I caught his presence within my marginal
vision as we both descended the stairs from
the state park shower room. "How was the
fishing?" he said, probably after seen the
fishing license in the back of my cap. Without
waiting for my reply he fired "You don't have
to say a word, it was really bad, there are no
trout in this river, it is fished-out." I kept
on walking towards my campsite smiling. I was
smiling because it was a good fishing day in
the Hickory Run, not too many trout, but enough
to keep you interested and most important, pleased.
We fished one of the small ponds formed by a
concrete dam in the state park of the same name
(Hickory Run State Park) near the city of Scranton,
in northeast Pennsylvania.
Nothing like a good campfire to scare away the bears and
to roast 'smores.
It was a family camping, five days and four
nights. Long enough to give mom and dad a
chance for some serious fishing (and some not
so serious fishing to the son), but short
enough as to not get the son overtired.
Camping in the Pocono mountain region of
Pennsylvania is popular, and the Hickory
Run State Park is one of the most visited.
They have a famous boulder filled field
(formed by a glacier a long time ago) and
all the hiking trails, rivers, ponds, and
nature we anglers enjoy so much.
Besides it is relatively close to Philadelphia
and a very affordable way of spending some
quality time together. We were very lucky
that our assigned campsite was near all the
pertinent stuff. It was near the washrooms,
the river, and most important, it was near
several campsites with kids the same age as
ours. Sebastian, our son, was in cloud nine
when he saw a tribe of kids with plastic "light
sabers" calling one other "master Jedi." I was
impressed with the skills that some of the kids
maneuver the plastic light saber toys. It struck
me that they must have spent a great deal of time
practicing and rehearsing those routines.
My son Sebastian in the boulders field, always
carrying his beloved "Godzilla."
I noticed a large group in the few campsites
next to ours, and a very conspicuous van with
a church name and logo. As I walked towards
the playground, an older gentleman walked quickly
towards me "bears, we have seen them during the
last two nights." "The first time is scary,"
he said, "but once you have seen or heard them
a couple of times, you just keep on sleeping."
It was the pastor of the visiting church group.
He was taking the youth group into an outdoors
experience, and wanted to reassured us, that
they will be there if we needed them. We never
saw or heard a bear during our stay, although
in my thoughts I had a light wish for sighting
one. I heard that Pennsylvania black bears are
some of the biggest in the east.
There was a little pond near the campsite, more
like a large pool in the Sand Creek, except with
a concrete dam. I visit it often, as it lies by
the kid's playground. There is nothing that stirs
the imagination and provides more excitement to a
trout angler than a bunch of trout working the
surface of a pond. Every time I sat by a casting
platform the State of PA placed by the pond, I
could see the trout rising. They were rising to
midges, for which the hatch was substantial.
Looking from the platform, which lies about five
or six feet above the pond surface, one can see
now and then a good brookie or brownie (10 inches
or so) moving within visual range in the clear
water. I have this romantic notion of fishing for
brookies, as the quintessential northeast game
fish, so I am constantly looking for the white
trailing end of the trout lateral fins, to see
if it is a brookie. Sometimes the sky was covered
by late spring clouds, and the trout gave away all
caution (still rising beyond reasonable casting range)
and started raising with abandon and making such
a noise with their splash, it was such a wonderful
combination to the senses, good size trout jumping,
big and noisy splash, nice breeze in your face...humm
The best way to spend father's day. Casting for
some brookies in Pennsylvania's Pocono region.
Nevertheless, that pond was difficult to
fish. The forest covered shore made anything
but roll-cast an impossibility. In my infinite
ignorance, I prepared myself for casting in one
of the typical Pennsylvania brook trout river,
small and with a heavy canopy. To that end, I
brought a very small rod, a six-footer. Roll
casting with such a small rod is no fun, but
I tried it anyway and nailed a couple of 10-inch
brownies. I cannot see any fly smaller than 16,
so I always fish "the zone." I place a midge
with a 10 inches number 7 tippet from a size 16
BWO or Adams, and hope for the best.
I often miss the strike, but sometimes I
get it. At the end of the pond, there is
shallow area where the river enters the pond.
It is a riffle of sorts, and there are a bunch
of brownies deep under the canopies of a few
mountain laurel and other shrubs. If you cast
deep in the shadow of the vegetation, they will
come out and check out your offering. If you
have a small swimming morsel (I use a sulfur
nymph, or a sulfur soft-hackle) they will come
and check it out. If it is well presented, they
will take it, and it is a lot of fun, first
because you can see the trout take the fly,
as they feel protected by the overhanging
branches, and the shade. Second, because the
trout will fight to stay in the shadowy area
where it feels so protected. Both my wife and
I landed a couple of brownies in that part of
the pond, after hooking more than a couple of
A father's day brookie, small, pretty and
feisty. What else can you ask for?
Quickly we found out that the best
possibilities for brookies are at a
pond not far from the campsite. It was
a pond on the Hickory Run, the pond
within the park. I drove with my family
to the pond, we walked 100 meters downhill,
and one can see some body of water down,
through the trees. Once we reached the dam,
and look to the shallow end, we saw a lonely
fly angler casting. The look was so bucolic
and tranquil, immediately I felt a bit envious
of the lonely angler. Marta, my wife, felt
pretty much the same way. Two small obstacles
to our idyllic scenario, first it lies at the
other side of the pond, across a tall concrete
dam to our right, or through a swampy area to
A good ten inch brookie. Trout of this size
were common in the park pond.
Second, there was an angler there, and our
fishing ethic requires at least some sort
of amicable transaction with the current
occupant. I went for my hip waders to the
car. My son Sebastian was with me and on
returning, we decided to try the swampy
route. Bad decision, it was really swampy
and very soft. We tried crossing the dam.
It looks scary, but once you are on top of
it, it was a piece of cake. Here we are, a
happy bunch on the way to "the spot." Since
it was father's day, Marta after some though
decided that I should go ahead and try first.
I entered the water and started wading towards
the lonely angler. The bottom was soft, but
not too bad. "Shall I share your spot for a while?"
I clumsily asked the fellow.
"You can have the whole place, I have my
five trout and I am quitting."
We must remember that most of Pennsylvania
streams and ponds are "put and take" fisheries,
and it is not uncommon to keep trout for dinner.
I was fishing a no.14 yellowish soft hackle,
and after eight or ten cast I hooked a brookie,
about 9 inches or so. I was a happy man. The
evening was rapidly moving on, so I started
wading towards the run formed by the river
entering the pond. I was casting, as I was
moving, a sort of a rhythm one develop after
doing it for some time. I was ready to quit
as I cast to the stone at the head of the pool,
and then all hell broke loose. I landed brookies,
in the 8 to 12 inches, one after another in a
furious action that lasted no more than 15
minutes. Landed 6 and hooked half a dozen more,
but lost them in the battle. What a way to end
a father's day outing.
Sebastian the naturalist (and part time angler),
looking for rare and unclassified aquatic species.
Next day was Marta's chance, and she did
equally well. Sebastian, true to himself,
got into the fine details of aquatic insects
classification by collecting, dissecting and
(thanks God) discarding a bunch of stick cased
caddis, stone-cased caddis and dragonfly larvae. ~ Jorge