Take Me to the River (Again)

It was a beautiful evening on the upper Genesee, accented by the constant song of robins rocking from the sycamores along the bank. With the water temperature warmer than the air, I was glad for the fishing shirt and sweater underneath the vest. They’d help me ward off the chill that would come from leaky waders. Given the time of year, I knew this cool weather with good angling conditions wouldn’t last for long.

“Take me to the river, drop me in the water… Take me to the river… And wash me down…” Even the robins of the sycamore seemed to know the Al Green song, the old Talking Heads beat echoed from the riffles and leaves.

I was the only one fishing the river here, except for the great blue heron poised above the upper pool. There was plenty of room to fish and think, to sympathize with residents of many other parts of the country currently threatened by heat and fire or from heat and flood. Knock on driftwood, this part of the northland was currently free from natural miseries but, of course, that could change at any hour. I’d better be kind to the river and its song, appreciate it, fish it, while I could.

“… Wash me down… Won’t you cleanse my soul… Put my feet on the ground…”

And the first trout, taken on a Little Yellow Stonefly, was a “tiger trout.” Hatchery hybrids are, in my view, like a mix of politics and religion, but I had to admit that my first “tiger” in New York, the first hybrid brown/brook trout I’d ever seen locally, was kind of cool. I didn’t even know that the hatchery guys had dropped them in the water here. Feisty. It wouldn’t let me take a decent photo of the brightly colored brown trout markings on its sides, the obvious vermiculation on the back, a sign of the native deep inside. The pattern didn’t resemble that of tigers I inspected elsewhere, but it certainly was different.

As I slowly worked my way upriver, casting with a 9-foot 4-weight rod, the fish came readily to the net. A dozen of them, mostly browns along with a rainbow or two. The wind  at my back was a fine assistant. It would calm down completely as the robins eased their song as dusk closed in. The best fish of the night were a couple of 15 and 16-inch browns that nabbed a soft-hackle Partridge & Orange (in tandem with a floating Caddis). Nice fish for the Genesee.

If it’s true that the first songs that we humans ever sang were inspired by the sounds of flowing water and the song of birds (as some believe), I saw a connection as the day died into darkness and the spinner flies of the drake and Cahill sort began to flutter to the currents. Trout continued rising… “… washing me down… cleansing my soul…”

It was time to change the tune briefly. Earlier in the year, friend Dale Houseknecht gave me one of his “Jimi Hendrix flies” to sample (not to be confused with a “Hendrickson”). It was my first try with a purple-bodied spinner. The bouyant artificial settled on the water like a piece of hazy light. The purple spinner seemed like a natural among the egg-laying bugs. A brown trout clamped onto the fly then came up for a quick photo and release.

“… Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why… Scuse me while I kiss the sky…!”

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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4 Responses to Take Me to the River (Again)

  1. Sounds like a great day and a very nice write up.

    Cool looking fly as well. It almost reminds me of a surfin merkin – at least in overall shape

  2. Thank you! Yeah the NY weather’s been holding up so far and making for some nice evenings (at least). I don’t know the surfin’ fly, unfortunately, but I do know Surfin’ Bird (which you really don’t want to hear me sing!).

  3. Dale Houseknecht says:

    Hi walt
    Glad you tried the fly sounds like its a winner!!


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