Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cross Creek Lake Pays Off!!!

     What a day we had at Cross Creek Lake. First things first, Cross Creek Lake falls under the "Panfish Enhancement Special Regulations," which stipulate rules that need to be followed; chances are you're going to be checked while fishing this lake.  Here is a rundown of the rules that apply: boat motors have to be 10 hp or less; 15 inches for bass with a 2 fish per day limit; 9 inches for white and black crappie with a 20 fish per day limit; 7 inches for sunfish with a twenty fish per day limit; and a limit of 50 fish combined species per day.  From what I have read, in the past twenty years since this has been introduced, these rules have really improved the quality of fishing on this lake. It is currently forecast as one of the premier fisheries in the next ten years for Pennsylvania.  The Ice was exceptional today: six inches and the weather was poor, the wind was bad and the temperatures were frigid, which, honestly, is typical for ice fishing.  Typically, while ice fishing, me and my fishing buddies have huts that we use and heaters and, believe it or not, it is quite comfortable while inside the hut. Today I was down to a thermal and flannel with jeans and felt fine.
     Fish were caught mostly on wax worms with the occasional hook up on a medium minnie. A few were also caught on night crawlers hanging off a perch-colored jig.  We fished one of the back bays and made sure to set up with the wind at our backs, making sure to try to lock the hut in due to the wind.  Fish were caught in waves with some good action for a minute or two, then a lull in the action til the next school came in. We were catching fish all day so I can't say that one hour of the day was better than another.  We fished til the buzzer sounded at 4:32 pm. I forgot to mention that you can only fish this lake til dark, and they sound a buzzer when it is time to get off the lake.  All in all, it was a good day, but not a great one. I have had better days with many more fish. On the other hand, I have had much worse days with no fish.  You take them as they come.
                                               "Dink Large Mouth"
                                             "Never Mind The Beer Cans"
                                                            "Cooler Full"

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Good Day To Tie

Tying one on.     
When I have nothing better to do (and even times when I do have something better to do) I settle in and get to work tying some flies. I find it to be very satisfying, and I really feel like I've accomplished something after a good day of tying.  It's funny; no matter how much I tie, I still feel like I need to do more. I mean, even if I tie a hundred flies and feel like I have a good start, in my mind it's really never enough.  I know that I get better with each tie, and I think it's really starting to show. Every fly I tie, I always try to improve upon it somehow and think of changes I can make to the pattern to make it more realistic.  Something else I have noticed over the years is that you can tie the same fly the same way (or at least you think the same way) but you always seem to have one that does the best; one that catches fish like crazy, whether it be because of the way it floats or the way the materials lay on the hook.  I used to buy my supplies at the superstores because it was convenient, but I have learned over the years that you do much better buying quality supplies online or in respectable fly shops. The durability is the difference that I have noticed the most.
When I sit down to tie I like to put on some good music, have a good cup of coffee or beer (usually beer), and make sure I am good and comfortable, because I know I'm going to be there for a few hours.  I tied quite a few flies today and yesterday. I am trying to restock my steelhead flies and get my trout boxes back in order for the upcoming season. My dry fly box is pretty well picked clean after last year. It seems I am always behind and always should be sitting at my bench tying more. If you have a good day you burn through some flies.  Yesterday was dedicated to tying dries and today mostly nymphs. I try to break up the monotony by changing it up. If I get bored tying one pattern, then I throw a few different flies into the mix just to switch it up a bit.  I also try to save time by having materials ready so I am not looking for stuff or preparing as I go. I also find that this improves my quality because I can get into a rhythm and just run with it. 
The past two days were dedicated to old faithfuls, the flies I use the most. Some of them work everywhere, and some of them seem to do best on certain streams.  The green Copper John was pretty productive this year on the Potomac and also the early steelhead. Pheasant Tails you just can't have enough of in this area. I tie Pheasant Tails in many different patterns: legs, no legs, traditional and flashback. I seem to do fairly well with those, especially the flashback fly. Sometimes I wonder if the fish can really tell the difference because I know that the ugliest flies sometimes do the best.  I still catch fish on some of the ugliest flies I have ever tied, mainly because I have used every other fly in the box and that's the last one left, so I treat it like gold.  I still have flies that I tied when I was a kid. Man are they bad, but everyone has to start somewhere. The best part is they still caught fish; otherwise, I probably would have given up by now.  I plan on tying some more this week. Not sure what patterns yet, but I will keep you posted.  
            "Trying some creative ways to photo my ties"
                                                     "Copper John"
                                                       "Hard at work"
                                                        "Work Area"

