Tony’s Tips

Sept. 3, 2019  Early Steelhead Preparation

If you are not an experienced steelhead fisherman then this information may be of value.

 Some important information is as follows:
When to go
What tackle do I need
Where to fish
What to use
 A lot depends on what type of fishing you would like to do. Some like the chuck and duck style high water approach and others enjoy sight fishing low clear water. I start fishing the first week of October and enjoy fishing through early November. As the season progresses, chuck and duck with eggs (or egg patterns) can be very effective. However low clear water can present limited results with this method. I enjoy low clear water and watching the fish react to my presentations. It usually does not take long before I can eliminate a few fly patterns or lures.
 If you can, go after a good soaking rain! When the USGS gauges start to rise plan you trip so the water level will be dropping and also clearing up. Most fishermen have larger catches at this time then any other water condition. A few days after water levels recede fishing can be tough again. However fish can be taken and usually, the advanced fly fishermen sight fishing, does most of the catching. If you are not in that category try getting an early start as low light limits the ability of steelhead to be as particular on the take and some fishing larger lures and bait still can catch some fish.
 If you decide to fish big water such as the Salmon River in NY then larger tackle is needed. Also this is where the drifting of eggs can produce better results. Many use long parabolic rods with light line. Probably 4 to 8 lb. is a good starting point. A 7 or 8 weight rod for fly fishermen with 2 to 4 x would be my recommendation.High fast running water can mean heavier tackle and low clear water lighter tackle can be an advantage. In Erie Pa., I recommend a medium action spinning rod with 6 lb. line. A good drag system reel is very important. Try to put on fresh clean line as these fish can put up a struggle and a lost fish can be a disappointment when things are slow. I use a 6 weight 8.5 foot medium action fly rod with a reel that has a good drag system. Usually 4x fluorocarbon or some 3x when water is a little off color and high, can  be my “go to” tippet. Most fish are not line shy so a 7.5 foot leader is all that is needed.
  You need to fish where the fish are running. Many times early season fishermen complain, “we got the rain but only a few fish came in”. Well these fish can run 3 or 4 miles a day with no problem and quite often they do not all stop within the first mile of stream. Do not be afraid to explore. If you are not seeing fish in one area try up or down stream a few miles. Quite often you will run into a decent amount of fish in a mile or so of stream. In Pa. fish are usually spread out fairly well by the second or third week of October. If you need plenty of room, then late October into mid November can be a good time for less fishermen. Perhaps I should clarify that statement? The fishing pressure may be lower and the miles of water with fish will be much greater then early October, thus spreading out the fishermen. Also some runs have skamania ( summer run) influence in them.These are the waters I target as others will get heavy runs in November through winter.
 Steelhead are like women. I never could figure them out after 47 year of fishing for them. High off colored water is a good time for heavy weight with strike indicators and eggs. Also a heavy lure can get to the fish and take some also. Clear slower water requires a more subtle approach, not necessarily small flys. I like streamers such as titan minnows at first light then switching off with smaller  to mid-size buggers such as a pumpkin picker. I also swing wet flys such as a size 6 yellow wet fly or a black woolly fly. When water conditions are low enough with very little current then a large dry fly or simulator can take some fish off of the surface.  A little movement of the fly is usually all that is necessary to get a take. I have fished a half dozen hours without a take then suddenly every other cast is a hook up. My words when guiding are pace yourself and do not give up the ship. Sooner or later you will get some action.
  For more detailed information check out my Fall steelhead seminar at Precision Fly and Tackle in Mt Holly Springs Pa. on Saturday September 28.

 

July 23, 2019

Summer has shown another year of non-typical weather. It is getting very hot which is not so unusual but spring rains have not let up. Our local streams have been above average flows and often bank full all year.

  The Breeches has plenty of trout for those who are willing to fish off colored high water. Perhaps you can be lucky enough to get 2 or 3 days with decent clear lower flow conditions. I have been seeing spotty Tricos daily. When the morning air temperature hits 70 you need to be on the water. This can be as early as 7:00 am or as late as 10:00 am later in the year.
  You may see a few light Cahills or a smaller caddis in the evenings . There could be a few here and there but can produce a rise or two. Terrestrials can and will work all day long. Usually you will need  to think small. Ants, 16 or smaller can produce fish that may not be feeding regularly on the surface. Many of our limestone waters remain cool through the summer making for decent summer fishing. The Breeches usually fishes  well above Boiling Springs or in the C and R area below the run. If  you are fishing catch and release try not to remove the fish from the water and land them as quickly as possible. Make sure you have plenty of insect repellent due to mosquitoes and no-seeums. They are extremely bad this year! Also a half frozen bottle of water is refreshing and will help keep you hydrated.  TD

April 1, 2019

No not an April fools joke!

