Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow the other morning. That means spring will soon be here. Yay! For the first time in a week when I asked Alexa (the computer voice know it all) what the temperature was, she didn’t respond with a teeth-chattering suggestion to do something that is physiologically impossible.
Well at least the ice anglers are happy about the cold weather. Standing on hard water dropping a small jig baited with a maggot down an ice hole is certainly one way to spend a cold winter day. It’s really not as bad as it sounds. The trick is to dress for the weather and be prepared for cold: both physically and mentally. If you have never done any ice fishing you might want to give it a try. If you don’t know how it is easy to learn. Walk out on the ice and where you see other anglers and tell them you are a novice. Those same anglers who may throw rocks at you during trout season, are usually willing to share their knowledge.
If you are not inclined to go stand on the ice and stare down an ice hole, there are other things to do. If – and this is a big IF – the weather warms up and the sun is shining you can go out and try fishing in the waters that are not frozen over bank to bank. Now that being said, never walk out onto shelf ice along the banks. Water moving underneath the ice may have worn away ice that might seem thick enough to support you. A fish of any kind is not worth risking your life for.
Wait until mid-day when the sun has warmed the water, even a degree or two and that may get the critters fish feed on, on the move – and by extension cause the fish to start feeding. But fish are poikilotherms. What that means is fish are an animal whose internal temperature varies considerably based on their environment. The old non-scientific term is “cold blooded.” As temperatures cool poikilotherms become less active. Therefore, ripping a streamer or spinner through the water as fast as you can will probably not produce strikes. Slow is the order of the day regardless of the type of lure you are using. Try big streamers and nymphs if you are a fly angler. For spin fishermen you might want to use a size or two larger with a “loud” blade. The increased vibration might gain more attention from your piscatorial prey.
Okay you don’t want to fish, the wind chill is -20o F., and the television shows are boring if not downright stupid. Here’s a thought. How well can you tie knots? Do you know how to tie a Turle knot? Or how about a Trilene knot, a blood knot, a Becker knot, or even a Palomar knot? Get some twenty-pound monofilament (or whatever you have laying around) and practice, practice, practice. Learn something new. Once you get the muscle memory in your fingers on the heavier stuff, move on to line, leader and tippet material of the sizes you would use. Then practice some more. This will pay huge dividends when you need to tie on that fly as dusk is rapidly approaching later in the year and the fish are feeding.
Now is the time to go through those fly boxes. Discard old and worn flies. Make a note of what you need. Here at Precision we can help you re-stock your fly box so that when warm weather hits you will be ready. If you are the “roll your own” kind of person, this is the time to decide what you need to tie. We have a full line of tying materials and can help you get your fly tying started down the right track. Come in and if you have a question about how to tie a certain pattern or what technique to use, ask. We here at Precision can demonstrate or at least explain how it’s done.
For you hardware anglers, drag out that tackle box. Sort and inspect your lures. Now is the time to sharpen hooks, replace bent and broken hooks and re-stock with those lures that are now property of the Stump Monster. We offer a full line of all types of hardware.
The box that contains your soft plastic is a special treat to go through. Colors may have bled from one plastic bait to another. Some of the lures will have holes from being rigged. You can discard those. Stop by the shop and we can help you refill the missing and worn out worms, crayfish and salamanders.
The Cumberland Valley – Big Spring – Letort – Yellow Breeches – Falling Spring
Deep and slow is the way to go. Think Muddlers, Wooly Buggers, and their offspring, fished deep. Watch for little black stoneflies that usually make an appearance on warmer sunny days. Fish Prince Nymphs, Pheasant Tails, Bead Head Muskrat Nymphs and Montana Nymphs. Weight is usually called for. The limestoners keep a consistent temperature so you may want some Cress Bugs if you head to them. It will also be a good idea to try some of Shenks’s White Minnow or Shenk’s Sculpin streamers in those places.
Above all, be careful out there. Wade cautiously. If you have felt soles on your boots, be aware that snow can rapidly build up on the soles causing problems with your balance.
Northcentral Pennsylvania – Driftwood – First Fork – Kettle Creek – Pine Creek
Cold, cold, cold, cold, cold! Again – STAY OFF THE LEDGE ICE!!! Streamers are the order of the day. Try some of the older patterns such as Mickey Finn, Grey Ghost and Matuka streamers. Brown and white or brown and yellow bucktails in sizes 1 to 8 may also induce rod rattling strikes. Big nymphs (#4 – #10) can produce some incredible results. Tightline nymphing seems the most productive way to produce hookups. Don’t expect a fish every cast – patience is a virtue.
