A Glimpse of Sunlight

Quite simply, remembering and wishing for fishing is what we have in the winter months…

It has been a dour week at Crooked Eddy, freezing or close to it and gray. While trying to fill the crock pot with the makings of stew this morning the sun, that nearly forgotten glowing orb in the southeastern sky burned through a little hole in the gloom. Flipping the switch on the pot at last, I tripped into my boots and grabbed my down jacket, heading for the river.

The air felt more welcoming than the thirty degrees registering on my porch, and my aching bones relaxed a bit as they warmed. I walked briskly, anxious to reach the river road and bid hello to the East Branch Delaware.

The river is clear this morning, with the flow reduced enough that familiar rocks have returned, marked by little vees in the current. There’s no fishing there in winter, and my river walks are restricted to the road by private holdings, but it lifts my spirits simply to walk along and take stock of conditions. The Eagles of Point Mountain haven’t shown up this winter, though I am always hopeful that they will. I watch the pair from my porch on summer evenings, circling high above the ridgetop as the sun kisses the trees with its last direct glow. Some evenings they circle northwest toward the West Branch valley, some they remain here to the east or fly south toward the widening valley of the Delaware. I wish them good hunting as they glide.

Watchers In The Mist

I’ve a friend in my former haunts who has achieved one of my old dreams; he owns a reach of the Falling Spring. He hopes to restore it to its former glory over time, though he’s now content to walk the banks with his children, showing them the darting forms of the shy wild trout. There was a time that was my favorite reach of the gentle limestone spring. Bright gravel and watercress harbored the mayflies: sulfurs, olives and the tiny tricorythodes. I loved to stalk the undercuts in summer, casting a LeTort Cricket or LeTort Hopper tight to the edge! When everything was right, big trout would nudge their noses out from under the grass and chose my fly for supper.

My largest Falling Spring trout taken on a trico came to hand one sunny morning along that same lovely stretch of bright water, one of the wild rainbows that nearly disappeared in that shallow, sunlit, gravelly glide. Delicate tackle was required, a dull gray two or three weight line, it’s long leader tipped with 7X nylon. The game required judging the perfect compromise in distance, ranging each cast so nothing but tippet and fly would land near those long shadows painting the gravel, while ensuring the fly could still be tracked.

On a perfect morning the trout would spread out across the glide, and with luck, two or three could be taken. Starting with the nearest bow on the outside and working upstream and closer to the bank, turning each toward midstream the very instant it was hooked; it was easier with a ten inch trout, much less so with those stretching to sixteen inches or more. Such fish wanted back beneath the undercut banks, and had to be finessed on 7X tippet and a size 24 hook. If they were packed too tightly, or the largest were the outside risers, it was a one fish game.

Shimmer: a grand limestone rainbow lurks in a run of bright gravel, a sheltering weed bed inches away.

I wish my friend luck and success with his dream for that lovely reach of stream. Oh the joy and wonder he might reap upon re-building that undercut bank! Given their old sanctuary, the eighteen inch browns and rainbows would return in time. With the cooperation of neighbors, the entire stream could be narrowed, allowing the pinched current to carve new holding lies. Cattle widened much of the stream long ago you see, leaving shallow water and no shelter for the trout there.

A lot of that work occurred during the years of Falling Spring Greenway, and things looked brighter. The Greenway donated land to the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, who thanked them by ignoring the stream and failing to protect it from poaching. Small water can be so easily damaged by a handful of selfish souls.

My friend’s reach is protected by the neighbors, a cluster of homeowners who appreciate the bright little spring creek. There are eyes ever watching for it is a beautiful centerpiece for their circle of country homes. Perhaps one day I might return, my three weight cane rod swishing tricos to dimpling rainbows on a summer morning! Dreaming…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s