For several days over the past week we anticipated heavy rain and evening thunderstorms in the area, so after work I kept my fishing close to home. Falls Creek (not its real name) is found within a few miles of where I live and is a quality stream inhabited by native trout.
The creek is well-named. Rocks and waterfalls break the lower half of its flow from a ridge between two major watersheds. For an hour or two each afternoon I fished along a mile of water where no less than eight small waterfalls and plunge-pools can be found. Brook trout hide among the pools and were eager to rise and strike a drifting fly.
May is a terrific time to fly-fish in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic regions of the country and I hate to see a day go by when I can’t be close to a stream where flies are hatching and the brook trout rising. Getting out there, by hook or crook (wading staff?), allows me to sustain myself and feel alive. I try to fish a little every afternoon, as much as I try to commute to work and back, to eat a meal, to absorb good music and to write. It’s therapeutic, I suppose.
The first afternoon I found the creek a bit high and slightly turbid. I fished the first two waterfalls above the hunting cabins, getting a strike at a dry fly on my first cast, but then doing better with a bead-head nymph. I caught six brookies at the plunge-pools but did nothing inbetween them where the stream bed is primarily slate.
The second afternoon I saw another storm-threat building over the hilltops. Again I was fishing with my 7-foot Phillipson, a 3 or 4-weight rod redone by Tom Maxwell, of Thomas & Thomas fame. The rod seemed perfect for the stream at these conditions. I caught two more brookies at waterfall #3 as I worked my way slowly upstream before the rain caught up to me and punctuated my therapy with trout.
The third afternoon promised heavy rain to come (and when it did arrive, late that night, it poured and overflowed the streams and rivers, a reminder of the climate chaos in the world). I hastened my adventure by returning to the stream where I had left it the day before. I fished to waterfall #4 and then on up to #5. The creek was in good flow but the hemlocks crowded the surface on one side, and a rock wall crowded me on the other. The trees and wall form a tunnel of wildness that is difficult to fish.
There were trout in the pockets between these waterfalls. Most of the brookies that came to hand, however, took a dry fly at the plunge-pools. It was a relief to break out from the tunnel and arrive at a pool. At that point I could stretch and stand again and not feel like a four-legged predator emerging from rocks and overhanging branches. I could do a forward cast again.
That night, several inches of rain poured down and blew-out many of the streams and rivers in the region. Southern California was on fire due to drought, and western New York was taking the appearance of a muddy broth. My three short spells of brook trout fishing after work would come in handy for me. They were like a satisfying meal or like a sermon given from the lip of a pretty waterfall. They would get me through a few rough days of no fishing at all.