Quiet Silver Streams

Following a full week of hiking, birding, and visiting such places as the Genesee River Trail (WAG Trail, NY), the Golden Eagle Trail (PA), and the coastal trails of Block Island (RI), it was good to return from these rewarding visitations and to experience, again, the quiet silver streams of home…

The Incompleat Angler lost his fishing licenses again, the second time in a year. A gust of wind reopened the plastic tag with licenses attached to his grimy vest. Gone with the wind! A reprise of a Yellowstone experience on the Madison in 2020. Well, the slow learner finally got it this time around. Other than a hand net, there would be no more attachments at the rear end of his fishing vest! He would keep the damn papers in his wallet snug against his denim jeans. With enough real problems in the world, there was no need to top them with an irritation caused by faulty mental wiring.

trailmate “Porky”

Nonetheless, there would always be some room left over for the stresses caused by everyday angling. He might wonder if he has the right fly pattern for this time and place. He might question whether a feeling of inadequacy is actual or imagined. Fortunately, incompleteness has a sort of beauty when it’s taken to the trout stream. There the angler understands the therapeutic value of his quest and simply fishes and… remembers to forget.

a rainbow leapt five times before dislodging friend Don T.’s “perdigon” nymph

He enjoys the quiet silver streams of May, the wild sparkle of the Asaph and the big cold water of the neighboring Pine Creek Gorge. He revisits the Sunken Branch and the brookie waters of the Susquehannock State Forest near his home. He looks for the hidden trout and their subtle beauty– for a sign that he and they exist together in his understanding.

He can laugh at the great success that Izaak Walton had, the author who could simply fish and share enjoyment of the world in troubled times. Walton might have been “compleat” but he fished the Itchen with a garden worm, or with a frog as loveable and respected as his love for King and God. The singing milkmaids of his famous narrative are a balm to the anxiety of any age– or a bomb to the modern sentiments of any rambler here or there.

The incompleat one has to envy Walton’s “study to be quiet.” Friend Charles Cotton would eventually assist old Izaak with an explanation of The 12 Essential Artificial Flies, but only for a late edition of the book. For now it was enough to simply cast and to enjoy.

The quiet silver streams of May were purling toward a distant bend. Their insistence lapped against his waders like the certainty of small birds calling from the banks.

ferry approaching Block Island (RI)
descending Mohegan Bluff (Block Island)
on the trail to Rodham Hollow (Block Island) managed by The Nature Conservancy…
migratory & resident bird species in Rodman Hollow were amazing…
one of two fine lighthouses, Block Island (RI)….

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 Quiet Silver Streams

  1. Brent says:

    The quiet after the journey is a restful one. Where is that pretty little stream cascading through the woods (if it’s not one of your secret spots)? Your picture of the lighthouse reminds me that lighthouse-keeper houses were a lot more elaborate in remote, harsh places like Block Island than further south. I guess incentives had to be provided.

    • Brent, that’s Wolf Run, along Golden Eagle… That’s an interesting point about the lighthouses… If they didn’t have the perks, there’d be a plague of keeper-wannabes.

  2. Don T says:


    Nice pics. Any luck with the Stripers?
    Glad I’m not the only one performing those “long distance” releases!

    Great reading.
    Thank you

    • Don, You’re not the only one, for sure. The Perdigon was favored over its companion in the tandem. As for the stripers– ha! Same old story, but I gave it the old A.U. try. Maybe I need a boat.

  3. UB says:

    Hey when was the picture of Wolf Run taken? Looks like a LOT of water in it and if I remember correctly, last summer it must have been practically dry. Great pictures, great journeys! A real diversity from mountain wood and tribs to the ocean!

    • Thanks UB! Wolf Run pic was taken last week during a pleasant hike. I’m not surprised that it may have been dry last summer. It’s a small stream but the spring flow was pretty strong. Yeah I’d say there was lots of diversity in geography & personal activity spread through the week.

  4. Hi. Do you have one place where you like to fish more than anywhere else?

    • Thanks for asking, but no, I don’t have a single favorite place to fish. My favorite places have an element of wildness in their character & have wild fish living in cold clean water.

  5. plaidcamper says:

    A study in quiet, and this post is a balm, Walt, in what has been a crowded week – thank you! Remembering to forget – now that’s a useful skill, and one I’ll work on. A great midweek read, this was the bomb. I’ve never used that phrase, and now I know why.

  6. Bob Stanton says:

    I hit the Golden Eagle Trail last year, up to the Ravenshorn. What a workout! I didn’t do the whole loop, but the view was well worth the climb.

  7. loydtruss says:

    Just wondering how many times the lighthouse at Block Island has been framed? I still remember the lighthouses we visited in Maine three years ago.
    The Perdigon nymph has to be one of the best nymphs to fish deep runs and pocket holes. Its weight is great for getting down to where the trout hang out. I have been fishing this fly Euro-style and having a lot of success. What size was Don using? Thanks for sharing

    • Bill, I’ll bet it’s been framed thousands of times! As for the Perdigon, I’m glad you’re on to those. They do seem to work especially well in fast, deeper water. Don tied up a bunch in various small sizes, probably 14-20. This one was a 14, I think. I always appreciate your comments, questions, and views!

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