Golden Brown

There were golden days this autumn, brilliant afternoons delightful for occasions on the trail or on the stream. I tried to make the most of them, getting outside when I could, and trying to fit some angling time into a year that had seen far less than what I was used to.

brown trout came from head of riffle

I experienced another mellow afternoon on a local river. The continued dryness of the landscape was a little worrisome, and the water remained low and clear. Still, my recent fishing hours had to be among my finest of the year to date.

Many of the fish were in a spawning mode and hardly interested in my artificial offerings. But every now and then a streamer took a hit when drifting at the right level of the water column. I had seen a fish leap at the head of a riffle with an overhanging bank, and so I made a slow approach. A powerful brown trout grabbed the Woolly Bugger and quickly came to net. Its length, with tail slightly suppressed, was 20 inches, and its highlights (not to be captured by the small Olympus camera) were close to a golden hue.

I walked downstream to one of the larger pools and, where the riffles dropped off into the depths, surprised myself with the second and final hook-up of the day. Like the heavy rainbow that I captured and released a week or two ago, I was battling another fish of similar size. I’m glad that the barbless hook and 3X tippet held. The 7-foot cane rod held. My breath held –till the landing net finally held what must have been a 10-pound trout.

this one was heavy

The fish was no golden brown but an unbruised rainbow of impressive dimensions. My landing net measures 22 inches from tip to tip, and this particular trout surpassed that by at least three inches. It did not appear to be the same rainbow that I photographed earlier this month. Two fish made this autumn day complete, the river and the hillsides golden brown.

another pic of the ‘bow from previous post– the following 6 pics: trail/N. Hornell; scarlet sumac; Seneca Lake; ringbilled gull (Seneca); in one of many Finger Lake breweries; a view from home…

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 Golden Brown

  1. Brent says:

    I recognize some of those pics, but those two big fish seem like the stuff of fishermen’s tall tales. Is the North Hornell trail the Shawmut? I’ve heard about it but not actually seen or walked it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you!

  3. Mark S says:

    Wonderful photos! I had to go back and look at the seagull photo a second time because of the light reflections off the wings and beak.

  4. Autumn — the best season of the year (in my opinion). Hi. Continued success on your fishing expeditions!

  5. tiostib says:

    Wow! Spectacular fishing in glorious surrounds. Brings back memories of Fall steelhead fishing on Oregon’s rogue River. Thanks.

  6. plaidcamper says:

    Golden indeed, Walt! Fall, and all the associated colours and outdoor pursuits very definitely good for you – particularly if washed down with a beer in a great bar. Cheers! (And I’ve been humming “golden brown” all day – a splendid tune!)

  7. Was great to see you yesterday along with the ‘better half”. Had forgotten you had a new post so have finally caught up to it. Wow! Holly (I didn’t say ‘cow’)! OMG applies here. Well if it isn’t enough to enjoy the time of year while out and about – you had to spoil it with two monstrous fish! Hahaa! My goodness RTR all aspects of the experience/s shared … just fantastic memories created and shared with us – thank you!
    Harry got a couple up Cedar yesterday – the brown similar to yours (his was a verified 18″). Well, it was great to see you and L. yesterday and I hope you have a couple more great days this fall before the sn… sno…. can’t say it sorry. Haha… take care – UB.

    • Hey, UB, thank you for this… We enjoyed our visit with you & the guys yesterday. A sense of accomplishment, too… Good to hear that Harry found a nice brown even with tough environmental conditions. After lunch at the hotel, I managed to find an hour’s fishing time on Slate but saw only one fish that I spooked. Good to be out in the fine weather, though.

  8. Don T says:


    What a football of a bow. Congratulations.

  9. loydtruss says:

    Awesome images especially the trout—-since my season is over on the lake my next venture is fishing for the trout below Smith Dam. Looking forward to the challenge. Thanks for sharing

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