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Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Blog
Published by Al Toret [MathFish] on 01/20/2021 (106 reads)
Just sharing my newest fish carvings. Last weekend, I started 3 fish and carved them on and off throughout the week. This weekend, I painted all three. It was a nice way to spend some time inside watching the snow happen out my window.

The first trout was a brookie carving I made as a thank you gift for a friend of mine who really helped me out this past fall. I based it off of a trout I caught a few years ago. I'm happy with how it turned out and I almost wanted to keep it for myself.

The brookie that the carving is based on
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Here is the painted carving.
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Next, I decided to make a California Golden Trout. This carving is based off of photos I found online of them. I made a pinewood derby car of one of these trout, but this is my first attempt at carving the fish without wheels. This fish took my about 4 hours to paint. I told my wife that I plan to one day get out fish for these.

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Lastly, I came across a photo of an absolutely beautiful young greenback cutthroat trout that I wanted to try and carve. Here is the link to the site which has the photo. It's the second photo on the page. I didn't want to post that photo in this posting since it is copyrighted and I am not sure how that works... Greenback Cutthroat Trout Link

This is also a trout that I would like to one day make a point to get out and see in person. Here is how the greenback carving turned out.

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So I managed to squander a perfectly good weekend making these three little fish. It helps that I can't get out and fish since I'm recovering from an injury that will have me off the water for quite some time. However when I finished these three, my wife asked, "So... what's the plan for all these fish?" I decided not to answer her... I'm up to 13 little fish now in my collection and I have plans for others - but to be completely honest, I don't have a plan. They are beginning to stack up and I should probably have a plan. Oh, well...

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Follow along in the forum here.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 01/10/2021 (249 reads)
There are several fun Pennsylvania fly fishing channels on YouTube, but the guys on Allegheny Native have done a great job sharing some fantastic cinematic images of their angling journeys. Their videos stand out with locations they fish and quality of production. They are hitting plenty of out of the way streams for wild brookies and brown trout. The videos really make you feel like you are part of the scene, if not just wanting to be there with the guys.

Nate Burkhart generally shares the stream with his brother in law, Joel Snedden, for their trips. Originally, they got started with Caleb Stasko and provided much of the video experience to get started with the Allegheny Native Channel. Caleb has now moved to Montana but shared enough with Nate that is production quality is outstanding. You can see the enthusiasm while on the stream, but in the care taken making a video.

A fun watch especially when thinking about the upcoming fly fishing season. You can find their channel here.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 01/03/2021 (458 reads)
The Early Days

I think the Grateful Dead said it best, “What a long, strange trip it's been.” While it’s only been 25 years, it has been a very strange trip.

December 1995 was when I first started up an old desktop Macintosh computer and turned it into a web server running a program called Webstar. The website was only capable of serving up a few pages of HTML code and GIF files for the 67 Pennsylvania county fishing maps that were on the site. The Netscape web browser was the latest thing for anyone that had dial-up access to the World Wide Web. At the time there was no Google, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) website or much of anything else for that matter.


I think the first month online in December of 1995 the site was overwhelmed with 200 hits. The fact anyone found the site and looked at a few pages was fascinating in itself.

The concept to create the site was more of a personal desire to share the locations online of many of the streams I had found across the state in my early days of fly fishing. There were many fine books written sharing great detail on the topic, but I wanted to experiment with my own effort of creating something more visual online. The early online maps were very crude with some limited information about roads and streams. Nothing anyone could print off and use as navigation, more of a high-level thing if you wanted to simply explore an area and then you had to get out your Delorme Atlas to plan your trip.


My early fly fishing experiences were spent running around the state with my friends Ron Kolman and Greg Sipos. The two of them took the time to show me where and how to fly fish. They helped me with casting, fly line setup, stream reading and most importantly relaxing after the day to reflect on what was and wasn’t working. Fortunately, we did a lot of reflecting at places like the Wharton Inn and Tannery in Potter County. It soon became pretty clear that while I didn’t know as much as others about fly fishing the website could be a way for me to give back to the sport and hopefully help others.

To my surprise what I thought I was helping others really helped me even more.

Each month I would spend time after work adding content and enhancing the site with my newly learned HTML proficiency. HTML isn’t that difficult and I wasn’t very proficient. I somehow found a way to get PFBC news releases and started posting them on the home page. I even starting writing personal fishing reports and stories. Kinda like an early blog thing.

