Trout season opens Saturday in Southwestern Pennsylvania
With the opening of trout season on Saturday, the rivers and streams of southwestern Pennsylvania will once again fill up with fly fishing enthusiasts eager to hook a brown, brook or rainbow trout.
While the extended winter weather may have impacted early hatches, that's not likely to keep anglers away from popular waterways.
"There's definitely going to be a lot of people out and about. The forecast looks pretty much awesome," said Mike Steiner, Orvis operations manager at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County.
Stone flies have been emerging in Loyalhanna Creek and elsewhere, prompting fly fishers to use their go-to streamers, woolly buggers, nymphs, pheasant tails and caddisflies.
Location, location, location
Opening day applies to all stocked trout waters in Pennsylvania, with the exception of 18 southeastern counties that have an early opening on March 31.
Nemacolin guides prefer the following waterways , according to Steiner:
• Youghiogheny River, from Confluence to Ohiopyle;
• Laurel Hill Creek, a tributary of the Casselman River, which is a tributary of the Yough;
• Meadow Run, a tributary of the Yough; and
• Dunbar Creek, a tributary of the Yough.
With the exception of Laurel Hill, which is in Somerset County, all are in Fayette County.
In Westmoreland County, popular trout waterways include Loyalhanna Creek (Section #3) from the Route 711 bridge downstream to the Route 2045 bridge, Mill Creek, Linn Run in Linn Run State Park (Cook and Ligonier townships), and Tubmill Creek (headwaters to Tubmill Reservoir).
Match the hatch!
Although delayed by the weather, the main hatches right now are stone flies and midges (mosquitoes). The next expected hatch is the grannom caddis, Steiner said.
To match those hatches, fly fishers are using the following subsurface flies:
• Beadhead black copper john, size 16 (stone flies);
• Zebra midge, size 20 (midges);
• Beadhead soft hackle hare's ear, size 14 (grannom caddis pupa); and
• Peacock elk hair caddis, size 14 (grannom caddis adult).
Not THAT opening day
Pennsylvania is one of the few states that still has a proper opening day for trout season, Steiner said. The rest of the year, only catch-and-release fishing is permitted.
"People in Pennsylvania still like the thought of having that traditional opening day event, mainly because it's a time for family and friends to get together," he said.
The regular season, with a daily creel limit of five fish, lasts through Labor Day.
In addition to a fishing license, trout anglers 16 and older must have a trout/salmon permit.
Let your guide be your guide
For beginners, visitors or those who can't quite get the hang of fly fishing, local guide services are available. They include Ligonier Outfitters at 127 W. Main St., the Orvis shop at Nemacolin Woodlands, and the Orvis shop at Seven Springs Mountain Resort .
Not for everyone
For people who are used to fishing with a bobber and a worm on a hook, fly fishing can seem like an enigma :
• It is commonly associated with moving water (rivers and streams) but can easily be applied to still water (ponds and lakes).
• It requires a basic knowledge of entomology.
• It requires some skill with knot tying.
• Although fussy trout are usually the desired prey, most species of fish can be caught using fly fishing methods.
• While most forms of fishing involve casting an artificial lure or a piece of bait, fly fishing involves casting a tapered line, which delivers the near-weightless fly to the water.
• Fly fishing generally involves a greater amount of care when it comes to casting, choosing a body of water and knowing the feeding habits of fish.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @shuba_trib.