Autumn Journal: October 9

I took advantage of a golden Indian Summer day to fish for brook trout in the Genesee River headwaters. I began at Orebed Creek, walking upstream through the forest on the banks of this little known stream. With a seven-foot cane rod and a beadhead nymph tied to the tippet of the leader, I caught and released seven brookies ranging in size from young-of-the-year to eight-inch adults. It was pleasing to see that the steep wooded bank near the bridge remained free of trash. A year ago I helped organize the Upper Genesee Chapter of Trout Unlimited in a massive clean-up here that included the removal of several tons of worn-out tires.

From Orebed I drove to my favorite New York brookie water. The big culvert at this “unnamed brook” was overly quiet and moderately silted. I caught six chubs and only one brook trout. Last October I was here and hooked my largest wild brook trout to date (13 inches) while the landowner sat on his tractor over the culvert crossing and gave his “thumbs up” approval. So what was wrong today? Had there been a summer kill or dispersal of trout due to heat? Was there a problem from an upstream gas well?

I moved on to Spring Mills Creek and fished with permission on a lovely private stretch. A mink swam ahead of me while hunting fish. I was glad I didn’t have to compete. Like a mink I often fish alone, enjoying the solitude and the feel of wildness, although I also like to fish with a partner when I can, sharing the experience and the kick of comaraderie. Mostly I fish alone because compatible partners are few and far between, often living too far away to meet with on a regular basis. Many of the anglers I know are just not as obsessed, or crazy, about fly fishing, nor are they as willing to creep, crawl and curse their way through the jungles of growth often found on eastern brook trout waters.

I finished my day where a spring brook wends its way into Cryder Creek. A high sandy bank along the Cryder supports many trees planted by our chapter of Trout Unlimited. I tied on a dry fly pattern known as “Purple Haze.” This Adams variant tied in the parachute style was one of several Hazes that I purchased in Montana. Purple Haze. I made a delicate cast to a deep riffle and thought of Jimi Hendrix, watching the fly parachute to its designated spot on the water and waiting for a flourish equal to a fine distortion of musical phrase. A sizeable brown trout chased the drifting fly and seized it. The fish shot downstream and spit out the Haze before  I knew what was happening. Stone free. I pulled in the line, the leader and the fly, empty as the hour, bouyant as the creek.

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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