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I’ve been flyfishing for perhaps 45 years starting with humble roots on farm ponds in Indiana and Illinois. I’d occasional get an early issue of Fly Fisherman in the 70’s and see the stories about the fabled spring creeks of PA, the Letort, Yellow Breeches, and Big Spring. However, even after fishing a fair amount out west, Alaska and some other pretty famous waters in PA, the clear slow moving and watercress filled I’ll admit I was a little mystified on how to approach them.

On one of our traditional Sunday afternoon "take some revolver practice" shooting sessions with CF friends Roof (Joe) and Gnoahh (Gary) it was discussed and it turns out Gary had fished a lot in that region with some of the legends of early “match the hatch” fishing. A plan was hatched (so to speak). Joe hadn’t fly fished in a couple of decades but off we went for a couple days.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

This part of Big Spring had a significant stream restoration. It was gorgeous but hardly a fish to be seen. I fished the riffles the way I always do and no luck. There was a couple guys that had worked their way up the stream ahead of us and later they showed us pictures of some brook trout larger than I’d seen outside of Maine. So, not a great start. Well, except for having the right beer in the right setting. grin

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Off to Boiling Springs – we looked at the lake and hiked down to the Yellow Breeches and played “spot the trout” on the outflow of the lake but decided enough. Off to Carlisle for the night. Beer was drunk, food was eaten. The bartender we’re pretty sure, was a tranny. Not that I care but she was a pretty crappy bartender with a full bar of folks disappearing for minutes at a time.

Joe and Gary chatting over by the stream edge.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

All in all a good trip. This is not wild country. You see houses that have been here since the forming our country. These streams haven’t been stocked in decades, or maybe ever, and they see a lot of flies. The plus is being spring fed they fish the same way year round. Joe got to see as hard as it gets, despite Gary's excellent advice, and we’re going to go find some dumber trout for all of us.

Great trip, great weather and great friends. The trout are just a bonus.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


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Did you try worms?🪱

(I don’t have a Power Bait emoji)

Sounds like a great trip.


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A Panther Martins spinner or a few cheeseballs would’ve helped.

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Great story..If I ever get back that way again, I may give it a try.. Thanks for a great show...


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Nice write up! Thx.

Looks like a primo week.


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Rainbows wouldn't be PA natives would they?

I've long thought that rainbows were western trout brought east, just as brookies are eastern trout brought west to the detriment of the cuts.

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Originally Posted by 260Remguy
Rainbows wouldn't be PA natives would they?

I've long thought that rainbows were western trout brought east, just as brookies are eastern trout brought west to the detriment of the cuts.


Nope - the only native trout to PA, or the eastern US for that matter, is the brook. But the rainbows and browns in PA have been there so long that waters where they have not been stocked for decades consider them wild reproduction. Oddly, there's a reproducing strain of cutthroats in the north fork of the Potomac that have been there a long time too. They are the only ones on the east coast I'm aware of. I've never caught one.


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I don't know if there are any successfully spawning rainbows in NH, but there appear to be naturally reproducing browns, as I have caught browns, both large and small, in streams that were only stocked with brookies and were upstream with waterfall barriers from any downstream waters stocked with browns.

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Thanks for write up, Pugs. It was a bittersweet trip for me- I had fished those waters back in the "Glory Days" when you could walk across the creeks on the backs of brown trout, under the tutelage of guys like Ed Shenk, Charlie Fox, Vince Marinaro, and Ernie Schweibert. To see what the waters are like now after the PA Fish Commission campaigned to eradicate browns from those creeks that historically (hysterically?) were brookie fisheries was the bitter part of it. The sweet part of the equation was hanging with a couple of great guys who know their way around good beer.

I get the idea of reversion to traditional self sustaining brook trout fisheries. After all, the brookies were there first. But, the browns were what made them Meccas for fly fishing for over a century. There are those who say that the limestone creeks in the upper Cumberland Valley were the birthplace of fly fishing in America as we know it. I'm not 100% sure that the honor belongs there or in the Catskills, but I'm here to tell you that what I witnessed at the tail end of the Golden Era there has me leaning toward the former.

