This post is from contributing author, Pat Burke.
Every year as winter winds down, the fishing changes dramatically in our area. In winter, you can basically get by fishing a few confidence patterns most days on the water. Then March happens. It’s not that March is a bad month for fishing, it’s just unpredictable. It’s one of the only times of the year when you can experience blizzards, torrential downpours, and warm beautiful weather all in the same week. The fishing seems to follow suit. One day you can’t keep the fish off your line and the next day you walk away empty handed. There just seems to be no pattern to it; at least not one that I can figure out. I find myself cycling rigs and flies more this month than any other. My chest patch fly box is usually littered with flies at the end of the day as I try to figure out what fly will consistently take fish.
I’ve been out over the last three weeks on a handful of short outings and as expected, the fishing has been inconsistent. The first day I struggled to just catch a single fish on one of our most reliable rivers.
The very next day, I had steady action just a short ways downstream.
Then the following week we finally started experiencing some warm weather and the snow melt. The rivers in the southern part of the county quickly became bank full. After months of fishing low and clear water, I was anxious to experience moderate flows. I ventured down and the first day of fishing was good. The flows made for some decent tightline nymphing with large stonefly and caddis patterns.
A couple days later, I returned to a similar section slightly down river and only managed two fish the entire morning. It’s really unexplainable. Flows were almost identical. Light conditions were basically the same. I fished the same patterns and the fish just wouldn’t eat.
As an aside, I have some potential big news. After fishing, I met Kevin Compton from www.performanceflies.com to look at some of his fly tying materials. He gave me a tour of the new fly shop he will be opening in Spruce Creek. Kevin is one of the best suppliers of hard to find euro nymphing materials in the US. The place looked great and I’m excited to finally have a local shop that will provide access to some of those hard to find materials from around the world. I splurged a bit and picked up some new materials to try out on the vice.
Finally, earlier this week we experienced the big snow melt in the rest of central PA. All of the streams rose dramatically and we were back to really only one viable option for fishing. Despite the high water, the fish are still eating if you can get a fly in front of them. The good news is spring is finally here, which means big flows and lots of upcoming float trips.