February 2019 Stream Report
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!
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