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Fly Fishing in Pennsylvania

Joan Matsui Fly Fisher Travel Writer

On the Water in Northeastern Pennsylvania

A Fly-Fishing Journal by Joan Matsui Travel Writer

Fly-Fishing in Pennsylvania is a weekly summer journal that highlights my most recent efforts to learn to fly fish.

Fly fishing became one of my all-time favorite hobbies about eight years ago after my brother died. He was an avid fisherman and fly fishing brought me comfort and helped with the grieving process. Is my brother making fun of me and criticizing my cast? I’m sure he is.

The most successful anglers I know told me that fly fishing is a life-long learning process. Fly-Fishing Weekly brings you a mix of the best-of and not-so-good days on the water.

Patience is as important as skill. Fly-fishing in Pennsylvania sheds a positive light on the sport. Follow my journey here every week during the summer for tales from the water.

Several years ago, I met a seasoned angler, Jim, while I was wading in the Delaware River. Jim has fished since he was a child. I whined a bit to him that day. Afterward, I was embarrassed because I know not everyone catches fish every time but I needed to let go of my negative emotions so I could move on to a more positive attitude. Letting go was one way to remove my mental barriers.

I didn’t catch anything today, I told him.

His reply, “There are weeks when I don’t catch a fish. It’s not always a particular technique that dictates if you catch a fish. Water temperature and water level play a major role in whether the fish are biting or not. And of course, you also need to consider the fly you’re using.”

He’s correct, at least as far as I can tell. Overall, my technique has immensely improved thanks to practice, an Orvis Fly-Fishing 101 class, and guidance from my fishing friends. Almost eight years into fly fishing, I can roll cast and select a fly that’s somewhat palatable to the fish. That’s a definite improvement.

Hot summer days are problematic. Wading in cool water is a fisher’s delight but the trout, notably a cold water species don’t agree.

The last time I was out on the water – yesterday – fish were rising but unfortunately, did not take any of the flies I threw out. I began with a small nymph and three to four minutes later, I discovered my hook was caught on an underwater branch or it was stuck to the side of a rock. After breaking the line free, I noticed my fly was gone.

When in doubt, I resort to my favorite flies, an elk-hair caddis pattern or a blue-winged olive. Woolly Buggers are an option but they tend to plop, rather than quietly land on the water. I’m working on casting streamers.

Joan Matsui Fly Fisher Travel Writer
Spring is my favorite time of year to fly fish for trout. This day was a combined fly fishing and photography trip.

Two weeks ago, I brought my oldest son along on a two-hour evening trip to the Lackawanna River, a tributary to the mighty Susquehanna River. The water level had dropped significantly from last week but fishing conditions were nearly perfect. NO FISH!

Typically, by the end of June, the water temperature rises as the rainy days of June disappear. Fly fishing in Pennsylvania is challenging to say the least. Here we are in July, the hottest and most humid month of the year in Northeastern Pennsylvania, with a jump in our air temps to 85 to 90 degrees for several days at a time.

Joan Matsui Travel Writer Fly Fishing
The pensive look while hoping at least one trout would take the fly. Northeastern Pennsylvania has some outstanding streams and rivers.

Today, my friend Amy and I met along the Lackawanna River. Amy arrived about an hour before me and had already moved upstream from where we planned to meet. She caught three or four fish in an hour but by 10 a.m., the sun was bright and only a few shaded areas remained along the banks. We were optimistic we’d see some fish rise and we did but again, they weren’t interested in our flies. Once Amy and I commence with fishing, we don’t want to stop.

We ended our afternoon perhaps a bit discouraged but the diehard angler never completely gives in to frustration. After all, there are six more days this week.

Fly fishing in Pennsylvania is as much about learning where to fish as it is about technique. Plan your trip with this guide to Pennsylvania waterways. Find the best places to fly fish.

Happy fishing to you!

Learn to fly fish with Orvis Fly-Fishing 101 certified instructors.

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Fly-Fishing Family Story

  • By
  • March 8, 2019
  • Sticky
Down By The River

An Interview With Andrew Weiner, Author

When is the best time to teach your children and grandchildren to fly fish?

Fly-Fishing Family Story answers this question – ANYTIME your child expresses an interest.

Read my interview with Andrew Weiner, the author of “DOWN BY THE RIVER, A Family Fly Fishing Story.” Andrew crafted the perfect Young Reader tale about one family’s fly-fishing trip.

