Keystone Anglers Guide Service

My first fish of 2019

I intended to travel to Erie to scout for some Steelhead spots for a few upcoming trips but the threat of a big snow storm changed that plan so I decided to fish for Musky instead. It was a little milder than it was on my last outing with air temps in the low 20's. I was greeted with absolutely perfect water levels with a slight green tint.

I decided to start at a spot where we have had some action over the past year but haven't been able to fish recently because of the higher water levels. The spot is a deep channel with a fallen tree and some brush on the opposite bank. The fish like to hug the middle of the channel and most likely take advantage of the current bringing their prey to them. I was literally 15 yards down river from  where I caught my first Musky last August.

I entered the water and waded a few feet in and proceeded to launch my Nightmare Musky Flies 12" Gizzard Shad Imitationfly just shy of the fallen tree on the opposite bank. I watched the fly slowly sink before drifting into the deep channel. Seconds after reaching the maximum depth of the channel I felt the unmistakable strike of a large fish. I instantly and aggressively strip set several times trying to ensure a solid hook set when the massive fish thrashed to the surface. 

Our client and good friend Olivia Michaud with a Bowfin caught on a recent Musky trip. 

Our Musky and Pike fishing fishing trips will take place on several different waterways located in Western Pa. These trips are geared towards the "hard core" serious fly angler who can handle the physical rigors not to mention the mental toughness needed to chase the apex freshwater predator. Being able to cast big meaty flies is a necessity! So if you feel you're up to challenge and would like to experience the ultimate fly fishing experience, contact us TODAY! 

I had less than hour remaining to the end of the Major and until had to leave so i made my way up river to a spot that I was unable to fish the day before because of the high water. It was still a tad high and still pretty fast but I was able to see the slack water seem on the edge and that's where I focused my casts. On my first cast and a few strips later.... WAM! I quickly and aggressively set the hook and the felt the weight on the other end give way and a violent splashing disturbance on the surface of the water....ughhhh a large tree branch! Why do they feel like the real thing???

I slowly moved downstream of the tree branch disturbance and start my casting and retrieval sequence again.Working the edge of the fast water where large boulders create a slack spot where a big fish can lay in wait out of the current. Cast, strip, strip, strip, WAM!! Like before I instantly set the hook and I can't lie and say that another tree branch didn't instantly pop into my head. But unlike the tree branch I immediately felt the monster fish shake his head at the displeasure of being hooked and the fight was on.

The fish breached the surface trying everything in it's power to throw my fly. When that didn't work the cagey predator took to the fast current and I gave chase in the fast waste deep and debris filled water. I made it about ten steps before a dead fall entangled my foot and I fell head first into the chilly water. After regaining my footing I grabbed my fly rod that I dropped and my heart sank at the thought that I may have lost the fish. That thought quickly diminished when I immediately felt the fish run again. This time I was ready for it and reacted appropriately. I was able to get the beauty to the shallows and I had my 3rd Musky of 2018. 

$500 Full Day All day (1-2 Person)

We provide rod and flies but you are free to use your own.

What to bring:

Waders if weather dictates

Sun Screen/Insect repellent 


Valid Pa Fishing License

Extra Clothing-Warm, Dry

Important: If you need lodging you must handle that. We will assist on where but we don't have lodging for our Musky/Pike trips. 

The battle was on and I had my hands full fighting the heavy and now very upset Musky. Back and forth we went and if it was a boxing match we both would of been staggered. After several minutes I was able to beach the beast in a shallow spot along the shore. I couldn't believe my eyes!! It was enormous and the girth was really unbelievable. Two trophy class Musky 3 days apart.. I was so fortunate!

After some quick pictures I had the extreme pleasure of releasing this perfect specimen back to her deep water home. What an incredible experience!!

With the crazy weather patterns ushering in lots of Spring time rain, we haven't been able to fish for Musky as much as we would like. On April 12 the river level finally began to recede to a point that I could attempt to fish. Upon arriving to my chosen spot I was met with still higher than normal water levels. In addition the water clarity was less than ideal but the day was beautiful and I was going to fish. 