Friday, January 17, 2014

Many Hooked, Eight Landed Today At Sterretania (And a Snowstorm)

     After a long drive to the Elk and some wondering about how the weather was going to turn out, I arrived at Sterretania, Pa.  When I arrived, I was shocked to find that I was the only person there and that the weather man was very much wrong calling for a high of 31 degrees and a low of 17 degrees (which I am not complaining about at all).  I got there at 10:30 AM, and after some gearing up and a leader change, I was on the water.  I parked at the horse farm up from the bridge and set in there. The water was pretty good ... not perfect by any means, but a little off color and up just a bit.  The weather was great. 40 degrees and sunny, which I was a little nervous about due to the fact that I seem to have my best luck on days with some overcast.  I hooked quite a few fish and landed six in one hole that always seems to do well for me.  I worked my way upstream about a mile or so and landed two more on my way up.  Today was action packed.  As soon as I landed one, took a picture and let it go, I had another on the very next cast.  All fish were caught today on a Cream Sucker Spawn with one strip of orange sparkle braid down the middle or a Purple Copper John, both size #16.  My best times of the day were between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. It seemed like as soon the clouds rolled in and the sun came off the water the action stopped, which seems to be the case mostly during winter fishing. Mid-day is always the best.  I left Erie at about 3:30 pm and on the way home hit one hell of a snow storm around Neville Island. A three hour drive took me just over five hours since all the back roads were shut down.  I would think that Sunday should be good. There are a ton of fish in the river; the only thing is the sudden temperature change. I usually like to give the fish a day or two to adjust.  If any one else fished today or throughout this upcoming weekend, I would love to hear how you did as well.  Keep me posted!!!
                                      "Cream Sucker Spawn #16"

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Ice Is A Little Shaky At Lake Arthur

     I am going to state the obvious here by saying what I am sure everyone knows. It is cold. Very cold, which was a deciding factor in my style of fishing that I went with this weekend.  I was sure of one thing - and that was that I was going to fish - but how and where was the question.  With some research on water levels, weather, and some phone calls, Heath and I decided to go icefishing on  Lake Arthur.  Some really handy tools for finding this information include apps on your phone. There are many out there, but the easiest to maneuver and the most accurate that I have found are River Data for the streamflows and The Weather Channel for the weather.  These are both very handy tools to have in your arsenal, and I use them almost every time I set out to fish.  Temperature has never really scared me off, although I usually try to give the fish at least two days to adjust to a sudden change in temperature. I will say I do better more often then not with water temperatures that you would think are entirely too cold for the fishing to be good.  The main deterrent for me today from steelhead fishing in Erie was the winds. The forecast called for twenty five to forty mph winds, which is too much for even me to battle.  They were right for once, the winds were blowing our hut around on the ice if no one was sitting in it at the lake today.
       Lake Arthur is located in Moraine State Park, close to route 19 and state route 422.  I have a pretty accurate map that has all fishable waters in pa listed in it, and I usually try to pick up a local map at every bait shop that I go to most places that I fish. Both of these come in very handy.   The ice was thin in areas, and I had to tread lightly while making my way out onto the ice, checking in four to eight feet increments.  We couldn't go much more then forty feet off of the shore due to the ice being about three and a half inches thick and getting thinner the further you went out. Also, any areas that had snow on it just had slush underneath of it.  A general rule of thumb is four inches of good clear ice is plenty safe for foot traffic and lightweight gear, anything less than two inches is dangerous. STAY OFF.  All in all, we had a good day between the two of us. We put at least fifty fish on the ice, most of them keeper blue gill,  with six mid-size perch and one small crappy.  The best time of the day for us was from four to six o'clock, although we caught fish all day in spurts, some better then others. Almost all fish were caught today on a gold jig with a wax-worm or two for garnish, or a rainbow diamond jig with the same.  We did pick up some fish on maggots and one or two on minnies.  For those of you out there who ice fish, I would allow some more time for ice to build, and find structure or a channel in the lake that you are fishing. These two things always seem to work for me. If anyone would like advice on the gear required for this manner of fishing, feel free to ask.  I will be glad to help.  Most of all be safe and I hope you have the same luck we did if not better til the next time.

