JEFF KNAPP: Spring rains lead to extended trout opportunities
Trite as it might be, the inspirational saying that suggests “making lemonade when life gives you lemons” can be applied to how the spring weather applied to the outdoors.
While the unrelenting rain might not be beneficial to many things in nature — concerns about this year’s production of wild turkeys and ruffed grouse being an example — the added flows have certainly been favorable to early summer trout fishing.
Typically, by this time of year many of the stocked trout streams in the area would be flowing low and warm. Not so this year. For the past month I’ve enjoyed excellent action on Buffalo Creek’s Delayed Harvest Area, with nary another soul around. I’ve heard anecdotal reports of Little Mahoning Creek having lots of trout, again with few anglers taking advantage. Last weekend I drove past Little Mahoning’s Fly Fishing Only area, and though I didn’t have time to fish it, the water certainly looked inviting: plenty of flow and with just a touch of color. Only one car was parked along the road, despite it being a nice weekend day.
[PHOTO: This summer's rainy weather has provided good sport for trout, like this fine native brookie taken last weekend during a trip made by the writer. (Jeff Knapp/Gazette photo)]
Native brook trout streams have also profited from the added water. With the mountain streams running full, recently my friend Art Hamley and I spent a pleasurable morning pursuing our state’s only native trout species. In four hours of fishing we brought about 16 trout to hand and missed or lost about the same amount. Though most were of the 5- to 6-inch class typical of stream-bred brook trout in freestone streams, a couple of them were in the 9- to 10-inch range.
With rain in the forecast for the next two weeks, it appears there will be continued opportunities to catch trout through early to midsummer. Here are a few tips that might be of help.
One fly that might be overlooked for summer fishing is the single-egg pattern, like the Bloodspot. Stocked trout, rainbows in particular, have shown a particular fondness for single eggs during my recent outings. When there’s plenty of water in the creek, I’ve fished the egg under a small Float Master strike indicator, making upstream casts with the intention of creating drag-free drifts. During a couple outings when the water was normal to low — when the splashdown of a strike indicator might spook fish — the egg worked well when fished upstream on a short line.
Native brook trout (as well as wild rainbows where they are present) have a fondness for wild colors such as pink and salmon (sort of an orange/pink). Last season we did quite well on native brookies on a pink Woolly Bugger. The Green Weenie is another consistently productive pattern. Early this year my friend Shawn Iman tied me some Green Weenies in a pink pattern. I’ve fared well with them; in fact most of the brookies I caught on last Sunday’s trip came on the pink version.
Split shot isn’t just for early spring fishing. I’ve found that native brookies can be reluctant to come to the surface, especially when the flows are up a bit. The addition of a small shot or two can significantly increase the numbers of strikes.
Fly rods in the 7-to 7 1/2-foot range are ideal when fishing native brook trout streams. They aren’t overly cumbersome when traversing the woods. But are still long enough to make all the cast one needs on streams that average 10 to 15 feet wide. This year I’ve used a 3-weight 7-foot fiberglass rod that I’ve over-lined with a 4-weight line. It’s proven to be an ideal rod for native brook trout fishing.