the historic trout streams of Cumber Valley.
Yellow Breeches Creek, or Yellow Breeches, is a well-known limestone spring creek that offers a variety of recreational activities to those in the Cumberland Valley area. To fisherman, it’s a well-known stocked trout stream that also has a population of wild brown trout. This weekend, April 1, will be the opening day of trout season which will draw in many anglers to the area.
Similar to Letort Spring Run, it would be impossible to talk about the Yellow Breeches without mentioning the names of anglers that fished in the area such as Ed Shenk, Charlie Fox, or Vincent Marinaro.
The mile long regulated catch and release section that runs through Allenberry in Boiling Springs is very popular among fly fisherman. There is talk of the possibility of a stream improvement project, and many other big things going on at the Allenberry Resort. More information on the Allenberry Resort can be found on their recently designed website. In all honesty, the Allenberry Sticky Bun’s are alone worth a trip to the Yellow Breeches.
There are many different sections of the Yellow Breeches to fish, but Boiling Springs is a very neat little town to get started in if you are new to the area. The outflow from Children’s Lake, or “The Run”, is another popular fishing area regulated as a catch and release section adjacent to the Allenberry catch and release section.
Located along Children’s Lake, and very close to the catch and release sections is TCO Fly Shop of Boiling Springs. TCO Fly Shop has more than everything you would need for a day of fly fishing, and consists of a staff that is very passionate and knowledgable about fly fishing the local area.
The Yellow Breeches is a beautiful, medium-sized trout stream that offers anglers a number of different hatches. Hendricksons should be a significant hatch this week as the weather warms up. I saw a couple of Hendrickons while I was fishing the other day. There are many hatches on the Yellow Breeches throughout the year to keep your eye on such as Blue Winged Olives, Grannoms, Sulphurs, White Flies, Tricos, Terrestrials, etc.
There are plenty of places to access the Yellow Breeches, but there are also some sections of private landowner properties. It will be important to be conscious of these private properties and respect the rights of private landowners. Treating private landowners with respect and not leaving behind trash is the best way to ensure that properties remain open for public fishing.
Since the opening day of trout season is not until April 1, this week I fished the catch and release sections that are open to fishing year round. It was a very nice day on the water, and I look forward to revisiting it and other sections of the Yellow Breeches in the future. Pennsylvania has many miles of trout water to offer, but I think the Yellow Breeches is a special place that all fly fisherman should experience.
I was recently invited to fly fish Letort Spring Run located in Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania. Even being a Pennsylvania angler that fishes hundreds of days each year, I never casted a line in any of the historic trout streams of Cumber Valley before.
Letort Spring Run, or “The Letort”, is a famous 9.4 mile long limestone spring creek that flows throw Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Placed on Trout Unlimited’s list of 100 Best Trout Streams, The Letort is known for being a challenging fishery full of technical wild brown trout. It would be impossible to mention Letort Spring Run without noting anglers that fished there such as Ed Shenk, Charlie Fox, and Vincent Marinaro.
Because of anglers such as Shenk, Fox, and Marinaro, Letort Spring Run is a historic chalk stream here in the East. I could feel the presence of that history as I was stringing up my rod, walking down the nature trail to water, and preparing to make my first cast. Since Letort Spring Run is so well-known as a tough place to fish for wild brown trout, it can sort of serve as a proving ground for fly fisherman. Being able to catch a wild brown trout is one thing, but being able to fool a wild brown on The Letort proves skill as a fly fisherman. At the same time, there is no shame in being humbled on the banks of Letort Spring Run.
I was pleasantly surpised at how rural, or wild, it felt while fishing along the banks of The Letort, especially considering it flows through the town of Carlisle. A 2 mile Letort Spring Run Nature Trails runs along the stream from Bonny Brook down to Letort Park. This trail travels through marshes and woods serving as a great little escape from the “town” feel of Carlise. Not only is the trail great for hiking, it provides an excellent way for fly fisherman to access Letort Spring Run.
Near the nature trail, The Letort is regulated as Heritage Trophy Angling by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. This section is a catch and release, fly fishing only section that is approximately a mile and a half in length upstream from Letort Park. If you are new to the area this is a great place to start due to ease of access, although there are many other sections of water to fish within the 9.4 miles of Letort Spring Run.
If you are looking for a place to grab some food and a beer after a day of fishing, I would recommend the Market Cross Pub in Carlisle. The food was excellent and the selection of beer was almost overwhelming.
The day that I fly fished the Letort the dreary, overcast weather was perfect for fishing. Thanks to cloud cover and relatively mild march air temperatures, Blue Winged Olives hatched through the afternoon. I fished at a very slow pace, and was able to catch fish on dries, nymphs, and even a streamer. I won’t bore you with all the sappy details of the beautiful wild brown trout I caught, or the nesting goose that tried to viciously to flog me…
Below are a couple more pictures from the day, and 6 tips that I think will help fly fisherman visiting Letort Spring Run.
6 Tips for Fly Fishing Letort Spring Run:
Patience & A Slow Approach- The Letort is a stream where you first have to hunt fish before you can catch them. Approaching the water slowly, and having the patience to wait until the right opportunity to cast toward a rising fish can make all the difference.
Wear Dull Colors- Colors such as dark brown, olive, or even camouflage will help you get closer to fish without spooking them. A bright color on a stream such as The Letort is like waving a warning flag for the fish.
Focus on Casting- The first cast towards a fish is the best chance to fool him into eating your fly. Focus on making the best cast you can on the first cast, otherwise a smart, large wild brown on the Letort may not give you another chance.
Fish Light Tippet- Smaller tippet sizes like 5x or 6x are suited to fishing small flies, and get cleaner drifts overall. While landing fish on light tippet can be a challenge itself, I believe it will help improve the number opportunities for hook ups.
Fish Structure- Cunning wild brown trout love structure as it gives them a place to hide from anglers and other forms of prey. Structure such as weed edges, logs, or rocks are sure to hold fish. Don’t let the small size of the stream fool you, there could be a very large brown hidden by structure.
Look for “Glides”- I refer to a glide as a section of water that slightly speeds up compared to an overall low gradient stream such as The Letort. In spring creeks such as The Letort, Glides often hold fish and are much more common than riffles.
Letort Spring Run is a limestone stream that I will certainly revisit in the future. I would never tell anyone that fly fishing The Letort will be easy, but I definitely think it will be worth it.