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By SageBrush
How can I get a trout with out breaking the line?
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By shunned
not so much a question but a well informed river why review from a misinformed fella...

Worst fly fishing movie ever. What a waste of time. It was full of dissapointments.

ah, bless.
let's pretend arrti was a fly fishing film as well.
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By CharlieJenkem
Well, after a nice day in the Little J - Spruce Creek area today I was thinking about entomology. I am quickly becoming obsessed with being able to match flies exactly. I am still fairly new to fly fishing but last year I noticed a strange looking fly on Spring in S.C. It appeared almost completely white or grey and looked like it had two arm kind of dangling out front of it. It was a very skinny fly and floated extremely slowly through the air. I saw the same fly today on Spruce and was wondering what they could be? After some research on troutnut I found the 'Hex'. It is very close to what I saw. Are there hex's in these areas, is my long winded question?

Yes. It was a hex. In February.
From (an excellent source of material for this thread, BTW)

I just got some Irideus fly boxes. I love the organization but i already ran out of room with all my small midges. I searched the forum and came up with nothing.

I'd like to figure out specific exacto knife that was so I can go buy it. That idea is genius.

I had a thought cross my mind today about ignorantly fishing in private property. What is the best way to tell if you are on private property if there is no sign posted?, Are damns in rivers considered private property?. What are the consequences if you get caught un-knowingly fishing on private property?. Is there a best way to move through private property (or not at all?)?. Any other info or tips are greatly appreciated!.

and the response, from one of the most illeterate fucks on the intertubes (720 Fly)

If you really want to fish PP without problems. Get a white sheet and cover yourself in it. This is a winter time trick. You will just look like snow on the banks. Well you might end up getting your arse beat for looking like a KKK member once you come out of the water LOL:)
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By D-nymph
Not really a question, but still it is a real post. This guy is well known in the PA messageboard communities. Some love him, some hate him, some, like me, just think he's a damned obssessive nutter, anyway, I introduce to you Frank Nale...

After suffering through another drought year in 2010, I feared that trout populations would be extraordinarily low on some streams in 2011, particularly since I had not seen many young-of-the-year trout in 2010, even on limestone streams. I expected the toll to be greatest on freestone streams since their flows are typically more dependent on regular rainfall. As it turned out, trout populations did in fact vary widely, but many of the limestone streams surprised me with strong year classes from the prior year. The key to the year was to sort out which streams were most productive and then concentrate my efforts there on the proper days.

I did not have any major goals in 2011, though I hoped to catch and release over 8,000 trout on my homemade spinners since I had done this in each of the prior three years. Catching over 10,000 trout in a year, like I had done nine times between 1998 and 2007, may be a thing of the past until wild trout populations rebound in freestone streams. I pessimistically believe that it is actually more likely for me to have a year where I catch only 6,000 or 7,000 trout before I have my next 10,000 trout year. I was also hopeful that I would average over 100 trout per day in 2011, since I am especially proud of my 1,679-day streak of averaging over 100 trout per outing since 1993.

This year I thought I would approach my annual fishing summary a little differently. Below I will go through the year on a monthly basis and mention some of my fishing highlights, as well as give some of my thoughts and observations. Following this will be my usual overall statistical analysis. It is a little lengthy.


In this summary I will be mentioning numbers of trout caught and other statistics. This is not meant to be bragging but to give you a factual account of my fishing adventures. If this offends you, please read no further. If you choose to continue reading, I can assure you my numbers are perfectly accurate. I carry a small tablet and pencil with me while fishing. When I get to a stream I write down the date, stream name and section, color of spinner, and time, plus the air and water temperatures. While fishing I count only trout I have hooked, played, and landed. After catching a trout, without exception, I get out my tablet and record the size, species, and time-caught before making my next cast. This process takes only seconds and eliminates any chance of double counting. I accurately measure my trout by holding them parallel against the grid of inch-marker thread-wraps that I put on my custom-made spinning rod. When necessary, I round the size of my trout down to the nearest one-half inch. When I finish fishing for the day I calculate the hours I have fished to the nearest one-fourth hour. I also try to quit at or very near to one-fourth hour increments. All of my angling is done in streams open to free public angling. (I believe accuracy is the foundation of credibility. I am an accountant by profession.)


After doing an extensive amount of trout fishing over the last 32 years, mostly in Blair, Bedford, Huntingdon, and Centre counties here in central Pennsylvania, I am not one to get a bad case of cabin fever anymore, particularly since winter angling is usually not as exciting as it is during the other seasons of the year. I like to slow down my pace in the winter and awaken without an alarm clock a few times since I never do that during the rest of the year. I also usually do my “Spin Fishing For Trout” seminar a time or two, plus I make a year’s supply of spinners. If I need one, I will also build a new spinning rod during the winter. I also like to take winter hikes and explore the thousands of acres of local State Game Lands. (Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming about how lucky I am to live in an area where the Pennsylvania Game Commission had the foresight to purchase tens of thousands of acres of land on which I am free to roam.) However, when a winter day is expected to be more autumn-like than winter-like, I’ve just got to get out on a stream.

