Thomas E. Baltz

Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Guide in Mount Holly Springs, Pennsylvania

Thomas E. Baltz

Overview

Guiding and fly-fishing instruction for individuals and small groups on the famous limestone trout streams of south-central Pennsylvania's Cumberland Valley, near Carlisle. Come and learn fly-fishing techniques developed along 30 miles of the user-friendly Yellow Breeches Creek or try post-graduate level fishing offered by the Letort or Big Spring. Stalk mountain freestone streams around the Valley for wild brook and brown trout. Summer fishing for smallmouth bass in area warmwater streams is a pleasant break from technical trout fishing. I have guided these waters since 1974.

Following is a brief resume:

  • Orvis Northeast Trout Guide of the Year, 2001 (first year w/the program).
  • Assistant Instructor, Allenberry Fly Fishing Schools with Joe Humphreys and Ed Shenk, 1985 - 1991.
  • Fly-tying/fishing mentors include Charles K. Fox, Vincent Marinaro, Joe Humphreys, Ed Shenk, Bob Clouser, and others.
  • State Champion, Open Division of Pennsylvania State Fly-Tying Championship over four consecutive years, 1996 – 1999.
  • Exhibition fly tier and featured fly tier, the Fly Fishing Show, since 1994.
  • My flies have been featured in national publications including the Orvis catalog, Field & Stream, The Art of Fly Fishing Journal, Guide Flies (Countryman Press, 2003), Mid-Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide, and others; my flies are also a part of the collections of the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Association, the Pennsylvania State Museum (Jack Eschenmann Collection), and private collectors around the world.
  • Published fly-fishing writer.
  • Contributing writer, Mid-Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide.
  • Recipient of the 2011 Rising Trout Award from Cumberland Valley Chapter, Trout Unlimited, in recognition of work promoting fly fishing in and protecting the cold water resources of the Cumberland Valley.

My greatest pleasure is sharing the fishing and fishing techniques of our local waters and watching anglers grow into the sport. Come along! Let's go fishing!

Date Range

I fish area waters through out the year but mid-March to mid-November are considered peak times. Fishing is fishing though - I recall several trips during the "off season" which turned out to be some of the most memorable of the entire year! Full, three quarter, or half day trips are all available but when possible to schedule them, full day trips offer the most complete experience during the paek season. Over the winter season, half to three quarter day recommended. Reservations for winter season trips are "penciled in" and subject to change depending upon weather conditions.

What is Provided to Customer

  • Guiding/instruction
  • Orvis fly rods/reels are available to try or fish with
  • Snacks, water, and soft drinks on all trips
  • Lunch on full-day trips

Region/Terrain Where You Fish

Trout streams of the Cumberland Valley are small to medium-sized limestone and spring-creek type waters. All trips are of the walk/wade variety with parking usually close by the fishing areas. Wading on the valley streams such as Yellow Breeches Creek is fairly easy though waist- or chest-high waders are recommended. Most fishing on the true spring creeks—Letort, Big Spring, and others—is done from the bank with just hip boots or similar footwear required. Occasionally, we fish any of several smallish mountain freestone streams. Gradient is slight but some waters are rocky so a light wading staff may be helpful. All fishing is catch and release only.

Typical Weather by Season

Spring: mid-March through mid-June Cooler weather from mid-March through April often calls for a heavy shirt, a sweater, or fleece and sometimes a breathable rain jacket to block rain or wind. This cool period is very pleasant to fish in, for the most part though. May to mid-June is usually "shirt sleeve" weather but always be prepared. Include a heavy shirt/fleece and a quality, breathable rain jacket in your gear. Stream water temperatures are normally in the prime comfort ranges for trout during this time period.

Summer: mid-June through late August Mornings to early afternoon are the most pleasant times to fish now. Daytime high temperatures range in the mid-80s, occasionally into the 90s. Usually, morning fishing holds up well in the Yellow Breeches while area spring creeks often fish well throughout the day. Mountain streams often have low-water flows and elevated water temperatures now, and do not fish well in hot weather. Occasional thunderstorms, during which we vacate the stream, are part of the weather pattern.

Fall: late August through mid-November Very pleasant days, growing cooler through October and November reverse spring's weather progression. Leaves begin to turn about mid-September with peak color around the third week of October. Leaf fall is rarely a problem especially on the meadow-like spring creeks.

