A Trout For Every Month

One of the great things about trout fishing is that it is never out of season, no matter the time of year.

Recently, on a mild December afternoon, I drove to a local limestoner, and hooked into a few wild brown trout, as I often do when I need to escape the busyness of college life. However, the first trout I netted represented something a little more than the others. I had caught my December Trout, completing my goal of catching a trout in every month of 2015. This target was set back in January by myself and my good friend and fishing partner, Gordon. A modest goal for sure, but having just picked up the sport a handful of years ago, it represented my efforts to pursue trout with more regular dedication.

A beautiful Brown Trout from a local tributary of Spring Creek

My beautiful December Trout – a Brown Trout from a local tributary of Spring Creek.

Below I have briefly listed a few of my favorite fishing moments and memories from the year:

The singular trout that I will remember most from the year came on one of the more renowned streams east of the Mississippi. With prevalent private waters made popular by the likes of former Presidents Eisenhower and Carter, Spruce Creek holds a certain mystique to less-connected Central Pennsylvanian fishermen like myself. Just as the grass always seems greener on the other side, the fishing on posted waters always appears better! However, I do occasionally enjoy some good fishing for wild browns on a short, public access section on Spruce. As a bonus, sometimes a few of the large, private fish will find their way downstream to this stretch. One afternoon in early fall, as I was carefully dead-drifting a Hare’s Ear nymph through a short, deep run, I felt a solid tug and saw a wide body roll in response. Thankfully, Gordon was nearby to net my trophy, and take a few pictures for me!

A trout of any size is a pleasure to catch, but the bigger ones always make my heart race a little faster!

A trout of any size is a pleasure to catch, but the bigger ones always make my heart race a little faster!

My favorite stream that I fished in 2015 was certainly the Neversink River in southern New York. This is a stream that my friends and I have made an effort to hit at least once or twice each of the past few summers. Tumbling through the hills of the Catskills, the ‘Sink rushes through boulder strewn valleys, creating more pocketwater than you could ever cast a nymph into. The brown trout grow sleek and strong in the current and have a unique bronze hue to match the dark streambed. As a fly-fisher who covets the intimacy and delicacy of short-line nymphing, the Neversink comes as close to a fishing paradise as I have found so far.

A lively wild Brown from the Catskills. (photo credit: Wendell Baer)

A lively wild Brown from the Catskills. (photo credit: Wendell Baer)

Wendell making a cast into the Neversink

Wendell making a cast into the Neversink

This year was the first that I tied the majority of flies that I fished with. Although my flies are not close to the quality of store-bought ones, I have found great enjoyment in tying. The pride and (more frequently) disappointment of putting your own creations to the test on a trout stream has added to my investment in the sport. If any readers are on the fence about purchasing a vise and taking up tying, do it! I have found that it is a fantastic way to become familiar with the entomology that makes up a trout’s diet, without boring yourself with endless books on insects.

Once again, I am thankful to have friends and family that share my passion for chasing trout. Knowing that an afternoon or weekend fishing excursion is just a text away is very comforting while sitting in the classroom or office. Fishing with others continually re-teaches me many of the fundamentals I have forgotten, and makes me a better angler myself.

Jordan stalking wild Brook Trout on a tiny creek flowing into Lake Michigan we discovered during a family vacation.

Jordan stalking wild Brook Trout on a tiny creek flowing into Lake Michigan that we discovered during a family vacation.

Gordon releasing a wild Brookie on a stream in Northern Pennsylvania.

Gordon releasing a wild Brookie on a stream in Northern Pennsylvania.

I have spent more time fishing with family in 2015 than any other year as well, largely due to our Dad joining both of his sons in picking up a fly rod. Spending several days with my Dad and Jordan fishing the thick, tannic streams of the Upper Peninsula, Michigan is a fishing trip that I will never forget.

The Fox River, MI ~ Made famous by Ernest Hemingway's classic, "Big Two-Hearted River".

The Fox River, MI ~ Made famous by Ernest Hemingway’s classic, “Big Two-Hearted River”.

I am anxious to get 2016 underway, as Gordon and myself have a new challenge to pursue: to catch a trout in 20 new Pennsylvanian streams. I am very excited to see the fresh streams I will get to cast a line on! As always, there will be booming days, and some days will be busts. But that’s half the fun, isn’t it?

-Ethan

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