January 2008 Outing Report.
Yellow Breeches PA Outing Report

As I loaded up the truck and headed to the rendezvous point to pick up Will Amland the temperature was already 52 degrees and it wasn't even 7:30 yet. The morning air was filled with the scent of thawing earth, thick enough to taste and lent a spring-like feel to the outing instead of the normal midwinter chill of January.

Turning into the parking lot at the Yellow Breeches I spied Carl Smolka at the other end, hatchback open and just pulling on his waders. As Will and I sorted gear from the back of my truck Jim Keil materialized. On the drive up Will said he saw on the web the stream had been stocked just a couple of days before, news that had me hurrying to get rigged up and on the water just a little bit quicker.

Little Black Stone Fly

Zebra Midge

I had tied some extra small stone flies in response to the latest report on the Yellow Breeches Fly Shop web site. Bent over the vice I fantasized about fish bumping each other out of the feeding lanes to intercept them. On stream this proved to be pure fantasy, and after a dejecting hour or more of drifting assorted sizes of stonefly nymphs with different midge color/size combinations as droppers without so much as even a glance from a trout had me coming up for air and walking the run to see how others were faring. Carl had broken the ice by hooking a fish on a #20 black Zebra midge and 7X tippet, and Jim Keil said he saw some young fellas pull out a pig on a San Juan worm just below the outlet tube.

By noon temps were in the 60s, and all along the stone wall bordering the run flies began to appear. Exposed to the full power of the sun midges as large as #18 and baetis #20-#18 were illuminated as they hung the light just above the riffles. Trout in the ultra clear water below could be seen grubbing the bottom then with short little bursts of speed intercept something subsurface. Simultaneously with all this aquatic activity, little black stoneflies crawled around on bank side vegetation and down my neck, occasionally making me to stop fishing to dig out the more ambitious ones from under my collar.

Jim and Carl

Looking down stream I saw that Jim Greene had joined the group and was working a run just below me. Soon after, Jim Keil wandered back down stream to say he had gotten two, both rainbows, one on a red serendipity, the other on something else up by the pipe, and decided he had earned his lunch. I told him I'd pass, I hadn't hooked anything yet and I was still more interested in catching a fish than eating my sandwich.

The fish showing a total lack of interest in my flies had me totally out of ideas. I eventually tied on a #20 griffiths gnat after seeing what I thought was a little rise. I didn't even know the fish was on until I raised the rod to mend line. At first I thought "Oh, just a little feller" then he started ripping off line making my little 7 foot 3 weight flex all the way into the handle. I coaxed him back to water in front of me twice and even had the net down, before another run through the fast water popped the fly out. Even so, it was the first fish of the year and it did feel good!

Dennis's Brown

Throughout the afternoon we hop-scotched up and down the run, Will and Jim Keil both made forays down into the main stem, but in spite of the spring-like weather and a bunch of bugs the fish just didn't turn on. Working my way back to the scene of my lost fish, Will waved me up to where he was fishing just below the outlet where 30-40 fish congregated in a swirling back eddy. Three of them already succumbing to Will's root beer crystal meth that he thought might be representative of a potato chip hatch, concluding this after seeing the fish react to something he thought came through the tube from the lake. The rest of the afternoon Will and I perched on the wall above the pod, changing flies and hooking one now and then, Jim and Carl stopped by at different points to bid us farewell. I hooked and lost one each on crystal meth, a sow bug, and a deer hair cress bug, before finally landing my first of the year on the cress bug. Will wandered off for a short while to try a caddis on some near by water. It didn't entice any trout, but he reported it did fell a trophy Breeches sucker in a classic rise. Then, joining me back at the outlet a little later he landed his fourth brown of the day.


To list all of the flies we tried would probably fill the rest of this page, but if they were midge or stonefly patterns -- dry or nymph, or beadhead patterns in a size #20 or smaller it's a good bet it saw water, along with various colors of meth in #12-#16.

The fishing is always good even if the catching isn't so. But I think everyone would agree that for a January outing that felt more like late April or early May, it was the little fix we all were looking for.

Dennis Covert