Down by the (Genesee) River

Anticipating heavy rainfall over the next couple of days, I decided to fish my home river again. I hadn’t touched base with the upper Genesee in New York for a while, and I needed to get reacquainted with its pools and riffles and to see how the aquatic  life was doing. The sky was overcast; the air felt cool with a promise of rain; and the river looked inviting.

upper Genny, w/ invasive knotweed growth

I quickly raised a brown trout to a dry fly (Blue Quill spinner) but then came an hour where nothing more could be taken at the surface. I fished across the border into PA (multiple licenses) and switched to a Prince nymph which connected with a 15-inch brown trout offering to have its photo taken in exchange for a quick release. Being a kind-hearted so-and-so, especially in these days of grim political news and severe flooding problems in the eastern U.S., I said, no problem; it’s my M.O., whether you’re a stream-bred fish or an alien from the hatchery.

I walked back into New York State, expecting the rain to fall at any moment. Just before reaching the LaBarre Pool (where a third trout would come to hand), I saw an odd sight, like an apparition– a white dog on the roadway by the gravel pit. The animal, looking so much like an Arctic fox that I felt unsettled, ambled around in circles before pausing to glance at me then running off. I didn’t know what to think, but the dog really took my mind off fishing for a minute or two.

land of the White Dog…

I thought of a close elder now in hospice care in Colorado. I’m not the superstitious sort, but I know that reality can get a little spooky on occasion, even in the warm embrace of Nature just before it rains… I checked my watch, as if I needed to know the time.

season of the shrooms…

Down by the river I refocused my attention on the roots of things, like fishing the watershed of home because it’s there.

on Dyke Creek…

Like inspecting the tree roots of a washed-out hemlock where the brown trout took my nymph pattern.

Where a strange white dog and I crossed tracks one quiet evening.

Where the fly line pulled off of the Pflueger reel and flew out to another riffle courtesy of wrist and bamboo rod.

Slate Run in the mist…

Where the face of time gave a grimacing look and then relaxed…

yr basic Green Weenie…

I heard the words of Neil Young’s song flow in a blistered rendition by Roy Buchanan. I didn’t hear them at the river but I heard them close enough to make a vague connection.

T. & T. Classic, Pflueger reel, and mushroom…

No, I didn’t get dragged over the rainbow nor did I shoot my baby (thank you, White Dog) but I’ve been around long enough to understand that the late Roy B. remains one of the finest electric guitarists of all time…. His bluesy notes reverberate like a river’s current in a lair of trout.


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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18 Responses to Down by the (Genesee) River

  1. angus48 says:

    Reblogged this on Angus48's Blog and commented:
    Rivers and fishing…never gets old to me.

  2. Bob says:

    White dog – isn’t the trail there called “Wag Trail”? My tail would have been waggin straight towards a cold Genny Cream Ale immediately after…

    • Ha! No tail-waggin’ at the Wag Trail, Bob, and that’s what threw me for a loop. This guy looked rather like an Arctic fox, but bigger. I swear I was sober at the time, but it didn’t take me long to pull at a couple that night!

  3. Brent says:

    Sounds like an old legend, with all the necessary elements: an old fisherman, ominous weather, and a mysterious otherworldly animal. Maybe you should have asked one of those fish to grant a wish!

  4. plaidcamper says:

    An atmospheric one, Walt. Loved the photographs accompanying this, adding even more to a somewhat spooky outing. It’s all out there, and I’m not sure we can always fully grasp the meaning, but there’s no harm in reaching. Thank you for an introduction to Roy Buchanan – new to me, and having heard the Neil Young cover, I’ll be off to discover his other material. Never hurts to be down by the river!

    • Thanks Plaid, yes, beyond the full grasp of meaning, but that’s life, huh. And you’re very welcome. I hope you enjoy the Roy music… wonderful blues, by a sadly little known master. The river can be wondrous!

  5. Bob Stanton says:

    Nice bluesy rendering of a Neil classic by a Blues master. He really takes off on what is probably Neil’s “jammy-est” song. I’m surprised that Roy Buchanan isn’t more well known by people who claim to be Blues aficionados – SRV, BB., Muddy, Albert King, etc.- he’s right there. On a piscatorial note, the Genesee sure looks fishy. Slate on the other hand, more… difficult?

