The Cedar Run Experience: Part 3

[Apology: As I went to load the photos that accompany this post, my camera’s memory card went senile and defunct. Unfortunately I lost everything on it and could not use the photos I wanted. I had several nice ones of Dale casting on the run, but I’ve had to scramble for the substitutes here included. Hopefully they will suffice. W. F.]

After my presentation of “The Slate Run Odyssey” program for the Slate Run Sportsmen (SRS) summer meeting in Pennsylvania, I went fly-fishing (believe it, or not). Leighanne was with me, as was Dale H., who serves as vice-president for the SRS. Dale had never really fished on neighboring Cedar Run, so that’s where I suggested we should go.Coffin Fly

In parts 1 and 2 of this Cedar Run series I explained that I would try to explore the entirety of Cedar Run’s eleven-mile length and try to do so sequentially. I would head upstream and take each section piece by piece without missing a pool or a riffle of this wild and scenic water. That remains my intention, but I’m willing to allow for exceptions. I would rather free myself of several restrictions imposed on my earlier walks along Slate Run.

the vintnerIntroducing Dale to Cedar Run, I did not take him into the gorge as I intended for myself after last week’s visit. I took him upstream to the first road crossing, to a place where Leighanne could relax with her crochet work or stretch out as she wished, and where Dale could have a pleasant introduction to the stream without it biting him, so to speak.

Not that I was worried for Dale. He’s a veteran fly angler and he’s had his share of “roughing it.” We chose the place for its convenience that day. With a late afternoon start, an upstream site made sense for us.at last

Never mind the darker side of Cedar Run, one of the most pristine creeks in Pennsylvania. I nearly lost an eye along this stream about 15 years ago. And I knew a fly angler who once fell off a cliff along this stream and was forced to lie out overnight with broken bones until a search party came next day to find him. Never mind the darker side of Cedar Run.

On Saturday, with an overcast sky and a prospect of wild trout, Dale and I headed up a feeder stream toward a plunge-pool of a falls I knew about. “Did you bring your rattlesnake repellent?” he asked. I wondered what snake repellent would smell like. Surely it wasn’t like the redolence of dame’s-rocket flowers, those white and purple blossoms at the stream banks, one of the sweetest springtime odors imaginable, and perhaps a great repellent for humanity on an overcrowded planet.

dame's rocketI caught and released a small brook trout on the feeder stream but, oddly enough, there were no fish rising to a dry fly at the plunge-pool. This was starting to resemble an adventure in exceptions.

Back at Cedar Run, I discovered that a side pocket to my vest had been left open, and it was empty. One thing I’m always careful about when fishing is to close each pocket after taking out or replacing an item. If you carry valuables and do otherwise, time will break your heart. On this occasion (surely an exception), an Orvis box of tiny flies was missing. I quickly calculated the hours spent tying a couple hundred artificials in sizes down to #24, and my head just swam.

Leighanne joined me on a mission impossible, retracing my way along the feeder creek to the falls. I figured that the box fell out at mid-stream while releasing the brook trout, and by now the flies were on a journey down Cedar Run to big Pine Creek. But this was an adventure in exceptions, right? I quickly found the fly box camouflaged on the forest floor, and I could breathe freely again.Cedar Run

Dale and I enjoyed casting to some sizeable browns, wild fish that can be extremely wary and a challenge to raise on tranquil surfaces of pools, and even more challenging when those surfaces are wrinkled with conflicting currents.

We caught and released a few smaller fish in areas of the Long Branch Pool. Sulphurs hatched sporadically, as did Gray Fox, stone flies (green and yellow), and Slate Drakes. I was fishing downstream, not my preferred method, and following a family of fish-eating mergansers and possibly even another angler (whom I hadn’t yet seen). These were not good signs, and yet, with a Slate Drake on the leader tippet, I raised and hooked a large brown trout in the fast water, and held on long enough to see its exceptional girth.

The fishing was slow for early June, but the pools and riffles, the forested cliffs and flower-studded banks were breath-taking. The redolence of dame’s-rocket flowers held the world at bay.wild brown

When we got back to the vehicles, Leighanne added details of the mountain traffic that had passed while we were fishing. We decided it was time for an evening meal. Dale was headed back toward Slate Run on his homeward route. Leighanne and I would be heading north, the opposite direction, but a Slate Run dinner on the bank of Pine Creek sounded good, so off we went.

It was pleasant to dine on the edge of land and water. It was like a fine exception to a life’s routine.Mine Hole Falls

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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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10 Responses to The Cedar Run Experience: Part 3

  1. Another wonderful ramble. Good job finding the box of flies. Your eyes must be holding up better than mine. (Of course, I’d stand a better chance of finding the box than reading the words on the side of it.)

    • I actually had a photo of the fly box, olive green, among the vegetation (photo lost). I’m still amazed to have found it, amazed that it didn’t fall into the stream where it would have floated away. Dumb luck, Jim, because my eyes are getting lousy!

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  2. Kenov says:

    Very nice. I wish I had spent more time on the streams. You’re not going to Boiling Springs for Heritage Day this weekend, are you?

    • Wish I had a chance for Boiling Springs this weekend. I’ll be 3 days on the West Branch Delaware in NY, trying not to get swept away and to figure out the hatches.

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  3. Kenov says:

    Good. Always better to fish than to attend some event only related to fishing (though I’ll def. hit the Letort and Big Spring). Good luck!

  4. Joseph Hord says:

    I’m really enjoying the Cedar Run Experience posts. Thanks for taking us along on your rambles, and I’m glad the fly box turned up for you!

    • Thank you Joseph for coming along and commenting. And yeah, I was damned lucky to find it, actually. Live and learn.

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      • Bob Stanton says:

        Glad you found your flybox, Walt. I’m an expert at losing things streamside, and over the years have tried to mitigate that skill somewhat by keeping things tethered to me, buying stuff in bright, noticable colors, and yes, by keeping pockets zipped up. I’m especially paranoid about losing my car keys. I’ve probably just jinxed myself by typing that.

      • I, too, hope you didn’t jinx yourself by mentioning your car keys– I share a similar fear– and probably (no, no) jinx myself by saying that, as well. Some good ideas there, Bob. It’s funny how backcountry flyfishing seems to bring out the superstition in some of us. Ex., while suiting up at the car, I have to place the car keys in my street hat before locking up, or I might misplace or forget them. I doubt that it’s helpful, but I’d rather not find out otherwise.

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