First Cast Similes

After my first day of volunteer work with the New York DEC Region 9 small stream electro-survey crew, I found that my long-awaited fly rod had arrived. The rod is a small bamboo, a 6’6″ 3-weight custom built by Mike Kattner at Cane and Silk. This well-crafted instrument is a pleasure to cast. The next evening, following another day of scooping up trout for a quick assessment and live release, I took the “Little Gem” fly rod for a christening in the woods of Orebed Creek.

new rod with old Hardy winch

It couldn’t have happened this way if my casting guidance was under the spell of anything other than Serendipity…

My first cast was like the start of a teacher’s summer break. The line went forward and a whole new field of opportunity opened through the confines of that brushy little creek. I imagined my upcoming weeks of fishing out West, among other things…

stocked rainbow soon to be freed

My second cast would be fruitless, and my hundredth cast would likely be fruitless also, but the all important first cast would connect…

It was like going to a Bob Dylan concert two nights earlier (my daughter bought us tickets for the amphitheater event) and discovering that Dylan’s voice, alive and well after all these years, was strangely complementary to the sunset on Onondaga Lake and to the lights reflecting from the water as the six-piece band cooked up a storm.

evening on the Genesee

It was like fishing on the West Branch Delaware with Tim while sulphurs hatched throughout the afternoon, while standing ready with my net as a large wild brown trout shook its head one final time and snapped the fly from my friend’s taut line and leader. It was like fishing on the main stem Delaware after midnight as fog rolled in across the eerie quietude and stole the last shining star and then the distant lamplight.

on the Delaware

It was like the world encompassed in a grain of sand, as William Blake might have said.

The first cast held a basket of events, including the solitude of big dark water when heavy fog and river currents tell a tale of death. Yeah, it was a bit unsettling…

brook trout, Genesee Forks

Like wading through the deep silt near a bank of Japanese knotweed and then the next day finding that a mass of invasive didymo, or “rock snot,” had invaded the confines of my new waders and shoes and would require a thorough scrubbing with bleach and hose.

July, Genesee Forks

Mostly, it was like feeling the sense of freedom (hail, O Independence Day!) while fishing a small stream for wild trout as the warblers and song sparrows and veeries sing their splendid notes from the verdant banks. There’s nothing quite like it, actually, for the lover of solitude and peaceful surroundings. A casting wand, something like a Cane and Silk bamboo (no, I’m not being paid by anyone or anything for saying it) helps to make some fine distinctions.

Greenwood contemplations…

I could have said all of the above more simply by stating that I caught a brook trout on the first cast and then let it go, but something would have been lost…

Something like pure enjoyment.

nice touch, the appointment of an agate stripper…

with Tim on the West Branch


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 First Cast Similes

  1. Brent says:

    I didn’t know you had invested in some new equipment! Congrats on the fruitful first cast, and may it keep you company on countless relaxing evenings (or mornings) on the stream.

    • Thank you, Brent. I hope it’s a good omen. Yeah I’m slowly divesting myself of some seldom used equipment in favor of what seems more pleasurable, or practical, to use.

  2. It sounds like a great rod. I’ve been feeling like I need a rod more suited to some of the streams I’ve been eyeballing lately. There’s some places my 9 foot rod just don’t want to go.

    • I think that the more diverse or involved our outings become, the more we listen to the tools that we employ. The 9-footer likes to be out on the big open water but would rather not be bothered with a lot of small stream issues. So, I hear you Douglas. Thanks, and enjoy the summer waters wherever you go.

  3. Bob Stanton says:

    Dylan – nice! Lovely similes too. I also caught the juxtaposition of the two invasives, the knotweed and didymo. I hate knotweed – chop it down whenever I can. Don’t have to deal with the didymo ’round here…yet.

  4. Knotweed is way beyond control on some of our streams around here (as on parts of the Genesee) but the didymo on the Delaware was an eye-opener and I hope it doesn’t spread anywhere closer. Invasives are us, so to speak, thus it’s probably only a matter of time before the situation worsens, sad to say. Thanks Bob.

  5. plaidcamper says:

    I enjoyed this, Walt! Your first cast similes reached us all the way out on the West Coast here – well-aimed indeed…
    I hope the pure enjoyment flows and flows for you this summer. You’re off to to an excellent start! And cheers to that.

  6. Cheers PC, and thanks for the kindness. Glad I hit the mark way out there on the West Coast! Have a great vacation, and I’ll look forward to hearing of your adventures.

  7. loydtruss says:

    This post is another reason I like fly fishing so much.
    The cork cigar handle, I assume rosewood reel seat, and the blank color are a perfect match. I know you will enjoy countless hours of fishing those small streams with this beauty!! Thanks for sharing

    • Thank you Bill! For a bamboo angler on a budget, I think it’s hard to surpass this baby. Mr. Kattner did a nice job producing a small stream fly rod that’s a joy to use.

  8. Ralph says:

    Really good stuff. I enjoyed the post a lot. Gotta like Mikes work.

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