River Walks

Riverwalk: A bit of exercise, a taste of mountain air, and the sight of bright water help pull me through the long months of winter. There are days I walk down the road in sunshine, and walk back in a squall!

Sunshine this morning, sunshine and honest melting! My river walk, bright on both fronts, brightened my mood and made me think of fishing.

The river speaks again after a few days of silence, the ceaseless flow finding new paths through ice and snow. It was too silent on my last visit, it’s voice stilled beneath the ice so nothing moved. I welcome the music as the current trickles over the brown stones, onward to the Delaware!

December 19th, and the voice of Crooked Eddy is silenced, with skim ice coating the spare little channels…

The local wildlife seems to enjoy the road as much as I. In daylight the tracks of the man overwrite the tracks of the deer; until dusk, when the tracks of the deer overwrite the tracks of the man. I am amazed to see their paths heading up and down the near vertical walls of snow that still define the steep river banks. Point Mountain meets the East Branch Delaware abruptly here.

Yes, once again I ponder thoughts of fishing, though I know there is still a lot of waiting to be done. The melting begins slowly with the sunlight on the slopes, but Christmas Eve could approach fifty degrees with rain, and that could turn this morning’s bright, clear low flow to a brown torrent, pushing the ice where it will. These are the events that change rivers, carving new pools from gravelly flats, while filling in familiar pools angled in the past. A man can never completely know a river.

I took a float trip once with a guide on Ohio’s Grand River. We searched the spring flow for steelhead and found plenty: truly wonderful fishing! While enjoying a hot lunch grilled right there in the drift boat we talked about the river and her fish. My guide advised that he always floated her solo the first time or two each spring. He needed time to explore all over again, to take stock of the drastic changes winter’s ice pack had wrought, that he might know where the steelhead would hold when anglers joined him come April’s thaw.

I hear the snowmelt running on the roof as I write, and the sound makes me think of spring despite myself. Gail was an autumn storm, a powerful one to be sure, but just an early first volley of winter, not the last.

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