Give these proven Eastern Region rivers and streams a try when trout season opens this month. (April 2007)
Photo by Jim Bedford
Tired of winter yet? The good news is that this spring, Pennsylvania trout anglers will be seeing larger fish.
And that's a promise!
"Our fish are going to be approximately 30 percent larger by weight," said Tom Greene, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's Coldwater Unit specialist.
With that prediction in mind, it might be a good idea to tie on a heavier leader and head up to the pristine waters of northeastern Pennsylvania for this year's opening day of trout season.
Northeastern Pennsylvania provides anglers with excellent public-water trout fishing. Greene said that last spring, low stream flows in this corner of the state created excellent conditions for opening day. With similar luck, anglers heading out to these streams can look forward to yet another productive trout opener in 2007.
Here's a look at five Northeast Region trout streams where any angler can enjoy some hot action in the cool mornings of early April:
According to Rob Wnuk, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's Area 4 fisheries, Bowmans Creek is stocked from the Wyoming-Luzerne county line downstream to Church Road (T-413) in Eatonville, a distance of some 19 miles.
"Small numbers of wild trout -- all three species -- can also be found in Bowmans Creek," Wnuk said. "And even higher numbers of wild trout are present in its tributaries."
From Route 292 downstream to Bowmans' confluence with Marsh Creek (a distance of nearly a mile), fishing is managed under catch-and-release, fly-fishing-only regulations.
Many sections of Bowmans Creek can be waded. But depending on water level, the stream's currents can be swift at times.
One productive area on Bowmans, and one that almost always remains cool and deep throughout the year, is the section of stream behind the rest stop off state Route 29 in Wyoming County, about a mile upstream from the intersection of Route 292 and state Route 29. There's plenty of casting and wading room on this stretch of Bowmans near the picnic area.
Fishing pressure can be heavy, especially early in the season, so getting there early is vital to beat the crowd.
State Route 309 provides access to Bowmans' lower half. State Route 29 provides access around Noxen, as well as farther downstream toward Tunkhannock. Creek access may also be obtained from Route 292, especially because this bridge denotes exactly where the special regulations section on Bowmans begins.
Not many streams can compare to Mehoopany Creek's scenic beauty, especially along the creek's path upstream from state Route 87 in Wyoming County.
According to biologist Wnuk, the creek is stocked for a total of 9.8 miles, from its confluence with Kasson Brook downstream to a point 500 meters downstream from state Route 87.
Wnuk also noted that due to the stream's acidic water quality in the early spring, the section of Mehoopany Creek from the Kasson Brook tributary downstream to North Fork Mehoopany Creek is stocked with trout in-season only.
If venturing off the main stream in search of some feisty natives sounds good, Mehoopany Creek is where you want to be this month.
Wnuk said that high numbers of wild trout are present in the Mehoopany's tributaries. Stony Brook in particular is one feeder stream famous for its native trout fishing among the locals of the Mehoopany watershed. Of course, fishing these small feeder streams requires some casting skill -- especially with a fly rod because the areas around these tributaries are crowded with vegetation.
Later in the trout season, many of the Mehoopany's tributaries run relatively low, so the best fishing is in early spring.
From state Route 87 in Forkston, take state Route 3001 to access Mehoopany Creek in the area where Stony and Kasson Brooks enter it. In this section, state game lands parallel the creek in most areas along its banks, providing plenty of public access to the creek.
According to biologist Wnuk, Meshoppen Creek in Wyoming County is stocked from West Nicholson Road downstream to its intersection with state Route 29 -- a distance of approximately 4.7 miles.
The PFBC stocks again at Lemon Creek Road and continues downstream to Potts Falls (a distance of nearly 3.5 miles). The creek can be reached from both state Route 29 and Route 6.
In the Potts Falls section of Meshoppen Creek, the water tends to be deep enough for floating. But portions of the creek may be waded, with sufficient casting room over the best holes.
There are no wild trout present in the entire drainage, but big holdover browns often turn up.
In Wyoming County, Tunkhannock Creek is accessible from Route 6 in Tunkhannock. From the Route 6 bridge, quality holes can be located both up and downstream from that point. Parking is available past the bridge on the right side. Downstream from the bridge is an excellent riffle, ending a pool large enough to be floated. There is sufficient room for casting as well.
The southern branch of Tunkhannock Creek may be accessed from Route 92 near Tunkhannock.
Wnuk noted that the stream is stocked from Gelatt downstream to the confluence of Nine Partners Creek, a distance of nearly 9 miles.
"There are some wild brook trout and brown trout present in the creek, and more natives may be found in select tributaries entering the creek as well," Wnuk said.
Dave Arnold, the PFBC's Area 5 fisheries manager, noted that for the opening day of trout season in 2006, the Lehigh River's water was cool and clear. He added that the Lehigh's fertile water provides a healthy environment for trout.
State Route 940, off state Route 115, provides access to the river near the town of Tannery. The river can also be reached near the town of White Haven.
The PFBC stocks trout in this spe
cific area from the Carbon-Luzerne county line downstream to the river's confluence with Sandy Run -- a distance of nearly 9.1 miles.
The northern section of the river may be waded. Whenever the river is gauged at 300 cubic feet per second or lower, wading conditions are favorable for visiting anglers.
Arnold and his staff work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to manage river flows out of the Francis E. Walter Dam. Anglers should check in with the Area 5 fisheries office before heading out for a day of fishing.
In general, the forecast for Pennsylvania's northeast waters looks good this year. With stocking planned just before the opening day in the Northeast Region, more trout should be available to anglers before the fish begin to migrate throughout the entire fishery's watershed.
For the fly-fishing fans coming from afar, some select hatches are occurring along many of these northeast streams, which fly-anglers should definitely come prepared for.
According to Joe Akourey, a local fly-fishing guide, the yellow stonefly is very good for nymph-fishing the Northeast Region in early spring. Akourey also recommended the beadhead Hare's Ear and the beadhead Pheasant Tail nymphs. Another pattern Akourey favors is the blue-winged olive in No. 18-20.
Quill Gordons in No. 12-14 also produce around the second week of April.
For more information on trout-fishing opportunities in the Northeast Region, contact the PFBC's Area 4 fisheries management office at (570) 477-5717, or the Area 5 fisheries management office at (570) 588-6388.
For travel information, contact the Pennsylvania Tourism Office toll-free at 1-800-847-4872.