Published by the Sharon Herald on March 24, 2007 07:21 pm - If youíre looking for a great one-day trout destination before the season opener, you canít do much better than nearby Volant, Pa. Trout fishing is open year round there, and the quaint village offers other attractions, too.
Volant offers year-round trout fishing and more
By Don Feigert
If youíre looking for a great one-day trout destination before the season opener, you canít do much better than nearby Volant, Pa. Trout fishing is open year round there, and the quaint village offers other attractions, too.
I drove down there last Thursday morning, one of the warmest days so far this year, and counted 18 fishermen casting into the deep green currents from the man-made waterfall 300 yards upstream down to the Main Street bridge. Most were fly-fishing, but I noticed five anglers tossing spinning rigs, too.
This stretch is part of a 2.7-mile section of Neshannock Creek governed by DHALO (Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only) regulations. That means you can fish there all year, but you must use artificial lures, and you may only creel three fish nine inches or longer per day from June 15th through Labor Day. The rest of the calendar year is strictly catch-and-release.
From what I hear, though, most of the sportsmen who fish there never take home a trout, not even when itís legal to do so.
You can bring a non-fishing friend or significant other along, too, or take a break from fishing yourself, because there are lots of other things to do. I like to hike along the stream, take pictures, chat with the fishermen, or hang out at the local fly-fishing shop. But other folks might appreciate the gift shops in town, where you can buy Amish goods, collectibles, furniture, and tourist trinkets, or the antique stores or the pottery shop or the local restaurants. Iíve had great lunches at the Neshannock Creek Inn on three separate occasions. Thereís even the Volant Mill Winery up the hill, for those of us who might want to do a little wine-tasting after leaving the stream.
But the main attraction is Neshannock Creek, which rushes beautifully over the wide and dangerous waterfall and runs green and strong past hemlocks on the far bank and meadows on the near bank north to south right through town.
I parked at the far end of the gravel lot near the waterfall and hiked downstream past the bridge and then back upstream to the Neshannock Creek Fly Shop. Along the way I saw three different anglers catch and release nice brown trout.
Bob Shuey is the owner of the fly shop, and I interviewed him briefly before I headed to town for lunch. Shuey is a former wildlife conservation officer with the National Park Service and a serious trout enthusiast now.
"We donít get much harvesting here," he told me. "Guys want to catch fish every time they come here, not remove them from the stream. But thatís a decision every sportsman has to make."
"The waterís a little high right now, isnít it?" I asked.
"No," Shuey said, "itís about right for this time of year. Low water and high temperatures are whatís dangerous to the trout."
Shuey stocks trout here himself, to supplement the hatchery fish delivered by the Fish and Boat Commission and those contributed by conservation organizations such as Trout Unlimited. He assured me that there are lots of trout in the stream, all browns and rainbows, but none of the delicate brook trout species.
Browns are the most durable trout and can sometimes live over through the winters, according to Shuey. Years ago he tagged some fish to track movements and find out how many times individual trout were caught. He discovered that some trout travel for miles in the stream, that many are caught multiple times, and that some do indeed hold over from year to year. "I caught the same big brown trout three years in a row," he said.
Shuey told me he has a strong interest in getting young people involved in the outdoors and that he provides free casting clinics for children and sponsors inexpensive, week-long Young Anglers Fly-Fishing School sessions in June. See his Web site at www.ncflyshop.com for details.
But on the day I visited, he was mostly worried about the weather. "Itís not been a good March for fishing, because of the weather," he said. "The snow is gone now, but the ground is pretty much saturated, so any heavy rains will affect the creekís water level and clarity." That could curtail the fly-fishing for several days, I knew.
An hour later, as I drove west on Route 208 out of Volant toward New Wilmington, I saw dark, threatening clouds off toward Ohio. By the time I got home, it was raining softly. An hour after that, the downpour came. Not good for the fly fishermen, I thought. Maybe things will improve over the weekend.
Don Feigert is the outdoors writer for THE HERALD and the ALLIED NEWS. He can be contacted at 317-985-2870 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his Website at www.donfeigert.com.