The Back Country, Sinnemahoning

Large coyote pauses on an open slope. Looks down-valley at the human looking up. Coyote ambles off, into the woods, the wild.

detail, I.F.

detail, I.F.

Small caddis hatch from the big stream, under deep blue sky, among the greening hills. Anglers stop on the bridge and shout, “Catchin’ any? We got nothin’ up above! Do they stock this stream?”

I could’ve lied and said they don’t. The anglers moved off anyway. I fished into the woods and lost a heavy trout, but that was it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADrove downstream, down below Costello, walked in at the Rossiter camp, among a dozen  fishermen, most of them with bait or spinning rods.

One guy with a fly rod told me they’d been fishing here a week. Caught a few trout but very few fish were rising. The Hendrickson was off; there was caddis in the evening, but the trout weren’t coming up.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I needed something wild so I traveled downriver. Turned eastward and on to the high ground. There I found the feeder stream and parked the car.

Packed away the 8-foot rod and rigged the 7-footer. Headed upstream, felt the air get cooler and more comfortable. The babbling run looked beautiful, but low. We needed rain.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYellow warblers in the willows, redstarts in the hardwood. Two small brook trout slamming the dry fly in the first pool that I saw.

Switched from Red Quill to a Stimulator, with the barbs pinched down. Onward, higher, past the final camp, catching brook trout after brook trout, young-of-the-year to size 10.5. The largest trout are the farthest from the road.

The “big fish” didn’t want its photo taken, though I measured him along the rod. HeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA flopped back into the water and darkness of the roots.

The brightly colored male was like coyote. Pausing on an open slope, on the gravel by a stream. Looking out at what looks in.


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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6 Responses to The Back Country, Sinnemahoning

  1. Puget Keith says:

    A very enjoyable post. I wish i could say more but i dont know much about fishing.

    • Keith, I’ve wanted this blog, with a variety of posts, to be more than just about fly-fishing. I strive for a focused reflection on a way of life. That’s why it’s so important to me to have readers like yourself, as well as those who are mostly interested in fishing with a fly.


      • Puget Keith says:

        Btw where is Sinnemahoning? Perhaps it is a coincidence but tonight i was looking at an Elk SF map and came across just such a place on PA 120. Is this place in PA?

      • Keith, You found the western edge of Sinnemahoning country with Rt. 120 eastward of St. Marys, PA. The Driftwood Branch Sinn. flows out of Elk County. My post here focuses on the eastern part of Sinn., the First Fork, flowing southward of Coudersport (Rt. 6) to the W. Br. Susquehanna. And also on the East Fork, Sinn. that flows into the First Fork. Photos are from East Fork country. I find it a complex but stimulating watershed.


  2. Joseph Hord says:

    It’s moments like that coyote that I sometimes tend to remember more than the fishing. That’s a beautiful brook trout, it makes me want to sneak away to a little tributary creek I know about and catch a few. Hopefully one day soon I’ll make it up there!

    • Joseph, That coyote moment is a special thing, and within the reach of anyone. A wild thing suddenly appears. It need not be far from home. We make a connection with it, and we remember. Here’s hoping you have the chance soon to connect with a pretty little brook or two. Thanks for commenting!


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