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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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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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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