The Blown Fuse, No Coffee, Fly-Tying Blues

Three lost souls scurried across Slate Run village at dawn. One of them balanced a coffee-maker in his hands, a precious cargo filled with dry coffee and water to brew. A fuse had blown at their small cabin when the coffee-maker got turned on. The culprit, though, was a fuse box at the owner’s house next door. The three souls might have been coffee addicts but they weren’t about to wake the cabin’s owner at dawn. DSCN4151

They were on their way to a sympathetic house across the street and up the hill (thank you, Jeff and Karen!). The house had an electrical outlet on the porch. The three were careful not to wake the sympathetic owners of the place. The coffee got brewed in the fog and robin’s song of dawn. A time would come when they all wished for a photo of that brewing operation on the porch.

DSCN4125The night before, the three lost souls had met to fly-fish on big Pine Creek. Tomorrow they would teach the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in northern Pennsylvania how to tie a trout fly and how to cast a fly rod, but now they hoped to catch a trout in the chilly waters of the creek. They fished till dark but the long-anticipated hatch did not occur. The trout ignored Dan’s tandem rig. Some rocks snagged Dale’s fly that he cast with a brand-new Orvis rod, and Walt’s leaky waders made him curse through grinding teeth.

One mug of coffee in the early morning hours wasn’t quite enough. Walt needed three,DSCN4127 at least, but no shops were open at such an hour and, besides, the trio needed to be moving toward Little Pine State Park where the BSA were camped out for a full day of events.

Walt was on tying duty, with help from Hugh and Mike. Dale and Dan were on casting duty, with help from Ron and one or two others. The 150-200 scouts came through in groups of 10 to 20 for each 45-minute session. They received general instruction at each station and then the gray-haired folk attempted to provide individual assistance.

DSCN4157At the fly-tying class, the subject for the scouts was how to tie a Green Weenie wet fly. The materials for this most basic of artificial flies were simple: a long-shanked hook, a bead, and a strip of chartreuse chenille. Simple, yes, but god knows, good for fishing.

A few of the scouts had previous experience, but most were beginners, all thumbs and eagerness. For hours, Walt shuffled around behind the students at their vises, redirecting thread, explaining operations, and wiping his nose from all the cold wind sweeping through the park pavilion.

Lunch was served at a different site. A decent salad and the great American hot dog. For hours he’d been serving up Green Weenies at the vise, watching fly rods waving in DSCN4121rhythmic motion, and now there were hot dogs on every paper plate. Just as he began to worry about the Freudian symbology of it all, it was time to return to the tables and the casting lawn, and to hopefully spark some interest in the outdoor crafts.

It was tough work and his back was sore. He was tired and his system still shouted for caffeine. The closing ceremony for the BSA couldn’t come soon enough, but the end result was satisfaction. The kids had had a blast with a multitude of activities in a beautiful mountain setting. They had sharpened their skills at tying, casting, building, rocket launching, and what have you.

When the old guys looked at the world to be, their blues didn’t feel quite so dark.DSCN4116DSCN4126DSCN4138


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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8 Responses to The Blown Fuse, No Coffee, Fly-Tying Blues

  1. Bob Stanton says:

    Sounds like a good time, Walt, under-caffeinated though you were. And I’m sure the scouts won’t forget it, and who knows, some may be future fly-fishers because of your efforts. When is trout season gonna take off, fer cryin’ out loud?

    • You didn’t miss too much here, Bob, although (again) there was something good to be taken afterall. More work than fly-fishing, which is still slumbering, isn’t it? Saw a few Hendricksons, finally, on Oswayo, but nothing doing. Sigh…

  2. Bob Stanton says:

    I finally hitch a decent hatch today – blue quills – but the high water negated any surface activity. The only fish I caught or moved were on streamers. I’ll keep on flogging away though.

    • The high water is keeping things slow. The one exception I find is the brookie fishing on the headwaters where the streams look normal and the trout are taking dries.

  3. marymaryone says:

    Glad to hear you were able to put in some service, even without the necessary caffeine.

  4. I was glad, too, Mary, but I was stretching it. Caffeine addiction is not a pretty sight.

  5. Way to overcome! Since you didn’t write about strangling any slow learners, I guess we can assume you at least got the caffeine levels up into the safe zone.

    • I struggled with it, Jim, and kept my hands under control, but had to warn those darned extremities bluntly. By the way, good to hear from you. Wasn’t sure if you floated away on a johnboat in those floods down there, or kept safely dry.

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