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Driving to Limestone Spring Preserve in Pennsylvania gave me time to think what I was getting into.  Fishing spring waters, stocked with rainbow trout.  Was it going to be a bummer, just casting my line and catching trout endlessly or was it going to be fun trout fishing?  When I first arrived, I saw numerous concrete troughs that contained many sizes of trout. I thought this is not what I planned on.  As I got further onto the property, I saw the flowing spring-fed streams.  Each stream was about 40 – 60 feet wide with small rapids and pools.  The two streams joined after about 3/4 mile.  

Flyfishing a Pennsylvania Preserve

I put together my Douglas Sky Fly Rod (6 wt.) and Hardy reel, 3 wt. tippet and cast my first fly in a small pooling area just after the rapids.  I saw through my Cocoons glasses several good-sized trout lurking headfirst into the flow of water from the rapids.  So I cast upstream just above the rapids and let the fly flow to them.  The trout made a slight move to the fly as it went by, but no takers.  

After several attempts, I changed flies and attempted several times.  Again, no takers. I moved downstream to another area in the shade with some overhang.   Again, I cast upstream allowing the fly to flow over the rapids into the pooled area and got a hit.  He spit it out before I could set the hook.  That happened several more times, so I moved downstream to where the stream joined and started to fish that area. 

There was a larger pool of water after the rapids that then went into an area with vegetation on the bottom and the pooled water deeper than before. 

Changed to Woolly Bugger

I changed to my woolly bugger and cast upstream over the rapids,  The woolly bugger fly worked its way through the water.  I did a slow retrieval to allow the fly to sink into the water. And waited up to 2 to 3 seconds and then again retrieved the line.  It gave the fly a harmonic motion.  As the fly was entering the underwater vegetation I let it sink about 8 inches and let it settle for a couple seconds and then, boom, a strike.  At first, I thought I snagged the bottom or hit and snagged the vegetation.  I retrieved the line with a forceful motion and it bent my fly rod beyond whatever I saw before.  I thought I got one.  He started to swim into the vegetation and I slowly started to retrieve the line, not wanting to lose him or break the line.  At that point, while retrieving slowly, he was fighting and jumped out of the water. What a monster!  After about 4 or 5 minutes, I was able to land him onshore where he didn’t fit into the net. What a beautiful rainbow trout weighing 5 lbs. 4 oz.  

Over the next day of fly fishing, I caught five more trout, each about 1 ½ lbs. and each a challenge.  I know this is not like fly fishing for native trout in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Arctic Char in Russia or Brownies in western rivers, but it was a challenge and a lot of fun.        

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