Finding Native Brook Trout in the PA Wilds-How, and Why you Should Chase These Fish
Fishing takes many forms. Rigs, tackle, and techniques range vastly in the fishing world. One technique, which is also one of the simplest, can also be the most satisfying. Almost everyone can look back and appreciate the first fish they caught, often with a snelled hook and bobber, spooled up on an old Zebco. While many progressed from that form, and probably haven’t used that style in a long time, I find it very rewarding to explore the PA wilds carrying only an ultra-light fishing rod, hook, bobber, and pack of mealworms, in search of one of Pennsylvania’s greatest treasures, the Brook Trout.
All you’ll need to catch these fish are a micro hook, or salmon egg hook, a few split-shot, and a float. I prefer foam floats, which are easily adjustable by shoving a toothpick through the center along the line. Below that, put on just enough lead to drop the bait into the strike zone. Tie on your hook with an improved clinch knot, tip it with a waxy, and you’re on your way to success. By using a float like this, you will be able to change the depth of your drift easily, depending on the depth of the pool your fishing.
My approach is to first find a stream that is either listed as a Class-A Wild Trout Stream, or near one that is. Generally, these streams aren’t that highly pressured and hold plenty of Natives. Water that’s furthest off the beaten path is often worth the effort to hike too. These fish will spook at the sight of a shadow. One must stalk the creeks as light-footed as if he’s stalking a mature whitetail. Once I’ve found the stream I want to fish I walk down it until I find a run, or pool that looks like it holds fish. These streams aren’t that large and many you can easily jump across. Trout could be holding virtually anywhere, but the high percentage spots are generally the places where you can’t quite see the bottom. Brookies lay under rocks and in cover, ready to ambush any meal that comes by. When you have zeroed in on a pool you must approach it slowly. When within striking distance, it’s as easy as casting in your rig, and waiting for one of these fresh water piranhas to strike. When they’re not spooked, these fish will inhale almost anything you throw at them. What Brookies don’t have in size, they make up for in appetite. Make sure to drift your bait multiple times through the pool, covering as much of it as you can. It won’t be long before your float disappears. I have discovered that, in the winter especially, I will catch more fish by adjusting my float to suspend the bait only a few inches off of the bottom. Brookies hide in the rocks, and cover, and the closer you can present the bait to them, the more likely you’ll be to land them. If your looking to get at them with artificials, stop by your local fly shop and see what’s hatching. I’ve had good luck with many different dry flies, and nymphs, and many times on these small creeks, thy will take whatever you throw at them.
The brook trout is the most aesthetically pleasing fresh water fish in my book. Marked with shades of blue, orange, red, white, black and green, they are a living color wheel. Perhaps that why the Keystone State claimed them as their state fish. While fishing mountain
streams the fish generally won’t be that large, but on bigger water its possible to catch some decent sized fish. If you’ve never got after Brookies, I assure you it would be worth your time!