Perfect Peace

by | Jul 28, 2014 | 2 comments

Everything was too loud this week. Sometimes it feels like I wasn’t built to be around people, and the simple interactions with others, even with my own family, stack and pile on top of me. My jumbled thoughts and endless worry needed to go away for a while, and I’ve learned that a long day of fishing in the right place can reset that too-many-people-and-too-many-thoughts gauge back to a baseline. The right river has done this for me countless times, and yesterday the perpetually flowing waters renewed me once again.

 I arrived just after dawn. And I was alone.

Two cars in the lot, but both were from cyclists. The stickers on their vehicles read: Cannondale, Trek, and “Share the Road.” Good. Not the fishy type. So I walked down through wet morning brush and fished the lower island. I returned to the truck at noon to refill my water bottle, and even the cyclists were gone from the midday haze and heat. There’s nothing like knowing you’re the only one on the water in a place like this, and I had unlimited hours ahead.

Half a day later, I would return at dark through a violent and brilliant thunderstorm, drenched again from the heavy rain and wind, still alone and still wonderful. Through all the years, I cannot recall another day when I had this water to myself. I have intense memories of full days, fishing the upper section in the winter, my boot tracks and the border collie’s paw prints, marking our solitary partnership in the new fallen snow. But never have I had such privacy on the lower half of my favorite river.

2014-07-28 04.11.41

I worked all the islands. The fishing was mostly slow, but I didn’t care. I enjoyed working hard for the fish I did catch and was willing to accept the price for such time alone: high heat, hot sun and low water. No matter. Wet wading kept me cool as I changed dry fly and nymphing rigs, trying to dial something in.

Early on, I approached a favorite spot, where during the cicadas craziness six years ago, I lost the largest fish I’ve ever hooked on this river. When I didn’t move a trout with the go-to patterns, I held my ground, because on this day I had unlimited time and patience. So I tied on a Soft Hackle Wooly with a heavy load of shot in front. It sank quickly into the head of the run, and I short stripped once ….. WHAM. I was hooked up with a large brown for about a minute until it popped off. Three casts later, and the same thing — another big brown hooked and played with another long distance release. By myself, with unlimited river upstream and down, I shrugged and moved on.

At the bottom of the next island I landed a sizable stinky bass, and I thought of Sawyer. Ugly thing made my net slimy.

Stinky Bass

I don’t hate bass. I just like messing with Steve Sawyer.

Five large browns jumped off my line yesterday. It’s the way things go sometimes, and that’s OK.  I had the camera, and maybe I was playing the fish differently, wanting too much to get them in the net and set up a good picture. My usual strategy is to put the screws to big fish, using hard and constant side pressure while never giving them a rest. Maybe I was to cautious.

By late afternoon things turned on. I’m not sure if it was pattern, water type or the fish just started eating. But like most things in fishing, I figure the answer is somewhere in the mess of all that. I discovered that feeding fish were not in the deep holes. They were found in swift water above those holes, and the best fish were in fast runs about a foot deep — standard summer stuff, really. They also wanted the shade, they really wanted the Green Weenie, and they seemed to want it with no other flies on the rig. Fair enough. Once I found the combination of water type and pattern, I had a few hours of constant action.

2014-07-28 03.52.09

It was the kind of day where I was blissfully unaware of passing time, as I shared the wild space with blue herons and bald eagles. I was surprised by the darkness that came halfway up the third island. I first noticed the fading light and thought is was only dark clouds moving in. But when my eyes struggled to pick up the line, I conceded to the signals and checked my watch for the first time since dawn.

8:45 pm. The top of the third island would be my last stand. I caught one more fish in the near-dark as big raindrops blew in.

Big weather came quickly, and I started my return. On the forest path I walked for a half-hour through a monster thunderstorm. Cold air and colder rain washed away any residual grumblings in my soul that were still with me, and the cleansing of my thoughts and exhausted body was complete.

I needed nothing else but the river.

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

Share This Article . . .

Since 2014 and 600 articles deep
Troutbitten is a free resource for all anglers
Your support is greatly appreciated

– Explore These Post Tags –

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

More from this Category

Never Blame the Fish

Never Blame the Fish

When everything you expect to work produces nothing, don’t blame the fish. Think more. Try harder.

When your good drifts still leave the net empty, then don’t settle for good. Make things perfect. Never blame the fish . . .

Super Fly — The Story of a Squirmy Wormy

Super Fly — The Story of a Squirmy Wormy

Occasionally (rarely) something comes along that makes trout go a little crazy. Why? Who the hell knows. But it trips some trigger in trout that makes them move further and eat more than they do for just about anything else. In my life there’ve been only four of these super flies.

In dark bars and seedy internet gatherings, I keep my ear to the ground for rumors of the next super fly. Because those who find one can’t keep a secret for long. And I want to be in on the next fly from the ground up again. I want long months of virgin trout that lust for something original yet familiar, the right mix of bold but non-threatening, curiously edible and irresistible. I want to fish another super fly . . .

Calm and Chaos

Calm and Chaos

Some of it winds and bends in line with the tall grasses in the breeze. This is meandering meadow water that glistens and swoons against the low angles of a fading sun. Trout thrive here, protected in the deep cool water, among shade lines that are artfully formed by long weeds that wag and flutter in the current. You could swear the tips of those weeds are trout tails — until they’re not. Maybe some are.

The calm waters of a river are like a church sanctuary. They encourage a measure of reverent respect, even if you don’t much believe what’s in there . . .

Canyon Caddis

Canyon Caddis

Some of these caddis were swamped by the current or damaged by their acrobatic and reckless tumbling. And the broken ones didn’t last long. Large slurps from underneath signaled the feeding of the biggest trout, keying in on the opportunity for an easy meal.

Smith and I shared a smile at the sheer number of good chances. Trout often ignore caddis, because the emerging insects spend very little time on the surface, and trout don’t like to chase too often. But with a blanket hatch like this, the odds stack up, and trout were taking notice . . .

Natural vs Attractive Presentations

Natural vs Attractive Presentations

. . . Let’s call it natural if the fly is doing something the trout are used to seeing. If the fly looks like what a trout watches day after day and hour after hour — if the fly is doing something expected — that’s a natural presentation.

By contrast, let’s call it attractive if the fly deviates from the expected norm. Like any other animal in the wild, trout know their environment. They understand what the aquatic insects and the baitfish around them are capable of. They know the habits of mayflies and midges, of caddis, stones, black nosed dace and sculpins. And just as an eagle realizes that a woodland rabbit will never fly, a trout knows that a sculpin cannot hover near the top of the water column with its nose into heavy current . . .

Cicadas, Sawyer and the Clinic

Cicadas, Sawyer and the Clinic

Just as the Cicada settled again, with its deer hair wing coming to rest and its rubber legs still quivering, the pool boss came to finish what he started. His big head engulfed the fly, and my patience finally released into a sharp hookset on 3X. The stout hook buried itself against the weight of a big trout . . .

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.

2 Comments

  1. Really nice! If youre reading this I guess you get it.

    Reply
  2. Beautiful story, Dom. I, too, have often felt the healing powers of trout waters. In fact, I often tell friends that fishing is my form of meditation.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Articles

Recent Posts

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

Pin It on Pinterest