Right Angle Weekend

It was a three-day weekend with a common theme. It started on a Saturday with a visit to the upper Allegheny River. An overnight rainfall had discolored the water a OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbit; the forest leaves were brightening with autumn change, and many were already falling to the ground. Although the river remained at low volume, I managed to catch and release a nice brown and a splendid rainbow by casting a dun-colored caddis fly.

On Sunday came a highlight. I finally had an opportunity to fish with blogging pal, Bob Stanton. Some of you readers may know him by name. Bob has been a long-time supporter of Rivertop Rambles, and we had been threatening to fly-fish with each other for at least a couple of years. Bob needed an introduction to Slate Run, so I met him as he swung eastward out of Warren, PA and we reinvented a small but scenic corner of the world.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASlate Run was still at minimal flow but the water was cold and at least a few of its wild trout told us that we didn’t do too badly. It was good to hear, also, from the Slate Run Tackle Shop that a recent electro-survey of the upper Slate watershed had indicated the wild trout were surviving the regional drought better than expected.

As for Bob, he caught a few Slate Run trout, and I didn’t do too badly either (witnessing but not catching a couple of veteran brown trout replete with battle scars). I was also pleased that a large, coiled snake I almost stepped on in the rocks was a garter snake and not a timber rattler.

Bob "Backcast" Stanton

Bob “Backcast” Stanton

We made an evening stop at neighboring Cedar Run but there the water was still too low for comfort. We saw a few nice fish but mostly we saw the flash of their retreating bodies as they witnessed the skulking approach of alien beings at the tail of their pools.

Slate Run

Slate Run

One wild brown of about 15 inches or so was really turned-around by our presence. When Bob first saw the big fellow it was resting in a “downstream position” (a trout typically faces upstream in the current). Minutes later, as I walked by its position at the bottom of the pool, the brown was turned laterally and facing me on the bank. Its tail was almost in the face of its partner, another sizeable brown trout, forming a right angle of piscine oddness between the two.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I can only imagine what was going on down there, and honestly, I had tipped back only one bottle of Two-Hearted Ale while eating at the Hotel Manor prior to checking out this stream.

Allegheny 'bow

Allegheny ‘bow

On Monday I visited upper Kettle Creek near Germania. En route, I found amusement by counting the political campaign signs planted in residential yards. Despite all the wretched media accounts of recent days, the Trump signs trounced the Clinton signs, 19 to 1. Not surprising really, when you consider the staunchly Republican terrain I live in, where residents often seem to vote against their own best interests. I felt like I was driving through a field of sheep, the animals looking up to me as I passed, saying something like, “You’re not the guy we like to follow; who are you?”

blowin' in the wind...

blowin’ in the wind…

Well, I was heading to the Safety Zone again– goin’ fishin’, where the political and economic climate suits my soul, and where all this other shit means nothing till I hit the voting booth in November.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was surprised that the state fishing regulations had changed on upper Kettle Creek from Brook Trout Enhancement (a no-kill policy, open year-around, for brook trout) to Catch and Release, All Tackle. Somehow I had missed the news about the change this year, not that it was really all that different. There was still a no-kill policy for brook trout, with year-around fishing, but now there was a no-kill policy on wild brown trout, too. The change sounds pretty good, at first, but then I wonder if it will draw an overabundance of hardware fishermen and worm-dunkers, of tackle that can be injurious to a fragile population of trout still struggling to reassert itself from low numbers and from compromised environmental conditions.

Kettle Creek

Kettle Creek

Kettle Creek has one of the strongest wild brook trout populations in Pennsylvania, and its wild browns are nothing to sniff at either, but I wonder if encouraging the no-kill policy of browns will impede the progress of native brooks. Studies have shown that browns can out-compete the brooks for food and cover when populations mingle, and they are more adaptable to conditions when the waters warm to 70 degrees Fahrenheit or more (read climate change).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Anyway, the fishing was much faster on Monday. The flow, still minimal, was heavier than on Slate or Cedar Run, and I returned a dozen brookies to their haunts. None of them had reached the sizes of trout that I had been accustomed to at this location, but the largest of them shone with colors of autumn glory.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They were stunning in their smallness, and they seemed to take revenge on those Clinton/Trump signs I’d been counting. Instead of 19 to 1, I got a new tally: Brook Trout 12, Suckers 0.

the last season (sadly) for a front yard maple damaged by a storm...

the last season (sadly) for a front yard maple damaged by a storm…

old farm at Kettle Creek

old farm at Kettle Creek

"we send each other home"

“we send each other home”

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!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Right Angle Weekend

  1. Les Kish says:

    Nice color shots of fish and foliage Walt. Like the framing of Slate Run too. Good luck on your next adventure…..

