The Cedar Run Experience, Parts 14/15

Part 14: On the morning of October 11, I found that the distance from bridge #5 to the former lumber camp known as Leetonia is about 1.1 miles along the narrow gravel road. I parked at the little bridge where I had left off on my previous leg of the Cedar Run Experience and proceeded to the “canyon.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I figured I could fish half the canyon on a short autumn day and then return to the car. Anything more than that might have been biting off more than I could chew. I fished a small nymph, a beadhead Prince, with some success. Again, the fishing was difficult because of low clear water, but several holes, or deep pools, were productive with an upstream cast.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy favorite place here was the “Slanted Rock Pool.” It produced a small brookie and a couple of nice, colorful browns. The stretch didn’t feel as remote or canyon-like as I expected, though a steep, rocky cliff often separated me from the road above. On reaching a stand of tall red pines, I turned around and headed back, knowing I would soon return, but with a walk downstream from “the Meadows.”

I wasn’t quite ready to call it a day, so I drove to higher ground and parked near a camp at the Meadows. I had skipped the upper canyon, a distance of six-tenths of a mile, that I OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwould have to make up later on. The camp at the Meadows sent enticing smells of wood smoke into the air.

I found a ledge pool in a stand of evergreens where I caught two more browns that measured close to 10 inches each. These fish put up a lively struggle against the little Superfine rod (a 7-footer, for a 4-weight).

I fished upstream toward the car and fought my way through willow trees and alders. Trout were plentiful in the channel, and my hook-ups kept life interesting. I quit at the first bridge in Leetonia, having landed about a dozen trout this day, several of them sizeable browns.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPart 15: On the morning of October 18, I met Scott C. at the quiet place of camps known as Leetonia. At first, the sky was overcast, and the season’s first breath of snow swept by us as we suited up and laid out a plan of action.

I was in a new place, or possibly in an old place where I hadn’t been in ages. Inspecting one of Scott’s topographic maps, I felt my uncertainty about location vanish like a pair of ravens tumbling toward a mountain cliff, then breaking their fall at the last possible moment.

We would pass a half mile of stream above Leetonia (for now) and park two vehicles OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbeyond a point where Buck Run enters the larger flow to start the special “Trophy Trout” regulations on Cedar Run. We would fly-fish a mile of headwaters, higher up than I had ever sampled the run before.

With short bamboo fly rods rigged with a Prince nymph and with a tandem dry fly and nymph, we stepped into wild trout habitat. The run soon looked like a headwaters stream, ranging in width from a three-foot channel (fairly deep) to about 12 feet (somewhat shallow). We found nice pools and undercuts, but also a lot of bedrock with a minimum of active redds.

We covered a mile of water in the vast Tioga State Forest on Cedar Mountain. Each of us OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAcaught some trout, mostly small brooks and browns, but the fishing definitely picked up just before we had to leave the stream. The midday sun had started to warm the water, and the trout were rising to my Rio Grande King and to Scott’s dry Adams.

This wasn’t easy fishing. The casting lanes were often tight or non-existent due to high summer grasses, alder thickets, and overhanging hemlocks, but there were also pleasant, open glades to deal with, and the autumn scenery with its colored slopes was nothing to complain about.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt one point along the trek, Scott declared that, “Hardly anyone ever fishes here, but they should.” We wondered aloud why anglers tend to fish the special regulation waters like the Francis Branch (a Slate Run feeder) but ignore a similar stream like this (above the mouth of Buck Run where the special regs kick in).

“People like to fish the special regs water because they know there has to be fish in there,” I stated.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Exactly!” said Scott, a veteran fisheries biologist who studies this sort of thing on a regular basis. “It’s all part of the psychology of fishing regulations.”

The solitude on upper Cedar Run was fine with me. Streams like Francis Branch might benefit by sharing some angling pressure with the run, but it wouldn’t be quite the same for a fly-fisher who enjoys a lonesome hour or a day in the wild.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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15 Responses to The Cedar Run Experience, Parts 14/15

  1. Leigh says:

    Looks like a wonderful trip.