I just continued to crank more content onto the site like PFBC license and regulation information. Somehow found some early stocking reports and posted them in the spring of 1997. Soon after I added hatch charts, including weather links and tips. There were a lot of late evenings spent working on the site, but I recall it being a lot of fun considering I was just winging it.

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What I didn’t plan for was getting so many emails. People would send me their trout pictures and I would then post them on the new photos page. I started getting questions and I would do my best with the answers. Other people would share tips and add them all to the Question and Answers section.

Along the way, I still had the server under my desk at work and it would shut down quite often. I am embarrassed to say it was down for several days at a time on occasion. People would email and ask what was going on. I think Maurice would even call, "Hey man you know the server is down again." I would restart it and get back to work.

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I’m not sure where it came from, but it seemed to me there could be great value for anglers to share details of their fly fishing trips and stream reports. This was the next part of the site that really started to changes things. I went to work creating a database that could interface the site for users to enter and search the new stream reports section. At the same time, I shortly released the earliest version of a forum called the Message Board. I knew there were a lot of smart people out there who were able to help answer the many questions I was getting in my emails.

With the creation of the Message Board and Stream Reports, it provides live interaction with people on the site. This also created many new surprises and activity that was never expected.

Up Next
Part 2 - The Stage is Set

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 12/15/2020 (252 reads)
Human beings are flocking to the great outdoors in record numbers. Many are camping or fishing for the first time ever. Some have forgotten how much they love the great indoors. It's quite the conundrum. #(hashpound)killedtodeath
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Published by Alex Ciocca [drakeking412] on 12/08/2020 (604 reads)
By Alex Ciocca

With the long winter season coming up ahead of us combined with virus restrictions many of us will be experiencing a little more cabin fever than usual this year. Rather than give in to the seasonal drag this is the time to really bolster that dry fly box and do all your typical winter activities. To help breathe some life into your yearly winter routine I’ve compiled a list of some challenges and activities to help get you through the cold season and defeat cabin fever.

1. Try New Tying Goals
While tying is the standard winter activity, maybe this is the year to change it up a little bit. The box expansion will in turn change up your selection while fishing and you just might find that new confidence pattern you’ve been looking for! The challenge is as follows: Tie 3 new patterns of each respective style (streamer, dry, nymph, etc.). This is the time to experiment and try some of the newer patterns coming from our younger tiers or some of the more out-of-the-box streamer patterns that seem to be invented every day! A couple of really awesome sources for new patterns with material lists and instructions are Fly Fish Food and their YouTube channel, AvidMax, and for streamers, Kelly Galloup is the guy. Instagram also has some extremely talented tiers that are always willing to lend a hand and have some wonderful videos too. Some of my favorites are SvendDiesel, Lucas Utrera, and hopperjuan_fly_fishing.

Photograph and "Scud" by Dave Weaver

This is also the time to challenge yourself to pick up or master some tying skills you may be lacking such as spinning deer hair, Catskill-style dry fly wings, or nailing that perfect tapered nymph body. The list is really endless and I promise that it will pay off in the long run (especially if you’re constantly sacrificing to the bottom gods).

Lastly, spin up a box for your favorite charity with a selection of your best producers. A couple of great ones to support are Project Healing Waters and Casting for Recovery. Both do great work and continue to every year with the help of generous people like you!

2. Develop an Organization System
After a long fishing season, most of our houses and tying rooms look like a tropical storm rolled through last week and it probably smells like it too. Use the wintertime to develop a new organization system that might help you keep things straight during the season, at the bench or in the gear room and maybe even make your significant other happy in the process.

At the bench try using lock-top boxes available from most sporting goods stores or online retailers. The dividers can be “welded” in with a low temp solder iron and be sure to wash before with warm water and a dish detergent to remove the oils. Another great solution is using bead containers from the craft store which in turn can then be organized into standup shelf storage bins, large or small with labels too. The days of double buying or searching frantically for that one material will be over.

In the gear room shelving is an absolute must. Ensure that the shelving is sturdy and on one end you can install some hooks to hang your miscellaneous bags and wading gear. Not only will this help to keep the gear room tidy and easily accessible but it can help to extend the life of your gear as well.

