Sunday Slab On The Tulpehocken Creek

This past weekend the weather was awful. I suppose it could’ve been worse, heavier rain, maybe a snowstorm, but 99% of the streams in the Mid-Atlantic were blown out, again! This has been a wet spring, but this means we will be fishing for trout well into the summer. The only waters not affected by all this wet weather were tailwaters that don’t have many tributaries impacting their flows below their dams. One of these tailwaters just happens to be my home water, the Tulpehocken Creek in Berks County. In the Keystone Select Special Regulation water on the Tulpehocken there are only two small tributaries, Plum Creek at Rebers Bridge and the Cacoosing Creek at the Paper Mill Bridge. It takes an extended rain for these two bodies of water to have a significant impact on the Tulpehocken flows. The dam release out of Blue Marsh Lake has been slowed recently and has been holding around 240CFS.

 Looking upstream on the Tulpehocken Creek.

Looking upstream on the Tulpehocken Creek.

I headed out to the Tulpehocken around 10:00AM on Sunday. When I arrived at Rebers Bridge there was an occasional light wind and rain shower. The cloud cover was heavy and the air temps were in the low 50s. I made my way downstream below the bridge and stopped to take the water temperature. I took a reading at 58 degrees. The water was surprisingly clear. I had my Scott G2 and was using a 9’-5X leader tied to 5X tippet. For flies I was using a green Caddis Nymph for my lead and dropped a fly I call the Ice Worm off the hook bend. The Ice Worm is a two color Squirmy Wormy I tie with some ice dubbing wrapped around the center. I will be posting a video later this week on my YouTube Channel showing how to tie that fly.

I worked the riffles downstream until I found some slower water where I know the stocked fish like to hold. There were a couple of guys below me further downstream and one of them walked up and mentioned that he’d had a great morning. As we were chatting I started drifting my flies and it wasn’t five minutes and I saw a large brown trout shoot off the creek bottom and grab my Caddis Nymph. It was awesome. This fish put up a great fight and it took a few minutes to get him to the net. It ended up being a 20” stocky that was a just a slab trout.

 The first 20" brown trout I caught on the Tulpehocken.

The first 20" brown trout I caught on the Tulpehocken.

For the next hour I had steady nymph fishing. I caught a few 12”-14” stocked rainbow trout. The two guys below me were catching fish sporadically during that time as well. At one point the fellow below me hooked into a big fish and I went down to film him. Unfortunately he couldn’t survive the headshakes and fish broke his line.

 The rainbows love pink flies.

The rainbows love pink flies.

Not long after he lost his fish, I hooked into another big fish. After a minute of running up and down the creek, I finally saw a brown trout surface. This fish was even larger and heavier than the first one I’d caught. It took some careful maneuvering with the Scott to get him into the net.

 The second 20" brownie I caught on Sunday.

The second 20" brownie I caught on Sunday.

I spent the late morning and early afternoon driving to a couple of different spots on the Tulpehocken looking for fish. There were a lot of people out. Almost every parking lot I stopped at was full of cars. I did end up stopping at the 222 Bridge and fishing upstream. I hooked into a small brown trout that I brought to hand.

While I was fishing this section of the creek I observed several adult Sulphur mayflys pop onto the surface to dry their wings. My instincts tell me we are a week away from good Sulphur hatches. With the wet spring we’ve had there are still a large number of fish in the creeks with very desirable water conditions. In northern Pennsylvania there are many stocked streams that are only now coming down to good fishable conditions. It should be a better than average May and June for fly fishing here in Pennsylvania. Get out and enjoy it!