Last week we took a few days and headed down to Pennsylvania. We had a couple objectives in mind – to experience steelhead fishing on the Lake Erie tributaries and second, to revisit Lancaster County with its prevalent Amish traditions.
The steelhead idea was more mine but my wife humored me. This was all new to me and since this wasn’t specifically a fishing trip, I really wanted to see things for myself and maybe experience what it was like to catch a steelhead.
Thursday morning after breakfast we headed out from Erie to explore the creeks to the west of the city. First stop was Walnut Creek – specifically the lower portion near the lake. Since it was still early in the season, the water was relatively low and the fish had not advanced far upstream, the fishing was concentrated in this area. Nothing like I had experienced before but somehow people seemed to make it work.
The few holes were well fished and after watching a few steelhead landed and more than a few lost, we continued on towards Elk Creek.
It was a little calmer in this area but that might have been related to the fact that the fishing, according to some was slower on the Elk. After making not that this might be a spot where I could elbow in, we headed off to another spot on the Elk further upstream.
This was further upstream where the fishing didn’t seem to be as heavy but as we watched several fish were caught so evidently at least some steelhead had made it this far upstream. I made another mental note to consider this spot for myself and did return here later in the afternoon. I was able to work myself into a spot on the pool in the last photograph alongside a guy with spinning gear who evidently new how to fish. I watched him land three nice steelhead in fairly rapid succession. I chose to work a streamer through the area as the local fly shop owner had indicated they were working and this was a technique I could relate to. Probably it was luck rather than my streamer experience but eventually I did hook into a steelhead and eventually land and release him. It was probably in the 24 inch range but what a spectular looking fish and powerful. Although I tried, there was no repeat and as the late afternoon wore on, I was becoming acutely aware that the layers of clothing I had applied were not sufficient to hold out the cold so I packed it in with the goal of returning the following morning.
Friday morning I was up before sunrise hoping to experience the pull of another steelhead before we headed southeast to Lancaster. I arrived at the parking spot in the dark to find at least half a dozen vehicles ahead of me and most of their occupants were gone – presumably ahead of me to the river. Oh well – I prepared as rapidly as I could and aside from tying a fly onto my line in the receding darkness, things went pretty smoothly. I found a spot on the water amidst several other fisherman and although I saw one hook up shortly after sunrise, things were definately slower than the day before. Slow for me meant no hits and no fish. The morning fishing ended early.
Friday morning we headed down to Lancaster County for a few days. Although I managed a couple hours fishing on the Tulpehocken River Saturday morning, the rest of the trip was touring and shopping. The Tuplehocken is an interesting river. It was late in the season but I found trout rising to Tricos but didn’t have any success in enticing them to bite.
Lancaster County is home to a large Amish population whose lifestyle is clearly evident as you tour the rural countryside. Sunday morning we toured the backgrounds looking for covered bridges and of course numbers horse and buggies.
Pine Grove covered bridge is the only double-span, double-arch bridge in the county. It was first built in 1816 and then rebuilt in 1846 and 1884 after flood damage.
All together a great road trip.