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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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Bolete Bethlehem: Outstanding Dining

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  • April 17, 2019
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Bolete Dinner

Indulge In Unhurried Dining

Bolete James Beard Foundation Semifinalist Nominee for "Outstanding Restaurant."
Chef Lee combines mushrooms, herbs, and spices to many of his menu items. The result is a memorable meal you won’t soon forget.
It’s no secret why Bolete Bethlehem draws crowds. An outstanding menu and a romantic atmosphere make this an ideal dining spot for guests who want to relax. It’s time for you to carve out time from your hurried life to experience this James Beard Foundation semifinalist nominee for “Outstanding Restaurant.”

Bolete Bethlehem ranks HIGH on my list of all-time favorite restaurants.

In the kitchen of a former stagecoach inn, Chef Lee Chizmar gets down to business preparing stocks, pasta, and sauces and planning his daily menu. The chef and his team prepare everything on-site and that personal touch is reflected in every morsel that appears on your plate.

View the menu here.

If you live in the Lehigh Valley region, you’re close enough to Bethlehem to plan an impromptu dinner date at Bolete [bo-leet], 1740 Seidersville Road but don’t let an hour or two drive stop you from experiencing one of the best meals you’ll have. When your travels lead you to the Lehigh Valley, add Bolete Bethlehem to your itinerary. My meal was superb.

Bolete Dinner Chef Lee Chizmar
You won’t be rushed through your meal so be sure to take time to appreciate the artful presentation before you pick up your fork. Photo courtesy of Bolete Restaurant

Highly Recommended

My evening with the staff at Bolete evolved while I was a guest at The Sayre Mansion. I arrived in Bethlehem in the early afternoon and immediately, dinner was on my mind. My thoughts turned to a relaxing meal after settling in at the mansion. You might have experienced the confusion that comes with narrowing your dining options in a city with so many options. I’ve literally spent hours sifting through online menus. Who wants to do that, particularly when your day is jam-packed with sightseeing or business meetings? Bolete Bethlehem came highly recommended.

Fortunately, the management at The Sayer Mansion recommends Bolete and I made my reservation for 7 p.m. so the remainder of my day I could set up my tripod and camera gear, interview staff, or walk around town.

Bolete Bethlehem
In a world of fast food, diners looking for a relaxing meal will appreciate the leisurely atmosphere.
Many thanks to my server for taking my photo as I savored every bite of my meal.

Prepare to be dazzled

Allow me to paint a picture of what you can expect to find at Bolete. Imagine a cozy family-owned restaurant housed in a former stagecoach inn on the outskirts of town. An accomplished chef and his wife own and manage this intimate fine-dining eatery who spent their life dreaming of opening a restaurant. A solid plan and diligence helped the couple build a business that caught the attention of the culinary world and landed them a spot in the running for one of the top awards. Chef Lee Chizmar and his wife, Erin Chizmar, were selected as semifinalists in the James Beard Foundation,  “Outstanding Restaurant” category.

Chef Lee commented,

“It was remarkable for our whole team to hear of the nomination. They each work tirelessly to make each guest’s experience great. And it was such an honor to be considered among those other industry titans.”

Paying HOMAGE to the Mushroom

Bolete Bethlehem James Beard Award Nominee
Do you love the flavor mushrooms impart? Chef Lee Chizmar incorporates mushrooms into many of his menu items. Photo provided courtesy of Bolete.

Bolete, or mushrooms, is one of the key ingredients Chef Lee adds to many dishes. If you’re not a fungi fan, you can request your meal without them.

Why mushrooms? Aside from the fact that Pennsylvania is the “Mushroom Capital of the World,” and an abundance of varieties make them a convenient choice, Chef Lee and mushrooms have had a long and interesting career.

“Mushrooms have been an integral part of each restaurant I’ve worked at in my career, so when we moved to PA (Pennsylvania) to open Bolete, it was a natural fit,” Chef Lee said.

