The day surely started out on a bright note– a little birding in the early morning sunshine of the yard, my small binoculars picking up a bit of the warblers waving through– Blackburnian, black-throated green, ovenbird, Louisiana water-thrush and, later, the black-throated blue warbler– beautiful emissaries from an avian world that migrates through too quickly.
I had a simple plan to fish a Pennsylvania trout stream on my bucket list, a first-time visit to a small feeder stream in the mountains near Cedar Run. The gravel road was sloppy wet and pitted; the sky quickly clouded over and promised rain, and I aborted my trout stream mission after unsuccessfully fishing it for half a mile. I didn’t quit, however.
I returned to Cedar Run whose fully-flowing waters weren’t exactly welcoming to the likes of me. I noticed a small cascade, a side stream splashing in a curve from a deep and forested ravine. It seemed to beckon– maybe the brook trout would be more accommodating in its heights. I chanced it, and I’m glad I did, although the red rocks of the little gorge were slippery and a trick to maneuver on.
I called the water “Staircase Run” because the stream reminded me of that– a natural ladder to an untouched beauty and the first small brook trout of the day. Reaching the second waterfall of Staircase Run I paused to consider my position. It wasn’t worth risking an injury by climbing farther past the falls; I’d caught one fish on a day that just didn’t feel like it would be productive. After all, the fishing had been slow for the previous two weeks. It could only get better now with the prospect of good hatches soon to come.
I turned around for a slow descent toward Cedar Run. Another cool shower began to penetrate the forest. Reaching my vehicle, I didn’t quit. I simply headed south to where the sun might be shining and the trout more willing to feed.
I fished two more runs that day, this time in the Slate Run watershed, and I did a little better in the warm sun of afternoon, with several species of insects coming off the streams sporadically. It was slow as hell, but it was fishing. When the day was done, I had said hell-o to five small streams in a matter of hours.
What kept me going was the view provided earlier at Staircase Run– a view from a tiny world enclosed by walls of dripping shale, by evergreens and reddish bedrock. I couldn’t see much beyond a few hundred feet of deep ravine with tumbling water, but the elements all pointed toward the best part of an angling season, to the few short weeks ahead, a prelude to the summer.