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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 Friday

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  • June 14, 2019
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Fly Fishing Friday Joan Matsui Travel Writer

Adventures on the Water

Weekly Summer Fly-Fishing Journal

Fly-Fishing Friday is a weekly summer journal.

Not every Friday am I able to end my work week midday but when time allows and the weather cooperates, I break loose from my laptop around 3 p.m. to fly fish. Sometimes, I might get away earlier. Fly-Fishing Friday reminds you to spend more time outdoors.

Fly Fishing is one of my all-time favorite hobbies. Give me a day without rain and I’ll head to one of our local rivers or streams for a few hours. Chances are I’ll lose track of time while I’m focusing on my casting or soaking in the sunshine. We have an abundance of pristine water and in Northeastern Pennsylvania and therefore, why waste a spectacular day?

We had a wet start to our spring with record precipitation but they gave way to one of the best summers we’ve had in years. In fact, many of the days without rain have been sunny and beautiful with ample water in our streams.

Today is one of those days when nature beckons me to spend time wading and foraging for trout. The local creek is an ideal close-to-home retreat and particularly after the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission stocks it with trout in April.

Let’s begin with last weekend. I strayed from my usual fishing hole to another one that’s located at the confluence of two creeks. I caught a fish in the pool a few weeks ago but last week was a no-show. Not one trout rose to the surface even with a dense hatch around 7 p.m.

Do you agree fishing isn’t always synonymous with the number of fish you catch?

I’d love to know your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment.

Perhaps, you also take the time to notice and appreciate your surroundings. If not, stop fishing for a moment and listen to the sounds of water as it runs over rocks and watch the birds flying overhead.

This year was outstanding. I’ve caught (and released) more trout since opening day than I expected. That’s the beauty of fly fishing. Seeing a trout rise to take a dry fly is what attracted me to fly fishing.

Learn more about the Lackawanna River here.

Let me know your favorite creek, river, or lake or share your fishing tips with my readers.

Enjoy your weekend wherever you live.

Joan Mead-Matsui

You’ll also enjoy https://joanmatsuitravelwriter.com/salmon-river-fly-fishing-tales/.

Fly-Fishing Friday with Joan Matsui Travel Writer
Fly fishing is the ideal way to usher out a busy work week.

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Fly-Fishing Free Classes

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  • April 17, 2019
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Orvis Free Fly Fishing 101 classes

Fly-Fishing 101 Taught by Orvis Certified Instructors.

Orvis Free Fly Fishing 101 classes
Register for fly-fishing free classes at your local Orvis shop. Fly Fishing 101 is the perfect way to learn to fly fish. Orvis’ certified instructors will teach you everything you need to know for your first day on the water.

CAUTION: FLY FISHING IS ADDICTIVE.

Fly-Fishing free classes await you. Spring is the perfect time to recharge your love for nature. Learn to fly fish at an Orvis store near you in the spring and you’ll be ready for your first adventure.

Have you dreamed of discovering a new hobby that will allow you to spend more of your free time outdoors? If you feel antsy from the long-term effects of being cooped up all winter a trip to your nearest Orvis store can help.

Shop with Confidence

Believe me — learning fly-fishing fundamentals and buying fly-fishing gear is as much fun as shopping for designer shoes. You could literally spend hours in pursuit of the perfect waders, wading boots, a vest, fly rod and reel combo, and a selection of flies.

Retail Guidance

The free Fly Fishing 101 course focuses on teaching you fly-fishing basics but you’ll also receive “retail” guidance. You’ll have everything you need to wade with confidence and possibly catch a fish on your first day out. so when you’re ready to venture to the water’s edge, I’ve already put to work the skills I learned at a free Fly Fishing 101 class at the Orvis Manchester, VT flagship store.

Use this link to shop for fly fishing gear.

Orvis

Orvis Fly Fishing 101 classes attract more than 15,000 participants each year. Men, women, and families flock to the spring classes offered at many Orvis retail outlets throughout the world.

Join the fun at your local Orvis retail store. Certified and experienced instructors teach fly-fishing fundamentals like knot tying, casting and reeling in your catch. Rest assured, you’ll leave the class with the skills you need and equipment that’s right for you.

The Family That Fishes Together…

Orvis instructors can help prepare you and your whole family for a day of fly-fishing fun. Imagine spending time together on the water. Learn how to cast, tie knots, select equipment, and protect the environment through responsible fishing.

Share Your Love for Fly Fishing

All ages are welcome to take the free Fly Fishing 101 class but children
under 16-years-old must be accompanied by an adult, so why not share your interests and bring your whole family. Most importantly, teach your children to respect and preserve our natural resources while you’re on the water. Show them why our waterways and fish are so important to the environment. A river or stream is an ideal mobile classroom for you to demonstrate stewardship.

Orvis offered its first Fly Fishing 101 class 10 years ago and to celebrate the milestone, Orvis will donate $1 to Casting for Recovery® for every student who attends a 101 class this year.

Participants receive special in-store offers they can use towards the purchase of Orvis equipment and a Free Trout Unlimited membership. ($35 value). Take a moment to watch an Orvis Fly Fishing 101 instructor teach our group to tie one of the most commonly used knots.