If you’re on the edge of your seat wondering what I ordered, I began my dining with a first course: The menu description reads, “Liberty Gardens Mixed Greens (Salad) WITH 12 pickled local mushrooms, parmesan, sunflower seeds, cipollini, garlic sourdough crouton, mushroom “Caesar” vinaigrette” but I asked my server to hold the croutons because I limit my gluten intake. I didn’t leave so much as a sunflower seed on my plate and the subtle mushroom taste combined with the shaved parmesan is the perfect prelude to all of the second-course options. I decided on the Cast Iron Seared Day Boat Sea Scallops, hand-rolled gnocchi, local mushrooms, bacon, swiss chard, Burgundian snails, parsley, and porcini puree.

The Decor: A Meeting of Rustic and Romantic

The former Stagecoach Inn sits at the crossroads of a busy intersection so, after sunset, passers-by can catch a glimpse of the soft glow of romantic lighting coming from the windows. My first reaction, as I found my parking spot in the on-site lot, was “Oh, this is perfect.”

You, on the other hand, might wonder why you’ve never dined at Bolete. Once you’re inside, the history and the unpretentious antiquity speak to you. Anyone with an affinity for history will appreciate Chef Lee and Erin’s choice of casual seating in the bar area or the dining room and their collection of carved wooden mushrooms in each of the windowsills. Softly candle-lit dining areas and a memorable meal await you at Bolete.

Bolete Restaurant Celebrates Mushrooms
The woodsy flavor of mushrooms is an integral part of Chef Lee’s menu.

Make your reservation online.

Disclaimer:

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

If you’re in the Harrisburg, PA area, learn more about Bricco here

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Celebrate 25 Years of Japanese Art at Chigirie.com

  • By
  • January 17, 2019
"The Trout" Print

Buy “The Trout” and I’ll donate 10% of the proceeds to two well-known and deserving organizations.

Celebrate with me! I’m commemorating my 25th art anniversary at chigirie.com. You can purchase “The Trout” in three sizes at joanmatsuitravelwriter.com/shop.

Friends and acquaintances who know me well understand why I love to fly-fish but they’re also aware I’m an advocate for responsible fishing, land and water preservation, and the healing effects nature provides. Much of my time on the road is spent fly fishing and appreciating our waterways that Trout Unlimited (TU) has worked so hard to preserve. TU and Casting for Recovery (CfR) will each receive 5 percent of the proceeds from the sale of “The Trout” prints.

TU is a national organization that’s at the forefront of fisheries restoration work at the local, state and national levels. Its 300,000 members and supporters are organized into 400 chapters and councils from Maine to Montana to Alaska with approximately 30 offices nationwide. Over the years, I’ve assisted with TU fly fishing education programs and I’m one of the founding members of my local TU Women’s Initiative.

Casting for Recovery (CfR) is a non-profit organization that provides phenomenal healing outdoor retreats for women with breast cancer and at no cost to the participants. Their retreats offer inspiration, connections with other women and of course, one of the greatest healing powers known to mankind, nature. CfR retreats are open to women with breast cancer of all ages and in all stages of treatment and recovery. Women from all walks of life have benefited from CfR’s inspiring program model for more than 20 years with 60 retreats across the country that serve 800+ women each year. CfR partners with volunteers in Canada, UK/Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Italy and its volunteer teams are made up of medical and psychosocial professionals, fly fishing instructors and alumnae. Click here to learn more about CfR.

“The Trout” original was a commissioned piece I created around the same time I took my first fly fishing lesson with my local Trout Unlimited chapter and the PA Fish and Boat Commission. The original trout collage was used to create trail art at a neighborhood community park and I donated the original to the park as an auction item.

The unveiling of “The Trout” trail art at a community park.
“The Trout” is permanently displayed as trail art on a walking trail in Pennsylvania.

If you’re not familiar with Chigirie, the Japanese art of tearing paper to create a collage (or painting with paper), glance at The Trout and you’ll see 50 or more tiny pieces of pre-dyed torn paper I blended (without paint) to create a layered effect.

The Trout is my one and only fishing-related art project and I’m thrilled to be able to offer prints and support TU and CfR.

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