September 19, 2011

Jail Break!

Hurricane Irene did a lot of damage a few weeks ago.  High winds, ridiculous amounts of rain, caused well documented catastrophes all over the East Coast.  Even after Irene, remnants from Tropical Storm Lee came through and made what was already wet even wetter, which led to high water all over the place, flooding, and even more damage.  But you all know this already, right?

What is left of a water gauge
Downed trees everywhere
A pair, totally uprooted

Well...what if I told you that it also caused a Pennsylvania trout nursery to overflow, allowing the majority of its late summer fingerlings to escape from their pens and make a run for it in the stream located beside?  An unannounced & unintended late summer stocking thanks to Irene & Lee?...well two of my friends (Spurky and Swattie) gave me the "hint-hint" about this late last week, so this past Saturday I hopped into the car and made the couple hour drive to help play Sheriff...or at least Deputy.  I'm typically not a stocked trout chaser, (you know me and Valley's native browns), but someone had to make sure the ex-prisoners were behaving themselves...

Who needs a gun and handcuffs...don't hate...this isn't a fly fishing only blog...

So yeah, we fished...

Spurky working beneath a bridge
First fish of the day
Swattie brought the fly rod

And fished...

Spurky fishing some newly created cover
Swattie working a run close by

And the closer we got to the top of the hill...the more ridiculous it got.  Bring your spinner through a pool, 7 or 8 fish swarmed to follow.  It was almost like fishing for bluegill or sunfish.  Every cast...slam...another feisty little 6 to 7 inch rainbow or brookie on the hook.  How many did we catch?  A lot.  That's all I'll say, I'm not a "numbers" guy.

There were two memorable fish of the lot that I will specifically mention.  The first was a 12"+ rainbow that surprised me.  After catching all the small guys all day, this one made the loose drag on the spinning reel sing.  Wasn't expecting to find this one.  Must have been a holdover from the Spring stocking.

The second was a small native brown.  It was the only brown I caught all day, plucked from beside some smaller rocks within a swift and narrow current.  It clearly wasn't from the nursery, which was nice.  I just wonder how he and his fellow natives will fare this Fall & Winter with the influx of all of these hungry jailbirds during the brown's prime spawning season?  So back he went, hopefully to get a little bit bigger.

We ended the day with Swattie catching a pretty brookie at the top of the hill.  The bright sun that was hidden most of the morning brought out the distinctive markings on this fish.


  1. Yeah, I tore them up on the MD/PA border too. No giants. But a surprising # of hungry fish (check out my post from today). The flooding was so bad that there is nothing left in the stream channel - no cobble, no sand, no trees (all are waaaaay up on the floodplain). Just boulders and bedrock.

  2. Sounds a like a great day of fishing.

  3. I would guess that, like our Steelhead hatchery in Sacramento, a few "big ones" would have been in with the little guys when they flowed out to the local creek. Might be a lunker lurking somewhere close.


  4. A few years back one of the hatcheries on the Tulpehocken flooded and a bunch of the brood stock pigs got out. It was a short lived, but very enjoyable (in its own weird way) circus-like atmosphere for a week or so.

  5. Down here in GA, the stocking is put-n(immediate)take. Every week is like that. Stocking trucks dump 100 fish or so at every bridge on the more accessible rivers (and in private areas where stocking has traditionally taken place). It's then, in about two hours, that the locals come and catch 2 or 3 "limits" before the weekend fishermen have a shot at them. This isn't an absolute, but it's usually the way it happens. I've often wondered why yankee states only stock in the spring and expect the fish to last all season, but then again....I bet you yankees wonder why we spend millions of dollars stocking fish all year (every week, mind you...) when we have wild fish, too. The answer: ...I wish I knew. Pretty little fish, stockers or not...nice colors and good fins.

  6. Dang, talk about making lemonade outta lemons. Flood=bad. Flood released stockies=good. Nicely done. That little Brown is a gem.

  7. Owl, yeah the stocking in MD is sporadic and based on actual potential for fish to survive (fall and spring with higher flows and higher DO), instead of maximizing angler opportunity (which would mean summer releases). There are dueling philosophies of fish management that stretch into angler recruitment, take per angler day, etc, angler satisfaction indices, etc, but I do have to admit that when catching an 11-12" rainbow in August (as I did this year), it's nice to think, "Well, it's sort of wild. It's been here since April."

    And no, it doesn't help me sleep at night. But bourbon and excedrin do.

  8. That is making the best of a "bad" situation, Mike. Looks like a lot of fun and something I would really enjoy.

  9. Your creeks are looking a little like mine around here. Now to learn new hides, eh?

  10. @River Mud
    It's crazy how much gets moved around in these flood events.

  11. @Wolfy
    That sounds fun. Funny thing is we were the only folks on the stream. I guess the only ones who knew...until now...

  12. @owl
    I don't think we expect them to last all season. At least I don't. Most of the places I know of that get stocked fish don't have summertime flows good enough to support them - or an additional stocking - anyway.

  13. @Casey
    Definitely. They are different streams...totally remodeled.