I began the year on Saturday, January 1st, because the weather forecast was favorable. I arrived at a medium-sized limestoner about forty-five minutes before daybreak and hiked downstream in the dark. My plan was to fish back upstream to my vehicle. I do this sometimes to save the time I would spend walking back to my vehicle in the daylight when I would rather be fishing. Of course, this strategy can backfire if the fishing is not any good. The air temperature was 29-degrees and the ground was snow-free. The flow was ideal and the water temperature checked in at 40-degrees. The sky was cloudy.

I began casting at 7:30 a.m., and within two minutes I had my first trout of the 2011 trout season in hand, a nice 14” rainbow. I fooled it on one of my White Bead Gold spinners, which was still attached to my four-pound test monofilament from my outing on the prior day. I have preached for years that spinner color, as long as it is reasonable, does not matter to wild trout. Ages ago I was on a copper-colored spinner kick for many years, and another time I fished nearly exclusively for several years with predominately white-bladed silver spinners. In all of those years I caught lots of wild trout under many stream and weather conditions and never felt the need to switch to another color to try to coax the trout to strike.

The fishing was fairly slow, but a little better than I had anticipated for winter angling. By 1:15 p.m. I had 53 trout, including a 17” wild brown that surprised me when it attacked my lure along some elodea in a long flat pool. Both the water and air temperatures had risen to 44-degrees by the time I reached my vehicle. A notable wildlife sighting for this first stop was having a small flock of bluebirds move ahead of me while I fished. From there I drove to a narrow limestoner and fished another 2.75 hours in 45-degree water and caught 35 more trout, including wild browns of 15”, 15”, 14.5”, 14.5”, 14”, and 14”. The total for the day was 88 trout in 8.50 hours.


I suffered a major disappointment at the beginning of the month after getting an email from the guy who had scheduled me to do my “Spin Fishing For Trout” seminar on six days at the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, informing me that I had been cancelled for budgetary reasons. I had been looking forward to my first appearance there and had spent a lot of time and money planning and preparing for this. I thought being cancelled so close to the opening of the show was very unprofessional. No remuneration was offered.

I fished just once in February, on Sunday the 13th, on a couple Class A limestoners. Prior to going I decided to start a little semi-scientific study. For years I have been hearing emotionally-charged fly fishermen (i.e., ones who have read about my spinner-fishing success) complain about the use of treble hooks on spinners because of the death and destruction they perceive the three points of the treble hook do to trout. I thought it would be interesting to keep track of just how many points of the treble hook actually break the flesh of the trout I catch. So, starting on this day I began keeping track by carefully noting how many of the points break the trout’s flesh and then recording a 1, 2, or 3 beside each trout in my tablet. I continued this process until the end of the year by size and species of trout to give myself a large, meaningful sample size. Keep in mind that I recorded the point as breaking the trout’s flesh even if it was only nicking the trout. To show you how serious I was about doing this accurately, I carried a flashlight and sometimes shined it into the trout’s mouth to get an accurate hook-count before unhooking it.

It is not my intent to publish the overall results of this experiment here in my annual summary, but I can tell you that out of the 64 trout that I caught on this the first day of my experiment, only eight trout had all three points of my #10 VMC barbed treble hook breaking their flesh. And of course, just because three points are in the trout does not mean that the trout is necessarily more likely to succumb from being caught anymore than if just one point was lodged in the trout. Fatal hooking depends on where the trout is hooked, not necessarily by how many points of the treble hook make contact.


March is a transitional month, meaning that stream and weather conditions typically fluctuate widely as weather fronts pass through quickly, which results in less predictable trout behavior. It is my least favorite month of the year to go fishing, not only because of the rapidly changing conditions, but because if conditions are good it tends to bring out a lot of other anglers from winter hibernation. And since the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission closes many streams for stocking, these anglers are congregated in fewer places. But if you hit the right day and can avoid fishing over angler-disturbed trout, fishing in March can be quite good.

A light rain greeted me on the morning of Saturday, March 5th. I hoped this would keep a lot of other anglers away, so I gambled and went to a rather popular limestone stream. I arrived streamside at 6:30 a.m. The air temperature was 37-degrees and the water registered 44-degrees. Much to my disappointment, the first hour and a half yielded just six trout, but since conditions looked good I decided to keep fishing. I was glad I did. The next hour coughed up 20 wild browns, which made up for the earlier deficit. Unfortunately the action tapered off a bit a short time later. After 5.75 hours I had 63 trout, but I decided to leave since the action had completely died, indicating that another angler was likely ahead of me putting down the trout.