Reminiscing (on How I Got Hooked on Fly-Fishing)

     I sit here relaxing after a long day's work thinking about how I got into fly fishing.  I can honestly say that I still remember the first fish I caught, although I don't remember which fly I caught it on.  I had watched "A River Runs Through It," and the style of fishing really intrigued me and honestly drew me in.  I was so impressed, and I knew this was what I wanted to do (I wonder how many others out there were inspired by this movie in one way or another).  By that point, I had been fishing for quite some time. I know I was ten or eleven, and I had been fishing since I was three or four. I mean really fishing. I remember going with my dad and his buddies and having to wear a neon green Mr. Yuck life preserver that said "don't drown, it will ruin your day" with a rope tied from my dad's waist to mine, but that's a whole other story (There was another time when I was fishing with my dad, and I remember having this get-up on and him using a hammer to break the ice so that we could fish, but that's also a whole other story).
    After I watched the movie, I went digging through the mountain of fishing gear that my father and I had accumulated over the years, mostly my dad's, but nonetheless I was pretty sure there was a fly-rod there somewhere, along with a reel.  With some help from my dad, I had what I was looking for. Armed with my new/used fly-rod we headed to our camp, which is in Emporium, Pennsylvania.  I had been going to fishing camps for quite some time, and the things you learn being ten and hanging out with a group of men ranging in age from twenty-five to seventy in a fishing camp is awesome (although my mother might tell you differently). These were some of the best times of my life, and I reflect on them often when I go to a certain spot or run into a certain guy.  I can't recall exactly who was there this particular trip, but they were all die-hard bait fisherman, including my dad and myself,  and they were pretty good at too.  We went to the first fork of the Sinnemahoning, and somehow we wound up on the delayed harvest area.  I would say that my dad had something to do with the choice of fishing spot, due to the fact that I was determined to learn how to fly-fish. 
     The timing was perfect. I hit the water with my run-of-the-mill fly-box in hand that could be found in any hardware store at that point (We all know the one. Royal Wolfe, Black Joe Fly, etc.)  After catching quite a few fish they stopped hitting the mealworm, and I knew this was the perfect time to try this out.  The water was boiling,  the fish were rising like crazy,  and for those of you who aren't familiar with the sport this means nothing unless you match the hatch, have the right fly.  I remember casting and casting and hoping and praying that something would just come up and eat it, but nothing happened.  I wasn't sure how to get one of these fish to eat, but I was sure of one thing. I was not giving up, especially after the razzing I was getting from the bank.  The fish were not eating bait anymore. They were strictly eating flies and the other men had given up and went to drinking beer on the bank and picking at me.  I remember getting frustrated and I was ready to throw in the towel and join in on some stories when my dad chimed in. "Hey Son, I'll tell you what. If you catch a fish on that thing, I'll take you to Kettle Creek Fly Shop and buy you anything you want." Boy did he regret that.  I thought for many years that he was harassing me, but looking back on it now, I really think he was trying to keep me going, knowing what type of mentality I have.  It wasn't much after that that everything came together, and I caught a beautiful rainbow on a dry fly.  I am pretty sure of one thing. I put the hurt on my pops wallet; he kept his end of the deal and took me straight to the fly shop and bought me the full set up and some flies to go with it.  I still have the rod and was looking at it while my dad was over for the holidays,  I think that I am going to bust it out for a few trips this year.  That is if my shoulder is up for it, seeing as it weighs ten pounds.  The rest is history. We both wound up getting very deep into the sport and fell in love with it.  I hope that I get to pass this on to my kids one day. I will never forget these times.