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

What water type? Where are they eating?

What water type? Where are they eating?

Fast, heavy, deep runs have always been my favorite water type to fish. I can spend a full day in the big stuff. I love the mind-clearing washout of whitewater. No average sounds penetrate it. And the never ending roar of a chunky run is mesmerizing. I also enjoy the wading challenge. The heaviest water requires not just effort, but a constant focus and a planned path to keep you upright and on two feet. Constant adjustment is needed to stay balanced, and one slip or misstep ends up in a thorough dunking. It reminds me of the scaffold work I did on construction crews in my twenties. I always enjoyed being a few stories up, because the workday flew by. When every movement means life or death, you’d better stay focused. I always liked that . . .

The Twenty Dollar Cast

The Twenty Dollar Cast

“Okay, Dad,” Joey bellowed over the whitewater. “Here’s the twenty dollar cast . . .”

His casting loop unfolded and kicked the nymph over with precision. And when the fly tucked into the darkest side of the limestone chunk, Joey kept the rod tip up, holding all extra line off the water. It was a gorgeous drift. And the air thickened with anticipation.

We watched together in silence as Joey milked that drift until the very end. And I think we were both a little surprised when nothing interrupted the long, deep ride of over thirty feet.

“Not this time, buddy,” I told him.

Joey flicked his wrist and repeated the same cast to the dark side of the rock. And because the world is a wonderful place, a no-doubter clobbered the stonefly nymph . . .

Nobody Home | Nobody Hungry

Nobody Home | Nobody Hungry

Nobody home means there’s no trout in the slot you were fishing. And sometimes that’s true. Nobody hungry suggests that a trout might be in the slot but he either isn’t eating, isn’t buying what you’re selling, or he doesn’t like the way you are selling it.

Does it matter? It sure does!

New Structure | Old Structure

New Structure | Old Structure

One of my favorite places in the world is a deeply shaded valley that runs north and south between two towering mountains of mixed hardwoods. The forest floor has enough conifers mixed in to block much of the sunlight, even in the winter. The ferns of spring grow tall, and thick moss is spread throughout. The ground remains soft enough here that all large trees eventually surrender to the valley. When they can no longer support their weight in the soft spongy ground, they fall over, leaving a broken forest of deep greens and the dark-chocolate browns of wet, dead bark. It’s gorgeous.

Fallen timber also dictates the course of this cold water stream. The fresh tree falls force the creek to bend away from the hillside. Rolling water carves away the earth and lays bare the rocks — these stones of time, as Maclean puts it. And when water cuts into a neighboring channel, previously dry for centuries, new river banks are undercut and fresh roots exposed . . .

Light Dry Dropper in the Flow

Light Dry Dropper in the Flow

. . .The flow of the fly line through the air is finesse and freedom. Contrasted with nymphing, streamer fishing, or any other method that adds weight to the system, casting the weightless dry fly with a fly line is poetry.

The cast is unaffected because the small soft hackle on a twelve-inch tether simply isn’t heavy enough to steal any provided slack from the dry. It’s an elegant addition that keeps the art of dry fly fishing intact . . .

We Wade

We Wade

We wade for contemplation, for strength and exhaustion, for the challenge and the risk. We wade for opportunity . . .

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.

Recent Articles

Recent Posts

Pin It on Pinterest