Once again, two-thirds of the Ski Patrol, Paul and Jay, embarked on a scouting mission from Walnutport to Treichlers with really one thing in mind…big fish. We’re not really ever too particular, but why not set your sights high once in awhile? Air temp was a humid 85 degrees, water temp about 58 and the float lasted from 2-8pm. The flow at Walnutport was just around 2400 cfs and the river was a little off color, but otherwise floating and fishing conditions looked great. Throughout the day, the bugs were fairly active - especially large grey bodied tan caddis. We also saw fair numbers of mayflies (grey fox, Hendrickson and perhaps what appeared to be early sulphurs). In addition, there were sporadic stoneflies (see picture).
It didn’t take long for osprey-eye Paul to spot some big rises along river right just down river from Walnutport. With a fair number of various bugs, blowing debris and wind, it took several casts to get a nice 13 inch brown to eat Paul’s olive sparkle dun. Not a giant fish, but fat and healthy.
Down river, just below the trestle bridge pillars we anchored and spotted a few more violent rises in the fast water. Again Paul managed to turn another nice brown on his first cast, once again with the olive sparkle dun. After chasing a few more fish, our big fish hunger was calling us to move on down river and keep searching.
As we floated a mile or so further, we neared river right so Jay could drift a soft hackle/prince nymph double rig in between some attractive pockets of water. Run after run looked better and better. Finally the nymph rig paid off and we found what we were looking for. Jay set the hook and Paul knew immediately that it was big fish. After a long fight with getting the anchor to hold and the fish to come to net, we were rewarded with a near 20 inch beautiful brown on a size 16 prince nymph, and a cooled off Paul (who pulled a “don’t try this at home kids” move and jumped out of the boat in order to get the boat to stop before we floated into another deep, fast riffle). The big fish was found, pictures were snapped, and hands were shaken - it was off to the next challenge after a job well done by all.
The hunt for more monsters still lingered, but as the insect activity increased, the attitude became more hopeful for finding pods of rising fish. We did manage to spot a few more risers, some we landed and some we “long distanced released”. One nice Brown that Paul landed pushed 15 inches, again on the olive sparkle dun. In between risers, Jay continued to work the nymph rig and eventually found the surprise fish of the day. About 2 1/2 miles upriver from Triechlers, he hooked, landed and photographed an adipose fin clipped rainbow. We were surprised because as far as we knew, all the adipose clipped fish in the river were stocked above Bowmanstown. Which made us ponder the question, “did this fish come from all the way up there?” This fisherman, is why the PFBC is doing the fin clip study…so keep track of the trout you catch!
After that, bug numbers continued to grow thick, but fish activity did not, to our disappointment. We ended the trip, with one more brown that Jay took on a parachute Adams just above Treichlers as dark closed in.
Mission considered a success as more good water and fish were found, including at least one big brown.
Fishing was much less stellar upriver. I had a training run with Brian and his wife Jean, who are always fun to spend time with, and they make some tasty sandwhiches too. A lack of bugs from Bowmanstown to Walnutport made fishing a subsurface affair for most of the day and the good ‘ole Prince nymph produced as always, I love to experiment with flies but it’s such a killer on the Lehigh. I landed a rainbow above the Turnpike Pool, and we had some other takes as we drifted that run. In the Turnpike Pool, I nabbed two more bows in about two minutes, both hugging structure on the river bottom, and then it was quiet for a while. We didn’t hang around long upriver because there was a little trepidation about the iminent thunderstorms which didn’t develop until late in the evening. Sporadic risers were spotted here and there but way too random. There was a light caddis hatch and very light Grey Fox and March Brown hatch. Above the Ledges, I was prospecting with an oversized March Brown dry and brought a nice brown up(pic below). As far as the fly goes, I say oversized in comparison to the March Brown dries sold in most shops, my fly was much larger and imitative of the March Browns we see on the Lehigh and Delaware. Well, it’s not nearly as impressive as Jay’s slammer from downriver but it was a nice healthy brown about 17-18″. We camped out near Walnutport searching for risers and a few fish were missed on top with March Brown dries and Parachute Adams. Brian and Jean had to get off the water early which is a shame because you could see some big fish starting to become active while we were drifting to the take out.
GORGE FLOATS this week. We’ll be floating in the Lehigh Gorge(White Haven to Rockport) and hopefully we’ll be able to get some reports up.