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South Williamsport, PA
United States

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Rising Stockies

When you spend as much time on the water as I do. You will always catch a few. And while some days are certainly better than others. You occasionally have that once in a lifetime experience. But these little episodes are extremely rare. I can count them with my fingers. This past Sunday I was

When you spend as much time on the water as I do. You will always catch a few. And while some days are certainly better than others. You occasionally have that once in a lifetime experience. But these little episodes are extremely rare. I can count them with my fingers.

This past Sunday I was out on the water. I was fishing one of my favorite stretches near the homestead. I know the area quite well and I am amazed how it constantly produces. This run isn’t near a major stocking point. But the trout always gather in large numbers a few weeks after the opener. I always encourage my friends to find the “good spots” on a river or stream. Fish are always on the move and they will eventually migrate to these pools.

Stocked fish will sometimes get a bad rap. I have learned to appreciate them, and they are what I target. These trout spend their earlier years in a nursery. Once they get to a desired size they are released. Stocked fish will likely head downstream until they find some cover. They are in search of slower moving water. Remember swimming upstream or battling the current isn’t something a stocked fish is used to. But where do they go? The state of PA and many others have entertained this topic. Several studies show that a Rainbow will leave their initial posts after three days. One radio tagged Bow swam an incredible 123 miles from their entry just 16 days after stocking. Browns will hang out a little longer. They will likely move after seven.

The changes in diets of these critters is truly amazing. They are raised on pellets that are full of nutrients. But stocked fish quickly learn to adapt and begin finding natural food almost immediately. And after a few weeks in the stream their diets will make a complete 180. Early in the season, stocked trout pay little attention to what’s floating by. They will only take the worms, minnows, power bait and salmon eggs the weekend warriors will throw at them. But then all of the sudden, a light switches, and the stocked trout will start to feed solely on bugs. It is quite incredible. What triggers this response?

I made a few casts in my favorite spot. I was bouncing a green Peeping Caddis off of the bottom. This is my go to nymph on Lycoming Creek. The water was up, and it was starting to rain. I fished for a good fifteen minutes to no avail. I was considering packing up and heading home. But all of the sudden I noticed a few splashes directly in front. I looked at the water that was now bubbling. There was a major hatch and the fish immediately started rising. These little brown bugs were absolutely everywhere. Sip after sip. It was intense. There must have been at least 50 trout actively feeding.

Thankfully I had a few #14 Red Quills in my box. I quickly changed the current setup. I was no longer fishing below the surface. I was going to try my luck on top. I made a good cast to where I saw a few that were feeding. The rain was starting to pick up but so was this frenzy. I made a slight twitch and bang. I managed to hook my first on dry fly this season. It was a healthy stocked fish with superb coloring. I took a quick photo and released her. Second cast. Bang. The same result. This one was a little smaller but fought extra hard. Third cast. Boom. This was madness. Another healthy fish. Bugs were still in abundance. I didn’t mind the rain as I was catching. Fourth cast. Damn. I hooked a tree behind me. Oh no. What a mess. I had to start all over. I frantically tried to get back on the water. Another cast. Whack. I was on fire. I even tried left-handed.

This madness continued and I literally stopped counting. I have never seen so many bugs on the water. Hundreds of trout actively feeding. All of them were right in front of me. It was a major hatch that I was very fortunate to witness. I felt good about life and I might have finally figured this bug chucking thing out. I was out of cell service, so I drove down the road to make a few calls. I reached out to Jensen who was chilling at home. I told him to grab his gear and I was on my way to pick him up. We arrived at the scene some fifteen minutes later. Same spot. But nothing. The bugs were gone, and the fish disappeared. Jensen and I tried our luck, and both threw several casts. Nothing. Not even a splash. YOU LIED TO ME DAD. I felt terrible. I was only hoping he could witness.

I reached out to several of my chums later that evening. Some were also on the water and had the very same experience. A few mentioned that it was indeed a HENDRICKSON hatch. One of the most prolific in recent memories. They too absolutely slayed them from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Then it stopped. Like clockwork. Unbelievable. What an amazing afternoon of fishing. One of the best I have EVER had. Cheers.

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