The Cedar Run Experience, Part 10

I ate a bunch of Chinese fortune cookies, looking for a bit of wisdom I could use on my OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA next fishing jaunt. The slip of paper with six “lucky numbers” might be useful– if I was a gamer who played the Lottery– but the most practical message simply said, “Happiness is activity.”

I carried the phrase, whatever it meant, to Cedar Run. The three words became my mantra whenever I questioned myself. The phrase became a theme for this latest entry to the Cedar Run Experience, my continuing attempt to fly-fish upstream from the mouth until I reached the source.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was a beautiful Sunday, and as far as I could tell, I had this wild run to myself. I reentered the gorge at Tumbling Run to find the short stretch still unvisited between there and the Mine Hole Pool.

I worked a Trico spinner but the trout weren’t rising. Switching to a Prince nymph, I finally caught a small brown but that was it for a while. At Long Branch, which I had visited before, I saw a little waterfall above the cliffs and thought, I should climb up there– the next time I come through.

I was hiking back to the car when I heard an inner voice, “What do you mean, you’reOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA gonna climb up there someday?”  The taunt. And then the three words of the fortune cookie…

I returned to the pool, dropped my rod and reel and sunshades at a fire-ring, crossed the run and started climbing… up the gulley, over rocks and under logs, ever careful of my footing, till I reached the small cascade and waterfall– the falls that would’ve haunted me for months had I succumbed to “non-activity.”

Twenty minutes later I spooked a large, dark-colored trout in a different pool of Cedar Run. This 20-inch brown trout shot for cover of an underwater ledge… And I thought that I had demons on my tail?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI waited a while then carefully stalked to a position above the ledge. I began drifting a weighted fly (Green Weenie) through the depths beside the ledge. It was a long shot for a trout that probably wouldn’t budge till nightfall, but I had to try it anyway, for “Happiness is activity.”

My demons weren’t the kind symbolized in a Bosch painting or sculpted as a gargoyle on a French cathedral. If anything, they came to me as disturbing news, the stuff we hear every day throughout the media.

In addition to the usual horrors such as murder, mayhem, and malaise, I heard a couple OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAof fresh items today… In a new book by Steven Hawkings, the author says that the Higgs boson, or “God particle,” could become unstable and cause the universe, the whole freakin’ breadbasket, to suddenly collapse… Whoa. I thought, if only all our problems could be solved so painlessly and quick!

More frightening was a new report by National Audubon Society, based on scientific studies. The Society has conservatively estimated that some 314 species of birds, or roughly half of all the birds in North America, are headed toward extinction, quickly, thanks to man-made CO2 production and global warming. What it means for cold-water species such as trout and salmon is equally grim.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASuch headlines are more than just alarming. They’re demonic. Like beheadings in the name of God. Are we ready to adapt to such a world, or are we too damned busy to care? That’s the kind of news that keeps me pushing on at Cedar Run, to learn more and to share what’s left of beauty, however miniscule the contribution.

I left the woods and entered an unusual stretch of water lined with willow trees. This stretch had always been productive for me– a narrow, rapid piece of pocket water, and the difference was like day and night. Small caddis were in the air. With a #18 dry, I quickly fooled a dozen browns and a brook trout where, just hours earlier, the trout had been fooling me.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was a happy place where I could fish and shake off most of life’s calamities, other than the willow boughs that seemed to snag every third backcast.

Perhaps the willows shone because of holding structure and the nutrient-producing foliage. Perhaps the water temperature, warming to 59 degrees, had something to do with the blitz. Whatever the cause for good fishing, man and trout conspired to recall… the best darned fortune cookie I have ever opened.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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18 Responses to The Cedar Run Experience, Part 10

  1. Happiness is activity! Those are words to live by. Wish I could have internalized them in my twenties and thirties when I set aside activity in pursuit of money. I missed a lot of opportunities (and still don’t have a helluva lot of money to show for it).