“Art,” the main character watches and listens as trout dart by in the riverbed as his mother, perhaps, unknowingly, demonstrates her perfect cast. Meanwhile, Grandpa tells stories about fishing and family that enhance an already perfect day.

DOWN BY THE RIVER CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOK ANDREW WEINER
Andrew Weiner learned to fish at a very young age. His life-long love of fishing eventually led him to author “DOWN BY THE RIVER: A Family Fly Fishing Story.”
A few weeks ago, Andrew reached out to me to introduce his book “DOWN BY THE RIVER: A Family Fly Fishing Story.”

What led him to create DOWN BY THE RIVER? He explains in our interview.

How closely do the characters relate to your evolution as an angler?

They don’t specifically. I grew up in NY originally, and we would take family vacations to Maine, staying in a cabin at The Five Kezar Lakes in North Waterford. We would fish every day as a family–my dad, mom, and two sisters. It wasn’t fly fishing. When we moved to California my father and I continued fishing–deep-sea fishing and some lake fishing, and then eventually some stream fishing as well. I didn’t start fly fishing until probably the early ’90s, and though I continued fishing with my dad until a few years ago, until about two years before he died in 2017, we only fly fished together once. The story evolved from when I first started writing it 15 years ago, where it was a boy who wanted to go fish with his parents, to a story about fishing with his mom and grandfather. Part of what has generated so much support for the book is the mother being such an important part of the story as an angler. Orvis’s #5050onthewater movement coincided with the lead up to publication. Women fly anglers, particularly on Instagram, have been huge fans and promoters of the book.

What led you to tell this particular story?

It was a combination of things. Part of it is my love of fly fishing, part of it is my love for children’s books. I’ve worked in publishing since 1977, and even four years prior when I worked at the local public library during my last two years of high school. I also felt that there was an opportunity to engage kids in the sport and the outdoors and conservation through the story. The story evolved from what I described above, but it was my editor Susan Van Metre who helped craft it into a publishable story. Funny story–today is International Women’s Day, and last year I posted a photo of myself with my two sisters in a boat in Maine. I mentioned where we were and Susan saw the post, and it ends up that it’s where she goes fishing with her family now. It was meant to be.

To what extent is this sport a part of your life?

I am passionate about the sport and the places it takes me. Basically, all of my vacations for the last 20 years or so have either been fully focused on fly fishing or have at least had a small opportunity to fish. It has been interesting to reach out via Instagram and Linkedin to the fly fishing community. After years of being part of the publishing community, it’s been rewarding to become a member of the fly fishing world, known and appreciated by many folks because of the book and my commitment to the sport and conservation.

What do you hope young readers will learn from your book?

Several things. First is the joy of actually fishing and catching a fish. Second is how wonderful it is to share the activity with family and loved ones. The third is the value of the places where we fish and the importance of preserving those places across the generations. My ex-wife’s sister-in-law is a teacher and she shared the book with her second-grade class, and then they all did a project answering her questions about the book. One question was what is the lesson of the book, or what they most got out of it, and so many of them talked about Art not giving up after he didn’t catch a fish right away, so I guess that’s something kids will learn from the book, too.

Did you know the book would follow a particular format/plan?

I did have a clear view of the format of the book as a picture book, and even did a version of the text with suggested illustrations. Susan told me I should just let April Chu (I was so lucky she agreed to do the book) have her way with the illustrations, and the fact is it came out almost exactly as I’d anticipated. I did always plan to have the informational backmatter. It’s something that is common in Abrams kids picture books that adds value and depth. The flies on the endpapers grew from the original concept. I gave April 24 critical flies, but she got so engaged that she ended up with almost 80 unique flies in the front and back.

Author "Down By The River"Andrew Weiner
Andrew Weiner holding “Down By The River” in At City Lights bookstore

What role does conservation play in your life and how can we teach children to responsibly enjoy our natural resources?

I’m deeply committed to conservation. These are very difficult times with so many critical environmental regulations being obliterated. I think kids being in the outdoors is vital to the conservation and environmental movements, and I’m heartened by how many are already active. I support a couple of dozen environmental organizations myself. It’s one of the most important issues for me. Bottom line–getting kids into nature will make them stewards themselves.

Author "Down By The River"Andrew Weiner
“Down By The River” author Andrew Weiner

Author Bio

Andrew Weiner is a longtime publishing professional and an avid fly-fisher. He lives in Albany, California.

Buy a Copy – Down By the River

 

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