  2. Bob Stanton says:

    Thank you, Walt, for showing me around, good conversation, good music, good food and hey, even if we didn’t exactly tear it up fish-wise, given the conditions we did o.k., and I finally got to sample the Slate/Cedar magic firsthand! In fact, the first thing I did the next day was go through the RR archive and reread “The Slate Run Odyssey” start to finish. The second thing was to prowl the internet for bamboo rods! Can’t wait to do it again. We just might have to make this a habit. Thanks again.

    • I had a great time getting together on the runs, Bob, and you know, I’d love to make it a habit! As for getting you interested in prowling round for bamboo sticks, I hope I’m not leading you astray– it’s a wicked, wonderful river that we wade, and one from which we never turn back!

  3. Mark Miles says:

    Love the sense of landscape that permeates this. 👏 I could almost hear the water rushing at my feet. Totally sympathize with the campaign signs too. 😲

  4. plaidcamper says:

    A fabulous post, Walt! Fishing, friendship, decent beer, in your safety zone, and no score for the suckers (maybe, just maybe, autumn will end up okay…) Spectacular photographs too!

  5. Brent says:

    A great autumn landscape, captured in word and image, and a nice reminder of the simpler things as so much turns scary (fitting that election day is so close to Halloween). Glad you and Bob were able to make a good day of it!

    • Thanks! It was a good day, indeed, and the right kind of place to get “simple” with in these times when Halloween and Election Day seem so close together (even if Trump would have us vote 3 weeks later…).

  6. JZ says:

    Wonderful pictures Walt and it felt like I was there with you. I fished Cedar last week with a friend and you had to remain low to give yourself a chance. Olives during the early morning and not much in regards to anything consistently coming off after that. Fished caddis and wet ants throughout the day and managed well enough. Glorious day to say the least. Just after fishing and heading out, we saw two bears run across the dirt road. The cub ran up a tree while the mom ran downside a steep bank. Within a flash, the cub ran down the tree to quickly join her mother. It was quite spectacular and ended another joint venture with my friend Dale. We have enjoyed each other company for over twenty years and can often finish each other sentences within the field. We also fish exclusively with cane, as we like the grace it provides. Just wonderful as always Walt and that old farm near Kettle is a nice shot…

    • Thanks JZ, and glad you had some success on Cedar Run last week. Man, that water is low right now, with less volume than Slate has. At least that was my impression from the lower end. But as you say, the weather has been beautiful, and it was good to fish. We hoped to fish the more open stretches with an Ant pattern, but never got out of the woods, as darkness gathered quickly in the gorge.
      Glad you got to see some bears up there. They’re on the move right now, with lots of mast to fatten on, but I haven’t had much luck seeing them this year. It’s fun to fish bamboo on the runs, isn’t it. It just seems so… natural. Anyway, thanks again for the good words!

  7. rommel says:

    You know, I never really understood how people get to be so passionate about fishing. And I think your blog is the one that fully sold me. I can see the benefits with the excitement and thrill; techniques and strategies; and that connection to nature and even with other people. Best fishing blog ever.

  8. Nice post Walt! I chuckled over your comment about the Trump signs. Even in CT, which is typically strongly democratic leaning, I haven’t seen any Clinton signs. I’m of the camp that wants to throw them both out and start over with some intelligent and reasonable people!

    • I hear you, Mark, and I worry that we’re not hearing much about environmental issues, among so much more that affects our life now and in the future. Like him or not, Obama stood for a lot of stuff we stand upon as anglers and lovers of the outdoors. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.