I woke up around 3:15 a.m. with several lines of silly thought reverberating in my head. For better or worse, these lines may have given impetus for this latest post. One of them was close to a throw-away: “We’ve got NO BEER for the party. Just a PEACH!” Well, I wasn’t going to that party anyway. Another line, echoing a well-known Dylan song, made more sense: “O Mama, can this really be the end, to be stuck inside of GREENWOOD with the Covid-blues again?”
I don’t really feel so stuck here in Greenwood. I’m fortunate to live in some woolly country with a lot of space for getting lost nearby and keeping others safe from my special brand of nuttiness. Here the wild trout call me to some streams in the area, one of which has proved rather interesting this year. It’s the headwaters of my home-river, the exact branch of which remains necessarily vague.
The state opened the regular trout season early– by surprise– in order to facilitate social distancing of expected crowds. I got to the stream on the first “real” opening day, alone with the clouds, cool air and muddied water. I was way above the highest stocking point along the stream, not expecting much more than the satisfaction of being free, unstuck from the confines of our social crisis.
The stream is not a popular one. It flows gently through a valley filled with farms, old meadows and patchy forest land. It feels remote, although in actuality it parallels a quiet road and has some issues with flood-borne litter and sedimentation. Ninety-nine percent of its limited fishermen prefer to angle for the stocked trout hosed in at its lowest bridge.
I last fished it in the early spring of 2019 and lost a large brown that broke off in a log-jam. This year I returned to its muddy water with a short stout leader and a weighted Woolly Bugger. I quickly had a fight on my hands. The seven-foot four-weight bamboo took a mean bend but I landed then returned a heavy 21-inch brown– a wild fish or, if not, most certainly a holdover from the golden days before we ever heard of Covid-19.
I made a second visit just the other day. Upstream, even closer to the source, farther upstream than I’d fished before. A quarter-inch of rain that fell the previous night presented cloudy water once again, enabling me to fish confidently with a streamer. The old fields and the hemlock woods felt wonderful. I couldn’t believe my luck– wild browns and holdovers, many in the eight to nine-inch range, with several of them close to 14 inches. And a painted rainbow, obviously a holdover, pulled out from the logs and measuring a full 17 inches long.
I remembered a throw away line, an image, that bounced around my thoughts that morning at 3:15, or minutes later… It concerned an old guy who I met at the city transfer station where I’d taken my recyclables. The septuagenarian passed me in his car, driving slowly with his window down. He held an empty bottle of Scotch as he headed toward the bin containing a variety of clear glass. He told me, “It was fun getting this thing ready for recycling.”
It was fun revisiting an old, unpopular trout stream close to home. A treat getting reacquainted. Like a one-man party where the beer had vanished, but where the lonely peach was worth the tasting.