Heading Off, December

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.

This was the big one, photo’d underwater, fly released from jaw.

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.

I pushed the headless brown trout from the river for this shot.

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…

landlocked salmon are (not) graffiti artists…

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 franklinl3@yahoo.com.

all fish were successfully released to live and carry on…




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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14 Responses to Heading Off, December

  1. Brent says:

    Six years already, huh! I like the idea of doing a kind of “best of” format, self-selected rather than at the hands of a publicist. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what turns up in the new volume and adding it to my little WF shelf spot.

    • Thanks! Those six years have shot away like a spooked salmon but, yeah, I hand selected the ingredients from RR, mixed and blended then baked like a cake. Except, it took a couple of years before I could finally apply the frosting.

  2. Bob Stanton says:

    Sounds like you got a good workout in, courtesy of genus salmo. Congrats on the book coming to fruition and thank you for six years of Rivertop Rambles!

  3. plaidcamper says:

    I’m beginning to forget what new-fallen snow even looks like…
    Thanks for the clarity you bring with each new post, keeping your head when all about are, well, never mind that stuff. Your publisher has said it right, and I look forward to the “best of” in March.
    Thanks, Walt!

    • PC, I think we’re received less of the white stuff here than you have in the province. We have to wonder. And every morning we here have to wake up to the same old political season… Anyway, I sure appreciate you being around in spirit all the while. It really helps.

  4. Mike says:

    Looking forward to adding another volume of yours to my shelf, Walt! Good stuff as always. Hope you and yours are well. Have a merry Christmas!!

  5. Things are going pretty well, Mike. Thanks again, and all the best to you and the family for a happy holiday season and a merry Christmas.

  6. I’ll just say that I applaud both you for getting out and those glorious salmon I’ve never had the pleasure to fish. Well except our own kokanee which are a blast to catch but not of any great size. And congrats on the upcoming book Walt, please hold a signed copy to add to my library.

  7. loydtruss says:

    This is the kind of trip a lot of us would dream of making one day. Certainly some quality trout taken from some beautiful waters. I’ve become a fan of your blog these past years while learning a lot about fishing freestone streams, which I still have on my bucket list to fish. Congrats on the new book, enter my name for a copy————–Thanks for sharing

  8. I’m going to add the new book to my list of books to get and read in 2018. I’m looking forward to reading it.

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