  2. Bob Stanton says:

    Lovely! Makes me think of Traver – “solitude without loneliness.”

  3. Thank you, Bob. And that Traver state of mind is readily achievable, given the right conditions, and some love at home.

  4. Brent says:

    To an extent, I’ve been viewing this quest as an attempt on your part to explore the roots of a stream, much like you helped me find the source of Bootleg Hollow Creek many years ago. When I saw the spectacular view from the Elk Run vista (is that viewable from Cedar Mountain Rd?), it gave me an interesting thought: the roots of a tree, or a flower, or even a landmass like a mountain are buried; but the “roots” of a river are as high as one can climb.

  5. Brent, I like this idea. I may use it in future posts about Cedar, as I finish up the walk (I’ve done about 9 miles so far, and have 2 to go) and reflect on the reasons for this madness. Yes, the Elk Run vista is one of several at the general summit of Cedar Mountain and is viewable from C.M. Rd. The idea that roots of a stream or river are as high as one can climb is more than just poetic. I address the notion, sort of, in a poem I call “The Forest is Mother to the Trout” which is included in The Wild Trout. The roots, or source, of a stream are nourished by the forest and the mountaintop air… so I like the idea that C. R.’s “roots” are not only at the uppermost pool but also “out there” in the vistas that surround it! I may take your idea and embellish it (w/ credit given, of course) the way that Led Zeppelin “borrowed” the lead for “Stairway to Heaven” from the song “Taurus” by Spirit (since I just reread about the incident and the current lawsuit by descendents of Spirit’s Randy California. As an aside, I don’t think Zeppelin really stole anything here, but they clearly were “inspired” by the Spirit song (L.Z. opened for Spirit shows in 1969). I may do this if you promise not to sue me on my deathbed after the notion goes viral (HA!).

  6. I’ve decided that by reading your blog, I’m really fishing vicariously. I love clicking the link and coming here to find out what we caught and what beautiful scenery we saw! (Also, Brent’s observation is brilliant.)

  7. Mark W says:

    Thanks Walt for another interesting journey up Cedar Run. I had to chuckle when I saw Leetonia mentioned. I drove a long dirt road down from western New York State one fall day in college. My wife (girl friend at the time) kept see signs for Leetonia in 25, 10, 5 miles. When we finally arrived it looked to be a pair of old stone houses. Pretty country there in the land of the flat topped mountains.

    • Mark, thanks for coming along! Happy to hear about your experience with the legendary Leetonia, which pretty much qualifies as a ghost town, with its several camps and wild human history as a lumbering community. What makes it special today, in my opinion, is the location– in the heart of some special hiking/fishing/hunting territory. Gotta love the fly-fishing there, too.

  8. Mike says:

    Hey Walt,

    The Cedar Run series has been a blast to follow. What an awesome way to explore, fish, and write. Haven’t fished too much this fall but always am able to hit the stream in my mind while reading of your adventures!


  9. nativebrownie says:

    I just visited last night for the first time. Just beautiful – thanks so much for the shared love of the beautiful places where nature & trout flourish. Wonderfully written – nice pics and I really appreciate how you drink in these moments for what they truly are. Truly special – as others have said, thanks so much for taking us to with you as you wander about…
    Last evening, as I walked Cedar with you and the cold wind howled outside our home, a smile came to me as I went downstairs and grabbed a favorite old Heddon light cane at 7 feet. I placed it on the table – poured two fingers of Ancient Age – and then nodded as you took us along Cedar for a beautiful walk.

    Your writings and pics and spirit are all what the current writings should be about, but are not. Not at all… Thanks for welcoming us in…

    • Nativebrownie,
      Very glad that you found RR! Thank you much for the kind words, and I appreciate your understanding of this beautiful headwaters country…
      You mention a 7-foot Heddon cane rod (along with a glass of AA)– a fine image, indeed! I wonder which model that is. I am currently enjoying a Heddon 35 for larger streams and rivers, but a small cane such as yours would be terrific on a stream like Cedar Run…
      Please stay in touch. Hope to hear from you again.

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