From there I drove to a tiny limestone stream and fished another 3.25 hours and caught 42 small wild browns, giving me 105 trout for the day in 9.00 hours. The air temperature peaked at about 56-degrees in mid afternoon and the water temperature was 50-degrees when I quit. This was my first day of the year to top 100 trout, something I call a “Century Club Day.” Interestingly, only 7 of the 105 trout that I caught today were hooked by all three points of my treble hook. Of the last 53 trout that I duped, none were triple-hooked. I got a little taste of early spring today when I saw thousands of winter aconite flowers blooming. Winter aconite is a short, yellow buttercup-like flower that usually starts blooming in late February. Another little yellow flower, coltsfoot, usually starts blooming in mid to late March and is quite common. I did not see any coltsfoot today.


Avoiding crowds is my top priority in April. It is very difficult to catch trout on spinners when anglers have disturbed them. This is particularly true of wild trout. For this reason, for four years now I have spent Opening Day pursuing naturally reproduced trout in streams that do not attract the early season crowds. In recent years I have also realized how dangerous it is to cast spinners around other anglers since not all anglers wear protective glasses like I do.

This year I chose a little mountain stream that does not get muddy easily. It was raining and most streams had already been flowing bank-to-bank prior to the rain. I began at 6:45 a.m. The air temperature was 45-degrees and the water temperature was just 44-degrees, something that made me cringe a little. A 44-degree water temperature was not much higher than what I find in the winter, and worse yet, it was likely a little colder than recent water temperatures on this stream. Luckily though, the water was clear and flowing perfectly.

Not many trout were out feeding and I felt like I was doing more fishing than catching. The first hour yielded just four trout. Knowing that my catch-rate usually improves the farther I fish upstream, plus the likelihood that the rain was rapidly eliminating other potential destinations, I continued fishing. After 7.25 hours I had 55 trout, mostly small native brookies and a few wild browns. Thirty-three of the trout were 7” or longer. The longest trout was an 8.5” native brookie. The water temperature was still 44-degrees when I quit.

During the hour and a half hike back to my vehicle the rain turned into a deluge. I especially enjoy walking back to my vehicle after a satisfying day astream, particularly if it is raining. I find this to be very peaceful. Today was no different. During the drive home all creeks were muddy and outside of their banks. By the way, not until my 54th trout today did I hook one with all three points of my treble hook, and it was the only trout hooked this way all day.

On Sunday, April 24th, I had my best day of the year so far, a 180 trout outing. Normally I would have run into many anglers where I fished, but since it was Easter I had the water to myself.

I spent the last outing of the month on two, tiny low-gradient mountain streams in an attempt to use the high water to my advantage. This strategy worked well and I caught 102 little wild trout. The biggest wild brown was 11.5” and the largest native brook trout was 8.5”.

While walking back to my vehicle on this day on a State Forest road a married couple pulled up to me in their SUV. They were fly-fishers from Canada and neither had caught a trout all day. I did not have the heart to tell them of my success, nor did I want to draw attention to the little gem flowing behind me in the distance. I felt a little sorry for them. I believe I told them I “caught a few” so that hopefully they would not feel too bad.


May is the month where I feel the really good fishing begins each year. A look back at my statistics reveals that in the previous five years I had gone fishing on 67 days in May and had topped 100 trout on 65 of those adventures. This year May was extremely wet, making stream selection challenging. But other than a 41-trout disappointment on Sunday, May 1st, the month ended up similar to other years.

The most memorable outing occurred during my ten-day fishing binge at the end of the month. On Saturday, May 28th, the water was really high everywhere and it took me a long time the night before to weigh my options and decide where to go fishing the next day. I chose a really tiny mountain stream, one where under normal flows most of my retrieves would be only two or three feet in length, making casting accuracy paramount. I felt the higher water might actually be an advantage here.

When I arrived before daybreak the next morning, the stream was roaring high, but clear, often with overflow water spreading out across the leaf-covered forest floor. However, the little native brookies were hitting, and I probed every little nook and cranny with pinpoint accuracy. After five hours I had 76 little trout, with only thirteen of them being over 7”. The biggest was an 8.5”er, though I had seen one that probably approached 12”. The trout were small, but I found the fishing to be extremely challenging and rewarding. This was my best outing ever on this brooklet, though I had only fished it three or four other times.

While walking back to my vehicle after fishing this stream I could not help but think about the fly anglers I have read about on internet message boards who say they gave up spinner fishing because it was too easy and unchallenging. I have often wondered why they say this, other than to slam me and the sport I enjoy immensely. This is my 33rd year to fish with spinners, and I have never found it difficult to find new challenges. I guess a challenge is all what you make it out to be. My next challenge on this day was to see if I could top 100 trout.

From there I drove to another mountain stream, one whose entire summer flow sometimes fits through a 2” pipe. Like the other stream, I had only fished this creek a few times in my life, and I was curious to see how it would fish in high water. This stream has a mixture of wild browns and native brook trout, and is unusual for this area in that it has a lot of bedrock for stream-bottom. My hope was to land a couple dozen trout, which would be typical based on my past experience here.

