On Sunday, June 11, 2023, PVFF Club President Andy Mekelburg belatedly celebrated his (December) birthday by fishing the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania. The Youghiogheny had been on Andy’s fishing bucket list, and we were fortunate to have Rob Walters of laurelhighlandsguideservices.com guide us on a full-day float trip.
We put Rob’s raft in at a private boat ramp literally in the backyard of his residence in Confluence, Pennsylvania. We then spent some time playing “baseball” to brown trout that were rising in the vicinity. That is how Rob described Andy and I taking turns to fish with each of us fishing until we struck out with three “strikes” or caught a fish. According to Rob’s rules, a strike occurs when you fail to capitalize on a rise or take or lose a fish. I was pleased to see Andy get the first “hit” if you will by taking a smallmouth bass.
We were blessed with a nice caddis hatch, and I had a lot of fun working to get good drifts down to them. Rob taught us how to do the “Delaware Slide,” which is when you cast out toward the bank and then move your rod upstream while taking out line. When executed properly, this allowed the line to drift downstream with minimal drift and resulted in some awesome takes. Over the course of the day, I used it to catch four really nice brown trout; I also had one “LDR” or long-distance release and of course failed to capitalize on about five other opportunities.
As we moved downstream, we did fish some streamers in an effort to entice the lunkers that live in the Youghiogheny. I switched to dry droppers until we reached some pools where we were able to resume “hunting” brownies who were dining on caddis and drakes. As we did so, Rob taught me how to use a reach cast to avoid drift when fishing out over currents.
All in all, we enjoyed a long and successful float and day. While it fluctuated, the weather was nice overall and scenery, which included a mink and some cormorants, was beautiful. Another memorable learning from our trip was the use of auto-inflate life vests. I had never heard of such a thing and was very happy to be introduced to them as they are not intrusive and provide the protection my wife and daughter have requested. Finally, when we finished in Ohiopyle, Andy and I enjoyed a nice meal at the Falls City Restaurant and Pub.
If you are interested in fishing the Youghiogheny, I encourage you to do so. In addition to its beauty and relative solitude, it provides the feel of fishing on a western river, for those of you who enjoy doing or wish to have a similar experience.
— Mike Holland