In Which the Streamwalker Takes a One-Mile, 5-Step Approach Toward the Sources of the Run on Cedar Mountain…
Step 1. First things first… When my son came up to visit home, we traveled to the Southern Tier Brewery in Jamestown, New York where Brent, Catherine, Leighanne, and I were joined by long-time Rivertop Rambles and Bridging the Gap supporter Bob Stanton for a first-time tour and excellent get-together.
What does this have to do with exploring Cedar Run? Not much, other than to say that Southern Tier has become my official Blog Beer and, who knows, may be pictured here more frequently in the future.
I should also give an appreciative nod to Pennsylvania’s Straub Beer, a company that strongly supports the stocking of German brown trout in the waters of Pine Creek down below the mouths of Slate and Cedar runs.
Although no beers were consumed during this approach to the source, the flavorful clouds of “Southern Tier” were brewing in my direction…
Step 2. The sun was slow to arrive in the mountain valley near Leetonia. To pick up my thread of the Cedar Run fly-fishing walk toward the source of the stream, I needed to start at the lower bridge at the camps and head toward Buck Run (where the special regs fishing begins).
That’s where I met Cut-Out Katie standing sportingly by the road. She asked me how things were going and, sure, I could take a picture of her if I wanted. Dressed the way she was, I had to ask if she wasn’t freezing in the 30-degree weather. Later, when my wife saw the photo that I took, she was fooled temporarily when I said I got invited in for beverages!
The low, clear waters of the stream soon deepened into a long, quiet pool with large rocks for trout support. A group of brown trout in the depths amazed me, but none were interested in my imitations. They were “educated browns,” no doubt survivors of repeated camp outings, and several of these trout were close to 18 inches long.
Step 3. At my vehicle again, I exchanged a 6-foot Fenwick glass rod for a 7-foot cane and proceeded upstream. I was in for a difficult stretch of tight water, alternately wide and shallow, brushy and narrow. When I finally passed a stretch of old hunting camps along the road, the sun had warmed the stream a little, and the fishing improved. The run had more undercuts and longer pools, and best of all, the wild browns and native trout began rising to the surface for flies.
From my unsuccessful use of beadhead nymphs, I made improvements with light-colored soft hackles and then a dry Ant. Here the brooks outnumbered the browns about three to one, but both species were a pleasure in the warming afternoon.
Step 4. I made my way to the Buck Run Pool where “Trophy Trout” regulations begin and extend to the mouth at Pine Creek. A large culvert, high and inappropriate for fish passage, dropped the waters of Buck Run into my awareness and called a close to my fishing for the day. I climbed out to the road, ate a sandwich and took a drink, and hiked back to the car.
Step 5. I had time to think about this Cedar Run project, and where I was headed… The German poet Goethe once said, “How I yearn to throw myself into endless space and float above the awful abyss…” I understood the sentiment, although the only abyss I currently saw belonged to social mediocrity and commercial nonsense out of which I would gladly fly on any occasion, especially with the help of fly-fishing.
Ultimately I was fishing toward the open sky above the mountain; I was fishing toward freedom; i.e., completion of a project that had captivated me from the start.
As my son said (in response to “The Cedar Run Experience 14/15,” on 10/23/14), the roots of a river or stream, unlike the roots of a flower or a tree, are “as high as one can climb.” And that seemed to be my goal in walking toward the source of the run.
Up there in the open sky, above the mountain, were the multiple sources of this beautiful little stream. Maybe I could get there, if not with the man-made wings of a mythic Icarus, taking care not to fly too close to the melting powers of the sun, or too close to strafe the treetops of the forest, then perhaps with the use of careful footing and the comfort of a little fly rod.
I’d try to dig at those roots this autumn, weather permitting, or arrive there early next spring. Avoiding a downfall, hopefully, I might even taste those hop-flavored clouds that now hung tantalizingly above this venture.