I began shortly after 12:30 p.m. and caught a 6” native brook trout immediately. The trout were out feeding and hitting my White Bead Gold spinner with reckless abandon, likely because they had not been fished over with spinners yet this year. And they were not all little brookies either; often I brought nice colorful wild browns to hand. In fact, after a while I began anticipating tangling with larger wild browns in the better pools, which was unexpected for this rivulet.

At the time I considered my few hours here to be my most exciting fishing of the year, something that still held true at year’s end. Near the end of the outing, on an island where the stream had split nearly equally into two channels, I just about stepped on a young fawn. Luckily it did not bolt. I retreated and went around it.

In 4.00 hours I caught 73 trout, including three wild browns from an even tinier tributary. Of these, eleven of the browns were over 10”, including a 14” wild brown which I consider a true trophy for such a small stream. At the time it felt like more of the trout were larger, but I guess this is how the incredible action tricked my mind. For me, intense action like this is what spin fishing is all about, besides, of course, enjoying nature and solitude. I cannot get enough of the feeling that I am going to catch a trout on every cast, particularly if it is in an unexpected situation. I consider attaining this feeling to be the ultimate intangible goal of spin fishing.

My ten-day fishing binge at the end of the month yielded 1,327 trout in 84.75 hours, for a trout-per-hour average of 15.65, or one trout about every 3 minutes and 50 seconds. My best day yielded 222 wild browns and one stocked rainbow in 10.50 hours. Other notable items this month included seeing a black-colored gray squirrel with just a pencil thin white stripe on its belly on Sunday, May 8th, as well as finding a dead common loon along a mountain freestone stream on the same day. On Sunday, May 15th, I caught a 4.5” wild tiger trout – my 19th lifetime wild tiger trout.


If May is the month where the really good fishing begins, June is the month where I expect it to continue. I was not disappointed. The highlight of the month was having four consecutive outings where I caught over 200 trout, all wild browns except for a lone stocked rainbow. I caught 246, 241, 216, and 219 on June 16th, 18th, 19th, and 20th, respectively.

One particular trip sticks out in my memory this month. On Sunday, June 12th, I fished two limestone streams in the morning and caught 79 trout. The water was high and very cloudy on the first one and I finally quit after 2.50 hours (33 trout) when the water turned chocolate brown and a tree trunk came floating past me, the result of a thunderstorm from the previous night. The second one was fishable but because of a late start I only got to fish a short section for 2.75 hours (46 trout).

For a change of pace I decided to go fish a little mountain freestoner that I had not visited in probably twenty years. I got there around 12:30 p.m. This tiny stream had a robust flow as expected. Unfortunately, there were not many brookies feeding and it took 1.50 hours to pull out 21 additional trout, including two from a small tributary, to hit 100 for the day. I caught my 100th trout in the absolute last available spot.

As I walked out, ever vigilant for rattlesnakes, I realized that it was only 2:30 p.m. and the day was still young. I was certain, too, that I could hear another brook just around the ridge calling my name.

I hiked over to this larger stream and could hardly believe the initial action. In the first fifteen minutes I cranked out eleven legal-size native brookies, followed by another 29 natives in the next 1.25 hours. The largest one was 10” long and two were 9” in length. Just fifteen were less than 7”. The total for the day was 140 trout in 8.25 hours from five streams.

Not surprisingly, June turned out to be my best month of the year. I went fishing on fifteen days and caught 2,389 trout in 135.50 hours for an average of 17.63 trout-per-hour (one trout about every 3 minutes and 25 seconds) and 159.27 trout-per-day. I topped 100 trout on all of the days.

One interesting wildlife sighting occurred on Friday, June 24th. I saw a crow land in a mown lawn and attack and kill what appeared to be a mole or shrew. I had never seen this happen before.

During this month I responded to a post on a popular Pennsylvania fly-fishing website message board that resulted in a firestorm of crude personal attacks directed at me. There were over 10,000 hits on the thread and more than 200 replies. The original post was from a guy bragging about how a chance meeting with another site member resulted in this other guy taking the original poster to a undisclosed location and “put[ting] on a clinic in catching big trout on dry flies.” The accompanying photos showed the guy with a couple bloated, pellet-fed stockies. He caught three trout during his “clinic.”

I was surprised by the many congratulatory responses since the only difference I saw between this and catching dumb pellet-fed stockies from fee-fishing streams, something the site members had often pointed out in the past as unchallenging, was that no payment was involved. I could not see how they were so impressed with some guy catching three tame trout that were fed pellets every day. So, I pointed out the obvious – that I did not see it as much of an accomplishment. This really set them off. I guess reality stings.

I will not quote any of the crude responses, but the two that I thought were particularly telling were from the one moderator, an attorney, who clearly does not know much of anything about trout fishing. (I recall a couple years ago he thought a photo of a native brook trout was a wild tiger trout because its vermicular pattern was slightly abnormal.) He wrote, “…I would say I find the alleged 100 fish day to be pure BS and will NEVER accept it as reality until I witness it myself.” Also, “It is funny and disturbing how anyone is taken in by Frank Nale’s horsepucky, from his 100 trout days, 700 trout weeks, 2800 trout months and whatever else he claims for himself.” (By the way, I had not mentioned any of my statistics in this thread or any other thread on that website in recent years.)