Learn fly-fishing basics at your local Orvis store. Classes are held on Saturday during the spring.

Register in advance to reserve your seat. Visit https://www.orvis.com/flyfishing101 to find a class near you.

Do you want to learn more about fly fishing? Read more here and be sure to click on the Orvis product links for savings and coupons.

Disclaimer:

My trip was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my own experience.

DISCLOSURE:

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase but at no additional cost to you. Above all, I recommend the product based on their helpful and useful nature, and not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.

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Fly Fishing events Fly Fishing Retreats Lifestyle Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited activities Women's Fly Fishing Retreats

Fly Fishing: Sharing Ties

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  • October 24, 2018
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Women's Fly Fishing Retreat Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Women’s Initiative Leadership Retreat

Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited
“Sharing Ties – PA Women’s Initiative Leadership Retreat” brought women from Trout Unlimited chapters throughout Pennsylvania for the first annual retreat. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission partnered with PA Council of Trout Unlimited to organize the inaugural retreat held at GodSpeed Hostel, Port Matilda, PA on April 20, 21, and 22. PA Council of Trout Unlimited financed the event.

The “Sharing Ties – PA Women’s Initiative Leadership Retreat” resulted in such positive reviews from participants that plans are underway for the second annual retreat, says Amidea Daniel, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Youth and Women’s Program coordinator and Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited Women and Diversity Initiative Committee co-chair.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission partnered with PA Council of Trout Unlimited to organize the inaugural retreat held at GodSpeed Hostel, Port Matilda, PA on April 20, 21, and 22. PA Council of Trout Unlimited financed the event. 

Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited Women's Initiative
The retreat was so successful, plans are underway for the 2019 retreat.

Daniel said, among the participants’ comments she heard throughout the weekend were, “Loved seeing more women connecting and working together to get more diverse audiences on the water,”  “Enjoyed connecting with Heather Hodson from WA via Skype – her ideas and enthusiasm are contagious,” and “Looking forward to next year’s retreat to see what everyone implemented in 2018.” 

Daniel and Kelly Williams planned the retreat with the assistance of a steering committee made up of “energetic, passionate, and determined women” according to Daniel.

Trout Fly Fishing
Amidea Daniel hands out door prizes at an evening event held in conjunction with the retreat.

Together, they set the stage for 25 women from 13 TU chapters and 16 counties and other organizations across Pennsylvania to network, share ideas, and work together on ways to help connect more ladies to PA’s waterways through conservation projects, fishing and outreach programs. Participants identified and shared resources and ideas for new programs and events aimed at increasing future engagement among members.

“Icebreakers;” break-out sessions; the Costa SLAM Film Event; art; project and idea-sharing; fishing; casting; discussing barriers and solutions to implement programs; and a guest appearance by Washington State’s Women’s Initiative Ambassador, Heather Hodson, via Skype were among the activities offered throughout the weekend.  

Daniel said she was impressed by the enthusiasm and excitement she witnessed during the introductions during the opening session.

PA Women Anglers
Leadership is one of the goals of the Pennsylvania (PA) Trout Unlimited Women’s initiative and a topic that was discussed in details at the large and small-group breakout sessions.

“Many of the women expressed excitement when they saw so many other ladies interested in connecting to Pennsylvania resources through fishing or conservation programs,” Daniel noted. “When they introduced themselves each person began to realize they are not alone in trying to get more diverse audiences interested not only in fishing but also protecting the resources we all enjoy.”

The less experienced and beginner anglers soon found mentors among the group members. Daniel said, “The few that were new to fly fishing were quickly taken under the wings of women who had experience. Lots of ideas and experiences were shared.”

Women Fly Fishing
Rachel Grube is new to fly fishing and enjoyed the camaraderie. The fly-fishing skill level ranged from beginner to advanced.

Rachael E. Grube, a Watershed/GIS specialist with the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation and a beginner fly angler, was inspired by the passion so many of the women she met had for fishing and aquatic ecosystem conservation.

“Every woman there had a different story about how she became interested in Trout Unlimited or conservation in general, and I think knowing the reasons why a woman might decide to get involved is a key factor when targeting women as new members or volunteers,” Grube said via an email interview. “Everyone had new ideas about how to get even more women involved in fishing and aquatic conservation. Sometimes working in conservation can be discouraging, but hearing details about successful programs and events will allow me to plan future conservation programs more strategically.”

Check water temperature
Conservation and responsible fishing practices were on the agenda. During one of the breaks, members had a chance to fish in the nearby stream.
Trout Water Best Temperature
Before fishing, a simple test revealed the water was at the perfect temperature.
Trout Fly Fishing
Door prizes brought smiles to the participants’ faces.           
Fly-Fishing Retreat Door Prizes
Door prizes ranged from hats to gift certificates for guided fly-fishing trips.

Joan Mead-Matsui is an award-winning freelance journalist; travel writer, photographer, and fly-angler from Clarks Summit, PA. She discovered her love for fly fishing five years ago and covers her adventures on her website joanmatsuitravelwriter.com and several publications.  

Learn more about PA Trout Unlimited.

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