Having spent my life salmon and steelhead fishing in Northern Michigan trout fishing in Pennsylvania was a new experience for me. I had to adjust my tactics for these trout. Targeting these rainbows and brook trout is much different than I expected.
We’d planned on targeting rainbows in Loyalhanna Creek in Westmoreland County, but the creek seemed fished out, was running high and there was a tremendous amount of pressure already on the system. Instead, we downloaded the FishBoatPA App and searched for a nearby location that had been stocked with trout recently. We were roughly an hour from Pittsburgh. The App synced with our phone and rerouted us to Four Mile Run, a place none of us had ever heard of, or fished before. Dodging private property we were determined to find a hole filled with trout.
Arriving streamside, I was perplexed. The trout were holding in locations where I wouldn’t typically look for a Michigan steelhead, especially during the fall, winter and early spring. We found fish in shallow runs, tucked behind boulders and in deep slack water holes. After analyzing the situation, I set up two methods; one was floating Fire Bait off bottom. The other was drifting Balls O Fire salmon egg under a small float. Both methods proved to be productive throughout the day and we caught and released dozens of brook and rainbow trout.
When the sun was high, fishing Fire Bait off the bottom yielded constantly action. It seemed the trout were pinned to the bottom and not aggressive. We basically plunked the FireBait, keeping it stationary within a foot of the bottom, and at the fish’s eye level.
The set-up was simple. We used light action rods, with 4-lb test tied directly to a size 10 or 12 octopus hook. A foot-and-a-half above the hook, I added one or two medium sized round split shots. The key was letting the bait float in the hole and giving it a light jig after 30 seconds if I didn’t get a bite. It didn’t take long for strikes to come. Meanwhile, the best producing colors didn’t change. Feed Pellet Brown and Atomic Garlic Fire Bait caught most of the fish.
The float-fishing set-up was simple. I had a light action rod rigged up with 6-lb test and a small float attached the mainline. Underneath the float I tied a small black barrel swivel, followed by a two-foot long leader of 4-pound Trilene and a size 10 or 12 single salmon egg hook (I put two eggs on the hook). We drifted an array of Pautzke eggs, but found Yellow Jackets and Gold Label to induce the most action. Not surprising, the Yellow Jackets worked best when it was cloudy out. The Gold Label worked all day.
Most important was not being complacent. After we caught a few trout and the bite slowed, we simply changed from eggs to FireBait and continued to catch trout. The same went for when we drifted eggs. Oftentimes, the moment we switched egg colors we got bit. While we didn’t see any golden rainbows or brown trout, we did catch an endless number of rainbows and brooks, all of which ranged from 11-14 inches. We did see larger fish available, but they were stubborn.
While we’ll be bouncing around and targeting other lakes and streams this week, Four Mile Run is loaded with fish still and an ideal place for you to target both species this week and weekend. Just remember to come with a variety of Fire Bait and Balls O Fire egg colors, and don’t be shy about changing baits often.
Editor’s Note: Kyle McClelland operates XXL Chrome Chasin. For more info visit http://www.chromechasing.com. For more info on Pennsylvania trout stocking please visit http://www.fish.state.pa.us/stock.htm.