I started fishing the slack water next to the fast moving current with repeated casts making sure to give my sinking fly line time to drop my 12" Game Changer to the depth of the fish. I worked the area slowly and when I was confident I covered every square foot of possible water, I would move down river several yards and repeat the process. I fished up and down the river, changing flies, changing retrieval cadence and speed, but no takers. After 8 hours and with my torn rotator cuff throbbing I called it a day. 

Through the course of the day the water level slowly came down and although still stained cleared somewhat also. A quick glance at the Moon chart showed a Major Feed from 11:30am-1:33 pm the next day and I was not going to miss it. 

I was back on the water the next morning casting and stripping my Nightmare Musky Flies 12" Perch Game Changer I fished the same slack water and deep pockets but still no takers. I checked the water temperature and it was in the low 40's which is still too cold to kick start the spawn so the fish had to still be holding in their regular lies. Although I didn't have a fish yet, the water level continued to drop to normal levels and my optimism never wavered. 

Musky/Pike Rates

​Second fish of 2019

I started working the same water that I fished previously but this time I was fishing up stream. I really like the action of the smaller flies and it showed up really well in the off colored water that I was fishing. Moments later I was fishing a spot that I had a nice fish follow a year prior when my stop n go retrieve sequence was rudely interrupted by a vicious strike. The beauty of the moment was that I got to witness the attack a few feet away. I instantly strip set several times to sink the hooks as deep as possible and the fight was on. This waterway is chalk full of timber and brush which the Musky tried to use against me but I was fortunate to keep him from getting tangled and landed him shortly after, 

 I was extremely happy to catch this gorgeous guy! I was on my 4th day of grinding for the huge one that I lost so it was nice to have all that effort rewarded with a nice fish. Tony Sandrones Perch colored Kraken with a Pacchiarini orange dragon tail was the lucky fly. The same fly that I lost that big girl on previously. I've been using that fly exclusively because of its high visibility in muddy or murky water seemed to work! 

All predator trips require a $150 non refundable deposit to reserve a trip date.  In the event of inclement weather the deposit will be held and a new trip date will be scheduled. There are absolutely NO refunds on gift certificates!

Small water Musky fishing is intense! The takes are usually up close and personal and once hooked you need to try and land a pissed off Musky while negotiating fallen trees, brush, and other debris while you yourself are wading in knee deep mud. So when you land one it's a huge victory and I was pumped to catch this. It's also the fish that I broke my 11wt on last Fall so I got a little redemption as well

There's always a lot of joy when you land a Musky on a fly but this fish might have given me just a tad bit more than most. The week before I was in one of my favorite waterways, with a full moon and rain front pushing into the area when a huge Musky that I've been after for a year struck my fly like a Great White Shark taking a hapless Seal. Unfortunately, the fish breached the surface of the water and at the sight of the huge fish I hesitated in my strip set and the fish got off. 

Fish #1 for 2018

 I got this crazy idea last year that it would be cool to catch a Musky and a Steelhead in the same day. Thinking about it, it's not that easy of a fete to accomplish. For the most part they don't live in the same water ways which makes travel a key part of the equation. But the most important factor would be catching a Musky!! I didn't get too many chances last Fall to make this happen. But this Fall I was fishing with my buddy Mark and I caught the Musky pictured below early enough in the day that I was able to drive the 2 hour or so north to Erie and catch a Steelhead! So my goal was accomplished. BUT, after doing it I had someone tell me that they knew someone who had already done it...I had to one up this "other person" and a new goal was created!

 We fished for a few more hours but didn't catch or see anymore fish. But it was a very successful day for us in the world of Musky fishing on the fly.

 I traveled to the north central area of Pennsylvania to scout for a Musky fly fishing tournament in October. This would be my first time fishing this section of the mighty Allegheny River and I was very excited at the opportunity. This section of the River has a very diverse selection of fish species ranging from Smallmouth Bass, Musky,and  Northern Pike. 

