Beautiful Country, Wrong Address

A large truck hauling tires jack-knifed on the country road where I reside. I stopped to assist, and the mildly distraught driver scratched his head and looked at the back end of his rig that had fallen into a serious ditch when he tried to turn around. “Wow,” he said, “this is beautiful country… but they gave me the wrong address. I’m from Gettysburg, so what do I know?”

When I learned that help was coming, I resumed my drive to the upper Genesee River to pursue some research with a fly rod. I hiked the rail trail for about a mile before the heat of early afternoon began to threaten me with delusions. I fought the river vegetation to a bend that I presumed was well beyond the nearest human residence. Shortly after, I paused from my casting near a large pool to behold an unusual sight: a blonde-haired woman was splashing about in her two-piece swimming suit with a large white dog for company.

Seth Green (turkey wing) tied by John Bartles…

Before she had an opportunity to witness a sweaty old disbeliever, I grabbed my water bottle for a swig of dream-dispersal and pretended there was no connection whatsoever between the legendary nymphs of ancient Greece and the tandem nymphs still drifting on my line.

The swimmer, too, was quite surprised. Her big dog bounded from the river, shook a storm of water from its glistening coat and checked me out. The well-tanned owner also bounded over and expressed concern that her pet might get entangled with a hook and line. The swimmer’s voice was soft and reassuring as she grabbed the dog, and I forced myself to keep both eyes where they belonged.

hatchery brook…

Ah, the backwoods of the Genesee! After fishing this river for decades, my presumption to have known it well was drowned in a series of sparkling pools and riffles. Not only was I catching trout in unfamiliar territory unseen for many years, but it was looking… very good. I thought about a truck driver who had witnessed beautiful country after recognizing a wrong address.

Pine Creek…

A few days later, fishing on big Pine Creek with partner Jim, I had my best luck (modest but rewarding) casting nymphs appropriate for late-May hatches. Technically, the nymphs were March Brown and Grey Fox emergers. There were anglers in the neighborhood practicing the trendy Czech or Euro-Nymphing style for which a thousand You Tube videos have been produced in recent years.

Pine Creek riffle, Cedar Run…

I’ve long practiced a similar casting technique– holding the rod out-stretched, keeping the fly line off the pocket-water, and drifting weighted artificials back and forth– but referring to the strategy as simply “Pine Creek Nymphing,” or “Trout Run Nymphing,” without the academic European overtones.

on Slate…

Jim and I retreated from the valley to the cooler depths of a wild run. Suiting up, I asked my companion if he’d brought along the rattlesnake repellent for our heated walk down to the creek. He laughed, but before we reached the vaunted run we stopped abruptly at some branches fallen on the trail. Underneath was a docile serpent worthy of respect. Jim had never seen a rattler in the Pennsylvania woods, but there it was– another creature like the trout, the songbird and the walker of trails– everyone at home, with the right, or wrong, address.

the doc on Pine…
author’s Pine Creek rainbow…
a small timber rattler…
sunrise, Bootleg Hollow…

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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17 Responses to Beautiful Country, Wrong Address

  1. Brent says:

    You’ve given this post the tone of a classic tall tale, and it definitely made me chuckle a bit. Several fish-out-of-water moments, plus the great pictures I’ve come to expect. The texture of those clouds at sunrise is almost impossible to believe!

  2. alex55manta says:

    Great excursions like usual! That Seth Green is a great looking fly too! Nice Rainbow for Jim and I’m sure you may have ‘zoomed in’ on that little rattler – nice tight shot! The Unexpected Swimmer… hmmm? Quite a variety of story-line in this one RTR – nice! UB

    • Thanks UB! I think I’ll try the Seth Green pattern when & if the Grannoms make a grand appearance. Other advice? Always keep an eye out for those unexpected swimmers!

  3. JZ says:

    I thought a picture of the woman was in order, but was made up for by the mighty serpent, lol. As always Walt, you captured the day perfectly and were rewarded with great companionship with a fellow friend.

    • Ha! Yeah, no connection there for me, but I do know what you mean, JZ! I thought about a photo but sobriety & a sense of fly-fishing ethics had a voice for my behavior, believe it or not. Thanks, pal.

  4. There always are new places/things/activities to investigate. Life’s better for that. By the way, you caught a heck of a sunrise.

  5. loydtruss says:

    Walt
    Started this outing with a distrught truck driver and ended it conversing with a blonde beauty; some fly fishermen have all the luck!!
    Colorful rainbow and brown trout taken, tight linning, high sticking, dead drifting, and of course the Euro Nmphing —many names for this style fly fishing. I do know it produces hits. Yes, there are a lot of videos on this type fly fishing. I believe Grorge Daniels euro nymphing videos are the best on the net. I feel this guy who knows exactly how to detect a hit, type flies to use, and how to rig the best line set-up for this style fishing. Thanks for sharing

    • Thanks Bill for your insight here! Yep, whatever we call it, I’d say the outing is all in the name of fun and maybe even… education. Especially when the fisher has a word with the likes of wayward truckers or surprised bathers.

  6. Bob Stanton says:

    Still have as of yet to see a rattlesnake in the woods, but thanks to a friend of mine who is an avid amateur herpetologist, I’ve been walking past them my whole life, because areas where he collects them are areas that I frequent. As I write this, two mayfly spinners joined in what passes for insect love hover overhead, and I’m watching a quintet of nighthawks work their aerial sallies and swoops against a red sky. Unusual in that I only see the big goatsuckers around buildings downtown, for the most part. A couple of beers and my guitar join me on the back deck as I contemplate what has been for me at least, a lousy fishing season thus far.

    • Speaking of goatsuckers, I kind of miss seeing nighthawks around here, and have looked & listened hard for whippoorwills again, without any luck this season. As for trout fishing, catching has been rather lackluster so far, by most accounts that I have heard, but the next few weeks should be interesting, if it’s gonna happen this season, or not. Beers & guitars can help us sing the blues or folksy narratives, either way.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Very nice write up Walt! Thanks for the companionship – and for not letting me step on that snake!

    • Good steerage was the least I could do– in exchange for happy hours at your camp. With thanks!

    • UB says:

      I’m glad you didn’t step on that rattler too or you would’ve been visiting the local Hospital instead of at my place Doc! Was great to meet you and hopefully you guys will visit again some time. UB

  8. plaidcamper says:

    Splendid stuff once again, Walt, from the Gettysburg address (ok, so I’m an inattentive to details reader) to being surprised by a nymph – life is good!

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