I’ll always have a soft spot for kids this age. These young boys and girls are six to eight years old and learning to be hitters, with their own coaches serving up meatballs across home plate.
They are sophisticated goofballs with only minor control over their emotions, with conditional attention spans that are sometimes ripped away by the slightest and silliest things imaginable. They’re kids.
And for many of these little people, baseball is a first chance to learn the life lessons that build strong adults: that true success is earned through hard work, that passion exceeds wishful thinking, and that teamwork is a constant compromise.
At the Little League age, heart is everything. And I’ve seen teams with half the talent take down bigger teams with twice the power through sheer will and desire — they just wanted it bad enough. Determination is contagious. Belief is addictive. And when a team buys into one another, they don’t easily let go of that belief.
The trout were on. They started with nymphs, but as soon as the emerging tan caddis popped to the surface, a green summer morning turned into something special.
Steve was the first to switch to dry flies. Around 9:30 a.m. I leapfrogged his position again and stopped to visit for a moment. Steve spoke as I approached.
“Man, these are the days you dream about,” he said while casting.
Standing in the creek, not far off the bank, he glanced over his left shoulder in my direction, judging the length of his fly line against the back casting space I’d left him. And I continued wading closer to my friend in the ankle-deep water.
“You switched to dries?” I used the statement as a question . . .
When my wading boots dry out I know it's been too long since I've fished. Thankfully, they're usually wet, so I like to have a good place to store them. Here's an effective way to transport wet wading boots without draining creek water where you don't want it.
I use a drawer from a plastic storage bin that I bought for $12 at Wal Mart a decade ago. That's a small price to pay to keep my wife happy (enough) when I turn family visits into fishing trips by bringing fishing gear along. She doesn't want creek juice leaking onto the carpets of the van. Yes, we have a mini van. No, I won't try to defend it. Let's move on . . .
Austin and I left at dawn. We crossed the wide river at a tailout and entered a dense forest of hemlock and sycamore trees. Walking through dew and morning shadows, we quietly moved downstream toward a favorite, brushy island section for one final fishing trip.
Austin graduated from Penn State a few days before our trip last week, and he’s moving to North Carolina next week. And while many farewells are accompanied by a sincere “I’ll be back soon,” neither of us were willing to tell each other that lie. Sure, life may bring Austin back sooner than later, or ten years from now I may be talking about a good friend whom I miss and haven’t seen for a decade. It’s hard to predict.
I like that. A good life is unpredictable. If you have enough lines in the water, something unexpected is bound to happen. We might label those events good or bad, but I for one am happy for the variety. I’m glad this life is full of surprises.
I dislike arbitrary limits. Placing restrictions on tackle and techniques, when they inhibit my ability to adapt to the fishing conditions, makes no sense to me. I’m bound by no set of rules other than my own. And my philosophy is — Do what works.
I guess that’s why I’ve grown into this fishing system. Most of the time I use what I refer to as the Mono Rig. It’s a very long leader that substitutes for fly line, and I’ve written about it extensively on Troutbitten. Tight line and euro nymphing principles are at the heart of the Mono Rig, but there are multiple variations that deviate from those standard setups. Sometimes I use split shot rather than weighted flies. Sometimes I add suspenders to the rig. I even throw large, articulated streamers and strip aggressively with the Mono Rig. All of this works on the basic principle of substituting #20 monofilament for fly line.
Tight line nymphing is my default approach on most rivers. I like the control, the contact and the immediacy of strike detection. But sometimes adding a suspender (an indicator that suspends weight) just works better . . .
I’m not sure why, but it seems to be part of an angler’s DNA to face the stream sideways. Some guy with a rod walks up to the creek, faces the opposite bank and watches the water flow from left to right. He casts up and across and drifts the fly / bait / lure until it’s down and across from his position. Everyone does it. Repeat ad infinitum and catch a fish once in a while. To catch more trout, face upstream.
Most of this applies to dead drifting things to a fish, which if you’re fishing for trout, is arguably the most effective and consistent way to put fish in the bag. Dries and nymphs (and often wet flies and streamers) are most useful when delivered upstream and allowed to drift along with the current, without much influence from the line and leader that carries it. The dead drift is the first and most basic lesson of Fly Fishing 101.
And the easiest way to get that dead drift happening is to face upstream.
This is too good to let pass. My friend Chase Howard restarted and rejuvenated his blog, Dirt Roads and Blue Lines. And recently, he penned a short commentary on the state of the stocked vs wild trout situation in Pennsylvania.
Chase calls the stocked trout syndrome "The Aquaculture Culture," and his choice of words is appropriate. There truly is an ingrained culture. Many Pennsylvanian's have grown to expect (and feel they deserve) stocked trout in their local creeks, not because the creek can't support wild trout and not because there isn't already a wild trout population that would thrive if given a chance. No, the Aquaculture Culture expects and downright demands stocked trout in the creek because that's the way it's always been, in their lifetime.
As I've argued countless times here on Troutbitten, stocked trout do have a place in Pennsylvania. Our state hatcheries should continue to raise trout and stock them in streams that cannot and do not already support wild trout. I'm thankful for stocked trout. I caught my limit of stocked fish today . . .