We have had a little bit of early season caddis coming off but very sporadic. Most have a slate wing with a gray-green body size 14. They were on fairly heavy below Williams Grove last Saturday PM.
 My best catches have been with Pheasant tail nymphs and dark colored size 14 wet flys. There are enough flys and clear water on the upper Breeches to catch a few fish daily. The wild browns know how and when to feed and the stockies will eat whatever you put in front of them. That will change or many will end up as table fare! Still not a good concentration of Grannoms or Hendricksons. I may have to go out and do some aquatic seining to see if there is a problem or it is just delayed this year. One day it is 65-70 degrees then the next we can not hit the 50 degree mark. Last night it was in the mid 20s. Yes it is still a little early for spring-summer conditions.

 

March 2019

We have received more then our share of rain and snow for the last 6 months. As of March 11 all streams are beyond bank full. I fished a local limestone today with some flooding over the banks into field areas. I landed 2 fish and had one other flash at my Tesselated darter pattern.Remember only certain special regulated areas are open to catch and release fishing in our area for trout. Also some of the non-stocked sections of trout water are open to catch and release also. Call Fish and Boat to be sure. Just because your buddy said its open does not mean that is so.

Our opening day should see both Hendricks and Grannom Caddis. Perhaps high water will make fishing a little changeably but many times mid day fishing will see bugs and trout taking them for a week plus. I wish I had a magic wand to tell them when to come off but no such luck so you may have to pay some dues to catch those hatches. Some years they are constant for a week plus and next year you may only get a day or two on the Breeches. Most of the bait and hardware guys have had there fun first thing in the opening day morning and are usually taking a break with some refreshments. Some may be really enjoying the refreshment if you know what I mean. Bottom line is most guys are more then willing to let a fly guy work on some rising fish in the Pm on opening day. If not move up or down a few hundred yards and you should find some friendly guys.

I usually catch more swinging wets then drys on top. However I always enjoy a rising fish taking my fly from the surface .To each there own.
  I will be at the YBAC outing and have flys for the Breeches and always willing to give some advice. I will NOT be giving a seminar.
   Good luck and be patient as the best fishing is yet to come.

Tony

February 14, 2018

  The Yellow Breeches has received it’s winter allotment of trout from the Anglers and Conservation Association and the state will be stocking our special regulated waters in Cumberland County on  February 21. These fish will make your catch rate go up and are usually much easier to catch for at least a while.The Breeches has plenty of wild trout but a different approach is needed to catch them in any numbers. Also certain sections contain higher populations of wild fish and some of the lower sections do not contain any. This is due to water conditions.
  It is time to start stocking your boxes with flys such as blue winged olives and small black stone flys. If there is any surface activity these are the two main flys.  I suggest to use smaller to mid size nymphs. These will be a very good producer on most days as well as some streamers and even a bugger or two for those fresh stocked fish.
  I am doing my shows and have made a few adjustments. Please note the up-dates on my calendar.. This is a great opportunity to get advice and stock up on needed supplies.
 I was able to fish southern Va last week and caught a crappie. Only fished for 1/2 hour but I got my fix for the day, so to speak. We have been having mild weather and the snow is gone for now but rains have swollen creeks to bank full levels. Also old man winter is giving us a 2 to 5 inch snow fall Saturday evening. Next week will be in the 50’s, so hopefully I will start putting time back on the water. Remember March 1 is the closing of the open water sections of most streams in Pa. Consult your regulation book or call the Pa Fish and Boat Commission to be sure you are fishing legally.

December 2017

Winter may be the time for many to hibernate, however, there is a lot to do and even more to see. On warmer sunny winter days our limestone streams can fish fairly well. I like to fish smaller pheasant tail nymphs and some scud patterns. Also one of my favorite streamer patterns is the testalated darters. If you can not remember that just remember the TD. Yes those are my initials as well as the fly name. It imitates the testalated darter as well as a sculphin, that is on a diet!  If winter fishing is not your cup of tea, then there are out door fishing shows that will meet every fisherman’s needs. These shows are put on by local non-profit organizations such as our fire departments and conservation organizations. Many have food for sale and are good places to get local fishing information as well as information on that yearly fishing trip. These shows can offer you a different menu then those big national shows that many go to and are sometimes disappointed.
I do seminars for some, so watch my events schedule and I hope to see you at the shows. The events calendar dates will be added or corrected as dates are confirmed
Perhaps we will get lucky and get some cold weather to do some ice fishing.

