The Cedar Run Experience, Part 8

I got a late start on Cedar Run this year, but it felt good to return to my year-old quest of OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAfishing all of this remarkable stream in northern Pennsylvania. My last visit was in mid-November when I broke a bamboo rod while fishing in the gorge (see “The Blue Pool,” aka “The Cedar Run Experience, Part 7,”  11/13). I had the rod repaired over the winter and have been anxious to resume the upstream journey bit by bit.

I had fished up to the Blue Pool in November, but on this occasion it wasn’t easy picking up the slack at Blue so I decided to access Cedar where the road passes over Tumbling Run. From there I’d walk down to Blue and gain some new ground near a pool known as Little Blue.  I found the Little Blue within a quarter mile of downstream fishing, but that’s as far as I traveled this time out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was getting hot and humid and the clouds became dark and threatening. According to my topo map, I was still about half a mile above the big Blue Pool, and I promised myself that on the next visit I would fish that stretch between the Blues and then be ready to push to higher ground.

The stream was in good shape for late June, with plenty of water and a temperature in the low 60s. Despite the presence of a gravel road somewhere in the woods above me, I felt a touch of wildness in the gorge. The dripping cliffs, the large white pines, the chattering of a winter wren, etc., penetrated my senses and provided that fix of wildness that allows me to feel more than a lame monkey in a world of commerce.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI thought of that concept, independence, and the impending U.S. holiday. Being on the stream felt like being free, but freedom is a relative word describing our potential for making choices. I felt a love for this place where politics and patriotism did not enter, but where behavior and imagination were accounted for.

The fishing was slow, as can be expected in early summer, but I managed to catch and release five wild trout– four browns, one brook, all rather small but brightly colored.

I saw a group of four mink hunting along the rocky bank beneath a cliff. The four OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAmembers of the weasel family bounced among the rocks, reversing their course and then proceeding upstream once again, perhaps enjoying the day like a wayward human with a fishing rod.

A porcupine stood dining among the grasses near my feet. I moved for my camera in a vest pocket, and the porky headed for the nearest tree. I doubt that it enjoyed being interrupted at its meal. I took a couple photos and returned to my fishing. The quill meister backed down from the tree and headed for deeper woods.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATwo minutes later I was in the stream, fiddling with fly and leader, when I heard rustling at my back. Porky? Perhaps with a couple of bully friends to confront me? I turned to see a young fly-fisher looking at me with a sullen eye.

“Oh, heh!” I uttered, giving away my shock. Seeing another fisherman here was the last thing I expected. “For a second, I thought you were a porcupine. I saw one right there a few minutes ago.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe guy looked like a model angler from a new Cabela’s catalogue, with vest and waders just a few days old. “Any luck?” he asked. He still wasn’t smiling. I wondered where his model angler wife and daughter were– the ones in the catalogue beside him, the ones sporting the lastest gear and clothing for the missus and the missy. I guessed that he had begged for free time and a bit of solitude today.

He told me that the trout seemed few and far between on Cedar. I disagreed politely, saying there were plenty of wild brooks and browns; it was just a slow time to be fishing. The trout were probably napping in their version of the Day Room, watching piscine television, or playing cards. The angler didn’t crack a smile. “This is only the second time I’ve fished this stream,” he said. “I’m heading out. Good luck to ya.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The porcupine who became an angler walked away forever. I went downstream and hooked up with a brown that nailed my Stimulator.

I thought about the four mink that I’d seen, and wondered if, on getting back to my car, I would see four gentlemen suiting up beside their vehicle. I would look for evidence of fur and claw. I might ask them if they’d seen anything while checking out the cliffs below.OLYMPUS 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 The Cedar Run Experience, Part 8

  1. Junior says:

    A lot of strange transmutations you encountered on the stream. On another note, do you think you may make a quest out of fishing all (or as much as possible) of your favorite trout streams in the area? Could make for an ongoing project.

  2. Junior, I’ve dreamed about it, fishing all of some favorite streams, mouth to source, but may have met my match with Cedar. The stream is fascinating to me, but it’s slow going, more so than on Slate. It’s in me, since the days when I walked all of Bootleg Hollow Creek and maybe a few others. On the Bucket List are regional streams that I still want to fish and visit with, but I just haven’t had the chance to get to yet. Like Rock Creek in the Lycoming drainage, for example, and a bunch of others. I think that simply getting to these lovely waters (while maintaining contact with old friend streams) will be quest enough.