We launched the Fly Craft two person raft and headed down river to our first location, which was a series of fallen trees, large boulders and deep water. If you wanted to know what prime river Musky water looked like this was it. I would be first to fish so John maneuvered the raft into position as I launched my Nightmare Musky Flies 12" Perch colored Game Changer into the direction of one of the many large boulder. Seconds into my retrieve a nice sized Musky quickly charged my fly and followed it to the boat but then receded back to its' deep water sanctuary. To say I was excited would be an understatement. One cast, one follow..

I was met river side by 9 degree air temps and slightly higher water flows than I anticipated from the online river gauge that I monitor, but I was fishing no matter what mother nature threw at me. After what seemed like an hour I was layered up and in my waders and heading to my first spot. 

After a few cast and retrieves it was apparent by my frozen rod guides and locked solid reel that this was going to be a challenging day. Not to be deterred I addressed the situation and continued casting to the deep slack water on the edge of the fast moving main current. After a half hour of casting, retrieving, and deicing with no takers I move down river 20 ft and start the cadence all over again. 

 I fished for an hour and half, moving a total of 50 yards when all of the sudden on one of my drifts I felt the hard take of the big fish. Without hesitation my muscle memory took over and I laid into the Musky making sure that the 5/0 fly hook sank deep into it's hard jaw. The fish shook it's head fiercely and battled hard against the 11wt rod. The game of tug of war lasted a minute or so before I was able to beach the beast of a fish. 

I stood there for a few seconds and admired the magnificent fish. This is the time after the fight when your body finally succumbs to the adrenaline and your heart starts racing, and your hands shake. This is the intoxicating feeling that makes an angler go fishing in the worst of conditions. make thousands of casts, or drive hundreds of miles. This is the moment we crave! After taking a few quick pictures the beast was released to the murky depths. 

Hard grind all day, changed flies multiple times and made one last fly change to a Nightmare Musky Flies 12"  all black Game Changer. On the first cast this fella decided to eat! That's how it goes when chasing Musky on the fly! 

Goal #2 was 2 Musky and 2 Steelhead in same day! Goal #2 Accomplished!

I took a short break to re-hydrate, clear my mind, and remind myself that it's about the chase and the challenge of catching a Musky on a fly. After that I was re- energized physically as well as mentally and ready to continue fishing. I switched my larger Nightmare Musky Flies Perch colored fly out for a smaller version in Firetiger color. Anyone that knows me knows that this is my "go to" color scheme for Musky. 

Top water flies and Pike is so much fun!!!

They all can't be giants!

Big time congrats to our buddy Gavin on his first ever Musky!!

The theme for this Spring and the early part of the Summer has been rain!! I'm talking torrential downpour type rain that renders Rivers and Streams unfishable within a few short minutes. Needless to say it has put a big damper on our Musky fishing. 

With that said I was able to get a day with some good water conditions so I ran out to one of our Musky spots to give it a try. This particular body of water has a lot of brush, weeds and fallen trees in it so with flows on the low side I chose to use a top water fly and I knew exactly which one I was going to use. I have been waiting for months to try "Block Head" from Nightmare Musky Flies. I'm a huge fan of the Firetiger color so that is the color I would start with. 

Huge thanks to Mark at Urban Fly Co for hooking me up with some extremely effective Musky flies. I caught this little guy, missed two others, and had a follow from a 40+ inch fish. 

Everything you need to know about Musky and Tiger Musky in the State of Pa

I wad so pumped to connect on my first fish of 2019. I missed the whole Fall because I was in Erie guiding for Steelhead (which I was happy about), and I was really looking forward to chasing these toothy beasts. To catch one on my second time out and my first figure eight fish was an incredible experience. 

Damn I've been really fortunate this year to be able to land some huge fish! Anyone who chases these guys knows how hard it is and I for one know that it's not gonna last. BUT, the challenge is why I fly fish for Musky!!

I finally got the water flows that I was looking for and despite the single digit temperatures I went out to cure my cabin fever and chase my new favorite fish, the Musky. I was extremely excited to be on the water and to add to that excitement I was using my new 11wt Orvis Helios 3D for the first time!


