Earplugs, Turbines and Snobbery

Relative to other Octobers that I recall, this month has been drab and wet, with little change in the color of the foliage, and with few fish caught on my various ventures. Several highlights, however, come to mind and beg description…

Early one Sunday morning, I hit the upper Kettle watershed with friend and long-time blog supporter, Bob Stanton. Kettle Creek, even above the bridge on Rt. 44 in Potter County, PA, was flowing too high for comfortable wading, so we found good reason (as if one was needed) to fly-fish on a couple of wild tributaries of the upper stream. The brook trout that obliged our efforts were mostly small fish rising to the surface, but it seemed as though the spawning had occurred already, and those trout, still willing to feed, were pretty much exhausted by the process.

Mr. Bob Stanton, at work…

We talked to a fellow on the main stem who was giving up but quick to tell us of his recent success. This guy, who lives nearby and knows the trout stream pretty well, pulled out his phone and shared a photo of a massive brown trout (22 inches?) that he claimed to have taken on a deadly lure– several of which adorned his otherwise reasonable fly box.

What kind of “fly” works so well on autumn browns? Why, the “Ear Plug,” of course. That foamy orange thing, shaped like a tear-drop, that you insert when mowing the lawn or trying to sleep beside a snoring spouse. I doubt that I’ll ever try one of these awesome attractors but, if you think about it, an Ear Plug does resemble a big overcooked fish egg, doesn’t it?

It’s those things there, on the right, hear?

By mid-week, I was ready to appear in City Court along with other rivertop protesters concerned about the “Wind Farm” proposal to cite about 176 windmill turbines, each one close to 600-feet in height, throughout several townships where I make my home. The placement of turbines may be good in some locations where people truly want them but, for this place, they’re deplorable and tragic. Most people don’t give a shit about wind farms one way or another, or just assume that Government and Big Energy corporations are telling the truth about their relevance wherever people of modest incomes are too poor to fend them off. I was glad to have good company in the courthouse when I read the following statement to assembled citizens and to various officials…

A “fun guy” on the soapbox…

I will speak for people deeply rooted in this area who harbor a concern about the so-called wind farm projects slated for Steuben County. I will try to speak for the wildlife of this region that has no voice to be heard by the outsiders.

I, for one, consider these proposals to establish 600-foot turbines, along with accompanying infrastructure, to be an invasion of industrialism, unwanted and unnecessary. These energy companies enter our homeland claiming to consider the environmental effects of what they do, claiming to consider our input and anxiety, but they are here for one thing only– government green.

Kettle Creek, beyond the “government green.”

They don’t know what the people want, nor do they have an antidote to the serious problem of global warming. They are here on business with a singular concern, and it has nothing to do with who we are as a community, nor with the welfare of our land and waters. The invaders will rob us of the peace and comfort we derive from our beautiful surroundings.

Their establishment will hardly put a dent in our use of carbon-based energy sources. It will be expensive, and more harmful to our health and well-being than a life that’s lived with a careful and considerate use of natural resources.

Please join me in saying, No Deal to the turbines. May the wind blow freely through these hills and hollows, unfettered by the monoliths that serve but the few.

Bob, at my kind of fishing…

Off my soapbox, it was time for me to reassemble a season for tributary salmon and brown trout fishing. It would be my 20th consecutive season for this crazy pursuit and, frankly, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to continue chasing the big fish where, as some participating critics surmise, the Internet and social media are killing off the fun.

So I fished up north on Saturday. Surprise: the creek was low and still a little warm. The browns had yet to arrive, and the salmon, although freshly run, were still few in number. I had one bruiser fairly hooked on two different occasions but he turned the water upside-down and each time threw the hook.

On an Ontario trib– not “my kind” of fishing…

Just before I left, a group of 10 or 11 Pennsylvania anglers arrived to fish in their favorite pool. They were armed with heavy-duty spin rods and nets the size of table chairs. A father and son stood in the middle of one pool blatantly attempting to snag a cruising chinook. Two fly-fishers approached me on the bank while staring at the father-son duo. One guy said, “Look at that. IQ’s of 17, looking for lunch.” I don’t think I responded verbally, preferring not to reinforce an obvious case of socio-economic snobbery, but I’m sure that I smiled inside.

on a long tributary of Kettle Creek…

The quiet at the end…

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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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11 Responses to Earplugs, Turbines and Snobbery

