Unfortunately the time to check thermometers religiously has come. Besides working on our new raft today, I had some time to check out some local water and monitor quality. It’s not good. The Little Schuylkill should not be targeted for trout at this time below Tamaqua, and care should be taken in the upper stretches.The lower Lehigh should also not be targeted for trout right now. The release from Blue Marsh was 72 degrees tonight, with an evening low temp of 72 degrees, so the Tully is a bust as well, that’s the dam release temp NOT the Waterworks gauge. It’s time to look for cooler water. The temptation to fish for aggressive rising fish can be strong but the reality is these fish are stressed and if you’re going to fish on these streams you might as well take a stringer because even most of the fish that swim away will not survive. Spring Creeks such as the Little Lehigh are a much better choice at this time.
June 23, 2010
June 21, 2010
Prospecting New Waters
After fishing the upper Lehigh Gorge solely upriver from the Rockport area, I (Paul K.) decided it was time to check out some new territory. Once again I parked at Rockport, but this time I headed down river in search of rising fish. Many excellent looking pools were easily spotted directly from the bike trail and several times I parked my bike and climbed down to the river to take a look. A few smallish rising fish were spotted and although I was sure that many of these pools held larger fish that were waiting for lower light levels to show themselves, I was set on a larger corner pool that I had seen via Google Earth. When I arrived at my destination, I was shocked at the extremely low water conditions, but happy to see rising fish. Five brook trout (each approx 10-11″) and seven brown trout (14-20+”) came to the net from 6:30 to 9PM. These fish were all caught in an area of the river that is approx 6 miles downstream from Sandy Run (the limit of the PFBC stocking) and approx. 6 miles upstream from Bear Creek (the upstream limit of the 5 Mile Club stocking). At least 3 of the brown trout were 20″ in length and seemed to be in fine shape even though the water temps have been approaching the 70F mark. Hopefully next week we will see some much needed rain across the entire watershed as the tributaries are very low. Without rain or cooler temps, this will most likely be me last report for a while as I would not want to risk the health of any of these wild or holdover fish.
June 18, 2010
In fear of the upcoming forecasted hot weather and the soon to be depleted coldwater pool at FEW, Jay and I decided to load up our bikes and head to Rockport for some evening wading. Air and water temps were a cool 62F. Headed upriver from the parking area to check out a few normally productive pools. The first pool was fairly quiet but a nice thick rainbow (15″) came to the net and a larger brown was lost, both on an olive sparkle dun. The “ski patrol” pulled up stakes and moved downriver in search of targets. The second pool proved to be much more active as bright yellow stoneflies and large sulphurs were sporadically present. Jay continued a 3 day slump, missing and losing (more of those notorious hook spitters) numerous smaller fish in the rapids, all the while intentionally ignoring the larger rising fish in an effort to build up some “lunker karma”. I can only hope that I am present when Jay decides to cash in his karma as I expect it’s gonna take a “true hog” and photos will be essential. Paul was much greedier and wasted no time in pursuing the larger rising fish. Numerous brooks, rainbows and browns in the 8-16″ range came to the net via traditional size 12 Light Cahill dry flies. At about 8:30 PM some truly large fish began rising and one true lunker brown (20″+) (pic to follow later) was brought to the net and one other lunker was broken off. Mysterious noise (snapping of branches, etc.) kept both anglers on high alert for ”old blackie”, but no bear sightings were reported. An uneventful bike ride back to Rockport in the dark capped off a successful evening of fishing. Although sometimes challenging to get to the river from the bike trail, stealthy anglers are usually rewarded with a few healthy fish from each likely looking location. At each pool, prior to casting, take a minute or two to observe the suds lines in search of rising fish and move cautiously towards them making minimal wake as these fish can be a bit spooky in the low water conditions. My advise would be to take advantage of these favorable water temps in the upper gorge while they last and make sure to bring your camera as mnik, beavers, deer, and bear have been showing themselves on a regular basis.
