High Water Weekend

The following are my Top 10 fly-fishing highlights for a four-day holiday weekend. They range far and wide through my fields of interest. Fishing, for sure, but also solitude and family fun, commitment to ideals as well as simple looning about. Any one of these DSCN4217 highlights could have been my Number 1 the moment it occurred. Events are ordered sequentially, but stop short of favoritism.  Mind cannot impose a rigid ordering of events and still be fair to nature. That said, I hope you, too, had a string of highlights as enjoyable, or more.

*Guided fifth-grade students in the planting of small commemorative flags at headstones of the Veterans Administration Cemetary at Bath, New York. We planted thousands of the little flags. The kids gave thanks to those who served.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA*Spent two hours on the home stream watching Grannom caddis hatching over brook trout. Caught and released 23 of the rising square-tails before quitting time. The big one got away, of course, a colorful 10-incher that suggested an alternative title for this post, “The Greenwood Getaway.” I fished from waterfalls #5 up through falls #10. It was great to see that, with all the water coming through, the brookies were distributed in the pockets, riffles, and minor pools, and not just in the plunge-pool of each waterfall .

*Helped the Slate Run Sportsmen pick up trash along the Slate Run Road. Found the beautiful Yellow Lady’s Slipper in blossom there and felt sorry that it had to share space with discarded cans of Bud Lite. Couldn’t believe that, with all my years in the woods, I’d never seen this wildflower before today.

*Pine Creek and its tributaries were too full for comfortable wading but I fished a littleOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA feeder stream and a caught a sizeable brook trout on a dry. Downstream on the Manor Fork, I got the big surprise. Not a brook trout but a wild brown of immense proportion. Held the brown in the deep hole for half a minute before the stonefly nymph pulled out. In retrospect, I should’ve let the big guy run down to the rushing water. I would have had a better shot at holding him.

*Took time to smell the dew-appointed lilac blooms when the sun first touched the valley.

DSCN4176*Enjoyed some bird photography. Yellow warbler, house wren, bald eagle on the nest, great egrets on the Rexville marsh, and many others. A day of gorgeous light and air conditions.

*Finally finished a rereading of “North With the Spring,” by Edwin Way Teale. Superb account of a season spent traveling south to north. Now ready to begin preparing my own book, “River’s Edge,” for a reprint by Wood Thrush Books.

*The weather, laced up in the fluttering of tiger swallowtails, the belling of orioles, and the fragrance of assorted flowers, was our friend.

*Had a great visit from our son, Brent, along with Catherine R. We said goodbye to themDSCN4258 at Ole Bull State Park on Kettle Creek in Potter County, PA. Ate some homemade quiche and strawberry shortcake, along with smuggled micro-brew, on a wooden table at the sparkling stream. The Kettle, along with other Northern Tier streams, was running high from recent rains, and the fly-fishing suffered when, typically, it’s terrific at this time of year. Nonetheless, I had the Founders’ Rod– equipped with a new weight-forward #6 fly line. Although my casts were long and on the mark, the trout did not appreciate them.

*Fished a quarter-mile of private water on the high Oswayo Creek. This stream is a beauty, partly meadow stream and partly mountain water. It’s the possible site of a first bald eagle nest in Potter County. Perfect wild trout water but, oddly enough, I saw no sign of hatch or trout activity this afternoon. Some great fish live in those deep meadow holes, but they, like us, were on some kind of holiday.DSCN4264DSCN4229OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA




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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16 Responses to High Water Weekend

  1. Bill and Kelly Ragosta says:

    Hello sir, I wonder if I may ask a personal request. My name is Bill Ragosta, I’m a PA wildlife conservation officer who lives on the upper Oswayo, perhaps you know where since I know that you’re familiar with the local water. I noticed a couple of items of interest in your latest episode of Rivertop Rambles.

    First of all, you mention an eagle nest on the Oswayo. I’m aware of where the eagles had made an attempt to nest near my home, but to my knowledge they had only limited success, which isn’t atypical for younger birds on their first attempt. I’m just curious if you’re possibly aware of a different nesting attempt that I didn’t know about. Secondly, I see the photo of the Yellow Lady’s Slipper and I wonder if I might appeal to you to show me or tell me where you found it. Of course I’d be sworn to secrecy and would not tell another living soul if that’s what you asked of me. I’m a hobby photographer and a fairly new wildflower nut and while I’ve found the Pink Lady’s Slipper in a few areas, I simply haven’t been lucky enough to find the yellows or the showy variety and I’d surely be very appreciative if you’d be willing to help me out with a location.