In a conversation with Ernie Scweibert almost 30 years ago he warned me that if the Fish Commission had their way it would wreck the Garden of Eden. I chuckled, thinking it could never change. How foolish of me.

I'm sorely tempted to sneak in under cover of darkness and deposit a barrel full of browns into Big Spring Creek, and wait for the magic to build. Might have to "dissuade" the electroshock-armed Fish Commission "race cleansers" from their duty after that though...


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And one of Gary waving a very nice 4 weight bamboo

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


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[quote=Pappy348]Did you try worms?🪱

I think it was around 1968, I was about 12, back page of Field and Stream. Maybe some of you old plagiarizers remember the story. One guy was killing them, the other had nothing. He said, I’ve tried everything in my kit and haven’t had a single strike, what are you tying? The guy with all the fish replied, when all else fails, try a #9 Cahill. Never tied one of those, what is it? An earth worm.


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Gnoahhh, what did you learn about beer from those guys?? It is sad what has happened in Pa. Hunting there used to be pure fun.. Fishing also.. Not so much now.. I haven’t been out since 2015.. Doubt if I ever make it again, maybe for a visit with old friends, but they are dying off at an alarming rate,. Have a good one.. This does look like a fun trip..


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I had to school those guys on beer (haha, they are a bunch of truants) but in the end we settled on Big Two Hearted Ale. Very appropriate for the task at hand.

That rod is an old Constable "Dart" 5'9" for a 4-5 weight. Parabolic action, flexes right down into the butt. Nice for prospecting shady pockets on small creeks. On that water, the Yellow Breeches, I will confess that I was wishing for an 8 ft. 5 weight.


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Question for the trout boys:

My Ike Walton chapter stocks our lake about twice a year with rainbows, which supposedly can’t survive through the summer. If they stocked browns, wouldn't they do do better? Are browns even generally raised commercially for private stocking?

I seem to recall reading about the folks in Yurrup pulling big honking browns out of farm ponds, where they’d been larding up for years.


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Ah yes, Two Hearted Ale.. first got it when I visited my late wife in Mich.. Loved it.. Now they have it on tap in a local establishment!!


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Originally Posted by gnoahhh
I had to school those guys on beer (haha, they are a bunch of truants) but in the end we settled on Big Two Hearted Ale. Very appropriate for the task at hand.


Streamside it was a fine choice - In Carlise it was https://mollypitcher.com/beers/ . Departing the Yellow Breeches we tried to hit up https://coldspringsinn.com as the stream side deck was tempting but alas we were there a couple hours before opening. Will be back though! Ended up at Appalachian Brewing in Gettysburg PA for lunch.

Oh, we also visited several gunshops during the trip. I was tempted by the very nice P64 M70 in .300 Savage in Shuman's. By tempted I mean to sell Gary's car to purchase it. grin




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Originally Posted by Pappy348
Question for the trout boys:

My Ike Walton chapter stocks our lake about twice a year with rainbows, which supposedly can’t survive through the summer. If they stocked browns, wouldn't they do do better? Are browns even generally raised commercially for private stocking?

I seem to recall reading about the folks in Yurrup pulling big honking browns out of farm ponds, where they’d been larding up for years.


Yeah, browns are the hardiest of the bunch I think. But I'm no expert.


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Originally Posted by Pappy348
Question for the trout boys:

My Ike Walton chapter stocks our lake about twice a year with rainbows, which supposedly can’t survive through the summer. If they stocked browns, wouldn't they do do better? Are browns even generally raised commercially for private stocking?


All about temps and dissolved oxygen. If you can keep the water temps below 67 degrees and dissolved oxygen above 4 PPM then you're all set.

A fair numbers of places in the region and couple have browns - https://dwr.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/media/Commercial-Fish-Hatcheries.pdf


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Good times shared with good friends over a cold beer . . . no matter the trout.


Some spelling errors can be corrected by a vowel movement.
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