June 17, 2010
Water temp 66-68 degrees. It was overcast and drizzly but the hatches are being driven by water temps and not light levels right now so the hatch didn’t begin any sooner today. After we saw moderate rise activity, we decided to prospect with dries. It paid off very quickly with Ray nabbing a nice brown with a small BWO. We had seen the fish finning from some distance upriver and it got a little quiet as we approached but then showed itself and gobbled the olive up quickly. We had sporadic rises from Palmerton to Walnutport and then at dark we had steady risers and Paul and Ray caught a few more nice browns, these fish taking big sulphur parachutes. All of the fish were nice and healthy and put up a strong fight. The drop in air temps is helping a lot but the water is very low and it won’t take too many hot days to put a hurtin’ on these fish.
June 15, 2010
In search of cold water, the elder statesman of the “Ski Patrol” headed north to Rockport for an eveing of fishing. Weather conditions were cool (60F) with intermittent showers. Water temp 60F.
Once again the Lehigh did not disappoint as the olives were on. Targets were plentiful and obviously easy to reach with only a 200 CFS release from FEW. Although the olives were small (sz 16-18), I was able to fool numerous fish with a sz 14 olie cdc. Brown, rainbow and tiger trout were caught from 6 to 20+ inches. This is the first time that I ever caught a big thick rainbow or tiger trout this far up into the Gorge. The tiger trout may have been stocked by the “Five Mile Club”; however I believe that they only stock as far upstream as Bear Creek. This fish would have had to migrate upstream approx. 10 miles to where it was caught. Several browns in the 5-7 inch range were caught but did not exhibit any fin clips, therefore leading me to believe that they were wild. I also had a visitor (see pic) check me out from approx. 30 yards downstream. This large black bear didn’t seem to mind my presence and simply swam to the other side, shook off like my lab, and proceeded up the bank. The rising fish were oblivious to the bear as they rose within 10 feet as the bear swam the river. What a great night on the river; come on fellow “ski patrollers”, get your bikes fixed!!
I had Chris and Brent out for a float this evening. Water temp was 67. Olives and Sulphurs continue to hatch but we continue to catch fish with Slate Drake duns more than any other fly. Nymphing has been so-so, nymphs are fooling more smallmouth than trout. The best dry fly action has been in the faster runs and heads of pools but solid fishing to BWO hatches can be had in the slowest pools for skilled casters. Swinging wet flies continues to take fish from time to time, Streamer fishing is brining the smallmouth out but not many trout. The water is dropping hard, if we don’t get another dose of rain the lower river will be over 70 degrees in a few days, it’s been rising 1-2 degrees a day as it drops. Once the temps rise over 70 anglers should move upriver and find colder water in the Gorge or elsewhere. Targeting trout in fast water may be productive this time of year but in warmer water it is very irresponsible.
June 14, 2010
The water temps are holding up around 66 degrees but the flow is dropping again. Fishing has been tough, but we’re still catching healthy trout. Fish are packed into faster moving water but so are fishermen so finding some real estate has been the most difficult part of fishing lately. Large Sulphurs(Epeorus Vitrea - #14 Amber/Olive Dun Wing) continue to hatch in large numbers as well as large Olives and the occasional Slate Drake. Nymphing has turned up some fish in the faster water which is where Vitreas are most active. Smallmouth are becoming more active, especially in slower pools. Parachute Adams flies have continued to fool rising trout daily despite the hatches.
June 13, 2010
I arrived at the Waterworks late, around 6:30 pm. As expected, there were a few people around, four guys from the steps to the deadfall and a few below that so I waded up above the concrete gauge block. Water temp was 65 and there were light caddis, emerald green #16-18. I tied on a cream cdc caddis emerger and landed a small brown within a few casts, then three more within the hour. Some tan caddis began hatching and I saw a few fish take adults, I tied on a tan cdc caddis and missed a few fish and got a bunch of refusals. All fish landed on 6x, no need for 7x at this time. I didn’t have any ants or beetles, thoise patterns usually work wel on the Tully at this time of year. I saw one Slate Drake hatch and drift safely for quite a distance before flying away which is pretty normal for larger mayflies on the Tully. I left when the thunderstrom rolled in so I was only there for an hour and a half. Lots of fish around and they’re not too tough right now. If you’re getting refusals with a pattern, stick with it for a while, repetition and patience play a big role with being successful on this stream. Biggest fish landed was about 14″ so no piggies but all of the fish put up a good fight, one brown was heavily scarred from a heron but seemed healthy otherwise.