  3. Joseph Hord says:

    It looks like you had a great day on the stream! I love the idea of fishing an entire stream, I’ve fished quite a bit of a couple trout streams around here, but I know there is still lots of unexplored places to discover on my favorite streams. That is some beautiful looking country!

  4. Really good to hear from you again, Joseph. Glad you’re finding time to poke around on fishing ventures. Fishing the entirety of a favorite stream is a rewarding experience because the water teaches us how complex it can be, and it’s always full of surprises, mostly good ones. Just when we think we’re getting to know a stream really well, it hits us with some changes that remind us that flowing water is dramatic and never quite the same.

  5. I never knew porcupines climbed trees until about a year ago. I’ve never seen it in person and always wondered why they never show this behavior in nature shows. I find it kind of fascinating.

    When it comes to weird things that happen on the water I always wonder why sometimes it sounds like you hear someone yelling. Not yelling for help or anything just yelling to get your attention. The sound isn’t clear, it’s always muffled by the ambient noise of the rushing water. You turn around looking over your shoulder but no one is there. The noise is gone the instant you turn and no matter how you move your body you can’t seem to repeat the scenario where you can hear the same thing. It’s strange and I chalk it up to the ghosts of the streams. Possibly old civil war soldiers or native americans trying their one last attempt to be heard.

    • F.C., Your comment about porkies climbing trees (documentaries seldom ever show it) is interesting because, well, I assumed that they often climbed. I’ve seen it on several occasions, but what seems odd to me is how quickly they can climb or descend a tree. Usually they just poke around slowly on the ground. This one just hoisted itself into the air.
      I like the idea of voices from the stream. Yeah I hear them often enough. I think that birds and wind and water were the original sounds of nature, the points from which languages eventually evolved, from imitations of those sounds. I’m not sure how or why streams can talk or yell out for attention, but there is correspondence of some sort. And streams that once held wild trout but no longer have them can seem eerie to us. I call them “Ghost Water.”

  6. Bob Stanton says:

    The porcupine that became an angler…sounds kinda like an old ethnic folk tale. And we could probably use a few more folk tales these days. My wife saw a doe just feet from our back door the other day. In town, no less. I told her it was a manitou.

    • Bob, A lot of the old ethnic folk tales are based on deep connections with the wild, where imagination walks a thin line with an outer reality. They’re fun to read or hear about. I’ve always enjoyed strange tales from Native Americans. They kind of tell Science to put on the brakes for a minute, and to get a load of THIS one, ’cause it’s true.

  7. Looks like my kind of stream. Hoping to fish Slate and Cedar within the next year!

  8. Alan says:

    That stream would be a favorite of mine, porky excluded.
    Pretty brook trout Walt.

  9. You’d love Cedar, Alan. It’s a well-known freestone of PA but I seldom see another angler on it. And I still can’t be sure that the angler I saw on this occasion wasn’t actually… a porcupine.

  10. Mike says:

    I’d think a porcupine would be an older cantankerous type dude…maybe this young guy is in training…so long as he wears that new gear for the next 30 years or so…

    Always great to read your stuff. What a gorgeous looking stream!

  11. Thanks for reading, Mike. Yeah Cedar is a beauty. As for Porky, he surprised me. Didn’t fit the stereotype. I, too, would’ve thought beer gut, unshaven, cigar butt hanging from his lip. An old fart thinking he owned the stream. No, this fellow was in training. Will have to keep an eye out for him next time I go down there.

  12. Mike says:

    There was a guy exactly as you describe here (except the cigar was a cigarette) who I ran into on a stream recently. Walking upstream I asked, “Mind if I fish above or below you?” to which he grumbled, “There’s already two guys above me.” I thought he might be overstating this so I walked the banks further and saw no one. I slipped into the pool above him and peaked upstream. Literally 75 yards upstream was one guy swinging a streamer. I quickly caught a fish (by accident) which pissed this guy off even more (the guy was nymphing with lots of drag between he and the fly, I quite enjoyed that). I promptly got out of the stream, walked the banks past him again and said, quite happily, “Enjoy!” to which I literally got no response. Hahaha, anyway, that’s my porcupine of the season.

    • Yah! Classic encounter there, Mike. Got your Porky of the season alright. For better or worse, fishing takes all kinds, and there’s no shortage of guys with quills up their backends. I like the way you got your fish there, then sort of tipped your hat with a Have a Nice Day, buddy.

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