Tony

Summer July 29, 2017
    Summer is in full swing and the fishing has slowed down. The hot summer weather brings out the worst in me with allergies and other minor problems. For the fish, water temperature is one of the biggest problems. A few suggestions are to fish as close to springs as you can and also fish early in the morning or late in the evening when air temperatures are the coolest which keeps water temps slightly cooler also.  Some streams contain good water temperatures throughout the summer. Mainly the limestone creeks such as Big Spring, and Letort are just two examples.
  It will not be long before one of our largest hatches comes off on the Yellow Breeches. I have seen White flys (Ephron Leucon) come off as early as August 5th on the mid lower Breeches and as late as August 22 in the Catch and Release water. These flys can come off in great numbers right at dark. You will need some pure white mayfly patterns. I use a size 12 – 14 hook for all my white flys. Either a wet. dun or spinner will work ( at times). Sometimes these fish can be fairly easy to catch however after a few days into the hatch the C and R fish have been worked over. If you do not like elbow to elbow fishing, you need to consider the open water on the Breeches. You may see a few other bugs around. One  is our Hexaginia hatch. They are large brown mayflys some refer to as brown drakes. I do not think they are that but it is a good way to describe them to someone who has never seen them. I personally have not had much luck fishing for them with surface patterns, however, a large size 6 brown wet fly can catch some fish from my experiences. Our weather has been fairly wet and it appears the forecast is for milder temperatures in the next few days. For myself this is a good sign to start putting more time on the water. Also make sure you have a good flashlight. I like to carry a small back up just in case! Usually on a good year once the hatch starts it is fairly constant for a few weeks. Remember it is called fishing and not just catching!  TONY

June 6, 2017  Midseason

Many have decided there are other more important things to do then go trout fishing. That is good for the rest of us as we do not have to wonder if that favorite hole will be occupied and we can expect it to be vacant for a evening of peaceful fishing. As summer heat comes upon us our best fishing comes in the early morning and late evening. Well sometimes. Terrestrials are most active during those extremely hot, humid mid day sessions when only the hearty would dare to be on the water. This is assuming your stream contains cool water temperatures throughout the summer season.
Some recent observations I have had in the last year:
Big Spring Creek:
Just not worth wasting your time on. The fish just are not there as they once were. I am not talking about they days of the hatchery but 5 or 10 years ago. There is almost no food for the fish. I tried to find cress bugs with no results except for the lower locations near town (Newville). However the state put some very nice Brook trout in this spring and many enjoyed a good meal of fish for a few days.
Letort:
It has been going on a roller coaster ride and is in a dead spot currently.There are some fish but those browns were always tough (smart) and fewer fish make it more difficult for success. I am not saying not to fish it, but if you have your act together and are willing to put in a day of fishing you can catch a fish or two. As for myself it appears the days of the 20 inch plus rising browns may just be a good memory. You need cover for the fish and the vegetation for insect life so make sure you have both before wetting a line.
Mountain Creek:
If looking for wild brookies or even a few small wild browns this is a alternative to our local limestones.The upper end (above Fuller Lake) has some wild brookies but beware. You are fishing in a heavily wooded rocky area and there is always something wanting to see if you are edible or just a good pin cushion to sting. The lower creek has been stocked earlier and will contain a few hold over fish as well as some small wild browns. Do not expect large numbers but if you want to get away this may be worth looking into. Also the fish are usually not very particular.
Greensprings and Middlesprings:
These are two under fished streams and have some potential for early summer fishing. Greensprings gets stocked a few times a year and holds fish over fairly well with it flyfishing only catch and release regulations. Try testelated darters and a small bugger pattern. Middlesprings has some small wild browns in its upper area and has been stocked through Memorial day.
There again do not expect manicured paths, and fighting your way through high weeds and brush can attract ticks, mosquitoes and so on.
Yellowbreeches:
I hate to spot burn but this is your best bet for some decent fishing through the summer. Both the state and some local clubs have stocked thousands of fish and if anything, there are too many. Wild browns can be found from the head waters to the Williams Grove area and a few other spots where spring water comes into the Breeches below that area can hold fish over. Be gentle with the wild fish and consider releasing all of the wild browns and just keeping the stocked fish for tablefare. Assuming you are fishing for dinner.
I make sure I have a selection of small nymphs such as size 16 pheasant tails. Scuds and cress bugs are a must all year round. Both testelated darter and white and silver streamers can save the day especially if you happen to be fishing after a summer down pour! You may see a few small cream caddis or a creamy mayfly or two. A few small ants and other terrestrials should round out your fly box needs.   Tony