Just a few sidenotes.... 
It's important to fish deep and slow at this time of year. These fish aren't feeding a lot so it's important to cover every inch of water as slow as you can. This fish took my fly dead drifted without any movement on my part. I can only assume my fly drifted in the fishes strike zone and the fish thought it was an easy meal and struck. On occasion I would lightly twitch my fly to mimic a wounded shad.

The new Helios 3D performed like a champ on it's first trip. It cast like a dream and had the power needed to drive the hook deep. These fish have hard mouths and they are notorious for throwing hooks. Anything we can do to tip the scale in our favor is a bonus and I'm very pleased with the product Orvis has put out. 

Lastly, it's very important to dress warm when chasing any fish in inclement weather. I layered in Under Armour Cold Gear and covered it all up with the Simms Down Stream jacket. This jacket keeps me warm in the worst of the worse weather conditions and I highly recommend it. For my hands I had on a pair of Simms Solar Flex gloves under a pair of Simms EXstream half finger gloves and my hands stayed relatively warm. 

With my spirits down and frustration at an all time high I trudged on. I fished a few hundred yard stretch of water and saw two other fish but neither were interested in what I was offering.​

I was elated to land a nice fish after the misfortunes of the previous mishaps. But there's no guarantees when you chase Musky with a fly rod and you should feel lucky and proud when you do get to hold one

​This could be the baddest fish I ever caught!!

The 12" Perch Beast Changer from Nightmare Musky Flies scores again! 

I began fishing a stretch that we have caught several fish from in the past. I slowly eased my way along the edge of the small river and targeted each and every likely ambush point with my "Block Head" fly. After advancing a hundred yards or so I came to a deep pocket of water that had some fallen trees scattered about. I targeted a brush pile on the opposite bank for my first cast and after a few seconds into my retrieve I noticed a long slender shape cruising upstream away from me. At first I thought I may have spooked the fish but I hurriedly stripped my fly back and cast it back into the area that I last saw the fish. I began to pop the "Block Head" back in my direction when all of the sudden, out of nowhere the fish viciously attacked the fly. 

The fight was on and the close to 40" fish was not in the mood to get caught. But after a minute or so battle the fish was subdued and I had my 4th fish of the year and my 10th fish in my first 12 months of fishing for them on the fly. A few months ago I lost two big fish just before landing them so catching this fish brought a sense of relief and made me extremely happy. I took some quick pictures then I released the beautiful fish for someone else to catch and hopefully get the same enjoyment from. 

I fished for another few hours and I had 3 more follows from 2 different fish. What a great first day back on the Musky waters. 


This big girl gave me the fight of my life! I had to give her line 4 times and she tried to jump out of the water twice....incredible!!!

Musky and Pike Trips

I chose to use an all white 12" T Bone Fly from Streamer King Flies because of the abundance of shad that inhabit this particular river system and because it really contrasted well with the water color on this day. 

We worked our way around the shore line structure, casting and retrieving through each and every hiding spot when suddenly another beautiful Allegheny River Musky came after my fly and yet again like the first fish turned away at the boat. Two follows in the first 20 minutes of our day. After the excitement of the appearance of the second fish, we headed down river to a submerged weed bed. I cast my fly to the opposite side and stripped it across the tops of the weeds when suddenly and viciously a large fish attacked. This time there was no follow to the boat and with a quick strip set I was hooked up with an unknown large predator fish.

Lifting the net we saw that the fish was a large and apparently very old Northern Pike that truly resembled a crocodile. We made our way to the shore line for some quick pictures before releasing this awesome fish back to its watery home. We were having a banner day and we've only been fishing for less than an hour. 

Anyone involved in this sport knows that it's part of the game and you're going to have heart break. Fast forward to this day, a new body of water and new fish to battle. My first cast got followed by a big Musky that ended with a half hearted swipe at my fly and I started to think I was jinxed. A half hour later in a new spot my fly made an abrupt stop and I instantly strip setted and a nice Musky rolled on the surface with my fly dangling from it's mouth. A few seconds later the fish threw my hook and at that moment there was no doubt, I was jinxed!