Since the publisher for my book called River’s Edge is working on a reprint edition, I was looking at the book again and almost randomly opened to the chapter called “Fishing the Runs.” There the subject matter seemed appropo for my recent jaunts to Cedar Run, so I thought to quote a paragraph from the first page…
“I’m reminded that at one point in (Harry) Middleton’s On the Spine of Time the reader finds a campfire setting with a character named Mulligan. Stars are shining brightly on the scene as Mulligan, a Brooklynite who’s found the joys of fly fishing and who’s unwittingly adopted a philosophy surrounding that activity, listens to an inquiry:
Which way’s heaven, you suppose, Mulligan? Autumn leaves rustle at the edges of a campfire light as Mulligan responds:
I’ve been busy at work for the last week or so, but I still attempted, in my own feeble way, to “follow the trail and keep close to the stream.” I did it in the typical Franklin manner– visiting the river and a couple of streams as time allows…
1 Genesee River/ stocked trout: I’d been hoping to find the Slate Drake hatching out beneath the evening sky. I found this wonderful mayfly. I had seen a large brown trout on my previous visit and I wanted another shot at fooling him. As luck would have it, the big fish rose to the Slate Drake pattern on my second cast. I hooked him… but I didn’t hold. I blamed the tricky currents that required constant mending of the line, but the currents blamed me right back. They said, “You didn’t set the hook in time.” Okay, so my hold on the massive trout was weak. With a couple of powerful runs, that hatchery trout just spit the fly in my direction.
Although my hope for the evening was deflated, I couldn’t complain. Other trout were slashing at flies that hatched from the riffles. I caught a bunch, including one about 16 inches long. The river had a place for stocked trout. It was compromised by summer heat and other limitations, but it also had a scattering of springs and deeper holes where trout might carry through the seasons. Wild fish were restricted to its tributaries. At a time like this, it was fun to cast for hatchery trout and not feel guilty.
2 Cedar Run/ wild trout: Now I was getting somewhere. To Cedar Run again, if only for an hour following an entomology and fly-fishing program given to the Slate Run Sportsmen by the Pennsylvania angler, Dave Rothrock. If a fly-fisher ever needs to be humbled at the game, he or she ought to sit in on a Rothrock show of great photography and fly-fishing tips.
Leighanne dropped me off midway at the stream for an hour of casting in the showery woods. There’s no need for stocked fish on a beautiful stream like Cedar. The browns and brookies reproduce in wild abandon. The pristine pools and riffles offered a few Blue-winged Olives and Slate Drakes for the viewing, but a small Elkhair Caddis (#18) was my ticket to the great beyond inhabited by (mostly) browns.
3 Upper Pine/ native trout: This was it, the apex of my angling week. Perhaps the stream, a high country feeder, is the kind of place that Mulligan, the fisherman/philosopher in Middleton’s book, enjoyed while in the Smokies and by which he saw the lights of heaven.
Actually the stream was still summer slow, giving up just a few native brooks, but autumn was arriving with its promise. I could see it in the witch-hazel blooms, in the tinge of browning leaves, and I could feel it in the air.
I enjoyed fishing this stream with my four-piece fly rod, a seven-footer for a four-weight line. The “Superfine” almost seemed to shoot the weight-forward line by itself, without an effort from my wrist.
In another week or two, the brook trout would be deepening their colors, preparing for the spawn. I’d be back at this stream or another one like it, with an artificial fly and barbless hook. Such waters should be cherished.