What I found telling about these comments, besides the fact that they had nothing to do with the topic at hand, is that they showed what was truly behind this ignoramus’s other replies, as well as the ones from the other fly fishermen: jealousy. The reason I know this is because I have been approached in person numerous times and had fly fishermen tell me one-on-one that the reason there is so much vitriol sent my way on message boards is because of jealousy. This all could have been avoided if the original poster had just written the word “tame” between the words “big trout.” By the way, to his credit the guy who “put on a clinic” responded that my assessment of the situation was “[not] that far out of line.” I guess the other fly fishermen, in their jealousy-induced rage, missed that little tidbit of reality, too.


Despite continued heavy rainfall in the eastern and western sides of the state, the central portion where I live began to show the effect of the lack of rainfall in early July. It was hot, too. July 22nd was the hottest day ever recorded in Altoona at 103-degrees, beating the old mark of 102-degrees set in 1930. After work that day I took a two-hour bicycle ride armed with my stream thermometer and a tablet and recorded water temperatures at various locations on the Little Juniata River above Tyrone. The highest temperature I recorded was 88-degrees. The water was extremely low, too. I hate to think what this did to the trout population.

Since most of the days were sweltering and creeks were low, I spent most of the month on limestone streams since they typically maintain their flow better than freestone streams. Probably my most memorable time astream occurred on a tiny limestoner that I had already pounded far too many times prior to July. Knowing that trout get used to spinners and quickly learn to avoid them, I decided to start about a hundred yards below my normal entry point for the first time this year to see if the trout would hit better there. My strategy worked. In the first forty-eight minutes I cranked out twenty-five lovely little wild brown trout. None were over 10” long, but it gave me a good start and I ended up with 112 wild browns in 7.50 hours. My biggest trout was a 16”er that put up quite a tussle in a swift riffle no wider than three feet. My second largest fish was a 15” brown. The air temperature was 88-degrees in the shade when I quit.

I would like to note that this day was sunny and I caught trout regularly the entire time I fished. I have often heard fly fishermen say that bright sun sends wild trout scurrying for shade and they stop feeding. This certainly has not been my experience. Robert Bachman’s doctorial research on Spruce Creek many years ago documented that wild brown trout feed pretty much continuously throughout the day (at least on Spruce Creek). I believe the myth that fly fishermen promote is based on their experiences from fishing wildly popular streams, places where excessive angler disturbance puts the trout down each day by the time the sun reaches high in the sky. I believe fly anglers mistakenly blame the sun when in fact it is really other anglers that are putting the trout on high alert. Either this or else they often fish downstream in bright sunlight just ten feet from their boots and do not realize that something besides the sun is sending the trout for cover.

I ended up fishing ten days in July. I caught 958 trout in 70.50 hours, which really surprised me when I tallied the month. My best day was 143 trout and my worst outing was 50 trout. All of the trout were caught in limestone streams except for 29 trout that I caught in two freestone mountain streams. I caught over 100 trout on half of the days.


Conditions continued to deteriorate in August. The worst news came from a friend of mine who reported finding dead native brook trout covered with flies in dry pools on the stream I fished on May 28th, the day I experienced my most exciting fishing of the year.

I fished just eight days in August, all on limestone streams except for an afternoon stop on a tiny mountain creek. After catching 54 wild browns and an out-of-place rainbow trout in the morning on this day, I decided to try a tight stream up in the mountains that is so small in places that a rattlesnake could strike an unsuspecting angler walking near the middle of the stream from the occasional high banks.

I began my second stop this afternoon slightly after 2:00 p.m. I would guess the creek was flowing about one cubic foot of water per second. But since the stream has a lot of big rocks and a high gradient, it has lots of small, wheel-barrel-size pools. I fished 2.75 hours and caught 49 native brookies and one small wild brown. Surprisingly, I had a strike from a wild brown that I would estimate was 18” long. Fishing here was a good reminder to me that even during drought some small mountain streams can still be quite productive. I probably would have caught more trout, but I released my trout back into the pool where they were caught since the flow was so meager, which no doubt frightened the other trout.

Another notable item this month was catching a 22” wild brown, which turned out to be my largest trout of the year. It was caught around 1:00 p.m. I took me at least three minutes to play this fish, which is abnormally long, even for a large trout in swift water. On large streams it takes me an average of twenty-five seconds from the time I hook a trout until it is released. My handling time is even less on small streams. On this day I also caught two 16” wild browns and a 15.5”er. Late in the month I also began to catch a decent number of young-of-the-year wild brown trout (typically 4” long), which is a good sign for the future.


