I got a break from the weather, frozen days and nights brightening into a Sunday morning with the temperature rising toward the low 40s. I drove to Cedar Run and steered gently toward the headwaters over the icy lane of mud and gravel. Parking near Half Mile Run, I suited up and walked the road for three-tenths of a mile to the little waterfall where I had finished my upstream fishing on a previous visit.
Pennsylvania doesn’t allow bear hunting on Sundays so I felt a little more at ease– not because I thought I’d be mistaken for a bruin, but because there were fewer hunters in the neighborhood and fewer gun-toting idiots on the prowl. I side-stepped from the roadway to the stream and knew I’d better be careful with the shelf ice and the melting glaze. Obviously it was better not to break something that’s better left unbroken.
If I could fish back to the car and catch a trout or two, I’d be happy with my outing on this dark November morning. I’d be close to my goal of fly-fishing the entire eleven-mile run from the mouth to its sources on Cedar Mountain. I could wrap up the “Experience” for 2014 and fish the balance of the headwaters next spring.
Beaver dams, ice, tall grass and low-hung branches made for challenging conditions along the upper Cedar where the stream itself averaged no more than three to six feet wide. I caught a wild brook and brown trout, and spooked several others, including a couple of fairly large natives. The pool at the Half Mile culvert remained under ice, despite the fact that the sun had come out and the air felt warm at 41 degrees.
I hauled myself out to the car, took a few obligatory casts upstream of the road, and pondered on what the final mile of fishable water would be like when springtime rolled around again. As a pat on the back for covering a good 10 miles of Cedar Run over the previous 15 months, I drove downstream to fish along what’s proven to be a most productive stretch of this fine waterway.
I passed a few locations that had given me my first experiences on Cedar more than two decades ago and, convenient for the present-day promotion of my book called River’s Edge, a paragraph that I’d revisit later on…
…Cedar Run has given me a wide array of learning experiences. The first time I rigged up a fly rod near Leetonia at the upper limits of the Trophy Trout section I discovered the deep blue flowerheads of closed gentians blooming along the banks. The late-season warblers fluttered high in the hemlock trees, and a wild brookie nailed my dry fly as it pirouetted down the riffles of the narrow run…
I had 45 minutes to reinvestigate the run with a wet fly but, alas, nothing came of it. I would’ve liked some sort of “grand finale” there, but you can’t win them all. It was good to just win a share. With that, I was set to close down the “Experience” till the coming spring, and hunker down for the holidays.
It’s a gorgeous spot to hunker down, but I have to wonder how you occupy yourself when the fishing grinds to a halt. I guess it’s a great time to write, but do you find yourself staring out the window a lot?
Jim, the fishing seldom grinds to a complete halt in the winter (certain streams are open year-round and a few of them are usually always ice free, but the action really does slow down, for sure. Then it’s time to stare out the window, catch up on the writing and reading, split wood, try to stay warm, and dream. With thanks, as always!
Looks like some great water and scenery. Can’t wait to see it in spring colors.
Hey thanks Leigh. It’s been a great environment to kick around in and to fly cast on. I, too, look forward (already) to the spring tones there on Cedar.
Almost there, Walt! One final push in the spring, or will the opportunity to make the headwaters during some decidedly un-wintery weather prevail? I hiked the Morrison Run Trail in the ANF near Rimrock on Sunday with a pal. Beautiful day, but man, that wind was COLD!
Bob, It’ll be one or two final pushes in the spring. In winter, even if there’s relatively nice weather, the road is traveled only by snowmobiles or other strange motorized devices. The narrow road gets dicey. But yeah I’m close. Good to hear that you’re getting some hiking in this time of year. The wind in those exposed areas, especially near a place like Rimrock, has got to be brutal in this weather, and memorable, no doubt.
Just sat down with a glass of red after a long day. Thanks for taking me along to The Run. Look forward to its springtime awakening. Cheers.
You’re welcome, and thanks for that, Mike. It’s nice to think that a reading of the Run goes nicely with a swallow of Red. A good Red goes well with, well, a lot of stuff, I’m sure!
Nice to see you getting ever closer! It’s still a pretty little stream up there out of the canyon.
Yup, it’s getting close– a portrait of Cedar as it is/was in 2013-2014. Might be different next year, but it looks good now. Thanks!