That's a beautiful 23" wild brown from Saucon Creek in Hellertown, PA, caught last week on a #22 zebra midge.
Thanks to all the LinkedIn fly fishing group folks who sent suggestions for some eastern and central PA streams, especially Ric Ravier, George Podhor, Matt Leininger, Jason Cunningham, Scott Hoffman, David McMullen, Rick Purcell, and a host of others. You guys sent so many leads it was tough to settle on a the few streams we hit.
We started the first day on Saucon Creek, in the Easton/Bethlehem area. Not an especially pretty stretch, though the water looked great and had several trout stacking up. We fished a section close to the bridge, behind what appeared to be some kind of wastewater treatment center. Despite the occasional wafting chemical smell in the air - definitely my first time fishing in these conditions - the banks looked clean and access was easy from several points. We got into several 12"-16" browns, beautifully colored and very strong jumpers, on nymphs and droppers. No hatch to speak of. The big fish of the trip, pictured above, was from a 7-8' wide section of the Saucon.
We heard good things about the Bushkill in the Easton area (versus the one farther north). As promised, it ran through an industrial section of town, mostly abandoned. Tough fishing, with little room for anything but roll casting, less room for wading, and boulder shoulders already 10-12 feet deep. Some seriously deep and challenging water. Again, no hatches. Other than the bridge area, there was maybe one stretch that was wadeable for crossing before the bend. With neither of us pulling fish, we decided to call it a day without getting up to the dam (we did get a tip that we could park in the apartment complex right above the dam, and access it easily from there).
We decided to head toward Penn's Creek and the Little Juniata the following day, roughly in the State College area. We started the morning at the Feathered Hook Inn and fly shop in Coburn, met owner Jonas Price (guy loves Hardy), and picked up some local patterns - sucker spawn, quill gordon and stonefly hatches. Jonas is a character, has a great shop and great following, and even this early he had some nice foot traffic. Charlie Meck was coming on Saturday, which we couldn't stay for, so the Inn was booked full.
The stoneflies got pounded in the morning in the trophy trout area of Penn's Creek, and we landed several browns like the one below:
We had some intermittent luck with sucker spawn, a pattern I'd never fished, quill gordons (limited), but no luck with BWOs that we supposed to be present. Found some enormous, 5" gold-bellied stoneflies along the water on the Poe Paddy tunnel side (walk throught the tunnel, down to the three islands, and fish the middle stream - about 15 minutes after the tunnel, then 5 more), and while we didn't have luck with them, we ran into a couple of people that did well with them early in the morning.
Penn's Creek is a more technical stream, underscored by one of the Penn's Creek Outfitters guides that we ran into. But it is a beautiful freestone stream, and it rewards you with just enough to keep you there, and occasionally a bit more. We never made it to the Little J (let alone the smallish feeder Elk, or nearby Spring or Fishing Creek), opting to stay over the following morning and fish Penn's Creek a little more. Beautiful waters, and these pictures barely do it justice:
From Penn's, we rolled up our waders and headed on to Philly to few days of author meetings, then home. Great trip, and too short as always. As new Stonefly Press author Mark D. Williams said, so many rivers, so little time.