I thought I’d post this in a different manner, as a “letter.” You’ll recall, no doubt, that a letter is a form of communication used in ages past, before the Dawn of Email.
I experienced a pleasant, different kind of morning, so I thought I’d pass along a few reflections in a different, more seasoned way, and hope that you don’t mind.
Following a morning shower that was both refreshing and much needed here in western New York and Pennsylvania, I hit the West Branch near my home and did a little fishing (of all things).
The sky was clearing quickly and I raced the sun to be the first one on this pretty headwater stream to say hello to the trout. The water temperature was a fair 64 degrees, not too bad considering the recent heatwave that has clobbered much of the region.
The Blue Quill spinners had begun their up/down breeding and egg-laying dance above the water, and a #18 Blue Quill (a mayfly pattern with bluish tail-fibers, gray dubbing for a body, and a white post with light-blue hackle wound around it “parachute” style) did the trick.
It was fun catching and releasing wild trout, brooks and browns, as the sun began to heat the day. Again, the best catch of the morning was a brown trout that was absolutely camera-shy.
Let’s say it felt like the weight of a substantial fish. A poet might describe it as a synthesis of primeval hunter and civilized angler. Maybe like the meeting of a Wall Street banker and an “Apeman” on the stream (okay, I’d heard the Kinks song just before I left the car).
I don’t know who landed this specimen of trout, but it got away before the camera could be steadied.
Walking upstream I encountered the Alleyway, where the creek narrows to 10 or 12-feet in width and where the alder and willow growth overhangs the water more and more each year. It’s a place where you wonder if you’ll come out on the other side alive.
You walk through it because you don’t have much choice in the matter. You plow through the tumbling water because a lot of trout live in the Alleyway, and you want to speculate on catching them, even though there’s no way in hell you’d ever cast a fly in such a place.
I came out alive, obviously, and my sweet reward was a set of clearings. My final clearing was the Lily Pool, but all of them had deeper riffles and holes, nice “structure” if you’re living there as a fish. And there I went to town.
To Trout Town. Where the finned inhabitants aren’t very large but where they’re brightly colored and have nice personalities.
And all through my morning on the West Branch I had the Kinks’ song “Apeman” playing through my head. That’s not a bad thing because the Kinks were a great 60s/70s band. Although the band’s popularity has waned, the music grows in stature, at least in my estimation. That said, it would’ve been easier on me if I’d listened to a mix of classic tunes including “Sunny Afternoon.”
That’s all, for now, from the West Branch. I hope you’ve had a great morning, too.