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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.