Monday, October 2, 2017

September on the Yellow Breeches

I was visiting my youngest at college a couple weeks ago and had a couple hours in the afternoon to fish a little bit along the Yellow Breeches.  Having fished mostly New England freestone streams it's always an interesting experience to fish a limestone stream in PA. While I grew up in PA and started fishing there as a young boy, I don't recall fishing any limestone streams as a boy.  My first limestone experience was last fall visiting my daughter in her first year at college.  One of the first things I noticed on the few limestone streams I've fished is the stream bottom which is mostly very fine gravel and what appears to be ground up shells.  The boulders and pocket water typical of a freestone stream are replaced with a gentle but steady current bank to bank with little pocket water to speak of.  Sometimes the fish will be holding in the gentlest of depressions in the bottom often in the gravel channels between weed growth.  With each visit, new observations are made and experience grows.

Yellow Breeches wild brown
For whatever reason, the fish I catch in the Yellow Breeches take a bead head pheasant tail soft hackle even though this stream is loaded with caddis.  Last spring I was amazed at the number of caddis cases I was finding along the river bottom.  One particular spot where a nice current runs up along the roots of an old sycamore tree I've managed to find a fish or two each time I've fished this particular section.  This afternoon it seemed no one was home until I put the pheasant tail on point and used a zebra midge as the dropper and ran the flies a little closer to the roots.  I was pleased to find a pretty little wild brown.  I love finding these wild browns wherever I fish as they signal healthy rivers able sustain trout.  I was reasonably sure there was a large fish around those roots somewhere soI tried to put the flies as close tree as I could and I saw a nice rainbow take the pheasant tail inches from the where the tree met the water.

I messed around with various droppers over the course of a couple hours but it really didn't matter as all the fish took the pheasant tail.  Once I re-familiarized myself with paying closer attention to the smaller depressions I was able to bring to net a handful of nice rainbows.  One couldn't but notice how red their flanks had gotten and how dark these fish were across the back.  Have a look for yourself and feel free to comment if you think this is a strain of rainbows common to PA or whether these fish might be unique to the Yellow Breeches.  I will say that all the fish had well developed, rose colored fins that isn't typical of the stocked fish I usually see.

Notice the dark wide red stripe and how the red continues all the way down to the belly of this rainbow

18 comments:

  1. Mark
    How fortunate you are to be able to fish that stream. The colors on those rainbows are just beautiful, bright and vibrant.

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    1. Pete - it is a unique experience for those of us who are used to fishing Freestone streams!

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  2. Mark,I am glad to hear you connected on the Yellow Breeches! Were the trout taking the PT on the dead drift or swing? Any particular size they took? I am still hoping to get there this Fall with my customer from that region.

    Regards, Sam

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    1. Sam - I was tight line/Euro nymphing using a #16 pheasant tail with a copper bead and partridge soft hackle (there is a link to a tying video over on the right side bar). I usually think of the PT as an olive nymph which a bit surprising because the Yellow Breeches has a ton of caddis in it.

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    2. You did a good job with that video, Mark. I will tie up a few of those.

      Thanks, Sam

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    3. Thanks Sam - there are a couple videos up on my youtube channel

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  3. I fished this stream a few years back during the “white fly” hatch. A remarkable experience if you ever get the chance.

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    1. A-muse - That must have been a blast! When do the white flies typically appear down there?

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    2. Mark,

      The hatch is during the dog days of summer and begins at dusk. It’s quick and intense and at times can appear that it is snowing. The stream is packed and you need to secure a spot well before the hatch begins, but is worth the effort.

      I enjoy your blog and your enthusiasm for fly fishing, the beauty of nature, and for our creator, who put them here for us as a reminder of his presence and his greatness.

      Warm Regards and tight lines from Annapolis, Maryland

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    3. A-Muse - thanks for the information on the white fly hatch. I am glad that you enjoy the blog, it's always encouraging to hear from folks who appreciate fly fishing but also the larger perspective on nature and it's source, a loving, merciful GOD who is both the creator and sustainer of all the surrounds us every day.

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  4. What a beautiful rainbow! superb colours, thanks.
    Regards
    Humberto (achalabrookies)

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    1. Humberto - I though they were quite unique also, although you can see from Brad's comment below that they are typical of the rainbows you find in this river.

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  5. Mark , to answer your question about the white fly , they appear around mid August along with the hexagonia. A rather large mayfly that appears at dusk. The trout you caught are beautiful and actually pretty typical of the color that I've caught over the years. To be honest I do much better figuring out the Browns than the rainbows. To get true native rainbows in our area, you have to fish a true limestones like the big spring creek in Neville, pa. About 45 mins. From the breeches.

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    1. Brad - thanks for responding with information on both the white fly hatch and the rainbows. I thought they were probably holdovers from stocking in the spring but I was wondering whether their coloration is unique to the Yellow Breeches or they are typical of those stocked in central PA.

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  6. Mark, time well spent.
    I'm wondering if there were a fly that was created for that stream?
    It would be nice to take one of its trout on that fly.

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    1. Alan - thanks, I don't know but I did pick up a few local flies at the TCO in boiling springs but I can't say they were created specifically for the "Breeches".

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  7. Mark, Those are nice looking fish from the Yellow Breeches, though I'm not sure if the rainbows are typical-looking stockers or not. The stream is not entirely typical of PA limestone waters as it has a lot of freestone tributaries feeding it. I think most of the trout there are stocked fish, unlike the wild rainbows of nearby Big Spring Creek, or the wild browns, for that matter, of the neighboring Letort (my favorite of the PA limestoners).

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    1. Walt -You are correct about the Yellow Breeches being a hybrid stream and not a true limestone stream. Brad gave me a call the other night and said exactly the same thing. Most of it's fish are stocked and these rainbows are likely holdovers but I have caught wild browns in the stream on most of the times I've fished it so there is natural reproduction occurring at least in some areas. Some day I will have to try the Letort but I've been told it can be an extremely tough stream to fish

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