Stormy Weather

I was planning to fish this morning, hoping in fact for another round with the tricos that started my week in such fine fashion, but the rain that wakened me before five turned heavy. I rolled over and napped a bit, then found as expected it was to be another stormy day. The sun arrived later, but each time I thought about pulling on my waders and putting a rod in the car the wind would rise and the dark clouds gather.

I fished yesterday, a deliciously cool breezy day that felt more like late September than August. I trusted that the ten to fifteen mile winds would make a day of active terrestrial fishing, but things didn’t turn out that way. The only time I saw a sign of rising fish came at the peak of the wind storm, when casting accuracy and presentation were quite simply impossible. That mid afternoon blow was a lot more powerful than “ten to fifteen”. Perhaps adding those numbers would be closer to the mark. Picture fishing a quiet pool, with the wind blowing waves with whitecaps upstream!

Amid the ruckus I saw one spitting rise at a distance. The waves and floating debris made it tough to pick a target, so I made half a dozen casts to cover the area. On the last pitch I watched the tall hackle of my Grizzle Beetle bob into a trough between waves. It didn’t come back up. I tightened securely into a good fish and battled him while the wind tried to steal my hat. Leading him at last into the net I found a fine twenty-one inch wild brown, with my beetle way down in the back of his mouth.

I would have never known that trout had taken without that visible hackle collar. I trim the fibers on the bottom of the fly, but not the top, for visibility is a key to fishing terrestrials effectively. The problem with the typical black beetle or ant is that you cannot see what your fly is doing. If you can’t judge the quality of your drift, you can’t correct its flaws. The Grizz was an idea born of enhanced visibility and movement, and it’s making an impressive track record for itself.

The Pastoral Falling Spring Branch, in better days…

I had a chance to catch up with my friend Andy from Chambersburg last evening. Doctor B has been more than busy this season dealing with the impacts of Coronavirus, welcoming a fourth child, and becoming a riparian landowner. Stopping to catch his breath he told me of his hopes to restore his section of the Falling Spring. With all the young father and doctor tackles on a daily basis, I have no doubt he will succeed.

There was a time when I gave my heart fully to that little limestone stream. She holds many memories and it was hard to see her fall upon bad times over the past decade. I was looking back at old photos hoping to find a streamside shot of Andy’s new property before the decline, though I fear those images predate my digital age.

Seventy degree shirtsleeve weather in March, and one of my last big boys taken from the Spring: a 23 inch brown that fell for my Shenk Sculpin!

Limestone, ahh the images in my memory! I hunted the limestone springs for more than two decades, daily during my fly shop years. Winter wasn’t the end of fishing, it was simply the beginning of a new year. My best Falling Spring rainbow, five pounds of brilliant crimson flanked wild energy, came to hand late in January on a twenty degree morning, the water above the little riffle steaming as it mixed with the frigid air! Then as now, I dreamed of the past, when fly hatches were heavy and the dry fly was king; but numerous trophies came to Ed Shenk’s Sculpin and Minnow, and my own Limestone Shrimp.

To go back I would indeed have to go back in time. Should I miraculously acquire that skill, there would be many stops to make. Now though, there is hope. Andy related more news, that a large meadow downstream may get a new rehab. The Falling Spring faithful waited decades for that meadow’s face lift, and when it came our hopes were high. Tragically Mother Nature gave us a freak winter flood, undoing all that was accomplished. It would be serendipity indeed if restoration could wash over this reach once again.

Day’s End: Summer Along The Spring

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