By: Joey Usher
For the last two months the PA Fish and Boat Commission has been working overtime to stock a ton of our lakes, rivers and streams in the greater Southwest PA area. On Saturday I’m expecting large crowds for the opener. Lots of people are expected to be chasing the rainbows, browns and golden rainbows that have been stocked. We’re in Greene County and no brook trout are stocked here. However, in nearby Somerset County brook trout are planted.
We haven’t had much rain in the last few weeks since all these trout have been stocked. I believe this means our streams are going to be low and clear and fish will still be stacked up on the holes. Fortunately, great weather is expected Saturday and with low and clear conditions it will be perfect for egg fishing.
In Greene and Somerset County there’s many productive lakes and streams that are stocked and a handful of places with handicap accessible areas too. There’s opportunity for everyone to get in on the action. My friends and I have helped the PAFBC stock many of our local waters the last few months. We’ve seen trout from 10 inches up to 28 inches stocked. And even seen golden rainbows up to 24 inches. There’s a ton of fish in our local waters right now. Saturday is going to be a blast!
Five Places to Fish in SWPA
Whites Creek: Close to Confluence this creek is stocked with only brook trout. It’s a very small, mountain stream with shallow holes and clear water. It’s chock full of planted and native brook trout. If you are hoping to catch brookies this is your spot.
Dunlap Lake: Easily accessible and near Uniontown, Dunlap Lake is up to 40 feet deep and is stocked with giant rainbows, golden rainbows and brown trout. It has public access and wheelchair ramps. This is a great place to fish from a boat or the bank. If you plan to fish here stock up on FireBait and Power Bait as floating bait off the bottom is the most effective method. The local secret is to add a mealworm or wax worm to your dough bait.
Youghiogheny River: The most popular system is SWPA the Yough (as locals call it) is stocked over several miles and provides lots of public to anglers that want to fish from the bank, wade or cast from the wheelchair access area (this is where I take my dad fishing). The river is stocked by several organizations including Trout Unlimited, the PAFBC and local clubs and is loaded with tiger trout, golden rainbows, rainbows, brown trout and brook trout. It’s the premier fishery in our region and holds fish 12 months a year.
Lake Wilma (Blacksville Lake): On the border of West Virginia, but owned by Pennsylvania little Lake Wilma is stocked by our PAFBC and PA anglers can fish it with a PA license. This is a great place to take young kids to fish because it’s small and has lots of shoreline access. Again, load up on your dough bait if you’re coming here. At 19 acres it’s easy to put yourself near the trout.
Enlow Creek: A small, clear water system in Western Greene County this creek is stocked throughout three section with browns, rainbows and golden rainbows. It’s heavily stocked because it receives a lot of fishing pressure, but anglers who are willing to walk away from the obvious roadside stocking points do well. This creek is stocked by a trailer with a deep freezer to release fish in sections of river that aren’t near the road. Therefore, you can walk a few miles into the woods and avoid crowds and still catch trout.
The SWPA Quick Tip Sheet
Downsize Your Tackle
This season we are faced with low and clear water, which means the fish can be spooky. I recommend fluorocarbon line. Personally, I’m using four-pound Berkley Vanish and small Trout Magnet and Drennan floats.
We use several different kinds of hooks, but the key is staying small. I’ll throw a size 14 Mustad off set hook and a size 16 Daiichi egg hook. With dough bait I’ll use a size 12 Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp hook to get a better hook set.
Don’t come with one egg. Trout get finicky. Ill bring several jars of eggs and switch colors as they get conditioned to a specific color. As trout get finicky I’ll combine a couple maggots and one eggs. Last season Gold Label became our go-to egg and Yellow Jackets paced us with the larger fish.
Bring Lots of Dough
Bring several different kinds of dough bait. You don’t want to put a huge glob on the hook. Instead roll up just enough to cover the hook. Those huge balls often spook the trout. I’ll be headed to the stream with Chartreuse and Rainbow Power Bait and Natural (it mimics a marshmallow) and Garlic Salmon Egg FireBait. Our local secret is to use Natural FireBait and a mealworm. The Fire Bait serves as a vehicle to float the mealworm off the bottom.
It’s no secret that Trout Magnets are big in PA. I’ll run them in conjunction with eggs and dough throughout the day. But most important bring something to tip your jig with as scent plays a big part. I’ll tip it with an egg or larva, which works to increase catch rates.
Editor’s Note: A native of Southwest PA Joey Usher is the founder of SWPA Fishing. For more info on local Southwest PA fishing info or to join the group please visit https://www.facebook.com/FISHSWPA.