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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A Last Minute Trip

It was a last minute trip. You know, the go to the grocery store to buy a tooth brush, sleep on your buddy’s couch, and borrow a pair of waders kind of trip. Austen, and I weren’t really planning on fishing this day, but we weren’t planning on not fishing either.

We were eating a burger and drinking a beer at a local watering hole. It was around 9:30 at night, and I found out I didn’t have to work the next day. So, we decided to go fish. We both made “the call” to our girlfriends. You know, the “Hey Babe, as it turns out I won’t be coming over tonight. Yeah, I’m going to go fish tomorrow”. Fortunately, they were both really okay with us randomly deciding to go fishing. I think that’s by design.

I knew this day on the water was going to be interesting. Any day on the water that starts the way this trip did is sure to be an adventure. We floated for a few hours, but the early morning was fairly cold so the fishing was pretty slow off the start. We were sitting in the boat talking, eating a sandwich, and drinking a beer when the day to decided to take a turn towards more interesting. Something fell out of the boat. At first we weren’t sure what. All of a sudden Austen jumped up to realize, it was his phone. Ouch.

We pulled over to anchor up. Trying to find a black iPhone in the middle of a river is probably worse odds than finding a needle in a haystack. Nonetheless we decided to take a look. After a half an hour of searching relentlessly we were about to give up, but then Austen spotted it tucked beside a rock on the bottom. Wow. He stayed there marking the spot, I walked over to grab the net and a long stick. He held the net below the phone, and I popped it up in the net with the stick. We walked back to the boat with his phone that still worked thanks to a waterproof case. Crazy. I mean you can’t even make this stuff up.

To cap things off, about an hour later Austen stuck a real good looking, healthy female brown trout. Fortunately she was quick to the net, we snapped a couple pictures, and off the fish went to hide away and sulk in the depths. A few more fish for each of us and the sun set ending another day well spent on the water.

For me, days like these are what it’s all about. Fish and stories like this are not easily forgotten. The very reasons why I could fish 8 days a week, and fly fishing will never get old. Do you have any good stories from last minutes trips?


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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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Spontaneous Steelhead Alley Trip x2

Last Monday after spending a day on the water trout fishing, Joe asked me if I wanted to go to Erie to fish for Steelhead. “When are you leaving?”, I said. Joe replied, “Right now.” So we got in the car and left.

The way that I see it, time spent on the water in Erie for Steelhead in January is always a bonus. It’s not uncommon for the tribs in Steelhead Alley to ice over during these cold winter months. Warm weather, snow melt, and buckets of rain opened up the streams again last week. We were hoping it also brought in a fresh run of fish.

Fortunately we were rewarded for our spur of the moment road trip with a handful of fresh steelhead each. We ate lunch and drank a couple beers at the Freeport Restaurant located along 16 mile. It’s debatable that alone was worth the car ride. With a full belly and a satisfied Steelhead itch, we departed back to trout territory.

As we were leaving the water was again rising rapidly from a hard rain we endured while fishing. When we made it about halfway home, my phone rang. Billy, another fishing friend, was calling. I answered. “Do you want to go to Erie to Steelhead fish tomorrow?”, he said. I replied, “I’m actually on my home from there right now.” He said, “I didn’t ask what you were doing now, I asked if you wanted to go to Erie to Steelhead fish tomorrow.”  I got home that evening, slept for awhile, and then Billy picked me up and back to Erie for two more days of Stealhead fishing we went.

Being a guide, this time of the year is when I have some free time. I figure when you’re young and do not have responsibilities to get in the way of spontaneous fishing trips, go fish. Life will probably get in the way of fishing sometime in the future. I plan to fish as much as I can before my life gets a little more miserable.

When me and Billy landed in Erie, the major streams were all still blown out from the rising water the day before. We found a very small creek that I had often thought might be a good alternative on blow out days. Within 15 minutes after stringing up the rod with zero expectations, I landed the nice buck in the picture above.

Rewards of being in the right place at the right time. Over the years I’ve learned that being on the water is always the right place to be. If you can, be spontaneous. Go fish.

And yes, from what I saw last week and what I have been hearing this week, the Steelhead fishing has been solid.

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