March 31, 2017

 Well tomorrow is opening day for south central Pa trout fishing. Opening day for many is Jan. 1. However I will go with the flow and talk about  April 1. It is 41 degrees and raining as I speak. Boy am I glad I am not one of those guys camping out in one of those little tents laying on the ground tonight. Perhaps I have past my beer drinking days and the “day before party” is only a head ache for the opening day! Things look a little iffy for many but nicer weather is just around the corner according to the weather man.
He predicted a 50% chance of rain first thing in the morning. No sense going out on a limb with a real prediction and no way to be wrong with 50-50 chance!
So how about some fishing! I am sure the bait fishermen will do well with cold high off color water first thing. I do not think many will stick it out for the PM sun as our local weather man predicts. Perhaps we can hit it big, fly guys!!!  Hendricksons have been coming off and  I saw some Grannoms yesterday!  If things settle down the next 2 weeks should  (perhaps could) be some of the better fishing for the year. Plenty of wild fish and more then a generous stocking of fresh ones. Yes, even the “stockies”  should be taking them.  Flowers are starting to bloom and the trees are just starting to look a little different. Also I saw a hen duck in my yard today. She comes every year and builds a nest for her little ones. I live a good mile from the Breeches on Old Town run so I guess she likes to be left alone from those crazy mallards.
I hope everyone experiences some rewards while on the stream and please be safe and courteous to one another.        Tony

January 12, 2017

For many, winter is the time of year when we sit in front of the TV or computer, eat more junk food then we should and think about spring. Perhaps a brisk walk would be a good way to clean the winter cob webs out and get yourself in gear. There are many outdoor shows to go to and plenty of work to be done to get that gear ready! I try to plan my trips and think about what I need to buy and or do differently to be ready when the time comes. Also what should I do to please my wife so she does not mind me going!

You can go on line and see many fishing events (shows) to keep you busy. I personally do about 7 or 8 each year. Many friends and “friends to be” stop by and say hello or ask questions about fishing. I am doing different presentations for many of them also. Yes this helps my business but also it is nice to get out and talk to some real people. Not just the kind I hit my key pad to talk to!  Some people come to purchase flies, jigs and lures to stock up for the season. They know if I have them it is what I believe in, to catch fish. Also many sell new and used equipment that is usually priced right. If you are thinking of taking a class or booking a day on the water this can be the best time to ask questions and compare notes as to the best fit for your needs.

  I have been fishing and guiding for over 40 years and have put a lot of time on the water. If you have questions as to what fly to use or what hatch is going to be coming off, stop on by and I will do my best to help. Also planning a weekend outing can sometimes require a little more information then what you read online. I like to share my experiences and knowledge so I hope to see some of you at an up coming event or two!
* * * * * * * * * See the Events Calendar page on this website. * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

November 6 ,2016

It is currently 70 degrees and the fall leaves are in full color. This means cold winds and snow will be on the way. Many have there hunting gear ready and some of you may even have put some game in the freezer. I have gotten all my trapping supplies ready and in a few weeks will be placing some sets out.  Trapping for Old Renard, or even helping that farm pond by removing some muskrats, will keep me busy for a change of pace.
Many have complained about the lack of Steelhead numbers for the fall run in Pa. Yes, I can agree they are not what they were at one time. However, I saw plenty of Steelhead to target and even a few takers in the low clear waters we encountered this fall. No double digit days but  that is fishing! I have some ideas that perhaps would help the fishery but no real evidence to support my theories. At my fall steelhead seminar, I spend time discussing how to catch them in low clear water. Many have taken it over the years and I think most agree it was helpful.  The seminar is usually early in September and will be posted on the Events Calendar for 2017 in January.
We in the Cumberland Valley are fortunate to have many spring creeks to fish through winter. All but the harshest days can be productive and fun. Also do not forget the many lakes that get stocked with winter trout for ice fishing. Pan fish are very tasty when caught through the ice and filleted. And no refrigeration needed!  If you are not of the hardy type, check out my winter show and fishing flea market schedule. Two January dates are already posted in my Events Calendar on this website. Most are put on by local non profit organizations and the money raised can go to very good causes. Keep safe and warm. As always send your questions to my e-mail address and I will respond ASAP.