    • I guess I’m in the same boat as you, Jim, but I came aboard from the opposite shore, meaning that my life of activity never knew how to make more money than enough to get by. I guess there’s a happy balance in there some place, but I really can’t complain. Always good to hear from you!

  2. Mike says:

    “That’s the kind of news that keeps me pushing on at Cedar Run, to learn more and to share what’s left of beauty, however miniscule the contribution.”

    I don’t know how quickly that line came to you but the simple honesty and ease with which it is presented are inspiring.

    And the fishing sounds pretty good too.

    Keep on keeping on. Your contribution is well noticed.

    • Thanks very much, Mike, that’s kind of you to say. I guess that line in question came readily and without a lot of fuss, the way that some of our best lines might occur, just straight from the gut. Your thoughts are much appreciated!

  3. Brent says:

    Well, mom and I are both in agreement that these pictures share quite a lot of beauty (to paraphrase your passage that Mike quotes). I’d also say “happiness is activity” is essentially an anglicized paraphrasing of carpe diem, although I don’t think carp are the appropriate fish in question here.

  4. Brent, I hadn’t looked at the phrase from quite that angle but, yeah, I can see a link to “seize the moment,” or… grab that carp with whatever it takes to fool him… with an artificial fly, preferably, or a gob of worms or corn– if that’s your preference. Oh, and happy birthday! Will give you a call tomorrow….

  5. LQN says:

    beautiful Walt, love it when it all comes together.

  6. Bob Stanton says:

    Global warming, Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, Marcellus Shale exploration, it’s all pretty grim are damn depressing, to boot. Maybe to vanish in a sudden POOF might be the most merciful way to go out. But while we’re here, we’ve got some fishing to do, eh? I think my mantra will be Traver’s “My a small act of rebellion.” Nice post, Walt.

  7. You hit it there, Bob. And I’ve always really liked Travers’ “small act of rebellion.” Thanks for bringing it back to mind.

  8. Les Kish says:

    As the saying goes…we’re only here for a short while. That you and I and your readers care is no small consolation for the fact that most folks are caught up in the drudgery of their day to day lives. Unfortunately, most have no connection or appreciation for the natural world. Oh well, enough of that.

    It’s a pretty cascade. Certainly worth the jaunt Walt, wasn’t it?

    • Thank you Les! First, the side jaunt to the falls was definitely worth the short climb. Even if it lacked that “something special,” which it didn’t, the investigation would’ve been worth the time. Second of all, it’s true that most people (no matter what group we’re looking at) are blind to our natural connections. They don’t care, or just don’t get it. That said, I still hold out that, on an individual basis, there’s a possibility they can see the light of where they were at birth. Okay, some folks are downright hopeless, but education and personal experience are a key for the others.

  9. Walt
    I am so impressed with these awesome places you find to fish and of course the colorful trout the stream yields. Thanks for sharing

    • You’re welcome, as always, Bill. My thanks and appreciation go out to folks like yourself who care about these places (the likes of which are often found close to our homes, sometimes in our own “backyards”). I hope you continue to have good fishing throughout the coming fall.

  10. Ken G says:

    Each passing year it seems, gravity gets a stronger hold on me.
    Which makes me hesitate in attempting climbs that once were thought to be easy.
    I’ve grown content with admiring them from below, but now and then a climb must be made.
    To prove gravity wrong if nothing else.
    Nice little water falls Walt. Those are hard to find here in the flatlands.

  11. I know the feeling, Ken. I guess I’m still trying to prove gravity wrong, as you say, because the day I find that gravity always has the upper hand, I’m dead. Yeah the time is coming, but I’m still kicking against the pricks, that feistiness of gravity. Here’s hoping that the turn of season is enjoyable for you on the Fox!

  12. Alan says:

    Some of the goings on and in this world are disturbing. Luckily we have places to go to where we can put them aside for a few hours.
    Nice work with the little caddis.

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