A Walk Through The Past

“Upstream the boisterous waters bubble down between the stones to coast in foam-flecked slicks and gentle glides along the banks, with now and then an underwater thrust that shifts the currents till they join in joyous union with the calmer waters of the Pig Pen Pool.” Dana Storrs Lamb “Where the Pools Are Bright and Deep” Winchester Press 1973

I was perusing my Catskill recreation map in search of possible grouse covers that I might discover, when my eyes fell upon a small notation along the Beaverkill not far above the junction. There in tiny letters I read the name: “Pig Pen Pool”. Those few small words brought an instant connection to the past, the Golden Age, where my heart permanently resides along bright waters.

The late Dana Lamb is one of my favorite writers, and I instantly recalled his story of the Pig Pen Pool, knowing that I had to visit the place. Lamb lived the Golden Age as an angler and sportsman, and one of the finest most heartfelt writers who has graced us with his memories. Lamb authored nine little books, most in small, limited editions. In them he shared experiences from classic trout streams and the great Atlantic Salmon rivers, grouse coverts and salt marshes.

We are three weeks into October. The winds and rains have inevitably battered our formerly glorious autumn colors, and our Catskill brown trout are more involved with spawning than with the pursuit of the fly, yet I was drawn to Roscoe on Monday afternoon, cane rod in hand, to pay homage to the past, and the words of a fellow gentleman angler. Though the pig pen itself has been replaced by a large grassy field, I found the relentless currents still “bubbling down between the stones”, meandering between sunlight and shadow on down into the boulder shrouded heart of the Pig Pen Pool.

I had fished the riffles and runs through the upstream reach Lamb so vividly described, probing the deep, shaded pockets along the mountain’s bank in a relentless wind. It was a warm day, at least for the moments suspended between the autumn gusts, and I felt that any trout interested in a meal would take up station among those pockets, either in sunlight or shade. I made each cast with a special thrill, and enjoyed great success, though no trout betrayed their presence. My reward was a walk back in time.

Walking down to the pool itself, I watched Lamb’s words come alive, watching in reverence as the bright waters “joined in joyous union”, and picturing the nearly two-foot trout his companion battled in it’s depths. I wished to fish this special place, but somehow I could not bring myself to cast my line there, not at least on this first visit to the shrine. Instead I stood entranced for a while, then finally remembered the camera at my side and snapped a few photos for the memory.

“Where the river rubs against a steeply slanting wooded hill the rocks and rhododendron offer shaded shelter in the water’s dark green depths. Down there, beside the cooling crystal springs that stir the snow white pebbles and the sand, the great elusive stream-bred beauties lie; longed for, unreachable and seldom seen.” Dana Storrs Lamb, “Where the Pools Are Bright and Deep, Winchester Press 1973.

Reading through his books, it is clear that Dana Lamb enjoyed a long association with the Beaverkill, and though this book, his seventh, was published late in life, I feel certain the images the story conveys share a lifetime’s worth of beauty and memory. He could easily have fished this pool a century ago, as a young man just coming of age, returning often as change raced through the Catskills. As he wished fervently, The Pig Pen Pool continues. May it always be so!

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