Fly Fishing Cumberland Valley: Yellow Breeches Creek

A brown trout caught in the catch and release section of the Yellow Breeches.

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.

Looking upstream on the catch and release section at the confluence of “The Run” and the Yellow Breeches.

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.

A sign displayed at the parking lot near “The Run” where anglers can also access 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.

A couple of the many ducks that can be found on Children’s Lake in Boiling Springs.

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.

For more information about fly fishing in Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania visit the Cumberland Valley Visitor Bureau.

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Fly Fishing Cumberland Valley: Letort Spring Run

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.

Looking upstream toward a nice “Glide” that produced several fish on a BWO dry fly pattern.

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.

There are a number of signs, such as the one above, placed along the Letort Spring Run Nature Trail that provide information about the area.

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.

Even a wild trout the size of this must be earned on Letort Spring Run.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

For more information about fly fishing in Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania visit the Cumberland Valley Visitor Bureau.

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Fly Fishing Trips: No Expectations

A surefire way to be disappointed while returning from a fly fishing trip is to set prior expectations. Whether it’s a day trip to my local water or a destination trip 1,000 miles away, I never set expectations for results. When it comes to fly fishing, there are too many dynamic variables working together to ever expect a certain result. There are almost always surprises to fly fishing, and that’s sorta the whole point.

Think about this with me: There’s a particular destination notorious for producing large fish. You decide you want to go there so you throw darts at the calendar and pick 4 days out of a year to go fish. Large fish are smart, and every watershed has it’s own little intricacies. You venture to this sought after fishing location where you have no prior experience, and try to fool a large fish on his own turf. To me, this sounds like an uphill battle. Most times things are not going to work out as planned, but sometimes they do. That’s also sorta the point of fly fishing.

When I step into the water, I don’t enter it expecting to catch a certain number or size. I simply try to fish to the best of my ability and make the right decisions based on prior knowledge and past experience. On a fishing trip the only thing I do plan on for certain is gain a new experience, have a good time, and learn new things that will benefit me in the future. Don’t set size or number expectations on fly fishing trips, most times you will be disappointed. And that’s not the point of fly fishing trips.

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Video Spotlight: Chasing A Donkey by Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher

I haven’t been down to fish the White River in Arkansas, yet. The White River is often referred to as the land of opportunities for trophy brown trout. These videos from the crew at Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher certainly reinforce the issue that the White River should be on your bucket list.

Although the White River is a one of a kind fishery, stepping into the water with large flies is what it takes to land the big boys just about everywhere. So crank out some meaty streamers and cast your arm off. Nobody said it would be easy, but it’ll be worth it.

 

 

Erie Steelhead Alley: Road Trip 2

Last week marked the 2nd annual road trip to Erie for some steelhead fishing with Walt Young. Heading to steelhead alley the week after deer season has sort of become a tradition. We were fortunate to be able to meet up to fish with Joe and Royce, our fellow guides and friends. I no longer try to base trips to Erie on timing perfect conditions, I simply try to make the trip up whenever possible.

Over the years I have fallen in love with steelhead fishing in the Erie tributaries. I enjoy spending time away in Erie just as much as I do the steelhead fishing. I make it a point to eat at certain restaurants each time, such as the Avonia Tavern and the Oasis Pub. I also make it a point to visit Poor Richards and Follys End. And of course, no trip to Erie would be complete without a quick trip around the Presque Isle State Park.

Last week the water was low and there were very few fish around. Fortunately it rained and was overcast several of the days so the fish that are hanging around were slightly easier to catch. I was able to catch enough fish to meet my expectations. In addition to a couple nice steelhead, I was able to catch a few browns which always seems a little special.

I was also up to Erie for some steelhead fishing several weeks ago with my friend Joel. It was a similar story as this weeks trip. Low clear water, few fish around, but good times with good friends made the trip more than worth it. I’m not the type of angler that I need to catch a fish every cast in order to justify a good trip, I was more than happy catching a half dozen fish each day.

Although, there is absolutely no secret that Erie needs rain and lacks strong runs of fish currently. Keep your fingers crossed, hopefully a large rain event pushes a fresh load of fish up. I’m also hoping that winter weather remains mild, which will give the chance to get back up again before the seasons over. Until then, I’ll have to sit here and stare at these pictures to keep the edge off.

 

Walt doesn’t always fish for steelhead, but when he does he walks on water…

Joe getting rigged up for another day of fishing.

Joel enjoying a bent rod.

Joel admiring a nice fish that was properly tucked in the net.
Joel admiring a nice steelhead that was properly tucked away in the net.

I am all smiles with the nicest steelhead of the trip.

 

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