The central portion of the state began to get some much-needed rainfall in September. In the days leading up to Saturday, September 10th, I noticed on the United States Geological Survey’s website that Potter County appeared to have gotten enough rain to make one of my favorite little streams fishable. It is a little over a one hundred mile drive to get there, so I pointed my SUV northward at 4:00 a.m. in order to arrive before daybreak.

I parked near a bridge and quickly walked over to look at the water volume in the dim light. It appeared that the flow was much lower than I had anticipated. In fact, I was concerned it might be too low. This stream has a low gradient and few big rocks, unlike the little mountain stream that I had done well on in August. It still has lots of small pools though, so I thought I still might do okay even with a flow that I guessed was only three or four cubic feet per second, if that. The water temperature was 60-degrees and the air temperature was 61-degrees. The sky was mostly clear.

I began casting my homemade White Bead Gold spinner at 6:59 a.m. Within one minute I had an 8” wild brown in my hand. At the end of the first hour I had 20 trout written down in my tablet. Still, I was concerned. I wondered if the low flow would peter out over the next three miles of stream that I wanted to fish, particularly since there are a few small tributaries.

The low water definitely impacted my fishing, but by wearing camouflage clothing and casting well ahead of myself, I was able to continue to catch wild trout until 1:15 p.m. when the flow became an insignificant, unfishable trickle. The water temperature was 60-degrees when I quit. I climbed the bank and walked over to the dirt State Forest road that parallels the stream and began the one-hour-plus hike back to my vehicle. Almost immediately a guy stopped and asked if I wanted a ride, like people often do out in the country, but I graciously declined and thanked him since I enjoy the walk.

I fished a total of 6.25 hours and caught 112 trout. Five were wild browns, the biggest of which was 13”, and the other 107 trout were native brookies. I was awed by the size of the brook trout. The biggest were: 15 – 8”, 10 – 8.5”, 10 – 9”, 2 – 9.5”, 2 – 10”, and 1 – 10.5”. Another 30 were in the 7” to 7.5” range. Throughout the day I was surprised to see many brookies out in the open in the shallow water. I saw no great blue herons or kingfishers – maybe this is the reason.

Every year I christen one trout as being my “Trout of the Year.” This year on Sunday, September 25th, after catching 45 wild browns in the morning on a limestone stream, I chose a medium-sized mountain stream for the afternoon. As hoped it was flowing well from recent rainfall. The first trout I caught was a 10” native brook trout that had an orange stripe approaching one-inch high. This was not my “Trout of the Year,” but it certainly got my attention. About two miles up the hollow I came to a place where a tree had fallen across the stream and had created about a three-foot waterfall. Very little water was flowing over the top. The deep pool below it was shrouded by intense glare that even my polarized sunglasses could not cut through.

I picked off two little brookies from the fringe areas of the plunge pool, not wanting to risk letting my spinner sink to the bottom for fear of getting hung-up before catching anything. Then I decided to let one sink to the bottom. I began the retrieve and immediately something large grabbed my spinner. I set the hook hard. The trout stayed down deep and put up a great battle, but gradually I was able to bring it to the surface where I saw it for the first time. It was a very healthy 13” female native brook trout, easily as heavy as a typical, well-fed 13” wild brown. Awesome trout! Interestingly, this occurred on the same stream where I caught my most memorable trout in 2010, 2009, and 2008.


More welcomed rain arrived in October, but at times it was actually too much. This kept me off some of the larger rivers that I reserve mostly for autumn angling. However, I was still able to find decent fishing.

The most memorable day of the month occurred on Thursday the 27th. That morning I hiked over two miles in the dark to a stretch of a river that I had a hankering to try, regardless of the flow. I had convinced myself that I would be able to creep along the edge and pick off enough trout to make it interesting. Wrong. I fished there for 1.75 hours and caught only six wild browns. One was 14.5” long, but it was not enough to hold me there. I hiked back to my vehicle.

Next I went to a small limestone stream that I had fished too many times this year. I fished two sections in 2.25 hours and caught just 23 educated wild browns. With only 29 trout brought to hand and it being nearly 1:30 p.m., I was facing my worst outing of the year. However, I know that lousy beginnings are sometimes followed by incredible endings, so I kept my hopes up. It is amazing how sometimes a few hours of productive spinner fishing can salvage an otherwise sub-par day.

And so it was. My next stop, also a small limestoner, found some of the most willing trout I had encountered all year. I fished for 4.25 hours and caught 79 wild brown trout. The most memorable trout came from a deep pool that had the branches from a fallen maple tree hanging in the water, blocking any sensible cast. Just for fun, I let one fly about twenty-five feet through multiple branches. Amazingly, my spinner hit a perfect spot and a large brown scooped it up instantly. Even more amazing was that the large brown came straight out to me and never got tangled around any of the many maple limbs that were poking into the stream bottom, holding up the treetop from completely obliterating the pool. This one was 17”. I also caught browns of 14”, 14.5”, 15”, and 15” in this stretch. My total for the day was 108 trout in 8.25 hours.