Winter: mid-November through mid-March Mid-to-late November is usually the peak of the trout's spawning season in area streams. After the spawn peaks, the balance of the winter season sees occasional mild weather spells, allowing excellent opportunities for 4 to 6 hour outings on most area streams. We could be nymphing or even dry-fly fishing at times. Dress for 40 to 50 degree weather, including quality breathable rain jackets.

Itinerary

Sample of Typical Itinerary

Eight hours, plus time for lunch, is an average day trip. Typically, we meet at a mutually convenient and agreed upon location in the Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania area about 8am and return to that location around 5 or 6pm. Arrangements are flexible though. Lunch is a part of all-day-long trips and breaks are usually taken just before or after peaks in the fishing activity. Most often we stop and order excellent sandwiches from one of the area's quaint country stores but some trips are to more remote locations, where sandwich "fixins" are provided for a nice picnic lunch. For winter season trips, I suggest half- to three-quarter-day outings, which do not include lunch. Snacks, soft drinks, and water are in the cooler on all trips.

Species

Species You Fish for by Season

Wild brook, brown, and rainbow trout are our primary targets. Inevitably, some stocked trout will be mixed in most streams except the spring creeks, Letort and Big Spring. Seasonal trips to medium-sized warmwater streams for smallmouth bass are part of the season here.

Yellow Breeches Creek has the widest range of fly hatches, from grannom caddis and Hendricksons in the spring, through tricos, white flies, little blue-winged olives, and October caddis from late summer through fall. Monitor the stream report for the Yellow Breeches on the Orvis website for more details. Spring creek hatches on Letort and Big Spring revolve around sulphurs and small BWOs, with some caddisflies in the mix. Midges are ubiquitous and great fishing with terrestrial insect imitations is seasonally available on all streams, where their use and design was pioneered. Smallmouth bass are targeted with small surface bugs, streamers, and crayfish imitations.

Gear

What Should Customers Bring?

EQUIPMENT LIST:

    • Pennsylvania fishing license/trout stamp (you will need both if 16 years or older; purchase them online at www.pa.wildlifelicense.com)
    • Waders and wading shoes (hip boots are of limited use)
    • Fishing hat with a brim
    • Sunglasses (polarized lenses, please)
    • Sunscreenv
    • Rain gear (not windbreakers or plastic parkas); quality breathable rain gear is suggested
    • Sweaters, fleece, etc. to suit the season
    • "Personal" items including but not limited to: toilet paper, comb, Handi-Wipes, medications
    • Fly rods, reels, lines (floating); Orvis rods/reels are available for your use, if you wish
    • Leaders (not fluorocarbon)
    • Nylon tippet material for dry-fly fishing, fluorocarbon for nymphs; 4X, 5X, and 6X will be the most useful sizes
    • Flies: you are welcome to bring what you have for evaluation—call or e-mail for specific patterns; they are not necessarily included in the guide fee but we usually tie on one or two of mine during the day
    • Fishing vest stocked with fly floatant (powder and gel types), snippers, hemostat, two sizes of strike indicators, assorted split shot
    • Camera
    • Set of dry clothes

    The above list may have missed an item of two that you will find useful during a day on stream. All guests are responsible for notifying me of medical conditions, as you see fit.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions


Q. How far are you from major cities?
A. Carlisle, Pennsylvania is less than 2 hours from the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area, 2½ hours from Philadelphia, and 3 hours plus from New York City.

Q. Where should I stay when on one of your trips?
A. Various accommodations are available ranging from popular hotels, through B&B operations. Particularly recommended for quaintness and convenience is Allenberry on the Yellow Breeches (allenberry.com), a family-owned operation just outside of Boiling Springs.

Q. Where are the best places to eat nearby?
A. Excellent dining experiences are available, with the Boiling Springs Tavern being a particularly favorite place.

Q. What other attractions are in your area?
A. Other experiences for fishers and non-fishers alike are Gettysburg Battlefield and attractions and the Hershey, Pennsylvania complex of entertainment options, all in addition to beautiful countryside and small-town touring.

Reviews

Thomas E. Baltz
Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Guide
328 Zion Road
Mount Holly Springs, PA 17065
717-486-7438

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