The Culvert Pool

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith just a few days left on the regular fishing season for trout, I decided I had better visit the Culvert Pool before it was too late. The stream is close to home, high up on the watershed, but for some reason or another, I had yet to fish the pool this year.

The stream’s a favorite of mine and it’s fairly remote, but a lightly traveled roadway skirts the Culvert Pool, so I’m not inclined to describe it with a lot of detail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChecking on the pool before I suited up, I saw some evidence of the spawn, and knew I’d have to be careful. I walked downstream then reversed direction to the pool, which is probably about 30 feet long from the culvert to the outlet, and 20 feet wide. Having permission to fly-fish at this rivertop location, I began my casting toward the culvert.

Almost immediately I saw a pair of spawners on the gravel at my side, and left them OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAalone. When it’s obvious that wild trout are on a redd, I resist temptation and look elsewhere. I made a few long casts with a beadhead nymph, and though I had a follower or two, the brooks did little more than bump it.

Switching to a dry Black Ant and casting to the lip of the culvert, I had action. Trout after trout slammed the barbless dry fly and came in for inspection and a possible photograph.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI couldn’t believe how many trout inhabited the pool. They had access to the stream above the culvert, as well as to the stream below the outlet, but they seemed to dwell harmoniously in a pool providing them with shelter, cold water, and food.

I captured and released eleven healthy adults, ranging in size from seven to 11 inches, wild with autumn color.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA half hour passed quickly and I was still catching trout  (one chub, as well). It was time to quit the pool and return it to peace. I kept my wading to a minimum and wished the trout well. They had survived another fishing season in good form.

With cold weather approaching, it was time to batten down the hatches on the upstate waters (except where special regulations allow continued fishing). It was time for evolution to advance unhindered, for the winter season to declare its intent (oh, give it another month or so, please!).

The pool and I parted company. If I’m lucky in love and the ways of trout, I’ll find myself once more in a warm spring day around the new year’s bend. The sun will be warming up the waters once again, and all will be well with humankind, at least on this rivertop stream.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS 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 Culvert Pool

  1. markw says:

    Those are some gorgeous fall brook trout!

  2. The trout all get prettier at “closin’ time,” don’t they? Thanks Mark, I hope you enjoy your share of fall brookies, too.

  3. Bob Stanton says:

    Those brookies are beautiful, and the Culvert pool sounds like it’s a piece of rivertop heaven. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it once more: the surplus of water we’ve had has been a boon to the aquatic critters of the area, so I’m happy for that. I’d just like slightly less of it next time around.

    • That surplus of rain this year did wonders for the little streams. It got us through a pretty dry period recently, too. This little brookie water is a gem, one of the least known in my region, which is good, though I wish it had more protection… Bob, did you get to the mountains on your planned vacation yet?

      • Bob Stanton says:

        Yeah, we were there last week. I didn’t do any fishing, but got some great hikes in. My nephew and I did the Chimney Tops trail in the rain and mud, but a blast nonetheless. Then my daughter, brother-in-law and myself did the Alum Cave trail, though we didn’t make it to the summit of Mt. Leconte. The best part was their exhilaration and being that high up in the mountains. I certainly wasn’t used to the elevation gain – after all, it’s hard to top out much over 2000 feet ’round here – but I loved every second of it. Got to add the peregrine falcon to my life list too, as well as see some wildflowers we don’t have here (“dog hobble”, “bustin’ hearts” colloquially speaking).

  4. Ah, the Smokies must’ve been sweet at this season. Glad you all had a good time. A peregrine is an awesome addition to the List… I’ve seen a few in my day, but those wildflowers I haven’t. I remember a southern species of trillium (common name escapes me at this moment) that I first found in those mountains.

  5. I wonder how many people walk and drive right past some of these beautiful places you describe without ever thinking about the treasures they hold.

    • I often wonder about the same sort of thing, Jim, and I’m afraid my answer is “all too many.” Some people do care about these places, thank god, and others only think about them in financial terms, i.e., what benefit is it to me? Over all, I’d say that most folks in this area, for example, take the beauty for granted and just don’t even consider it in any meaningful way.

  6. Brent says:

    You always taught me that wild blueberries and strawberries, while tiny and difficult to find, taste much fresher and sweeter than any from the store. Likewise, it seems that the hard-to-reach wild trout deliver a much bigger aesthetic reward. Catherine saw the pictures and said “OH WOWWW!!”

    • I like your analogy of wild berries and trout! I don’t eat the trout, but I could. The elements of wildness and beauty transcend each part. And thanks to Catherine for her appreciation!

  7. Alan says:

    You have to love those ants.
    I love those brookies.
    Well done Walt.

  8. argosgirl says:

    Absolutely beautiful brookies. Thank you for sharing such wonderful pictures, it helps me get through the long break before I get to fish for them again. It’s nice to see other anglers avoid disturbing spawning fish. Best to leave them be and let them provide us with more fish in the future 🙂

  9. Thanks Rebecca, and you’re welcome. Hope it’s not too long before you see some brooks again. As for trout on the redd, I agree. To leave them alone is the right thing to do.

  10. Les Kish says:

    Walt, you weren’t kidding. You did trade those bruiser kings for nine inch brookies. Very nice.

    And oh yes, let’s have another month of nice weather.

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