On two days I sampled sections of the Little Juniata River above Tyrone where I had recorded lethal water temperatures in July. I actually caught a few trout each time, but the action was minimal. Of course, two outings is a mighty small sample size and not necessarily representative of what is there. I was pleased there were at least a few trout.


I began the month with my worst day numbers-wise for the year. I caught just 33 trout in 6.75 hours. I stuck with it because the big trout were hitting and I could not think of a better option. I caught an 18.5” brown, rainbows of 17” and 17.5”, plus a 16” golden rainbow that I did not spot until after it was hooked.

The day I remember best was Tuesday, November 22nd. I again hiked over two miles in the predawn darkness to a stretch of a rather large river. I knew the water was going to be quite high so I picked a stretch that is rather wide for the size of the stream. My plan was to stay on the left side of the river and to never cross as I fished upstream.

When I reached my destination at 7:00 a.m. I found the water to be high but mostly clear, with just a trace of color. The water temperature was 48-degrees; the air temperature was 42-degrees. The sky was cloudy and rain was imminent. On one of my first few casts along the left edge with one of my White Bead Gold spinners I hooked into a nice smallmouth bass, probably about 14”. I did not actually measure it because I do not count any fish except trout. In the first hour I caught just six wild browns, which was disappointing. This river does not have a high population of wild brown trout though, and the high water spreads them out, making catching a lot of them potentially even more difficult. The second hour yielded nine more. Just seven came to hand in hour number three, but I was content since I enjoy being here. It began to rain lightly after about three hours.

Each year I usually have one wildlife event that stands out from all others. This year my notable wildlife sightings were few and far between, unless you count the braless blonde who jogged past me in July. But something very memorable occurred today at 10:00 a.m. I looked upriver about a hundred yards away and in the fog spotted a large deer crossing in a belly-deep riffle from left to right. Instantly I pulled out my 8 x 24 power binoculars and zoomed in to see if it was a buck. With the fog I could make out some antlers at times, but at other times the deer practically vanished. When it reached the far bank it stopped, silhouetted against the trunk of a mammoth sycamore tree, and swiveled its head. All I could say was, “Wow.” I could not count the points, but the rack was wider than its body. Some of the tines were probably approaching a foot long. The regal buck then took a couple steps onto the bank and disappeared into the late autumn forest.

I continued fishing upstream in a long riffle. There is something special to me about fishing in the rain, which by noon became intense. Each raindrop formed a little white ball that floated on the water’s surface for a few feet before bursting. Sometimes the entire river looked like it was covered with miniature white Styrofoam [censored]. The action remained slow but steady until around noon when the water started to rise and get some color to it. This seemed to bring out more trout, at least in certain spots. I fished a total of 8.75 hours and ended up with 68 wild browns. The biggest trout was only 13”, but it was exciting, particularly in the afternoon. I quit when the water got too high and cloudy to wade safely. By then the action had pretty much died anyway.


Fishing takes a backseat for me during buck season in late November and early December, but I did get out on the water three times in mid to late December. My last day to fish was on Saturday, December 31st, and it turned out to be a fitting ending to the year.

I began this morning at daybreak on a medium-sized limestone stream. The air temperature was 32-degrees. The water was 44-degrees and flowing nicely. The sky was cloudy and it began spitting rain right before I made my first cast. Just for something different, I decided to use one of my Pink Tread Silver spinners. Like my White Bead Gold spinners, they are very easy to see during the retrieve and make detecting strikes easier than dark spinners. I did not have particularly high expectations since I had fished this stretch multiple times during the year. My hope was to close out the year with fifty to sixty trout.

The fishing was steady and after four hours I had brought in 38 wild browns, all in the 6.5” to 12.5” range. Action cooled in the fifth hour as I moved through a section with habitat issues. I caught just four trout during this hour. The next hour yielded 19, and with a total of 61 trout after six hours, I began to think that maybe I could end the year with a Century Club Day. The challenge I faced was that I only had a short section of stream remaining before I would run into a posted stretch, and I knew I would not have time to drive to another place. I decided to fish extra slow and probe every single spot to maximize my chances.

Hour number seven gave up 14 trout and I landed 13 more in the eighth hour. At 4:21 p.m. I caught my 99th trout, but a line of bright yellow “No Trespassing” signs were within casting distance. I guess the pressure of the situation caused me to choke on the next three trout, though I had one of them up to my feet. At 4:30 p.m. I made a long cast and was finally rewarded with a 15” wild brown, tying my largest trout of the day. A couple casts later trout number 101 was fooled.

The water temperature was 46-degrees when I quit and the air temperature was 42-degrees after topping out at about 46-degrees earlier in the afternoon. There had also been a good breeze for the last few hours. I enjoyed the walk back to my SUV, satisfied that I had completed another good year of trout fishing.

Statistical Summary and Analysis

I ended the year with 9,455 trout caught and released during 722.75 hours of fishing spread over 92 days. I averaged 13.08 trout per hour (TPH) and 102.77 trout per day (TPD). This was my first year to average over 100 trout per day since 2007.

