1. The beauty of the stream is a simple gift, a holiday revelation. There’s a wholeness to its many parts where pool and riffle, snowy bank and mossy rock cohere. The solitude, the wooded hills, the winter trout are gathered here like friends and family.
The stream sounds like a poem. It flows from a place beyond all words. The form and content, the rhythm and meter, spring from eddies of civility and wildness. Water smooths the roughness of time, the hardship of labor, and the sense of wrong within.
The stream enters stream; the mind takes wing. I give it eyes, like microscopic orbs of dragonfly, to see every place along the route at once! There’s an arced and sinuous flow defying the bounds of gravity, yet it holds me to its rocky banks. The sea is calling, naturally, but this snowy iridescence is the mountain stream’s alone.
2. Whiskey Run, as I call it, enters a feeder stream high up in the Pine Creek drainage. I fished this “feeder” two miles from its source in the Allegheny Foothills, thinking of my friend Joe Bartek’s holiday message, “Happiness is a bent rod.” Indeed. The little six-foot fly rod doubled up twice on this challenging stream.
The feeder stream is narrow and often crowded with low-hanging limbs. A late-December fog enclosed my world of fly-fishing, locking my attention on the underhand swings and bow shots aimed at shelving banks and tiny pools. Once known for its native brooks, the six-mile stream now features a fair population of wild browns.
The trout seemed few and far between, but up in the forest, comfortably distant from the busy highway, I got lucky. Two nice browns were captured and released– a 13-incher from an undercut bank, and a heavy 14-inch specimen that rushed the wet fly from its log-jam in fast water. I was happy for these fish. They were large and unexpected in this tiny stream. The life they gave a bent rod fed an angler’s joy and satisfaction.