Passing the Founders’ Rod

Some thoughts on what it means to pass along the Founders’ Rod (the fly rod on loan to me for one year by the Slate Run Sportsmen):

At the spring meeting of the Slate Run Sportsmen at Slate Run, PA,  I read from a leatherbound… “Fly Fishing Journal, Passing on the Heritage.”DSCN6169

I wondered if the words I’d written in the journal would help sustain, in some small way, the richness of a sport that’s steeped in history and tradition…

“…The Peerless model, made in the 1930s and 40s, and originally selling for $35, was produced in various actions and lengths. The current value of a Heddon 35 Peerless in good condition is worth many times the original price…”

DSCN6180Centuries earlier, the poet William Blake suggested that a world can be seen in something as small as a grain of sand. I have no reason to doubt that’s possible, even today. If I could see a world reflected in a grain of sand, there’d be nobody big enough to dominate or control another human being; there’d be no one with an ego so inflated that he thinks he really owns a piece of the earth.

In this world we might destroy what’s under our control– through fear and anger and stupidity– but in that world, through our smallness, our diminutive nature, we have an an equal amount of power to do good. We could even, dare I say, live a life of peaceful coexistence with all others…DSCN6176

We are here to make some choices on the way we use the earth. For better or worse, we’ll have to pass on everything that’s saved. I could have a favorite fly rod packed inside my coffin (if I actually favored burial over cremation), but try as I might, the fishing would suck in Greenwood Cemetary.

We might guide the destiny of others, but mostly what we do is pass things on…

“…As of August 3, 2014 I have fished the rod in three states– New York, Pennsylvania DSCN6185and Virginia– and about a dozen rivers… the Genesee, Beaverkill, W. Branch Ausable, Willowemoc, Allegheny, Oswayo, Pine Creek, Kettle Creek, Mossy Creek, and others…”

It’s a good thing that another member of this conservation group will enjoy another year of casting with a split-cane bamboo rod.

Perhaps another member will appreciate the craft, the long hours, the weeks, spent building an instrument out of a “lovely reed.”

DSCN6172(Congratulations, friend John Pastorek, editor of The Slate Drake newsletter… This rod will be in good hands, casting over Pennsylvania and New England rivers throughout the coming year!)

The founding fathers of the Slate Run Sportsmen first used this rod, and formed, in 1954, a group dedicated to the preservation of public “fly-fishing only” on Slate Run.

We remember them, and we promote the preservation of a beautiful headwaters region.

We fish for wild trout in the cold waters of the back country. Streams and rivers join the sea but never come to an end.DSCN6187DSCN3922


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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12 Responses to Passing the Founders’ Rod

  1. Bob Stanton says:

    Well, Walt, it scarcely seems a year has gone by that you’ve been in possession of the Founder’s Rod, but what a tour of duty you’ve given it. A classic rod, sacred waters and a fly fishing poet equal a formidable combination – a modern day Skues, you are! Those are some beautiful woven nymphs, too. My few attempts at weaving have produced less than desirable results.

  2. Hey Bob, thanks for your assessments. Yeah a year has flown by already. It’s been fun giving the Heddon rod a work out. I’m a bit too “skewed” and inexperienced for the Skues analogy but, as always I appreciate your insights. I should have labeled the woven stonefly nymph display. Alyssa won them for me at SRS meeting raffle. They were tied by the late Slate Run angler Russ Mowry, and I’m glad for the chance to try them. Beauties, for sure.

  3. That is an awesome rod. Really looks to be in great shape.

    • The rod’s in really nice shape, Ryan, especially considering its age and the number of folks who have used it. Beyond that, it’s the sense of heritage that comes with it that I like. Thanks for reading and for commenting, and I hope you have an excellent new outdoor season and enjoy some fishing time up in Potter County.

  4. Brent says:

    Sometimes all it takes is holding a bit of history in hand, and we can feel a little bit connected to those who held it before. I have a feeling that Slate Run will be in the best possible hands as long as people still value that rod.

  5. Luckily there’s more to holding together the pristine nature of the Slate Run environment than the Founders’ Rod, but it is becoming symbolic for the Sportsmen group which, of course, is instrumental in the watchdog work of keeping the watershed intact. So yes, in valuing the rod, we value the heritage and the presence of the run.

  6. Mark W says:

    It’s nice to see a connection with the past being preserved in a world that has rushed headlong after the latest “new thing”

  7. Mike says:

    It was an enjoyable journey that you shared this past year with the Founders Rod. I am sure the club was happy to have you lend your own history to it. Well done, Walt. Happy spring!

  8. Mike, thanks for being here on that journey and for sharing your thoughts on it, as well. Hopefully you’re enjoying these warmer days of early spring, and best wishes for that proverbial “tight line”!

  9. Doug Paugh says:

    I love it Walt. I can’t do very much fishing anymore because of chronic back issues, but I still write. I still do photography and a appreciate kicking light and enjoying your blog.

    • Thanks much, Doug. I’m looking forward to catching up with your on-line work, as soon as I get back home from VA and get resettled. Hiking/fishing the Blue Ridge last few days. I’m hoping you and yours are otherwise enjoying a bright new season.

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