Last weekend I had the pleasure of spending a day on the Little Juniata, or "Little J" as said by the locals chasing wild Trout. I have been looking forward to this trip for some time as I was to be spending the day with my buddy Eric Stroup. Eric is the owner of Stroup Fly Fishing, a full service guiding operation located in the quaint little town of Troy, Pennsylvania. The plan was for me to leave my house early Saturday morning and make the 3 & 1/2 hour drive North West and meet Eric at his Gorge View Lodge. We would meet and fish the day, I would spend the night in the lodge and drive home Sunday morning. The ride out was uneventful as it was dark the entire way (I left my house at 3:45 am) and the only sounds were the songs coming out of my I-Pod and the occasional prompt from Siri telling me which route to follow.
I arrived at the lodge at about 7:45 after a stop at one of the coolest little diners I have ever been in. It was about 5:45 in the morning and I was ready for breakfast. I decided to stop at the next place I saw where I could get something to eat. Well, it turns out that place was Yetters Restaurant. At quarter of six in the morning the parking lot was full. I figured this must be a good place so I pulled in. The place was full of older gentleman, all with camouflage hats and work clothes on. Obviously these guys must meet here every day, because they all knew each other and the conversations moved from table to table. Everything from the Pirates are playing good ball (it took me a minute to realize I was closer to Pittsburgh than Philly) to politics, to what was going on this weekend. Each time somebody walked in it was like the scene from the TV show "Cheers" when the character played by George Went walked in the bar and everybody would yell "Norm" Everybody knows everybody and it was fun to be a part of their group if only for 20 minutes.
As mentioned I got to the lodge at about 7:45 and had a little time to look around. The lodge is absolutely beautiful! Rustic on the outside with a view of the mountains in the distance. Crab Apple and Pear trees in the front yard make for good Deer snacks as there were several in the yard later that night and when I got up the next morning. As cool as the outside looks the inside is even better. 10 beds, 2 full kitchens, 2 bathrooms, a huge deck, washer / dryer, fly tying station and just the right amount of fishing decor to make you feel at home. I wish I had remembered to take pictures of the inside. I will make it a point to to take some the next time I am there, and trust me, there will be a next time.
This trip was for me to work on my "Tight Line" nymphing techniques. I wanted to get polished up, shoot some video and get ready for the Irish Flies Nymph Fishing Seminar. We met up at around 8:00, talked for a bit and after a tour of the lodge we headed out to the river.
The Little "J"
The Little J is a tributary of the Juniata River in the Susquehanna River basin. Classified as Class "A", the Little J holds a healthy population of Wild Brown Trout. The regulations on the 14+ mile section we were fishing are all tackle, catch and release only. Similar in size to the main stem of our White Clay. A true Central Pennsylvania limestone river, the rivers beauty is matched only by its diverse bug activity. I fished Penn's earlier in the Spring and the Little J in the fall. I can absolutely see why true Trout nut's relocate to this area!
We fished the morning with Eric doing as much instruction as I did fishing. We didn't have much success as far as fish go, but I learned more in that first 3 hours than I have learned on a river in a long time. I think people sometime get lost in the "numbers" of our sport and don't realize guided fishing trips are not only about how many fish you catch, but how much your guide can teach you so you can catch fish EVERY day thereafter.
We had worked a ton of pocket water hard without moving a fish, it was around 11:30, the biscuits and gravy I had for breakfast was working overtime in my gut, so when Eric said "lets get the hell outta here and get some lunch" he didn't get any objections from me!
After lunch we headed to a different section of river. I asked Eric to take a rod with him in the afternoon as I wanted to watch him fish. Artistry on the water is the only way I can describe it. I stood behind him for about 10 minutes and watched Eric systematically tight line a run. No fish were hooked, but to see how it is supposed to be done really hit home with me. Every seam, pocket, and current line was giving at least two drifts. No movement was wasted as I watched him stalk through the run. One thing that really surprised me was the accuracy of the casting. Eric spent a while showing me his version of the Tuck Cast, the secret of good Nymphing. It took me a little while, but by the end I think I was getting it. We were 1/2 way through the afternoon when the first fish was landed, an absolutely beautiful 13" wild brown. Ever the optimist (a quality all guides must have IMO) Eric kept saying "we are gonna find em, sooner or later we are gonna find em"
He was right! The quality of fish in this river is amazing! As you spend more time on the water certain days or trips stand out in our memories. The day I got my first brown over 20", the day my brother got the big rainbow up at the camp, the day we flipped the canoe in the Brandywine. All of these trips stand out for one reason or another. I am sure in time this trip will carve out a spot in my mind. It was an awesome day and I was very fortunate that everything came together!
October Bronze & Brown
Throughout the day Eric was telling me about a promotion he was working on for the month of October. Bronze & Brown is a special for 2 anglers consisting of a day fishing the little J for trout, a day in the drift boat on the big J for Smallmouth and one night Lodging in the Gorge View lodge. Streamside lunch and all tackle are provided. This is a great way to cash in on two of this areas best fishing opportunities. If you would like to book a trip feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Eric directly at email@example.com or call (814)505-4568. If you have ever thought about fishing this area check Eric's operation out, you will be glad you did!
If you want to expand your knowledge about Nymph fishing click here and register for the Irish Flies Nymph Fishing Seminar. If you want to expand your horizons and fish some of Central Pennsylvania's fabled Limestone rivers click here and check out Eric Stroup Flyfishing. You can't go wrong ether way. Till Next time...