A letter to the PA Fish & Boat Commission

To whom it may concern,

I was recently reviewing the “Biggest Fish Caught in Pennsylvania” (2012) page on your website. Among the list of largest catches reported last year, I noticed something quite curious.


Angler: Zachory Boozel     Water: Lake Arthur

This got me wondering which route a marine striped bass would take from the ocean to Lake Arthur, since as I figure it the two are separated by at least 300 miles and countless impassable dams. That’s quite a journey!

I look forward to your explanation.

Thanks for your attention in this matter, tight lines, etc.


“Fishing worms are for women and children”

A woman had a much needed day off of work and decided to take some of her younger relatives fishing. So she packed up the one small fishing rod she owned along with some hooks and stopped by the store to pick up two dozen nightcrawlers on her way to the local community pond.

She soon arrived at the pond and picked out a nice spot where she and the children could sit comfortably. As she was setting up her rod to fish, she couldn’t help but overhear a particularly obnoxious man speaking out loud, despite being unaccompanied. “Worms are for women and children,” he bellowed to no one in particular. Right.

Ready for some Serious Fishing, he didn’t have any time for people out at the old fishing hole with no goal other than to have some fun and try to relax a little. So, decked out from head to toe in the latest in Real Men’s Fishing Gear®, he got as close to them as he possibly could (short of actually standing on their toes) and started tossing out his enormous lure, along with any semblance of etiquette. After all, what right do mere amateurs have to choice waters? And if someone is already fishing there, the waters must be choice. Why else would they be there? Why should he fish the substandard waters represented by the other 97 percent of the shoreline? Just because they were devoid of people? Forget that. Continue reading

Coal Mining, Fracking, and Consol’s Duke Lake Deal

Duke Lake Ryerson station dam cracked consol Ryerson Station State Park is located in Greene County, Pennsylvania. It used to contain Duke Lake, a 62-acre body of water that was home to numerous fish and other wildlife. Constructed in 1960, Ryerson Station Dam was breached in 2005 after being damaged considerably by underground coal mining operations, making Duke Lake disappear.

Energy giant Consol operates three of the most productive coal mines in the world in the immediate vicinity of Ryerson Station. Subsidence resulting from longwall mining by the company’s Bailey Mine taking place within 1,000 feet of the dam was singled out as the cause of the damage to Ryerson Station Dam by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Continue reading

Fishing with trout worms and other lures

Rainbow trout on pink berkley trout wormI’ve received a few good comments and questions on my Trout Worms Catch Fish post. Although I replied there, I thought it would be a good idea to expand into a full post to increase visibility. I have done some light editing, thrown in a few additions, and formatted it as a question and answer style post for clarity.

Thanks to the folks who wrote the comments that form the basis of this. Apologies in advance for putting my poetic license to use.

When do you fish trout worms?

Trout worms work year round. I’ve caught fish spring, summer, fall and winter with them. Continue reading

Doing well on Western PA’s Delayed Harvest waters

brown trout I recently had a chance to fish some special regulation waters in Western Pennsylvania with a bit of success. While most of the “approved trout waters” in the state are closed in March and the first part of April, the Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only (DHALO) sections offer good opportunities for catch-and-release trout fishing.

Anglers fishing DHALO’s are limited to “artificial lures only constructed of metal, plastic, rubber or wood, or with flies and streamers constructed of natural or synthetic materials,” according to the people that make the rules. “All such lures may be used with spinning or fly fishing gear.”

Most of these sections are stocked sometime in March, either at the same time as or earlier than the stockings in other sections of the stream that remain closed until the opening day of trout season. Most also have at least some number of holdover fish from previous stockings, and some are even home to wild and native trout.

While they vary widely in water and habitat quality, it’s usually not too tough to get into at least a few fish at any of these special regulation areas.

Here’s a description of the places I fished and how I did. Continue reading

Can you use trout worms in Pennsylvania’s DHALO areas?

Rainbow trout worm pink bubblegumOver the last two weeks I’ve spent a few days fishing for trout in Western Pennsylvania. Since state regulations keep many of the area’s best trout streams closed until the opener in mid-April, that means I’ve been limited to fishing a few wild brook trout waters and Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only (DHALO) special regulation areas.

Whenever DHALO areas come up in conversation, it often leads to discussion of the actual meaning of the regulations, which are vague enough to warrant speculation. Spend a few minutes searching online and you’ll find numerous discussions of the issue, often revolving around the question of whether or not things like trout worms can be used in these areas.

The original DHALO regulations left no question as to whether or not soft plastic worms could be used: Continue reading

Fishing access: A story of people, property and profits

The question of public access to waterways, especially for recreational use like fishing, continues to attract attention. As the struggle for stream access rights in Utah continues, articles and blog posts wrangling over who should control the waters of the United States emerge one after the other.

Many of the better known individuals weighing in seem to be taking a diplomatic approach, to put it kindly. For those afraid of ticking off folks with big bucks it makes a certain degree of sense. After all, why endanger your bottom line by taking a principled position? So it is that writer/guide Kirk Deeter, editor-at-large over at  hook-and-bullet mainstay Field & Stream, displayed all the backbone of a scud when he recently blogged: “My personal opinion is that we should embrace a ‘what is, is’ philosophy. Different states have different stream access laws. If you don’t like the existing laws, go fish or own property somewhere else.” This is the sort of great “love it or leave it” philosophy that would have left colonialism, child labor, slavery and the unabated pollution of rivers and streams by industry intact. But hey, wouldn’t want to step on any toes.

Thankfully, not everyone is following suit. Continue reading

Free online fly tying course for beginners

Barry Ord Clarke is currently offering a free fly tying course for beginners at his site The Feather Bender.

A very experienced tier, Barry writes:

“In order to help those of all ages that are new to fly tying, I would like to start a free on line tutorial and Q & A column, that will cover all the basic’s, and guide the beginner from the correct way to secure a hook in the vice to the finished fishing fly and many more useful techniques in between.”

The first six parts are already online: Introduction, Fly tying course #1: Getting started, Fly tying course #2: Thread and Whip finish, Fly tying course #3: It’s a material world, Fly tying course #4: A simple nymph, and Fly tying course #5: Dry fly adult caddis.

If you sign up for the course on the site, you’ll be notified by email when new updates are added.