Centre County’s Class A Wild Brook Trout

I think I can officially say that I’ve caught the “brookie bug.” It happened more quickly than I expected. I’ve now been on five adventures across Pennsylvania chasing these colorful native fish and I still haven’t had enough. On Saturday I focused my sights on a familiar area, Centre County, Pennsylvania. I was student at Penn State’s Main Campus around the turn of the millennium. This is around the time I first picked up a fly rod. During this time, the iPhone didn’t exist yet and Pennsylvania Wild Trout lists were not available in seconds via a PDF in Google. This was a simpler time where I was happy to get out on the Little J or Penns Creek for a few hours with a college friend and hope to catch anything on a dry fly. Who knew there were so many brookies in streams just a few miles from campus.

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Blue-Line Brook Trout in Sullivan County, Pennsylvania

For several months now subscribers to my blog and YouTube channel have been asking me to do more wild trout fishing. A week ago I decided to give everyone what they’ve been asking for, a series of content focused on wild trout in Pennsylvania. One thing is for sure, the Keystone State is not lacking for opportunities to catch wild trout. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission maintains an annual list of wild trout waters where natural reproduction is occurring. You can find this list by quickly typing “PA Wild Trout Water List” in Google, and you’ll find a PDF that is kept updated by the agency. This list is over 100 pages long and each page has over 40 bodies of water listed. No matter how you slice it, that’s a lot of wild trout water. One thing that is important to note is that many of those streams are not public. You cannot find a stream on this list, locate its physical location and fish it. You’ll need to first determine that the stream is publicly accessible. If it is not and you are able to locate the owner, then you can ask for permission. I’ve taken this list and started to cross-reference it with maps of state game and forestland in an effort to find public access to wild trout water. This can be a painstaking process and as you’ll read later, just because water looks accessible on a map, does not mean it is easily accessible.

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High Water Ohio Tributaries & Fresh 20 Mile Creek Chrome

The itch to chase spring run steelhead trout hit me about the middle of last week. A large weather system moved across the Mid-Atlantic Tuesday night through Wednesday and it put a lot of creeks over their banks. Thursday morning, Lake Erie tributaries on “Steelhead Alley” were all blown out. I heard reports that there were still a good number of fresh steelhead staged in the lake prior to the wet weather and all I could think about was how many of these fish were moving upstream. By Friday, folks were posting videos from Walnut and Elk Creek on YouTube and Instagram and sure enough, fresh fish were being caught. Somewhere in the middle of all my internet surfing I came across a podcast by Washington D.C. fly fisherman Rob Snowhite. If you love to fly fish and you’ve never checked out Rob’s podcasts, I’d suggest you do. He’s got a lot of great content posted online that can fill long hours travelling to fishing destinations. Each year Rob spends time fly fishing for steelhead in Ohio. In the podcast I came across he was talking with Dan Pribanic of Chagrin River Outfitters. After listening I made the decision I was going to explore Ohio over the weekend.

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Here's a Toast to Spring Run Erie Steelhead

I typically make a couple of trips to northwestern Pennsylvania each year to fly fish for steelhead in the tributaries of Lake Erie. Coming off of a very active 2017 fall run, I was expecting the spring fishing to be good. There are two types of steelhead you can catch in Erie from March through May. First is the “drop back” steelhead, a fish that ran upstream in the autumn to spawn and is now working its way back to the lake. Second is the “fresh” steelhead, a bright chrome fish that decided to make its trek up a tributary in the spring instead of the fall. A healthy fall run typically means good springtime steelhead fishing because there are drop back and fresh steelhead in the streams at the same time.

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