I revisited a favorite salmon creek on a chilly Saturday morning and warmed up slowly to a good day of casting with an 8-weight rod. I finally found a stretch of water where, surprisingly enough, the landlocks were as busy as a mob of holiday shoppers. Some of them appeared a little frayed, as if they’d had enough of spawning, whereas others looked as fresh as new-fallen snow.
My first take was a small male (21 inches), a moving target, that grabbed the Leech pattern at about 30 feet away. The second catch was a spawned-out female of a similar size but from a different section of the creek. Salmon #4 was a heavy male (26 inches, with dramatic kype) that leapt repeatedly like a drunken ballerina before landing at my feet and bent knees. Unfortunately, the water obfuscated any hint of clarity in the pictures that I took.
My final hook-up was the biggest fish of all. It might have been a brown trout but, judging by its stormy exit and departure in the riffles downstream, I think it was another salmon, the kind that could liven up a daydream in deep winter. Man, those fish are rockets on a fly!
Next day, I arrived at the upper Allegheny River pools around noon. The sun was just arriving there, as well, melting the frost on the meadow grass. The sky was clear, but the woods at riverside helped to keep my shadow off the water.
The afternoon warmed quickly, and I enjoyed the still air of the river, catching rainbow trout while hoping to connect with reclusive browns that might be hiding in an undercut or deep inside a jade-green pool. This didn’t feel like typical December in these parts. Not yet.
At one point I found a freshly killed brown trout, a wild fish, in the river facing the current despite its headless condition. The trout would have measured 20 inches if its forefront hadn’t been eaten by a predator, perhaps a mink or an otter. Winter had come early for that fine animal.
My thoughts shifted to more pleasant matters. My newest book is heading into production and is scheduled to appear on March 1st. Streamwalker’s Journey promises to reflect some of the best material found in the first six years of posting on this blog. My publisher says the book is “… informal, thoughtful, interesting, funny, and at times wise…” I like those words and, rather than feeling like a headless trout facing a wicked winter with some stressful holidays to boot, I could dance and lose my head (figuratively speaking) while offering a special sale on currently available titles…
If you’ve ever felt curious about inspecting or possibly enjoying a book by yours truly (or giving one or two as a gift for the holidays– heh heh) but never got around to it, please consider. From now till January 1st I’m offering discount prices on books written and signed by Walt Franklin. Inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org.