Tony

July 31, 2016

Hard to believe but it appears we will soon be coming to the end of summer. Kids are heading back to school soon and the weather will cool down. Thank you for some cooler weather!  White flys will soon appear on the Breeches. I start to look for them on the lower Breeches no later then mid August. In a few days to a week they will be at the catch and release area of the Breeches. It appears the hatch only extends a few miles above town (Boiling Springs). Perhaps this is just the nature of the flys due to the need for mud banks and even preferring warmer water. Make sure you have your flash light because this is a very late evening hatch and into dark spinner fall. It should last for about 2 plus weeks. Starting out slow for a few days and building to one of the great hatches we all desire to see. I use an emerging wet, then Dun and usually finish with a Poly spinner size 12 for me. And yes they are actually 14s. I guess the trout would rather have a Bigmac then the $1.00 menu burger, so to speak.
After the hatch comes to an end, I start getting ready for Steelhead. Every year is a good one for me. Yet some years have major runs from the first of October until things freeze and it is not fit for man nor beast to b
e out, let alone fishing, then the next year can be a bit spotty. Many complain about not having any fish, well usually by doing a little exploring plenty of fish can be found. I guess we have had it too easy too long and got a little lazy. Early to mid October will see me with my friends at Folleys campground and fly shop. I prefer to swing wets and skate large dry flys (sight fishing) but early morning can be a great time for working some streamers.
I look forward to seeing many of my local friends at the Yellow Breeches anglers fall outing (Sept 10), then my Steelhead school on Sept. 11. As of this date, I still have some open days for guiding and look forward to helping those who desire to catch 6 to 10 lb steelhead on a 6 weight rod.

May 15, 2016 

Even though it is May 15th, it sure does not feel like it. I think it has rained almost every day for the past 3 weeks.  Also the high temperature is 58 degrees today. However, we are into a mid-season phase of our hatches. Presently some caddis are dipping to deposit eggs and stirring a lot of excitement on the surface. This is very hard to imitate due to the touch and go style of flight they display. Also with the dreary weather Bwo’s have been a great go to pattern. I like a size 18 for this time of year. They seem to come off almost anytime during the day but early evening is the best bet for constant risers to them. There have been a few Gray Foxes around but not in heavy numbers but still worth a try if all else fails. Sulphurs started to appear in numbers last week and are on at a fairly steady pace. I will not get technical so I say the small size 16 – 18 and larger size 12 – 14 larger ones. I tie a version of George Harvey’s dun and do very well on most local waters. I like sulphur orange flyrite for the body. However, on a few streams in southern Adams county, some have a greenish (chartreuse) color body. After the sulphurs dwindle, make sure you have some tan caddis in size 18’s. The last few years have seen constant action on them on the Breeches in early summer on. As  warmer summer weather comes on our hatches will be late evening and almost into dark so be prepared with a flash light for safety.. Some say the hatches are early this year but I do not agree because I believe they were just late the last few years and on time this year. Hope this helps those who do not get the chance to explore or have time just observing the waters.

March 21, 2016

It is Spring! The early crocuses are blooming and our early season hatches are in full swing. Time to seriously look at your fly box. Lets take the Breeches for filling your needs for success. Midges always play a important part of the trout’s diet no matter were we seem to be fishing and is no exception on many of my local waters. A few different colors of pupae seem to be very helpful. If interested I recommend Midge Magic from Don Holbrook and the late Ed Koch. Next is Blue wing Olives in a few sizes and color variations. Since they are multi brood and prefer overcast, somewhat rainy weather, they can play a big role throughout the year as well as early to mid spring fishing. Two hatches stand out and are a must in my box would be the Dark Hendrickson and the Grannom Caddis. A pattern in nymph- larva, wet and dry are always good to have on hand. When the fish get on the surface I will switch to surface flys rather then sub surface patterns. A lot depends on the weather so this time of year the hatch can start in late morning or even early afternoon if it starts at all.  Also remember when the duns come to the surface it takes them a little time to dry their wings and to take flight so that means each fly is on the water for a much longer period of time giving more fish an opportunity to partake in their favorite snack. Two important points you must know: are they eating May flys or caddis flys. May fly duns have the upright wings and caddis have the pup tent type wing. Yes the fish know the difference. Like going to McDonalds for your BigMac and you get some KFC chicken. Good luck and be prepared for a great fishing season!  Hope everyone has a very successful 2016 fishing season.  Tony