This past weekend I accomplished something that isn’t all that uncommon. I caught a wild brook trout, a wild rainbow trout, and a wild brown trout, in the same county. Granted they were two different streams that provided the fish, but they were all wild. It was the “Pennsylvania Wild Trout Grand Slam” so to speak. The only native that was missing was the Lake Trout, Salvelinus namaycush. As I released the wild brown back into the environment where he was spawned, it got me thinking, how hard would it be to catch all the members of other families in the same county, or watershed or some other geographically defined area? Which county or waterbody would you go to?
To catch three of the four trout in Pennsylvania the answer to the question is relatively easy. Go anywhere there is a stocked stream and you are likely to fulfill the goal. If the brook, brown and rainbows are to be wild, the question gets a little more difficult. To catch all four Erie County – and by extension Lake Erie is probably the best bet, though I have yet to hear of a brook trout coming from Lake Erie.
Lake Trout Salvelinus namaycush
Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis
Brown Trout Salmo trutta
Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss
Excluding lakers, the counties where I would go to catch the other three wild trout would be Cumberland, Westmoreland, Franklin and Somerset.
What about the other families of fish? Where would you go to catch all the members of the sunfish family Centrarchidae? There are 30 species of sunfishes found in North America. To be sure, not all of them live in Pennsylvania. So I have abbreviated the list, to just those that are common in the Keystone State.
Black Crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus
White Crappie Pomoxis annularis
Rock Bass Ambloplites rupestris
Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides
Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu
Green Sunfish Lepomis cyanellus
Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus
Redear Sunfish Lepomis microlophus
Pumpkinseed Lepomis gibbosus
Longear Sunfish Lepomis megalotis
Redbreast Sunfish Lepomis auritus
It might not be possible to find all of the species in one county or one drainage, but the two counties I would consider would be Huntingdon, at Lake Raystown, or Tioga with Cowanesque, Hammond and Hills Creek lakes leading the likely places. The Susquehanna River below Sunbury is also considered.
The perch family, Percidae might be the easiest list to fill. Three species are that you have to consider in this category: walleye, yellow perch, and sauger.
Walleye Sander vitreus
Yellow Perch Perca flavescens
Sauger Sander canadensis
I’ll leave out the other members of the family Percidae which includes the darters. I suspect I would have to go to somewhere in the Ohio River drainage to catch all of them. The Allegheny River on the Westmoreland / Allegheny County line would be a good place to start, or even a little farther upstream where the Kiskiminetas enters the Allegheny in Armstrong County.
The family Moronidae includes Striped Bass, White Bass and White Perch. This could be a tough one as their natural ranges do not overlap.
Striped Bass Morone saxatilis
White Bass Morone chrysops
White Perch Morone Americana
I would be inclined to go to the Delaware River for these.
Shad, the members of the family Clupeidae, are difficult to find in Pennsylvania. The lower Susquehanna River in Lancaster or York county would be my choice to find the two prevalent species, though I wouldn’t rule out the Delaware River.
American Shad Alosa sapidissima
Hickory Shad Alosa mediocris
Last but not least, and probably the hardest to catch all four species is the family Esocidae – the Pike Family. This family includes:
Grass or Redfin Pickerel Esox americanus
Chain Pickerel Esox niger
Northern Pike Esox Lucius
Muskellunge Esox masquinongy
I would probably go to northwestern Pennsylvania for this quest. The French Creek drainage would be a good starting point. Also the Allegheny Reservoir (a.k.a. Kinzua Lake) is a likely starting point. I would also consider Tioga County, though finding a northern pike there may be a bit problematic.
I have not included any of the minnow family, or suckers, drum or other fish that may from time to time show up such as Pacific salmon.
I am curious about your thoughts on this. And by the way, all the species mentioned can be caught on a fly. A “Fish Family Grand Slam on a Fly” or a “Fish Family Grand Slam on the Same Fly”; now there is a challenge.