In-the-box organization will save valuable time on the stream and help to keep you fishing, not digging through bags and boxes searching. Organization by specific insect works well when fishing to hatches and if you’re getting into the new Euro tight line craze then organize that box by hook size and weight rather than insect type. Personally, I like to carry a streamer box, double-sided dries, and a single-sided nymph on a typical day of fishing so consider those the “working boxes”. Other boxes can then be set up for specifics like mousing or hopper/dropper. Putting labels or stickers on the outside is a great visual indicator for those late nights or early mornings. Also, don’t forget to put your phone number on your box somewhere, it just might save you a lot of time and money one day!

Dave Kile has a post on organizing your flies

3. Clean Your Gear
While we all might do a spot clean from time to time, use this downtime to really get in there and scrub out last season's grime. Packs and vests should be emptied of all gear and washed/cleaned as well as let to air out any river funk that they might have gained. Fly lines and reels should be treated as if they were just fished in saltwater and stripped and cleaned all the while ensuring there are no kinks, loops, cuts, or abrasions to your line, leader, or connections. This will guarantee you a clean, fresh spool for the next season and don’t forget to keep your drag dialed back when storing. Rods should be wiped down with light soap and warm water solution removing any mud and ensuring your ferrules, guides, and cork are all in good condition as well. Give your waders and boots a good wash also and then hang them in a cool dry place to store. All of these tips will help to lengthen the life of your gear and keep you smelling halfway decent next season too.

4. Research New Watersheds
Another great way to dream of the next season and the wonderful fish to be caught is to research new watersheds and try to begin mapping out the next season. There are many wonderful tools available for use like the PFBC ArcGIS trout maps which can show Class A, natural reproduction, special regulation, and stocked streams as well as the percentage of land that is public. This map coupled with Google maps can be an extremely powerful tool to show you new areas in our beautiful state that you have yet to explore which will hold gorgeous trout as well! These maps can also be printed out at any scale so you can highlight them and make field maps for when you do end up going out into the wild. Another great source of information is the trout location literature written over the years such as “Keystone Fly Fishing” or “Trout Streams of Pennsylvania”. These two books alone coupled with the previously mentioned maps can help nail down where and when you want to fish next season. In some cases, they can even tell you what hatch you’ll be fishing to and who will be answering on the other end of the line. Another challenge is to research 5 new streams or watersheds that you want to fish with one of them being out of state. Exploring new watersheds can be a boom or bust scenario but half of the fun in fly fishing is the exploration and the things you find along the way!

5. Pick Up a Creative Hobby
This winter may be the year to pick up a new creative hobby like painting or photography. You could even tie it into fly fishing if you want. Some wonderful ideas to get you started are wood carvings, woodworking, starting a sketchbook, or maybe let out your inner Bob Ross. Remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and enjoying yourself in the process is essential!

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Wood Carved Trout by Member MathFish

6. Compile a Photo Book
Most of us take hundreds if not thousands of pictures over the course of the season ranging from memorable fish to gorgeous landscapes, and that funny picture you took of your fishing buddy at camp. Whether you choose to make a physical or digital book is up to you but compiling the photos with the date, location, and some memorable information will make for even better memories down the road. One of my favorite December activities is to look through all of the year’s albums and find the “Top 10” fish of the year. It’s always a nice flashback to that camping trip or the feeling you had landing that fish and somehow every year a friend makes the list with a photo of them landing their first fish. Do yourself a favor and print those ten photos out and keep them at your desk or toolbox and every time you see them you’ll smile!

7. Practice Casting Mechanics
Winter isn’t always harsh and on the days when it’s tolerable out but there’s no time to make it to a stream head outdoors and practice casting mechanics or casting accuracy. Practice makes perfect and if you get out a couple of days over winter to bust the rust off here and there you will notice the difference. On the days where it’s impossible to make it outdoors, a great exercise is a short-range bow and arrow casting practice. Set up multiple small food storage containers at varying distances and positions in the basement or garage. Make sure you have a couple with the difficulty factor turned up a notch (think overhanging obstructions, strange angle or positioning, etc.). The final challenge is over the season if able try and learn a new cast. Whether it be the bow and arrow, the reach, or any of the mid to upper level casts this is another skill set that will prove very useful next season and potentially net you that fish you’ve been looking for.

Hopefully, this list helped give you some fresh ideas for this winter or maybe got the creative juices of your own flowing. I know I’ll be trying to keep as busy as possible and spring will be here before we know it!

You can continue the conversation in the forum here.
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