  1. Bob Stanton says:

    Walt, your eloquence is moving. That is as an impassioned, logical argument against governmental intrusion as I’ve heard. Too, it makes the case that so-called “green” energy can be every bit as destructive and deleterious as the traditional energy extraction industries. Well done. On a related note, my anxiety is building as the midterm elections approach and the news on the wire tells more tales of the erosion of individual, guaranteed rights and the Democratic process. I keep thinking of the words of your almost relative, Ben Franklin, when asked what we’ve got – “A republic, if you can keep it.” That aside, I had a blast last week. Fished the East Branch of the Clarion the next day and one fish rise to my fly. Switched to a streamer and didn’t move a single fish in almost a mile of stream. Fishing, not catching, right?
    P.S. I think I’m in love with Slider’s Branch.

  2. Bob, Slider’s is a pretty one, isn’t it… A fun outing… May we continue to enjoy free outings such as this, without excessive erosion of our guaranteed rights, those rights imperiled furthermore if we fail, as a country, to get out and make our voices heard real soon. Yeah, old Ben hit it right by saying, “…if you can keep it.” Thanks for sharing, and being here, friend.

  3. JZ says:

    I agree with Mr. Stanton, going “green” can be just as destructive. Friday, I fished Shingle branch. The fall season is a special time to be on the water. Sure, start time reading temperature was a balmy 29 degrees. But what a warm time to be on the water and by afternoon ii warmed up considerably. I fished from the mouth of Young Woman’s to where the splits come together. Then finished downstream on the missed split. The water was cold, fish mostly interested and not so at times. The fish brought to hand were glorious, both in color and spirit. A mix of browns and brooks that seemed happy on there rocky terrain. Which makes this anglers heart glow. How lucky we are to have places like this. How lucky we are to find peace and fellowship in deep hollows where the deer and squirrel play. As the sun started to set and dark lines were cast, it was time to leave. Ill be back sometime, sometime soon in those little lost corners where brooks dance with the current. Bamboo in hand and more lost time in the books. My ledger isn’t quite filled for the year yet Walt. I got more miles to log and tiny creeks yet to fish. I want to find what’s there. What’s there is what keeps me going…By the way, Sliders is very nice. I’ve fished just slightly most of it. To fish the other side, I need to start from the other side..LOL Glad you got out Walt with your friend. Love your blog and glad you lead a resistance in some areas of the political divide..

    • Thanks for that, JZ. Glad to hear that you’re fishing these small streams in October. I imagine that the lower Young Woman’s had a lot of water flowing through. I haven’t been down there in a quite a while. Like you, I find that my “ledger isn’t quite filled for the year.” I have a few small streams in mind that need revisiting before the snow gets serious, viz., a small feeder in the upper Pine, another one on upper Kettle, and yet another near Cedar Run… You know how it goes. The small streams have us in thrall!

  4. Brent says:

    Amusing commentary on the “Line up, take a number” school of fishing! Regarding the wind energy, you know I’m conflicted on the matter: I do think that “green” energy, deployed strategically and at enough scale, can be effective; but I’ll admit that it would be a tough blow to see the quiet, wooded hilltops altered as the turbines are installed. Solar may be a better and more efficient alternative, in any case.

    Also, is that last response intentional? I’m a bit confused!

    • I decided to trash that long-winded commercial “response” for a noise-reduction product that came here after I posted. I saw it as a joke, but yielding to my policy of posting any and every response to a blog post, I thought I’d run it till someone said, “I’m a bit confused.” Goes to show that commerce sometimes has no heart. Anyway, it’s gone now. As for the turbines, they will change this place forever, and I just can’t see the “good.”

  5. plaidcamper says:

    I always enjoy reading the ramblings of a fun-guy. Your day with Bob was fun, and I enjoyed the IQ barb, even if I shouldn’t…
    Hmm, wind turbines. No doubt we need to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and wind farms can be part of a solution, but not at the cost of industrializing wild spaces and simply to serve the interests of chasing profits. Hope you win this one.
    Thanks, Walt!

  6. Jet Eliot says:

    I enjoyed your post, as always, Walt — your passion for the land and the wildlife are evident, and appreciated. A field of 600′ turbines sounds ghastly, and they do harm birds and bats who fly close and get their wings clipped. Thanks for showing up and speaking out, I hope the efforts pay off. Your words and photos, passion and caring are much appreciated.

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