If you are uncomfortable get out of the water. Carry a wading staff and be sure to dress for the occasion. Let someone know where you are going and what time you are expected to return. Think positive! Spring is on the way!
Precision Fly Fishing and Tackle
South Central Pa.
January 2019 Report
As this is written fly fishing seems a distant memory or a far-off future endeavor. This past year was a weird weather year to be sure. Just about every time the creeks got near to normal it would rain and the streams became not only high but downright dangerous. A lot of trout were spared because the high water prevented anglers from getting to them.
Now is a good time to take stock of what your tackle looks like. Look at your rods. Do guides or handles need replaced? If so bring them into the shop. We can put you in touch with some expert repair people in case you don’t want to take on the job yourself. Clean your reels. Strip off all the line, disassemble the reel and cleanout all the crud that has built up in there over the past few years. If the line is worn or cracked it needs to be replaced. At the shop we have Precision and Cortland fly lines at price that is hard to beat.
Next comes the vest – pack – jacket – or whatever you carry your fishing gear in. Empty it out and look at its contents. What is that grey thing in the plastic bag? Check out your leader spools, shot containers, fly floatant and other consumable supplies. Replenish as necessary.
Then there are fly boxes. Sort them and discard the beat up, used up flies as necessary. Make of list of what you need. If you are a tyer, it is time to get busy. This may necessitate sorting your fly tying material and again making a list of what you need. If you are not a tyer you are faced with purchasing them. Either way, we here at Precision can help you out. We have all of the material, hooks, and tools you need to tie your own or we have unbeatable prices on flies.
Did your waders leak last fall? There are no such things as self-sealing waders. If you didn’t patch them, they still leak. Come down to the store and see our selection of Hodgeman waders and jackets. You will be impressed by the quality you can buy for the price.
If you must go fishing, there is no need to get up at the crack of dawn and be the first one on the water. Wait until the sun gets up around ten. The radiant heat can start the bugs and the fish moving even on the coldest days. Chances are good that you will be the only one or at most one of a few on the stream. Let somebody know where you are going and when you will be back. In just about any stream in the Cumberland Valley deep and slow is the way to fish. Tiny midges, black stonefly nymphs, and streamers will all take trout, but it will take patience. Above all in this cold weather be careful out there.
|Big Spring||Prince Nymph 14 – 18|
|Letort||Shenk’s White Minnow 4 – 10|
|Yellow Breeches||Shenk’s Sculpin 4 – 8|
|Mountain Creek||Stone Fly Nymphs 12 – 16|
|Falling Spring||Pheasant Tail nymphs 14 – 20|
|Susquehanna River||Articulated Streamers|
|Midges (various colors) 18 – 24|
|Mop Flies 10 – 16|
|San Juan Worms 12 – 14|
|Glo Bugs 12 – 14|
Note – Any of the flies listed will work in any of the waters. Fish deep and slow.
Northcentral Pa Stream Reports
As this is written the still water in the region is just locking up and hardwater anglers are beginning to pull their sleds onto the ice. If the weather moderates and we get a few warm days it is possible to get on the water with the long rod. Do some scouting. Now with the leaves off the trees you can see some water that might otherwise be hidden from view as you drive by in the summer.
Things can be slick and dangerous out there so if possible, travel with a buddy, or at least let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Of course, traveling the roads this time of year requires some extra caution. Make sure you have a shovel, tow chain and the necessary things you need to get you vehicle out of a ditch. Remember this isn’t Cumberland County and other cars going by might be few and far between. If nothing else, make sure you have a dependable method for igniting a fire. You may need one if your car decides to sink down into that mush of a berm.
Water levels in the Big 4 (Driftwood Branch, First Fork, Kettle Creek, and Pine Creek) are holding up well. There are still a lot of fish to be found. Fishing at mid-day is usually most productive. A stream thermometer is a good thing to have as you explore for fish. It won’t hurt to have an air thermometer along as well. Warmer usually means more productive. Take along some lip balm or Loon’s Stanley’s Ice Off Paste for your rod guides. It will keep your line from freezing in the guides. (Hint- it can help you get a fire started in an extreme emergency).
|Driftwood Branch||Wooly Buggers 4 – 12|
|First Fork||Glo Bugs 10 – 14|
|Kettle Creek||Mop Flies 10 – 16|
|Pine Creek||San Juan Worms 10 – 14|
|Big Streamers 1/0 – 2|
|Stone Fly Nymphs 8 – 14|
Note – Any of the flies listed will work in any of the waters. Fish deep and slow.