UPDATE: I’m fairly certain after much thought and investigation that the fish below are simply holdover stocked fish. One of the difficult things I run into with fishing for large brook trout in Pennsylvania is that we have a wide variety of stocked fish appearance. It seems like trout stocked from one hatchery will look quite a bit different from those stocked from another. There is also the issue of interbreeding between wild trout and stocked trout. Regardless, I can’t be certain that any of these brook trout are wild. They certainly do exhibit some signs of being stocked. They also exhibit some wild traits. In my opinion, it’s likely that they’re either holdover, stocked as fingerlings, or stream bred crosses between wild and stocked.
In a recent post: It’s the Food! I show several different brook trout caught from this stream. There is a clear difference between the fish in terms of appearance.
It’s not very often that you beat your personal best twice in the same day. That’s just what happened to me yesterday.
This fish measured 13-1/2″ long and beats my previous PB by a full 2″. What is insane is that just before this fish, I caught a slightly smaller 12-1/2″ long fish!
These fish were caught a few yards apart! The 2nd photo WAS my personal best until a few casts later when the larger fish took. What gets me really excited is that I moved an absolute tank of a brook trout. I’m guessing the fish was 19″ or so. That is the class fish that I’m on the hunt for. Not to discredit the fish above, but a 19″ 2lb brook trout is a true unicorn in Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia.
These fish are all 100% wild fish. I know this because, while they do stock brook trout in this particular stream, all of the stocked fish have clipped fins. Additionally, the brook trout in this stream have a very distinct look. No hatchery fish has spot patterns like the wild fish in this stream.
Notice that the yellow spotting is pretty sparsely arranged. The fish in this stream tend to have very pronounced halo spots as well, and a lot of them. Their smoky dusting is unique as well. You can see that their belly outlines are somewhat pronounced relative to a lot of other fish as well.
As a bit of a disclaimer, this stream is somewhat out of the norm for Pennsylvania. Given it’s food supply and year round water conditions, it is obviously the #1 choice in PA for big brook trout. That said, it is by far the most difficult stream to fish that I’m aware of. Much is said about the difficulty of the Letort and a few other streams in PA notorious for being tough to fly fish. In my experience, this stream takes the cake. Hands down.
I discovered a few tricks over the last few outings on this stream. It’s taken me years to discover how to fish here. I did extremely well yesterday fishing here, and it’s beyond satisfying to hatch a game plan, execute it and have it work. Armed with this knowledge, I’ll be returning later in the year before the spawn to try to get some unicorns in full color.
In addition to the time delay to let them color up, I also had the unfortunate experience of having a brand new pair of waders fail. I had bought a pair of Orvis Ultralight Waders back near the end of April. I guess I logged maybe 2 dozen trips on these waders since then. Unfortunately, they’re 11 days out of the 60 day return/replace window. Orvis wouldn’t replace them, even though they’re so close to the return window, but they are going to do an expedited repair and waive the repair fee. Even still, I’ll be looking at early September if I’m lucky (it’s the end of July currently).
This was a huge bummer on an otherwise excellent day. I’m trying to make lemonade though, and plan on using this time to pursue another brook trout fishery. In my research and constant obsessing over brook trout in Pennsylvania, I discovered a body of water that produced what may have been a new state record brook trout. This is a VERY unconventional brook trout fishery. The state has been stocking fingerling brook trout there for years, and there is a local club that stocks adult brookies. While this may not result in a true, wild brook trout, it may be an opportunity to pursue giant brookies in PA in the same manor they’re fished for up north. More on that later.