Dry Flies, Waterfalls, and Trout

For several days over the past week we anticipated heavy rain and evening OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMay 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.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe 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 cameOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 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.

I would be coming back, of course. More pools with waterfalls were waiting.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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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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12 Responses to Dry Flies, Waterfalls, and Trout

  1. Bob Stanton says:

    Wow, you’ve got that many falls that close to home? Impressive. There are only a couple of falls around here (that I know of) and they aren’t all that overwhelming…though they’re still pretty.

  2. There’s a lot of small waterfalls close by. I’ve got an 8 or 9-footer at the house, and along the featured stream there’s probably close to a dozen averaging 5 to 6-feet. A bit farther afield we’ve got some 30 to 40-footers which are really nice, and plenty of those across the border near Pine Creek. Lastly, there’s the tourist attractions at places like Letchworth and Ithaca. I love ’em, Bob. Happy angling!

  3. Kevin Frank says:

    I’m more than envious. Great pictures and post. I love water like that.

  4. Mark W says:

    Some lovely country so close to home!

  5. Junior says:

    I assume I’m not far off in commenting that those pictures really “rock.”

  6. You’re “rock on” in your assumption there, Junior. You know your watersheds.

  7. Alan says:

    I love tossing a fly into those pools under a waterfall. The anticipation of what might take is a special feeling to an angler on a small stream.

    • I agree, Alan. That blend of special place plus anticipation has a spiritual component. Like being in a pleasant kitchen, even in a bar or church if those places resonate with hope.

  8. Greetings! I too love to fly fish for wild trout in wild, beautiful places. Im also exposing kids to this very pleasurable pastime. They need to be the guardians of wild places in the future. Thanks for sharing your images and ideas.

    • So many kids love, or would love, to fly fish for trout if only encouraged or given the chance to experience it. What you’re doing, Jeffry, is incredibly important for kids, for wildlife and for healthy habitats. Thank you for sharing this, and for what you’re passing on to our youth and collective future. Please stop by again!

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