June 9, 2010
Though all of the Ski Patrol were present on the Lehigh tonight, I(Tim S) didn’t manage to meet up with the other guys. I’m sure they’ll have a report. I was fishing between Bowmanstown and Palmerton and the fishing was good. Water temp was about 60, pretty much the same as the air temp. I got down to the river at about 5:30pm and had to look for some risers with the rain falling but I found them. After the first five creek chubs I was inclined to move elsewhere but I knew there were some trout lurking. I landed a smaller brown and then a small bow(likely a clipped fish from 2009) before I saw a nice brown porpoise. I tossed my BWO at the fish about a dozen times before I hooked up and landed it. It was a long fight as were they all, these trout are still plenty strong and showing no signs of thermal stress from the low water and warm weather last week. I got smoked by a few more big fish before landing another big brown around 8pm on a sulphur. BWOs and Sulphurs were hatching in good numbers with a few Slate Drakes, I could only seem to entice chubs with Slate Drake patterns. Anglers should also note that many times if the fly was allowed to drag and swing for extended periods of time a chub or smallie was on it quick so if you don’t want your dries, especially CDC patterns, getting slimed up by these guys get your fly off the water when your drift is finished.
Jay and I fished near Walnutport on tuesday evening, water temp high 60s. The first spot we hit had some risers, I lost a decent brown that I hooked on a para adams, Jay landed a nice rainbow that had half of it’s face ripped off from a treble hook. We hiked down river a quarter mile and I landed a 10″ brown with a clipped adipose before heading back up river. BWOs(#16-18), Sulphurs(#16), Cahills(#12), and sparse Slate Drakes(#10) were hatching in the faster waterand fish were attacking them. I tied on my favorite searching pattern for this time of year, a big Slate Drake dun, and immediately hooked and lost a big fish. A few minutes later I landed an 18″ creek chub, not the target species but I think the abundance of huge chubs is just another testament to the health of the river. Jay moved upriver to fish the run I was in and we both hooked and landed some nice trout, and lost a few more big fish as well. All of the fish we hooked were strong and healthy, no sign of stress yet. The air temps are cooler now and the fish are taking the opportunity to feed heavily on multiple hatches. Watch the thermometers though, it’s going to get hot again before long and everyone should avoid fishing the lower river once it heats up.
We had one of our Lehigh crews on the Upper D over the weekend. The conditions were challenging, windy, low, and clear. Hatches were moderately heavy at times but it was usually pretty windy when they were good and the wind mostly kept the fish down. Hatches seen were BWO(#16-20), Sulphurs(#14-16), Slate Drakes(#10-12), Cahills(#12). A few Green Drakes were spotted near Hales Eddy and we saw a few fish feeding heavily on caddis near Balls Eddy at mid-day when it was sunny and warm. Risers were not consistent on Sunday until late afternoon and we had one fish follow a streamer in off color water on the mid-West Branch. A few fish were hooked/missed by everybody on BWO drie. Andy, the young gun of the trip, showed that persistence pays on the Upper Delaware by enticing a 22″ brown to the surface with a big Slate Drake tilt wing dun. It was quite a fight and ended well with a big slammer in the net.
Monday, on the West Branch and Main, we had risers for nearly the entire day with a few fish missed here and there but no solid hook ups until around lunch when Andy once again hooked a brown, 21″ this time, with a small cdc caddis. At lunch Bob P. hooked a nice fish but lost it on a wild run. We hooked/missed/landed a few more trout and Bob managed to land a 20″ shad in the Junction Pool on a #18 BWO. The fish were tough, but not impossible, and the whole river system will benefit from some rain. We were able to float both days but had to walk from time to time. Water temp in the Main near Stockport on monday evening was 66, so cooler air temps are helping the river out very much at this time.