April Stream Report
April Stream Reports
If it doesn’t rain – and that’s a big IF! – the streams are shaping up nicely for what is coming into the best part of trout season. Here in the southern part of the state we have the “Early Opener” and by all accounts it was busy. The water levels were up, but not unfishable. If the rain stays away the streams should stay near normal. Watch the Stream Gauge at Camp Hill to get an idea of where the water level is.
As days begin to lengthen and the streams begin to warm up, the natural process that has taken place for countless millennia will begin. Mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies begin the process to ensure the survival of their species.
Here in the Cumberland Valley we do not normally see a lot of Quill Gordons, but a few can be found in the clean headwater freestone streams. They will show up on the first nice April afternoons and for anglers lucky enough to hit one of these hatches the action can be intense.
The first mayflies of importance in the Cumberland Valley streams, particularly the Yellow Breeches are the Hendricksons. This hatch has seemed to have re-established itself over the past decade and it has become a “not to miss” event. Look for the hatch anytime after the first of April and it will probably last at least a week. The big duns, that look like a flotilla of sailboats coming down the stream will get trout looking up. There are no dainty sipping rises. You will know when a trout takes your #12 Hendrickson or #14 Red Quill.
At about the same time as the Hendricksons, Grannom Caddis appear. Elk Hair Caddis in sizes from 12 to 16 should fill the bill. Another oldie is the Henryville Special that is a very effective imitation.
Little Blue Wing Olives will make an appearance on the streams in the valley. The limestone streams, did not have the flooding and high water problems that the freestone streams have had over the past year and this hatch should get fish to look up. A Blue Wing Olive is one of those patterns that a smart angler will carry in sizes 12 to 24. The flies are ubiquitous but the size range is from large to itsy bitsy. Also, be sure to carry some streamers for those days when the water is high and muddy.
Bait anglers should do well with minnows, red worms, butter worms, salmon eggs and PowerBait. We have a full line of bait here in the shop. Stop by and we can give you the latest intel and what our staff experience is. We have a great selection of live minnows, fatheads and shiners. We sell minnows by the pound!
For the warmwater lakes in the area action is starting to pick up. Anglers at Pinchot State Park are reporting good catches of crappies and yellow perch. As these two species get ready to spawn, they will feed with sometimes reckless abandon. Small fathead minnows or white twisters have been accounting for a lot of fish. Look for them in the shallower, warmer water – 4 to 6 feet.
Opossum Lake has been stocked with trout and as of right now, trout are the only fish an angler may keep from the 59-acre impoundment. The Fish and Boat Commission plans to re-survey it later this year. It is believed brown bullheads are such efficient predators on young sunfish that the populations cannot rebuild themselves. Keep checking back here for further developments.
Yellow Breeches Blue Wing Olive 12 – 24
Hendrickson 12 -14
Red Quill 12 – 14
Henryville Special 12 – 16
Green Body Dark Wing Elk Hair Caddis 12 – 16
Pheasant Tail Nymph 12 -16
San Juan Worm 12 – 16
Letort Cress Bug 14 -16
Big Spring Blue Wing Olive 16 – 24
Falling Spring Brassie Nymph 14 – 18
Shenk’s Minnow 6 – 10
Shenk’s Sculpin 6 – 10
As this is written anglers in the northcentral part of the Commonwealth have a couple of more weeks to wait until “The Big Splash.” Thousands of anglers and others will head to the region for the Traditional Opening Day. Camps will be opened, friends will reconnect, and fish will be caught.
It’s been a long winter. Fortunately, the ice jams that much of the region experienced in the winter of 2018 do not seem to have happened. But with all the water, the streams have changed. Some pre-season scouting is in order. If you can’t get out to look at your favorite stretch of stream, then at least be sure to take along a wading staff. What may have been ankle deep riffle last year on opening day may now be a hole big enough throw a Buick into. Streams move and change.
At this time First Fork Sinnemahoning, Kettle Creek and Pine Creek are all experiencing flows below the median for this time of year. That can change with one heavy rainstorm, but it is encouraging. To get an idea of water levels you can check the USGS stream gauges at Stream Gauges – Pennsylvania.
This is the beginning of the best fly fishing of the year. Quill Gordons, Hendricksons, Red Quills, and Blue Wing Olives should be the minimum dry patterns carried by an angler in northcentral Pennsylvania. Other patterns such as Adams, Royal Coachman, and some generic caddis patterns like the Yellow Palmer should also be included in the fly box.
Depending on the weather – which could range from 28o and snow to 80o and sunny – March Browns and Sulphurs may start showing up toward the end of the month. This is the time of year when wise anglers carry just about everything in terms of flies, rods and clothing to make sure their bases are covered.
For hardware casters spinners such as Joe’s Flies and Panther Martins should produce well. For bait anglers Berkley Gulp Alive Maggots, redworms, small fathead minnows, and Mike’s Salmon Eggs will catch trout. Hit Bush Dam at Kettle Creek State Park, Stevenson Dam on First Fork, Little Pine State Park above Waterville or Lyman Lake for some good fishing, as the lakes have been stocked to the brim and because of last year’s high water, there should be a lot of fish that have had a year to grow.
Driftwood Adams 10 – 16
First Fork Quill Gordon 12 – 16
Kettle Creek Hendrickson 12 – 16
Pine Creek Red Quill 12 – 16
Blue Wing Olive 12 – 16
Blue Quill 14 – 16
Grey Hackle Peacock 10 – 12
Brown Hackle 10 – 14
Pheasant Tail Nymph 12 – 16
Gold Ribbed Hares Ear 10 – 16
Wooly Bugger (various colors) 4 – 10
Shad – Shad have been reported in the lower Potomac and the Rappahannock Rivers in Virginia. We are waiting to hear when they move up.
Steelhead – Anglers fishing the tributary streams in Pennsylvania are having some success. As the even semi-experienced anglers know, fishing for steelhead near Erie is a function of weather and water to determine whether or not the fish are in and if they are up the creeks, where they are holding.
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