Winter Brook Trout Fishing in Pennsylvania’s Blue Mountains

Everyone was talking about winter storm Harper late last week. The storm was moving across the Midwest on Friday and was expected to make landfall in Pennsylvania on Saturday afternoon. The weather report was telling me I was going to have a four or five hour window on Saturday to fly fish. The air temperatures were supposed to hold steady in the mid-30s into Saturday morning and this was actually an increase from earlier in the week when overnight temps were dipping into the low 20s. My experience is that any gradual and sustained increase in temperatures in the colder months can mean active brook trout.

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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.

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Cold December Rainbows on The Tulpehocken Creek

Watching the forecast this past week I knew it was going to be a cold weekend. On Saturday there was a good breeze going and I didn’t want to deal with it on the water. I opted to take the fly rod out on Sunday. When I headed outside to pack up my truck at 10:00am it was 28 degrees outside. I broke out the heavy long johns and headed to the Tulpehocken Creek in Berks County. I haven’t fished the Tulpehocken (“Tully”) since this past July. I knew the state had completed a fall stocking back in October. And I also knew that TCO Fly Shop had stocked a large number of small fingerlings back in November. There are problaby more trout in the Tully this time of year than any other body of water in southeastern Pennsylvania. Typically when the state stocks the Tully, they put fish in the same locations each time. I figured it was a safe bet to start fly fishing in the riffles below Rebers Bridge Road. I arrived at the Rebers Bridge parking lot around 11:00am and started getting geared up. While I was there a gentlmen who’d been out fishing stopped at my truck and offered me his hand warmers, saying they still had a couple of hours left in them and that I’d need them.

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