Nescopeck Tributary & The Wild Brook Trout of State Game Lands 187

The wet weather continued in Pennsylvania last week. A storm system dumped rain across the state overnight Thursday into Friday afternoon. Any big trout waters that were on their way to normal December flows once again pushed out of their banks. I’m thankful that Pennsylvania has so many spring-fed streams in its mountains. The blue ribbons that fill the map of the keystone state wilderness make me feel alive.

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Losing Daylight & The PA Wilderness Trout Stream

In Union County, Pennsylvania just west of the town of Mifflinburg, there is a thirteen-mile Class A Wild Brook Trout Stream known as North Branch Buffalo Creek. The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission designates North Branch Buffalo Creek as a Wilderness Trout Stream. This means that humans have not encroached upon the stream and it provides the fisherman a true wilderness experience. The stream is referred to as providing Exceptional Value. This spring fed creek is a tributary to Centre County’s Buffalo Creek.

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Pre-Spawn Wild Brook Trout in Bald Eagle State Forest

Each year during the months of September and October, Pennsylvania’s wild brook trout begin spawning. The start of the spawn is different in every stream and is typically touched off by a change in water temperature. During the spawn, the male brook trout begin to change color. The orange on their fins and bellies becomes vibrant as they prepare to join females on redds. There is a lot of controversy around whether or not it is ethical to fish for brook trout while they are spawning. Some folks feel that fishing has little to no impact, as long as careful catch and release is practiced. Others believe that it is the worst thing a fisherman could take part in and avoid fishing entirely.

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Allegheny National Forest & The Back-Up Brookie Stream

The rain continued this week. After flooding last week, the streams of central and eastern Pennsylvania desperately needed a break. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. Going into Friday I knew it was going to be impossible to find anywhere that was fishing well for the weekend. I studied the storms as they moved across the state and I noticed that a majority of the weather systems were moving south of the Allegheny National Forest. This giant green area on Google Maps has been in my travel plans for a long time. Deciding to go there this weekend ended up being less about a choice and more about necessity. And so Friday evening I decided I’d chase wild brook trout on Saturday. The big question was where. I wanted to stay as far south as I could to limit driving time. I focused on State Game Lands 44 and 54, which are located in Jefferson and Elk Counties. The brook trout streams in this area are tributaries to the Little Toby Creek. The southern most tributary that is surveyed for wild trout is Jenkins Run. I decided I’d head here first but then found a back-up stream further north called Vineyard Run. This stream was rated Class A and was easily accessible off of 7thAvenue. I headed off to bed early and set my alarm for 3:30AM.

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