I fished a total of 48 different streams this year, all of which yielded at least one salmonid. The top stream yielded 3,869 trout in 293.50 hours during 47 visits (13.18 TPH; 82.32 TPD). The ten best creeks surrendered 7,477 trout in 558.00 hours (13.40 TPH), while the ten worst produced just 24 trout in 3.00 hours (8.00 TPH). These unproductive creeks were mostly brief visits to small tributaries of the stream I was fishing. Of the top ten streams, five were limestone or limestone-influenced and five were freestone streams. On a lifetime basis, my best stream has yielded 73,724 trout.

I caught 100 trout or more on 56 of the 92 days that I fished, four higher than last year but 30 times fewer than in 2004 when I had 86 triple-figure outings. These 56 days yielded 7,246 trout. On a lifetime basis I now have 1,134 days where I have caught 100-plus trout. My permanent fishing logs show I have caught 149,512 trout on these 1,134 days.

A breakdown by species of the 9,455 trout shows 7,298 browns (1,484 were under 7”), 2,086 brookies (1,298 were under 7”), 67 rainbows (1 was sub-legal), 2 tiger trout (1 was sub-legal), and 2 golden rainbows. Overall, 6,671 were 7” or longer (70.56%); 2,784 were sub-legals (29.44%). As mentioned earlier, I caught one wild tiger trout. My lifetime tally of wild tiger trout is 19.

I caught just 32 trout that were 16” or longer, down considerably from the 63 I caught last year. I believe this is because I fished a lot more freestone streams due to better water levels, plus I rarely fished the large streams that I normally fish in the autumn due to high water. I consider catching large trout to be an incidental statistic anyway, since I prefer to catch lots of small trout rather than a few big ones. If catching large fish were my objective, I would probably give up trout fishing and concentrate on carp or suckers. With that said, I do like the thrill of catching a big trout now and then. A 22” wild brown was my only trout over 20”. A breakdown shows 24 browns, 6 rainbows, and 2 golden rainbows. These trout were all caught and released from just eleven different streams. Just five were caught in purely freestone waterways. In addition, I also caught 43 trout that were in the 15”-to-under-16” category, so overall I caught 75 trout that were 15” or better.

I am a firm believer that the color of the spinner that I am using has little, if any, affect on the number of trout that I catch. This year I caught 8,669 trout on my homemade White Bead Gold spinners, 716 on Pink Tread Silver, 64 on Yellow Bead Gold, and 6 on Pink Pearl Bead Silver spinners. This difference reflects time spent rather than the effectiveness of the lure.

When I do my “Spin Fishing For Trout” seminars I state that I believe spin fishing is the most consistent, most productive method for catching trout all day long, anytime of year. One statistic that I think supports this statement is that I have now averaged 100 trout per day for more than 18 years. My records show that since August 8, 1993, I have gone fishing on 1,775 days and have caught 177,534 trout in 13,515.75 hours. This averages out to 100.01 TPD and 13.13 TPH, or one trout about every 4 minutes and 35 seconds. On a lifetime basis I have now caught 222,484 trout on spinners since 1979 when I began spin fishing. The last time I went fishing and did not catch any trout was on March 8, 1987, but I fished just 1.25 hours due to high, cold cloudy water. I have now gone fishing on 2,355 days since the last time I got skunked. I believe these statistics support my statement.


This year Pennsylvania had record rainfalls, including the central portion of the state where I mostly fish. In the east, one of the floods rivaled the destruction of Hurricane Agnes in 1972. However, the rainfall was not evenly spread over the year. The dry summer and extremely wet autumn impacted me the most. Had the rainfall been spread more evenly, I actually may have been able to top 10,000 trout again. As it was, I tiptoed around the extremes of low and high water and enjoyed many great days catching the jewels of Pennsylvania’s wild trout streams.

- Frank Nale -
What are your Trout Per Hour (TPH)numbers, poofs!
User avatar
By D-nymph
Ruddy Duck wrote:That's one way to suck the fun out of fishing. (But I'm jealous because of my TPH #'s).

I've never met that guy but there have been discussions/arguments for years on PA sites, after he posts his annual summary. Apparently, the dude is not kidding, and is in some kind of perpetual motion when fishing, think of it like an athletic endurance competition environment. He also, and this is what I've been told, keeps a wrist band (like and NFL QB wears) on his left wrist, with a pen clipped to it, and records a notch for each fish on the wrist band. Then totals everything up at the end of the day.

I find the mentality bizarre and somewhat fascinating.
User avatar
" is that fishheadlarry or just another jackass?"
User avatar
By Da Ax
Ruddy Duck wrote:
D-nymph wrote:think of it like an athletic endurance competition environment.
That is what came to mind. "Bizarre" indeed.
Sounds like someone's momma didn't love him when he was growing up...or he got tired of an overbearing dad always catching more fish...
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