The response of a trophy trout hooked in the daylight may seem predictable after a while — we expect him to head for deep water, or toward the undercut. But big trout after dark are never predictable. And they give you everything they have — right now.
I lost many good trout early on because I wasn't ready for all this. I wasn’t prepared for the eruption happening just ten feet in front of me. I let them run when I should have held on and tightened the drag. And I kept my feet stuck in the sand instead of chasing them. I can take you to each river and point to the spots where I lost one of these legendary fish. The errors were mine. It’s a fisherman’s memory. We all have it.
And I lost trophy fish at night because I was playing around with light tackle. Once hooked in the dark, trout are unpredictable. They pull hard, and we have to be ready to pull harder . . .
Just two percent of Pennsylvania’s 83,000 river miles receive the state’s Class A Wild Trout designation. Two percent. Wild trout are rare. They are rare enough to be special, to be highly valued and protected. In short, we must be careful with the resource.
If we’re objective about the meaning of “Exceptional Value,” if we stand back and decide what’s best for the stream, separating ourselves from tradition and ingrained culture, it’s clear that Catch and Release regulations are the next step for this section of Penns Creek.
Now, the PFBC is accepting public comment on the proposed Catch and Release regulations for this area of Penns Creek. The comment period ends on September 1st, 2018. The motion will be voted on in October . . .
I’d been to LBI at least a dozen times but never cast a line into the salt. Sure, I found the prospect of hauling fish from the surf intriguing, but I suppose I’d always stopped at the reality checkpoint — I live five hours from the ocean, so how often can I really fish water with tides? And while most people enjoy dabbling in things once in awhile, that approach is really not my bag. A short run with something leaves too many questions wandering around and bumping against each other in my brain. And without returning for a follow up experience, the questions remain frustratingly unanswered. I’m a researcher at heart, and I want those answers.
But my two boys are old enough now to be researchers themselves. And once they knew we were traveling to LBI, New Jersey for vacation, they looked into where to fish, what to fish and how to catch the biggest fish in the sea.
We were casting bobbers into a pond with spinning tackle when Aiden first brought it up back in June.
“Hey Dad, when we’re at the beach, we have to buy squid and bunker. We need bigger hooks too, because these ones are too small.”
I perked up and turned toward the small raspy voice of my seven year old son.
On the luckiest nights, large and medium sized trout move to the shallows, searching for an easy meal. Trout visit thin water because they feel protected by the cover of darkness, and because they find baitfish of all types unguarded and ready to be devoured. But this is also when trout are most vulnerable to the skilled night fisher.
I have a bank-first approach on most nights, hoping I may hit it right and find actively feeding fish near the edges. On some rivers I wade to the middle and fish back to the boundary. And where the water is too deep to wade the center, I may stay tight to the bank and choose to either work down and swing flies or work upstream against the bank and drift them. Regardless of the method of presentation used, bank water is my first target . . .
The border collie always sensed incoming weather before I did. Under the perfect contrast of black on white, just beneath mottled pink skin and between the ears, was a group of unknown senses, not just for the weather, but for a number of intangibles I never seemed to recognize. He tilted his head and stared at me with confusion, perhaps wondering why I couldn’t hear, smell or sense the thunderstorm before I could see it . . .
Night fishing with a fly rod isn’t for beginners. Rather, it’s for the well-seasoned angler who doesn’t mind feeling like he’s green again. Enough is different about the night game that your whole system seems turned upside down. Trout hold in peculiar places and behave in strange ways. Flies that you’d never consider in the daylight become your new confidence patterns after dark. And your tippet isn’t really tippet anymore — it’s a chunk of thick, stiff monofilament, designed for setting the hook hard and holding on.
There was a small shop attached to the house where he tied flies and built fly rods. Everything was a mystery as I opened the screen door, but I recognize the smell of cedar once I walked in. I knew nothing about leaders, tippets, tapers or nymphs. I just knew I wanted to fish dry flies.
I was turning sixteen that summer, and the fishing had slowed — again. It always did. When the sun climbed higher and my freestone waters grew clearer with their summer flows, the minnows that I’d learned to fish so well just stopped catching trout. It happened every year, but I was old enough to be aware of the shift this time.