    Bill Ragosta

    • Hello Bill,
      Thanks so much for responding to this post. I’m pleased to make your acquaintance here, and to think that maybe I’ve met you while fly-fishing in such places as the Allegheny and Oswayo where you may have come to check on licenses, etc.
      Yes, I was probably out fishing near your house just yesterday after getting permission (again) from my friends the Ramseys. They told me about the possible eagle nest and figured it was now okay to walk the creek there because either a) the nest was established already or b) it was abandoned, so that was that. Mr. Ramsey thought he’d stumbled on the site earlier this year but wasn’t certain of it then, nor did he now remember exactly where it was. In any case, I told him that I’d be careful of possible disturbance and hoped that a site had been established. But as you say, young eagles often fail to establish a nest at first, and maybe there is no Oswayo site at present. With luck, maybe you or other residents of the area will prove that the eagles were successful. I, for one, have no other information (but some of those large pine trees on the hillside would sure look tempting– if I were an eagle).
      It’s great that you’re fascinated with the wildflowers! Yesterday I looked for the pink moccasin flowers where I’d seen them years ago near your place but I couldn’t locate them for a photo. Perhaps they’ve already flowered and gone? As for the yellow lady’s slipper, it’s a cool one, a first for me. As I indicated, the flowers are easily accessible near Slate Run. I’d be happy to disclose the exact location to you at my email site, which follows… wfranklin19@yahoo.com.
      Just drop me your request. And thanks again!

  2. markw says:

    Very nice top ten. I have never seen a yellow Lady’s slipper and only rarely the pink variety. That would have to be my number 1!

    • Thank you, Mark. The lady’s slipper was a sweet discovery, so unexpected that I wasn’t even sure exactly what it was at first. Related to the Moccasin flower, surely, but beyond that… time to check the field guides.

  3. Mike says:

    All of it wonderful, Walt. I’m a school counselor in a K-8 district (and father of two elementary kids) and every year we have the kids honoring our veterans so your 5th grade homage to and education about our heroes is very much appreciated. Well done.

    • Interesting, Mike, and thank you. Every year our 5th-graders do the planting of flags and then the pick up as a community service and a learning experience. Yesterday they did the pick up of the flags and were treated to an outdoor pizza and soda lunch as thanks. Glad that you’re able to participate in a similar exchange.

  4. Bob Stanton says:

    Well done – awesome post. Again, this is why I love your blog; there is a substance to it that few can match. And what a great response in the first comment, too. This is the best element of the blogosphere, if you ask me – the connections that can be made with like-minded folks. So many things I’d like to remark on (“hey, my cousin lives in Bath” or “Man, the grannoms are really late this year. Wonder how far the brown drakes will be pushed back?”) but I’ll just say this: keep it comin’ my man, keep it comin’!

    • It’s always great to hear your take on the blogosphere and the current status of our fly-fishing neck of the woods, Bob. About those exchanges– yes, that’s what keeps me going here and why I even bother. So to you and to many others who let me know of their appreciation, thank you very much. P.S., bring on those brown drakes, and the green drakes, too!

  5. Junior says:

    Those are all great memories to have of a successful weekend. We especially liked the mention of our visit, as it was a really nice one. And nice catch on the spelling of her name!

  6. Mary says:

    Enjoyed your weekend recollections! And great bird and flower pictures, Especially loved the yellow lady slipper orchid – would have loved to have seen that. And the egret too. Many, oh so many, years ago I went to Ole Bull St.Park with friends while a student at Lock Haven. Beautiful place then and it seems now too.
    Now I want to re-read North With the Spring. Have you read any of David Carroll’s books yet? Especially Trout Reflections. You would, I think, really enjoy it.

    • Glad that you enjoyed the recollections and photos, Mary. That lady’s-slipper is becoming an iconic late May image for me, partly because it’s taken me so long to stumble on it. Ole Bull is a small place but it’s unforgettable, isn’t it? Have loved going there for years. As for the Teale book, I wanted to reread it slowly in order to expand my picture of the season’s development, especially after experiencing a pretty long and drawn-out cold season. I haven’t yet picked up the Carroll book but plan on finding it, along with some other related titles, after school is out and I have time for summer reading. Thank you!

  7. Alan says:

    That yellow lady slipper is a real beauty. Never seen one.

  8. Nature “slipped it underfoot” on me, Alan. Thanks!

  9. My first thought is that I think I’ve had months of my life that weren’t that productive or worthwhile. My second thought is that you certainly get the most out of your time in the wild. It’s an inspiration to learn more about my own surroundings here, especially the birds.

  10. The older I get, Jim, the more I feel the press of time, the more I want to live each moment that will never come again. I think we all feel those occasions when we just aren’t in the groove or making much of time, but certain seasons (for me, the full-blown spring) make it easier for us to see the greatness of each minute and hour, and what there is to live for. Thanks, my friend.

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