I ate a bunch of Chinese fortune cookies, looking for a bit of wisdom I could use on my 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.
It 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 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?
I 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 of 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.
Such 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.
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.