Monday, June 8, 2009

The Mighty Lehigh.

Just in the past decade the Lehigh River in Eastern Pennsylvania has made gigantic strides as a trout water and is now one of the premier destinations on the east coast. Thanks to efforts made by the Lehigh River Stocking Association, Lehigh River Coldwater Fishery Alliance, and the PA Fish & Boat Commission stocks of trout in the Lehigh have been on the upswing, especially in the last few years. This surge in trout can be directly linked to new schedules of water releases at Francis E. Walter Dam, fingerling and adult trout stocking, and efforts made by sportsmen across the state. These groups have made it their mission to transform the Lehigh and make it a mecca for fly fishing. So far, the fruits of their labor have been very promising.

Having been fly fishing for just over a decade, I never really paid much attention to the Lehigh. Sure the gorge in Jim Thorpe is beautiful but access for a teenager beginning in the sport was slim and honestly intimidating. Thankfully, times have changed and so have the skills. Last year I began making a serious attempt at fishing the Lehigh and I was surprised by the amount of trout in the river, even as far down as the hometown of Walnutport. This small taste of success has led to a full on effort to explore and fish as much as possible. Just a few days ago, I had one of my most memorable days on the Lehigh.

Fly, Rod, & Reel.


Drying Off.

Big Guy.

Stalking Carp and Koi on the canal was proving to be unsuccessful so Adam and I headed down to the river to fish the insect hatches that occur during magic hour on nice days in the early summer. Caddis were skimming the surface along the banks, sulphers and bwo's were emerging, and large stoneflies twittered in the air like small birds. The fish were rising... everywhere. Particularly, they were rising consistently on the other side of the river along a deep seam by a rock-face. The distance was daunting and the fish were almost taunting me to make the cast. I took off my pack and wet waded out to about my waist. I began double hauling my ass off but I consistently fell five feet short of the target. I was getting frustrated and so I waded deeper. At about the nipple line, I started to get really frustrated. The deeper water wasn't making it any easier.

Quote of the Day "I Need A Stripping Basket"

Consistently Five Feet Short.

Persistence Pays Off.

Adam Finally Gives It A Go.

And Catches...WTF?!

A Lehigh River Brookie? Looks Too Good To Be True.

Finally, I found the problem. The slack shooting line kept drifting downstream and would not shoot because of the drag of the current. I gathered up all my slack and threw it upstream of me and began hauling. As I was casting I told Adam out-loud that "this was it baby." The 100ft. cast screamed across the the river, hit the sweet spot, and with one small mend of the sharkskin, the caddis was dead drift. Having only been dead drift for about a foot, the first big bow took the fly and I made the longest hookset of my life and let out a triumphant YEA BABY!!!! much to the dismay of Adam who staunchly refused to take off his streamer rig. Lets just say that after seeing the fish, Adam immediately decided he wanted in on the action.
For the rest of magic hour we slayed the fish up and down a beautiful run on the mighty Lehigh. We took big bows, beautiful browns, and one nice brook trout before calling it quits. The experience made the two mile walk back to the car (in the dark) much more enjoyable.

Big Bow.

Magic Hour Rules.

Beautiful Browns.

Funny Face #1

Massive Brown Taking Flight As I Fight.

He's A Good Two Feet Out of the Water.

"You'll Be Mine Later."

Healthy Fish.

Funniest Face of All.

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