Calm and Chaos

by | May 9, 2021 | 15 comments

Some of it winds and bends in line with 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 pockets, among shade-lines that are artfully formed by long water-weeds that wag and flutter in the currents. You could swear the tips of those weeds are trout tails — until they’re not. Maybe some are.

These are quiet places. The surrounding earth harbors a tranquility that forces every angler to be thoughtful — to slow down. Even eager, hasty fishermen can feel it. The soft calm sets deep in your soul if you stay for very long. And it’s impossible to rush through such a place with any aggression. These waters breed quietude. They ask for respondent silence. Calm waters request us to match their pace.

Some anglers have no patience for these kinds of places. They wade too swiftly, making shadows or pushing waves where they should be casting. And the refinement of presentation it takes to fool a few fish seems a chore not worth the effort. It’s not for everyone. But some savor the opportunity.

Calm river waters are a church sanctuary, requiring a measure of reverent respect — even if you don’t much believe what’s in there.

Photo by Bill Dell

— — — — — —

And then, some of it roars with turbulence, breaking against rocks, bending and merging, blending and banging about, downstream — and all of it in rhythmic symphony. Water slams against boulders, plunges over shelves and drops into holes through the riverbed.

Listen closely, and it happens on a six-eight count, with percussive accents beating against the steady backdrop of whitewater — a strong, constant force that crescendos and dies, like the rhythm of an ocean surf, multiplied tenfold, with waves clapping and spreading into foam until the endless bubbles break up, dissipating left and right, panning in stereo sound.

These rushing, crashing waters are chaos to the uninitiated — at first intimidating and then soothing, after seasons of immersion in a welcome water that rocks and glides the day away. The current cradles the fearless angler. She finds comfort in the arms of a wild river.

Heavy runs attract the bold of heart, those full of adventure and undaunted by the real chance of falling in. Some come for the challenge or the risk, while others are pulled into the chaos of sounds and surging currents because the rest of life is drowned out for once — mercifully suspended in a timeless canyon. Wade into these waters with an open heart, and tangent thoughts are washed away.

The fishing here requires a focus and attention like none other. The drifts are targeted, short and aggressive. Mistakes are amplified and unforgiven. Here, the water churns and mixes narrow lanes and powerful chutes, merging and swirling in patterns that only the trained eye might decipher — and even half of that is guesswork. But refinement reaps rewards. These resident trout match their environs. They have shoulders, speed, strength. And fights with the best and biggest are epic, testing the limits of the angler’s tackle and skill.

It’s a wonderful chaos. It’s the thump and sound of a freeway interchange near a railyard, minus the humanity. This is nature in the raw. Pure, alive and unfiltered.

Fish hard, friends.

 

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

 

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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.

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15 Comments

  1. Give me chaos, or give me death.

    Reply
    • Brilliant! This will help my family and friends better understand what we do and, more importantly, why.
      Thanks Dom.

      Reply
  2. Love it!

    Reply
  3. Dom,

    Just like life: Frogwater and whitewater to be minimized, hopefully finding a long interesting run.

    Thank you.

    Dave

    Reply
  4. Haven’t read poetic prose describing our passion since Ernie Schweibert.
    You have the ability to put us right on the stream. Kudos

    Reply
  5. Very beautiful article. Enjoyed

    Reply
  6. A great read! In an ironic twist, when fishing calm bodies of water, I look for little places of chaos to hold good fish. On the chaotic, tumbling mountain streams, a spot of calm is often a little honey hole.

    Reply
  7. Love it. I needed that this morning. Thank you.

    Reply
  8. Dom … thank you for sharing your gifts of knowledge and prose on our favorite subjects … the river and its trout. Few have the gift and even fewer share it with such style.

    Reply
  9. “You could swear the tips of those weeds are trout tails”

    These words take me to such a place I know well. Where the calm peace of solitude can be interrupted with the adrenaline when one of those weeds turns and takes a fly.

    Thanks for a wonderful read.

    Reply

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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.

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