March Stream Report
March is one of those months that is full of promise and hope as we anticipate the coming of spring. It is also a month that can bring record snow storms. It’s a busy month. The saying is: “If March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb. If it comes in like a lamb it goes out like a lion.” More than a few have come and gone like lions or lambs with the other in the middle. It is a month of fasnachts, green beer, maple syrup. and being wary of the Ides of March – the ancient holiday and not the 1970s rock band. Well, being wary of them is probably a good idea too.
Sports are in high gear. Spring training has begun and is in full swing. March Madness begins, first with the college basketball conference title games followed by the Big Dance. Hockey is beginning to heat up in the race for Lord Stanley’s receptacle. And that demolition derby that used to be known as NASCAR is revving up to make a whole bunch of left turns and scrap metal. It is a great month for kite flying, and celebrating the feast day of an Irish saint
This is a busy month. By now you should have all your flies tied. If you do not, we can take care of you. Precision Flyfishing Flies. We also have a full line of tying materials for you. Meteorological Spring began on March 1, though the Vernal Equinox does not begin until March 20th, also the day of the full moon. Daylight Savings Time begins on March 10th and the last few banquets and shows of the year are happening this month. Cumberland Valley Trout Unlimited will be celebrating their 50th anniversary on March 16. On March 23 the Yellow Breeches Anglers and Conservation Association will hold its 48th Annual Spring Outing at the Monroe Township Firehall. The Fly Fishers Club of Harrisburg will meet for its annual conclave on March 29th.
As the sun moves higher in the sky warming us, fishing is beginning to heat up as well. Open water fishing for panfish can be quite productive on warm sunny afternoons. Fish a small jig tipped with an insect larva below a small float for panfish. Look for them in 3 to 6 feet of water. Stop by the shop and we can show you how to rig up a system that allows you to fish small flies for sunfish on a spinning rod. Crappies are becoming active as well and can be caught on the same rig as well as small white twisters or white marabou jigs. Look for crappie near wood. A tree in the lake is a sure hotspot. There are some fathead minnows swimming around in our bait tank that are just the ideal size for crappie.
Trout anglers have to either hit the special regulation waters or wait until the Regional Season Opener on March 30, 2019 at 8:00 A.M. We are going to be having a Special Event here at the shop in Mount Holly Springs. Watch this page for further updates.
Hatches are seasonal, weather, and water dependent but things will start to happen this month. After a long winter of watching midges fly over the water fly fishermen will rub their eyes in almost disbelief as they watch the first of the mayflies emerge.
The last of the Little Black Stoneflies will hatch. Those nymphs moving across the stream bed and in the water column trying to get to a rock to complete their emergence will drive fish into a feeding mode. By the middle of the month that hatch will be all but over.
Blue Wing Olive Blue Wing Olive Nymph (#12 – #16) and Blue Quill (#12 – #18) should begin showing up by the second or third week of the month. Quill Gordons and Hendricksons in sizes #12 to #16 should be
hatching by the third week of the month if – and this is a really big IF – the weather acts normal. Grannom Caddis often imitated by an X Caddis pattern or various soft hackle emergers are also in the mix to hatch. An angler who hits the water when these flies are on is in for a treat.
Limestone spring anglers should stick to Cress Bug and Scud imitations as well as sculpin patterns. Shenk’s White Minnow is a productive streamer.
Of course, San Juan Worms, Mop Flies, Walts Worms and Egg patterns can produce fish.
Speaking of worms, garden hackle is probably at its most productive at this time of year. Two inch fathead minnows either fished with a minnow wire or a bait hook can produce some incredibly good fishing. Don’t overlook Power Bait, or salmon eggs. Stop in and we can get you rigged up. Small minnow plugs can prove extremely productive as well as spinners in gold and brass. Fish them upstream and work them back slightly faster than the current.
So, buy your license, get your gear together, and get out there.
Southcentral Hatch Chart
Anglers in the northcentral part of the state will have to wait until Saturday April 13, 2019 at 8:00 A.M. to hit the streams not otherwise designated as Special Regulation Waters. But on fine spring days hitting the special regs areas can be productive. Dredging big stonefly nymphs or Muskrat Nymphs can be very good choices.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has 55 sections of Special Regulations waters that are open to trout fishing in the Northcentral part of the state. Fifty-five! That’s a lot of water. There are all sorts of permutations where bait is allowed and where it isn’t; where flies are the only thing allowed; and where fish can be kept. It is enough to drive one straight to the headache remedy aisle at the local drugstore. If you are confused by all this don’t be dismayed. You can go to the PF&BC Website to get the full list and find maps at PF&BC Maps. There is an app for your smartphone that can also help you. Stream Maps USA is available for either iPhone or Android.
So, your favorite stream may not be open just yet but a lot of water is presenting a lot of opportunity. Reading through this list may seem like you need to take a lawyer along to interpret whether or not you can fish a particular section. Leave the lawyer in the office and just pay attention to the signs along the stream. If there are no special regulation posters along a section of stream it is probably closed until next month. For anglers who like hardware a small plug like a Berkley Cutter 90 Shallow, or a small spinner such as a Sipes Spinner worked slowly with the current might be the ticket to success.
Fly casters might be inclined to try big streamers in darker colors, Wooly Buggers, Matukas and even some of the older more traditional streamers such as a Grey Ghost or Black Ghost. The feather wings provide more movement than bucktail and may entice trout to strike.
For those who just can’t stand it anymore and need to cast a dry fly, a Royal Wulff or an Adams in size 10 or 12 might just bring up those trout out sunning themselves and looking for a meal. Hatches will start, and generally run one to three weeks behind the dates shown on the hatch chart above.
If you are looking for panfish, the ice may still be on the lakes even though there is open water around the edges. Don’t even think it. Ice fishing season is over in Pennsylvania until next winter. Getting on to the remaining ice is a very dangerous proposition. Look for small ponds or larger areas of open water to fish.
Walleye, Sauger and Saugeye close on March 14. The fish are getting active and can be found in some of the larger streams and rivers. Minnows and minnow imitations are usually the most productive baits.
A PDF list of Pennsylvania Fishing Seasons can be found here
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