From a Favorite Stream, to You

The stream flows through a rugged hollow in rivertop country. It joins a branch of the river near its headwaters. The river, itself, flows north and empties into Lake Ontario, and eventually the waters merge with the Atlantic. DSCN2767

The stream, always deep within a forest, is never more than six to eight feet wide, and forms one of my favorite brook trout haunts. It nourishes a roadless area of roughly eight square miles although, technically speaking, a gated jeep trail runs along the stream, sometimes on a slope above the water, sometimes closer to its side, connecting several hunting camps along its three-mile route.

DSCN2744The stream is nourished by a multitude of springs that keep it cold in summer and free of ice in wintertime. It’s a place of solitude and peace and wildness that is never lonely. For this reason, as well as for its own integrity, it needs protection from the specters of pollution and industrial greed.

A week ago I walked a mile of the stream. Fresh snow lay on its banks. Today (just before a major holiday) I made another visit, fishing, after heavy rain and snow-melt had brought a flush of color to the flow. My small window of fishing opportunity was streaked in a mix of rain and snow.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was basic fly-fishing. Tight and challenging, with a short rod and leader, with an underhand or bow-and-arrow cast. I dropped a weighted fly into likely holding areas. It was good to be out on the stream once more, where the only other sign of human presence was a string of mink and coon traps waiting for a paw.

Several brook trout bit the fly but quickly got away. Then, in an eddy just below a massive root wad, I got a surprise– a wild brown, a nice fish, rather than the usual native. I was glad for the quick photo and release, but the new presence of brown trout in a native brook trout stream was a matter of concern, or at least a serious question.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith the latest angling news aside, I offer such a place, this stream, in the hope that it reminds you of a similar locale. It could be any natural area, or green niche, that is special– worthy of your exploration and appreciation. From this rivertop to that special place within you, a wish for a happy and healthy new year. May the land and waters be sustainable and clean, for you and yours and the environment beyond.DSCN2752DSCN2746

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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19 Responses to From a Favorite Stream, to You

  1. Anonymous says:

    Very nice! A happy, healthy New Year to you and yours. Would you believe I never fish? Still I really enjoy your adventures and consern for the wild places that remain. Howard Kogan

  2. Howard, great to hear from you again. I remember that you once mentioned being a non-angler, so I’m extra grateful for your being a faithful reader. I do try to give voice for the wild places that trout and other wildlife inhabit, so like to think that RR is more than just a fly-fishing blog. Thanks for your comment, and best for 2014!

  3. LQN says:

    Walt – beautiful snowy stream, its a gem for sure.

  4. Thanks Long, it’s a small stream with characteristics of both freestone and spring, one that I’m sure you’d like investigating.

  5. Les Kish says:

    A happy, and most of all, a healthy New Year to you too Walt. An eight square mile chunk of roadless country is huge by most eastern standards. I hope that you can keep this one in your pocket for many more enjoyable days.

  6. I hope you have a wonderful, fish-filled New Year as well, Walt.

  7. Thank you, Les, and the same to you. Yeah the land is a reasonably large chunk of wildness by eastern standards, outside of protected status. The odds are against us, but I’m hoping for the best.

  8. Jim, Wishing you a very happy and creative New Year at home and on the water.

  9. Alan says:

    A pristine stream. Several wild browns have showed up in a few brookie streams I fish.
    Can’t understand how they get there.

  10. Alan, It’s a mystery and concern for those who are rooting for native trout to hold on to the last of their historic waters in the East. If the streams are warming, brown trout will be there to occupy the native’s former haunts. At any rate, it’s an issue for us anglers and biologists to keep an eye on.

    • Bob Stanton says:

      I walked about a mile of a very small stream yesterday. I’ve always known of its presence, as it flows adjacent to a state game lands I frequent, but I’ve never given it much thought. I’ll have to throw a fly in it come spring to see what it holds. Heading out again right now to explore some more woods and waters.

  11. These pictures look like home to me. Just a glance at your blog makes me remember why I love having grown up in north central Pennsylvania.

  12. It’s a great place to have grown up, David. Unlike you, I was formed in a different place, but I’m glad to live nearby and to have grown fond of its wilder aspects. Thanks for reading!

  13. Bob, You never know about those places (unless someone’s informed you) until you give them a try. Small streams will surprise us one way or another. Let me know what you find out there.

  14. Hey Walt,

    Is that a Fenwick in the picture?



  15. That’s a Fenwick glass rod, Mike, a sweet little 6-footer for a 5/6 weight line that works very well in tight stream situations. Thanks for asking!

    • That’s awesome. My Dad left one behind and I recognized yours by the curved cork, color, and wrap. Mines a sturdy 6 weight that I use to chuck streamers. Thanks for sharing. The rod that was passed down must be from the late 70s to 80s.

  16. Mike, Good to hear you’ve got one of those glass Fenwicks from your Dad. Some of those remaining today are really comfortable and versatile, though I started off feeling less than great about them. My first fly rod was a Fenwick (I still have it), a glass 7.5 footer for a 5-weight, which I never really liked that much. Because its action is a bit crappy, I assumed all glass Fenwicks were crap– until rather recently. I’ve seen and cast a few dandies and, when I had a chance to buy the little 6-footer last summer, I jumped at it. The action is wonderful, and I enjoy fishing it on small to tiny trout streams. Your rod may have come from the late 70s, if not before. Fenwick glass hit its peak before 1973 or thereabouts, when the company kicked off the graphite era.

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