  6. Slate was difficult, the whole watershed very high and tricky… As for Buchanan, it’s a wonder that he’s still so little known, but man, can he wring the notes with pure emotion… I’ve listened to him on & off since the 70s, and still find new stuff now & then. He comes close to Jimi, methinks. Anyway, thank you, Bob, and keep jammin’!

  7. JZ says:

    Nice to spend some time on home water and get reacquainted Walt. Streams constantly change, not there true identity, but there character. Some change subtlety, like a fallen tree that adds a pool or deep ditch. Others I’ve seen, have been ravaged by storms or a catastrophic event. Anyway, to me, there always reinventing themselves in the landscape. I just got back from fishing the Cushman yesterday. Water was raging where I parked by the bridge. So I hiked up where the stream splits and fished the no named tributary that runs buy a log cabin. The tributary really has no name according to the Atlas, it should know. There by shedding water volume is where I found brook trout. I hiked more than a mile into it, and fished a small colorful streamer downstream back. Prodding all the nooks and crannies where trout like to hide. The streamer did well and found specks of light where you wouldn’t necessarily think there would be any. This water is small on 99.9% of occasions and its tightness can make fishing challenging. However, on this occasion, the water fished better because there was more of it. Walt, those brooks danced yesterday like they just found there shoes. Anyway, hope your close elder with hospice isn’t in any pain. Perhaps catching fish isn’t always what you settle on when heading out. Peace, remembrances, gratitude, grace and thankfulness was walking beside you along your way…Take care Walt and God Bless your elder.

    • Thank you for the kind thoughts, JZ. You’re right, about streams changing character, “reinventing themselves” sometimes, almost like a complex human being. That’s part of what makes them so fascinating to some of us. Yeah, at times like this, we need to fish high up on the watershed, as you did on Cushman. Sounds to me like you sampled Bear Run, a little feeder stream, as well. It, too, has brookies. If the Slate Run Road has been cleared of the wash-out, I’d like to get up in there again real soon. Thanks again for the inspiration!

  8. loydtruss says:

    The Genesee is a beautiful stretch of water, is it all wading or do you fish some areas from the bank? How I envy you guys up in the northeast, with all the outstanding streams there to fish. Thanks for sharing

  9. Anonymous says:

    There has been a lot of rain this year Walt. It hasn’t dampened my experiences in finding trout. I fish mostly small streams. When there is a deluge of water, I go higher. Some of these streams you can jump over without being athletically gifted (LOL). In most cases, more water means better success, though you’ll have to change tactics to some degree. Changing conditions is what keep us anglers on our boot toes. I enjoy it, and years like this can have me on water that I visit less frequently. A 5 1/2 foot one piece 4wt cane rod came in handy this year. I acquired it this spring and it saw a lot of water time. It is finished out in a Payne style wrapping under a honey color. Add the tiger maple reel seat in the back and you can picture the look. Its quick and can pick pocket water well. I would imagine it could handle a decent size fish, although to that extent it hasn’t been tested. I guess you could say, I’ve done things on the fly this year. Fished areas and creeks that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve learned some things along the way that have served me well. Although to be certain, seeing what is hidden and camouflaged deep within the forest Walt, is priceless. I’ve enjoyed each and every step along the way. My boots will soon be back and certainly wet. Also, don’t forget snake chaps. I wear them over my waders below the knee. Piece of mind for this angler…

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments, A. I agree, we’ve had a tremendous amount of rain these last couple of months. Although I sometimes found the extra water frustrating for my angling efforts, the high volume in this region has been better than having the other extreme of drought. It’s kept us our toes and even mentored us in some regard. For sure, we’ve been able to fish some rivertops that we might otherwise have ignored. And many of those high streamlets have been productive this season.
      That little Payne-style fly rod sounds like a perfect small-stream instrument. I can almost picture it and wouldn’t mind checking it out someday. I don’t see many one-piece cane rods, ever.
      Although I’ve found the fly-fishing rather slow of late, it certainly picked up yesterday. The brookies are in spawning mode and their colors are majestic. Have an enjoyable autumn on the waters, and keep in touch!

  10. Peter Collin says:

    Walt, I enjoyed this report. I, too, am a fisher of the Genesee river. Use bamboo fly rods to do it, as well! I wonder if you have an email I could contact you at? I would like to send you a link to a story I wrote about my old secret fishing spot on the Genny that no longer exists.

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